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August 31, 2006

13 Thursday Stranger than Fiction

a13 fictionStreet-Party.jpg 1. I love THIS video, found at Kimmy and Jacob's. Do you think the idea will take hold? I want pink pants just like those.

2. I bet you can read this: Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a
toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe and the biran fguiers it out aynawy.

3. Deana posted a link to a story about a woman who crashed while trying to teach her dog how to drive, which reminded me of this photo.
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4. When my son Dylan was a teenager, I once spotted him driving around town in his sports car with what I thought was a wild blonde woman up in the front seat next to him. It turned out his dog Jazzy (in the photo to the right).

5. The night after the Emmys, I had a dream about Naomi from “Here in the Hills.” There was a big blog convention in some unnamed city, but it was really more like a blog prom. I was excited to run into Naomi the day before, as she was checking into her room. I asked how it was she was out-and-about, considering her health issues, and she told me that she was well and that everything had cleared up. The rest of the dream was all about things being thwarted regarding my dress, hair, and make-up. The blog prom was a formal one, and I’m not big on formality.

6. I have a “Stranger than Fiction” category sidebar on my blog. Here’s something that came from it: My friend, Juniper, got two speeding tickets in one day. One of them got thrown out on a technicality. Her vanity license plate said SACRED, but the cop wrote SCARED on the ticket.

7. Author Tom Clancy said this: The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

8. Yesterday I posted some photos of some round hay bales from around my neighborhood, prompting a reader, Amy F, to say this: Do you know that most farmers are deciding to stop using round bales? It's because the cows aren't getting a square meal! :) (These things are what you hear when your sister is an agriculture teacher!)

9. What would you do if your blog completely disappeared?

10. My sister Kathy deleted her blog recently by mistake while trying to add a 13 Thursday page. I think it’s a flaw of her Tripod server that the “start new blog” option doesn’t say “delete old blog.” At first she was devastated to lose more than a year’s worth of writing that was not backed-up, but as it turned out many came to her aid; family members and mostly a Tripod community of bloggers. With their help she was able to retrieve most everything and her first new post on A Particularly Persistent Point of View - Take Two appeared last night. Go tell her hello. She’s been through a lot.

11. Deleting her blog may have been a blessing in disguise. Because of it she has found a number of new readers. One of them, Catinka Knoth made this insightful comment about blog readership: Whether you have no readers or not - you do not need to know because you never know WHEN you will have those readers. That is one of the points about putting things on paper - it is for another time or space. It is in effect like money - a means of conveying a value across time and space. It is not necessary for the here and now.

12. Does anyone know of a site that explains in simple steps how to post digital camera videos onto my blog?

13. You might think me morbid, but I’m completely fascinated by THIS site of famous last words, meaning things famous people said right before they died. Emily Dickinson said, “I must go, the fog is rising,” and Lou Costello said, “That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.”

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here.

August 30, 2006

Around the Block

We used to think hay bales were put there by farmers for Andrew Wyeth to paint.
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Conformity
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Do Your Own Thing
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Loyalty
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Perspective
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End of the Season Temptation

Note: All the photos were taken in our Blue Ridge Parkway neighborhood, except the pool closing one. The dog is Jazzy, chow, inherited from our son Dylan. I think he should have named her Aslan.

August 29, 2006

Book Signing: For Jayn and Katherine

One day we’ll all write books
then retire to a tropical island
to live without shoes on our royalties
pick fruit off the trees for breakfast

We’ll buy fresh fish wrapped in newsprint
but won’t read the news on Iraq
We won’t have TV, won’t have to listen
to songs of the 60’s being used to sell products

One day we’ll live without clocks
sit in rocking chairs on an oceanfront porch
We’ll write our memoirs on the backs of postcards
and forget how to drive cars

After swimming like seals all morning
we’ll sip tea at sidewalk cafés
sign autographs for tourists under sky-blue umbrellas
We’ll eat pastry but won’t get fat

We might pose for the paparazzi
with hibiscus flowers in our hair
and while reporters from the mainland ask for our opinions
we’ll be writing short stories on our café napkins

At sunset we’ll dance on the beach
loose like kites without strings
until we land like sailboats docked at the harbor
and dream free verse under the stars

~ Colleen Redman 8/05

August 28, 2006

The Roanoke Valley Bookfest

roanokebookfairsm.jpg In Floyd we have locally famous artists, potters, wood-carvers, writers, and musicians; alongside well-diggers, saw-millers, hunters, and homebuilders. 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? ~ Colleen, From "Homegrown"

My feet were still wet from the talk I gave about my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories,” at the Franklin County Book Festival last weekend, and I was just one in a panel of five authors scheduled to speak at Saturday's Roanoke Valley Bookfest. For those reasons, I wasn’t as nervous as I usually get.

Our collective panel was called “Local Voices,” and, besides myself, it included: Fellow Floydian, Fred First, author of “A Slow Road Home: A Book of Days,” a collection of seasonal poetic prose; Jon Harris, author of “Wings of the Morning,” an account of his experience as a pilot, shot down during Vietnam, Becky Mushko, humor writer, author of “Where There’s a Will” and other books, and Sally Roseveare, author of “Secrets at Spawning Run, a mystery.

We are all residents of Southwest Virginia and authors who have self-published, aka “in house publishing,” “books on demand,” or, as I like to say, “the small press just got smaller.” In my experience, some of the benefits of self publishing include: you have more control of your product, you can interface more personally with readers; it fosters a sense of self-sufficiency; and you can have book-in-hand quicker than you can when publishing traditionally.
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Did you know that e. e. cummings, Carl Sandburg, and John Grisham all initially self-published? So did Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Thoreau. Blogging is a form of self publishing. Citizen journalism is on the rise.

From my point of view, I’m all for more access for everyday people to be in print. I think storytelling is our natural right and that a book to a writer is what a canvas is to an artist, or a stage is to a regional actor.

My motto is this: Start from where you are and watch how it ripples out.

Post Notes: Photos - 1. The Valley Bookfest author’s book sale table, staffed by library workers. 2. Some presenter’s perks, found in my goody tote bag.

For more on self-reliance, including self-publishing, read my WVTF radio essay, "Homegrown"HERE. Also, comments from readers prompted me to do a little research. The Hall of Fame list of authors who have self-published is more extensive than I knew. It includes Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Bly, Nikki Giovanni, and many others. Read more HERE and HERE.

August 26, 2006

Love Apple - Noun: A tomato

tomato3.jpg When someone close to you dies, you begin to look at life through the eyes they no longer have, or you find yourself doing things they loved to do because they no longer can. When I hear music that I know my brother Danny would have liked, I close my eyes and let it sink in, listening for him. I write checks to the Red Cross or give money to the panhandling homeless, because I know Dan, who died in 2001, did and would still if he was here.

My brother Jim was a weather buff who kept detailed daily weather records, photographed and videotaped storms, and volunteered at the Blue Hill Weather Observatory giving tours. Since he died, a month before Dan, I watch the sky more closely. When I see a particularly outstanding cloud formation, I want him to see it too, and I remember the story one of Jim’s colleagues at the BHO told about how Jim first fell in love with cloud watching. He was under one of his junk-box cars, fixing something, and complaining about it when he realized that he could watch the clouds from that position. From that day on he was hooked.
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Today I ate a fresh garden tomato for my dad, who died this past November. It was a Big Boy, salted to perfection, just the way he would have liked it. I had practically eaten the whole thing before I realized what I was doing … enjoying it for him. It was sweet, plump, and red, like my dad, whose name was Robert Redman. I remember him sitting in his favorite kitchen chair by the red gingham curtained window, eating with gusto and smacking his toothless mouth. “Don’t you want one of these delicious tomatoes?” he asked me last summer when I was visiting him and my mom. He actually had gotten up at that point and was holding one under my nose in an attempt to entice me. I knew he was trying to pawn it off on me because there were others where it came from, in the patio, in the pantry, getting over-ripe. The boy in him, who grew up during the Great Depression, didn’t want it to go to waste.

“No, I’m not hungry,” I told him.

Today I ate a tomato for my dad. It’s the first summer he’s not here to eat his own.

Post note: You can read the WVTF radio essay I wrote about my dad HERE.

August 25, 2006

Weird Confessions

shadowlongsm.jpg Amy the Black wants to know five weird things about me. Only 5?

1. I once saw the word “thinking” and was convinced it said “thin king.”

2. The bravest thing I ever did was jump into a hole on an ice covered pond, naked after a sauna.

3. The first time someone asked me out after my first marriage ended, he said, “Do you want to go out to eat Friday night?" and I answered, “I don’t know if I’ll be hungry then.”

4. I have one white eyebrow. The other one is brown.

5. My family nickname is Colly Wolly Wolf.

Now tell me something weird about yourself.

August 24, 2006

The 13 Thursday Scoop

13newspape2r-1.jpg1. I think of blogging as rapid fire target practice. Doing it daily, I can't help but improve my writer's aim, but sometimes my arm gets tired!

2. I’m one step further in my goal of having my blog at least generate enough income to keep me in printer ink ($85 a pop for all 4 colors). I recently sold THIS entry to our local newspaper. It’s either a small step in the right direction or a big foot in the door.

3. Blogging has been a good excuse to indulge my curiosity. Because of it, I snap pictures and ask questions that in the past I might have been to shy to.

4. People who know they need therapy are some of the healthiest people I know. It’s the people who insist they don’t need any that scare me.

5. I wonder why a psychiatrist is sometime referred to as a shrink. Is it because we hope they can shrink our problems?

6. Brad Garrett, the former “Everybody Loves Raymond” cast member has a new TV show in the works about marriage. When an interviewer recently asked him what was the key to a happy marriage, Garrett, who is about to be divorced from his real life wife, said, “an attorney.” He also said this: "I should give marriage advice the day Bush reads the Constitution."

7. I had just finished re-writing “A Box of Kleenex,” which ended with the words “just be.” My sister had, coincidently, ended a blog post the days before with “be.” Sitting on a lounge chair in the yard, I was leafing through a book by Eknath Eswaran. I was looking for a new meditation passage for memorization that would encourage me to slow down and be more present, when I happened to notice something small in the grass that didn’t belong there. It was a magnetic poetry word that said BE!

8. I read the book “Lovely Bones” last year because the fact that it was told from a dead girl’s perspective intrigued me. When I finished, I realized that I had made a discovery: While I can handle a gruesome murder plot for the 2 hours it takes to watch a movie, to live with one for the 2 weeks it takes me to read a book proved to be too much for me to handle. (I think the resurgence of the Jonbenet Ramsey case made me remember this.)
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9. Some of you know how distracted I’ve been by butterflies lately, running around my yard with my camera taking shots of them. Look at the photo to the right. Do you think in the butterfly world there is some back-scratching or back-stabbing in the works?

10. I was recently at a friend's house, drifting off while getting a massage, when a car passed by on the dirt road in front of the house, and startled me back to reality, like pulling a band aid off a cut.

11. When I finally arrive at the pool, it’s as if I had been running bases all week and finally made it to home plate. I’ve only made it to the pool about 6 times this summer, but each time I did, when I finally immersed myself in the cool blue it was like scoring a home run.

12. Did you know you could buy a shrunken head on EBAY?

13. I first heard about Shrunken Heads as a kid when you could sometimes win replicated ones playing games at Paragon Park, the amusement park in the peninsula beach town I grew up in. I continue to get comments on last year's Loose Leaf post about Paragon Park, which was torn down in the mid 80s. I got one this week from a man who has started a Paragon Park webpage HERE.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. The newpaper generator was found via Generator Blog (on my sidebar links).

August 23, 2006

A Big Sky

bigsky3.jpg I have a three acre piece of sky. It mirrors our three acres of green earth. It’s a good size for looking at the stars at night, but because our property is nestled in by trees, big firs and tulip poplars, I can’t see the sun when it sets.

But I need a big sky. When I’m under one, I breathe easier. If I go too long without one, I begin to feel bottled up.

On most evenings when the weather is good, I walk down my gravel driveway, under a canopy of trees. By the time I reach the mailbox, the sky has opened up, pouring light across the Blue Ridge Parkway landscape.

But I still can’t see the sunset. I have to walk the top of Hope Road for that. Sometimes Joe and I walk hand in hand with our dog, Jasmine, scouting ahead.

On the way up, we hear gunpowder shots, timed to go off to scare the deer out of our neighbor’s pumpkin patch. The crickets drone and the grazing cows look suspicious. If we’re quiet we can hear the creek along Morning Dew. Maybe a truck meanders across the washboard dirt road and we wave.

The evening sky is a canvas of living art that changes from moment to moment. I love the play of light on the clouds, the mix and spill of fiery colors. The sun’s brilliance creates an afterglow, the color of my favorite amber beer. It makes me feel relaxed, as though I’ve been sipping it.

August 22, 2006

The Power of Flower

AKA: Friends in High Places
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Numero Uno
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Two is Company
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Three’s a Crowd

August 21, 2006

Can We Interest You in a Blog?

floydcrewsm.jpg AKA: Writers with Floyd-ties Hobnobbing

One of the best parts about participating in the Franklin County Book Festival this past weekend was hanging out with Fred, Floyd’s First Blogger, and running into fellow presenter and old friend, Jim Minnick. Jim is a widely published regional writer, a teacher of writing and literature, and the author of, “Finding a Clear Path,” but I remember him most as a blueberry farmer who lived in Floyd County for many years.

Although Fred’s first book, “A Slow Road Home,” wasn’t back from the printer in time for him to be a presenter this year, he participated Friday night as one of the Festival’s scheduled authors, reading excerpts from his book at the Edible Vibe, a café adjacent to the library. I knew Fred was going to be there Saturday as well, but meeting up with Jim, who I hadn’t seen in more than a few years, was a pleasant surprise.

Rapping on the window, I waved when I first saw him in the library’s glass paneled, makeshift author’s book store. He smiled and came out. We exchanged a hug. Although our presentations were scheduled to start at the same time, mine was slated for a half hour and his for a full one, which meant that I would be able to catch some of his reading.

I concluded my talk by answering a few questions and reading an excerpt from my book, from which my presentation, “Mining the Gold of a Story,” was named: In this physical world, we have to mine for treasure. Gold and silver and precious gems are not usually found laying around on the surface of the earth. It’s the same with us; we have to excavate our own treasure, down through the door of our childhood, through the pain of what hurts, into the grief of our losses. Life nudges us to go deeper because to live only on the surface is superficial. There’s so much more.

I went from images of mining the gold of a story to those of digging potatoes, as Jim was in the middle of reading his essay entitled “The Holy, Lowly Spud” when my husband, Joe, Fred, and I finally arrived. We grub for orbs of light: Kennebec, Pontiac, Yukon Gold. Earth eggs perfect in their potato-ness.

Jim’s reading took place in the children’s part of the library, and I couldn’t help but notice the rug with its larger than life prints of monkeys and trees in bright primary colors. “I’m glad they didn’t put me in this room,” I thought to myself, considering my book’s subject matter, grief and loss. Giggles rippled through the room at the start of his next essay: I inherited my hate for groundhogs from Grandpa. He instilled in me, while I was still young, his utter disgust for those hairy varmints that live in holes.

After Jim’s reading, we were all off duty, and so we headed over to the Edible Vibe for lunch. It was there, while munching on marinara soaked angel hair pasta, that I uttered these words to Jim, “Can we interest you in a blog, Jim?”

He answered calmly, slightly suspicious, as though we were playing poker and he was upping the ante, “How long do you spend at it?" he asked.

Fred and I broke out our litany of reasons why, as writers, we blog … it’s so much more than a business card… a motivator to write… a networking tool. But Jim held his ground.

“How long do you spend at it?” he repeated, causing us all to laugh as we realized our complete avoidance of Jim’s repeated question.

Clearly, as a farmer and ecology activist, Jim would rather be in the blueberry patch, or rambling down a country road, than creating more reasons to be at the computer. And he’s probably right.

Well, you at least need your own web page,” I conceded.

“Smile, someone will blogging this!” Joe said, as he snapped a picture of the three of us laughing.

Photo: Fred, Jim, and Colleen

August 19, 2006

I’d Rather Be Dancing

tabletalksm.jpg A couple of months ago, I drove my husband, Joe, to Abington, Virginia, where he was presenting a workshop on Mindfulness. I drove, so that he would be free to prepare his presentation and then have time to rest before giving it. Now it was his turn to drive me - to the Franklin County Book Festival where I was scheduled to talk about my book, “The Jim and Dan Stories.”

Remember when you did this for me?” he asked, as we drove past a field of hay bales on the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Now it’s my turn to do the same for you.”

But I’d rather be driving,” I answered, and we both laughed because we know how much I dislike driving, and that I dislike public speaking even more.

You see, I’m high strung. You see, I have a gene that makes me not handle stress well. My eyeglasses are always dirty, I have garden dirt perpetually under my fingernails, and I need a haircut. I’d rather be photographing butterflies in my yard, or visiting my blog friends, Deana, Terri, and others. Heck, I’d rather be cleaning my house than descending down the mountain on a steep and windy road named “Shooting Creek” while looking down at how far we could fall if Joe made the slightest wrong move with the steering wheel.

The talk I was set to give (and another one next week!) was put in motion last year, when, apparently, I was feeling more self-confident and motivated. Agreeing to do public speaking is a little like death to me. When I sign myself up, a part of me doesn’t believe that the day will come when I actually have to do it.
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We arrived early at the Franklin County Library, where the book festival was being held. The plan was to attend some of the other scheduled events before I was “on,” but everyone was over at the Rocky Mount United Methodist Church listening to keynote speaker, Professor “Bud” Robertson, Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, talk about “Robert E. Lee.”

After unloading some books and setting up in the room that had a table with my name on it, Joe got busy on his laptop and I went back to the car to rest. I had nearly an hour before my talk, “Mining the Gold of a Story,” was to begin, and my anxiety was mounting. I tried to meditate. I drank some green tree. I took some Ginseng and listed to the birds chirp. Then the following happened …

Next to the library, a car show was going on. I vaguely remember seeing a lot full of brightly painted old cars, when we pulled into the library parking lot, but because I was distracted by my own distress, I wasn’t too impressed. Well, those car show people were partying, and on the blaring loud speaker that I had managed to previously tune out, I heard a familiar song that made me smile, in spite of myself.

It was Aretha singing RESPECT: WHAT YOU WANT … BABY, I GOT IT… WHAT YOU NEED…DO YOU KNOW I GOT IT? Not only have I said in the past that I will get up and dance anyplace, anytime I hear Aretha sing RESPECT, I thought if I could manifest my husband, the love of my life, by repeatedly dancing to Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” I would take a chance.
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I hopped out of the car and, standing near the rear bumper, I began to loosen up, until I was swaying, snapping my fingers, and singing along … I AIN’T GONNA DO YOU WRONG WHILE YOU’RE GONE … CAUSE I DON'T WANNA … R-E-S-P-E-C-T … FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO ME.

After that, I went back into the library ready to give my talk with a little more confidence, a slight bounce in my step, and just the right dose of attitude.

Post notes: These things always go better than I imagine they will, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m feeling like a wild hair out of place. The photos were taken by a woman who works at the library and Joe downloaded them onto his laptop. More later …

August 18, 2006

A Box of Kleenex

jdsm.jpg My sisters and I have an unusual family trait. We remember events by what clothes we were wearing at the time. On the day my brother Dan’s doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston told me that Dan would not likely recover from the liver disease he was battling, I was wearing a short dungaree skirt, a white tee shirt and a matching dungaree jacket. My hair was pinned up, and I had my favorite leather sandals on.

The doctor, who was wearing a white lab coat, spoke in an English accent, which gave his announcement a sense of formality and made the distance between his reality and mine seem more dramatic. A woman was with him, also in a white lab coat, holding a box of tissue. We were in the Intensive Care Unit, next to Dan’s room, and nurses in green scrub suits were walking by us.

I was trying to figure out where I could go to get away from what he was telling me. I wondered why he hadn’t taken me to a private room to tell me such devastating news. Dan only had a 2% chance of living … they weren’t going to perform liver transplant surgery with those odds, he said. The words 2% were the equivalent of a death sentence, but he spoke them as though he were giving me the fat content of a carton of milk.

If I was home I would have gone to my bedroom, shut the door and thrown myself on my bed. I wanted to hide my face in a pillow, but it seemed that the doctor and the woman with him were waiting for me to ask questions. They both stood silent, looking at me. I didn’t know how I was still standing because my legs felt like they were made of weak cardboard. I felt like I was holding up a body that I had ceased to inhabit. “Is that all you have to offer me, a box of Kleenex?” I was thinking. She held it out towards me like a box of candy, but I felt sick. “How could Dan be too well to be transplant priority one week and then too sick to withstand the surgery the next?” I was thinking.

I wanted to run, but I didn’t know where to go. Eventually, I found myself in one of the hospital bathroom stalls, where I locked the door and cried. I felt like a teenager back in high school when a bathroom stall was the only place we could get any privacy. We would go there if we had bad menstrual cramps, or to sneak a few puffs of a cigarette. But the innocence of those days was lost to me now.

The weight of what the doctor had told me was too heavy for me to bear alone. I was the only family member in Houston with Dan at the time. I thought about the phone calls I would have to make to the rest of my family. I worried about how I would get back to Dan’s apartment that night. Driving in Houston traffic terrified me, and I had no confidence in anything now.

Dan didn’t have the luxury of time, and so neither did I. I didn’t stay in the bathroom for long. I fumbled as I called my sister Kathy on a hospital phone, telling her that she had to come to Houston immediately because I needed her.

Once I knew that what I said to Kathy had sunk in and that she was on her way, we said goodbye and I hung up the phone. It was clear what to do next, the only thing I could, the thing I had done for a week before and would do for one week more; sit by my brother Danny in his hospital bed and just be there.

Post Notes:
These are the countdown weeks leading to the anniversary of my brother Danny’s death 5 years ago. I recently came across the above as a sketched draft meant for “The Jim and Dan Stories." Touching into the nerve that is exposed this time of year, I was able to finally finish it. The photo is a page from one of my collage journals (a photo of Dan is on the second page in the right hand corner). To read more about the summer my family lost Dan, and our brother Jim a month before, go to my website HERE, or click on the Loose Leaf category sidebar "Losing a Loved One."

August 17, 2006

Get Your 13 Thursday Here

13boatx.jpg 1. Since I started doing the 13 Thursday I’ve been on the lookout for opportunities to photograph 13 images, but due to the superstition surrounding the number, it hasn’t been easy. There is no #13 floor in most buildings, no #13 seat on planes. No airport gates. No #13 room in most hotels.

2. Evidently, fishermen aren’t superstitious. I saw this channel marker during a pontoon boat road in the Indian River at Bethany Beach this past July. My husband, Joe, understood, but the others on the boat couldn’t understand why I was excited about getting a shot of it.

3. I’m a messy blogger, gardener, and cook, but somehow I manage to write a lot, grow a lot of food, and eat three meals a day.

4. A salad without arugula is like hot water without a tea bag.

5. I don’t have much faith in germs. I don’t get worried about something getting contaminated because it got dropped on the floor. I know where potatoes come from, and it’s not the supermarket.

6. Remember “cooties?” I think spam is the updated version of them?

7. I didn’t know the word for “spatula” until I was about 20 years old. In my family we just called it “the spanking stick.”

8. During a recent phone call with my son Josh, he said: My friend Ethan’s son just turned 3. I went to his birthday party. He thinks my name is Josh Circus. I guess he can’t pronounce my real name (Josh Copus).

9. In the past few days, I’ve met an actor named with the last name Stump who performed a one-woman play outside, and a woman name Pickett who sat with a sign about politics in front of our town courthouse, which makes me wonder: If I change my name from Redman to something else, will I stop blushing so much when I have to do public speaking?

10. Read more about how our names are our assignments HERE.

11. Do you know your mate’s IQ? Read about how my husband and I have the same IQ number but for completely different reasons HERE.

12. Who do you think said this? “I’m an accidental overachieving underachiever. An unlucky person with a failure complex who somehow managed once in his life not to.”

13. It was 3-time National Scrabble Champion Joel Edley. Joel still lives at home with his parents in New York. According to Stephen Fatsis, author of “Word Freak,” the sign on the Edley’s front door says: MISSIONARIES AND OTHER SALESPEOPLE PLEASE USE THE ENTRANCE IN NEW JERSEY.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here.

August 16, 2006

Can We Talk?

want to talk2xsm.jpg “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” -- Nelson Mandela

What do you believe? Is it true?

In an effort to examine her belief systems and better understand what divides us, Rachel Pickett has taken to the road to talk to people across the country.

According to her blog, where she chronicles her journey, some of the states she’s visited since leaving her home in Oakland California on August 1st include Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Ohio, and West Virginia. I met up with her and her current traveling companion, Andrew Dunlap, on the front steps of the Floyd County Courthouse to find out more about what she calls “The Summer Inquiry Project.

Although Rachel's last name is Pickett, she’s not protesting anything. She’s only asking the question. “Want to Talk about Politics?” her sign reads.

“I kept thinking people should be doing something to heal the political diviisions in our country. But then I thought, Maybe I should be doing that. What could I do to help heal the divide?” she wondered.

Do people actually stop to talk politics with a stranger? “What’s the ratio of people who stop to talk and those who walk by?” I asked.

“About 80% look and 20% stop to talk,” she answered.

“Have you had any negative feedback?” I continued.

“Not once we start talking,” she answered. The majority of people have been friendly. Some have bought her lunch or offered her a place to stay. About the worst thing that has happened since the start of the trip is that someone rode by on a bicycle and said “Not with you,” in answer to the question on her sign, Rachel told me. One unlikely positive interaction happened at a KKK parade. Rachel’s interest in learning what motivates beliefs allowed her to approach a KKK supporter and pursue what turned out to be a meaningful exchange.

Inviting conversation, rather than trying to change minds, in the hope of finding common ground is the theme of the Inquiry Project, which was inspired by the work of best selling author Byron Katie. Katie, referred to as “a visionary for the new millennium,” in a Time Magazine profile, has devised a series of 4 questions designed to invite a deeper exploration into beliefs.
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“That’s Dunlap with an a” Andrew (on the left) said when he saw that I had misspelled his name in my notepad. He isn’t the only Inquiry Project activist who has accompanied Rachel on her journey. When Rachel was in West Virginia her mother took part in the initiative. Before that it was an Aunt in Kansas who held the sign asking “Want to Talk about Politics?”

Talking politics can be a tricky proposition, one that often causes people to get heated, which is exactly why it’s a good place to begin developing listening and conflict resolution skills, Rachel thinks.

Both she and Andrew are working towards their master’s degrees in social work, and Rachel plans to work in education after graduation, perhaps designing school curriculums for practicing conflict resolution. She’s also recorded some Summer Inquiry Project interviews that she hopes to develop into a documentary. Some of the interview questions she posed included “Do you think there’s a political divide in this country? If so, how does it get there? What might work to bridge it?

“What next?” I asked when I learned they would be leaving Floyd that day.

“A couple of cities in South Carolina, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Austin,” she rattled off.

By now several passer-bys were craning their necks in our direction. I didn’t want to monopolize the possibility for Rachel and Andrew to bridge more divides and strengthen common ground with others. She had told me that many of their inquiry interactions ended with a sharing of email addresses and other contact information. I was no different. After giving her my email address, I wished them good luck, and thanked them for caring.

Walking to my car, I felt a sense of encouragement and thought to myself, “How easily new friends are made."

August 15, 2006

How to be a Better Writer

timeout2.jpg If you don't understand yourself you don't understand anybody else. ~ Nikki Giovanni

Years ago, I audited a creative writing class at Virginia Tech, taught by renowned poet Nikki Giovanni. I remember my excitement when I learned the word “audit” and what it meant, apart from its IRS context: that you could sit in on a university class for free if you had permission from the class professor. I learned that you don't get credits when you audit a class, but as a mostly self-taught learner, and single parent raising two sons on an income that fell below the poverty line, getting credits was the last thing on my mind.

I remember the poems I was working on back then, reading them out loud in class, and getting feedback from the other students and Nikki. But mostly, I remember two specific things Nikki said that have had a lasting impact on me.

“You don’t need punctuation. Let the line break tell the reader where to pause,” she told us. Even though, in my current Writer’s Workshop we continue to wrangle about the use of punctuation in poetry (I’m the only one that doesn’t use it), Nikki’s advice didn’t so much inform me as it validated what I was already doing.

The other thing she said that was well worth the hour commute to her Blacksburg class was (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you want to be a good writer, live a full life.” In other words, you have to live life in order to have something to write about.

Whenever I feel creatively deficient, I eventually remember Nikki’s words and push myself away from my computer or notebook the way I would from a dinner table if I was overfull.

As a writer, I can often over-ride writing inertia by writing, but often the results tend to feel lifeless. When my writing doesn’t flow for more than a few days, I know I need a change of scenery. I know I need to put it aside, resist my reclusive tendencies and go out into the world and mingle.

Photo:
I call the above photo "Time-out." It was taken by my son Josh and is a self-portrait of his journal. He has them made for him so that they will stretch to accommodate his art form. For a few peeks inside one go HERE.

August 14, 2006

Moody Monday

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1. Peaceful
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2. Fragile
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3. Distant
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4. Impermanence
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5. Nostalgic

Photos: 1. A floater at Great Oaks Country Club in Floyd. 2. Gone to seed plant in my yard. 3. Buffalo Moutain as shot from The Saddle on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, Virginia. 4. Sand castles at Bethany Beach, Delaware. 5. Aging sunflower in my garden gazing at a newly blooming patch of Jerusalem Artichoke flowers.

August 12, 2006

A Blogger’s Conference Call

phoneblogsm.jpgThis is a photo of me at a Scrabble game yesterday, talking on the phone with my blogger friend, Naomi of “Here in the Hills.” I’m at the Café Del Sol in Floyd, Virginia, and she was calling from Los Angeles. Here’s the story:

Mara called to cancel our Scrabble game at the Café Del Sol because her daughter Kyla wasn’t feeling well. My date with my husband, Joe, for an afternoon swim in the pool was a wash-out because it was raining.

But all was not lost. I called my friend Virginia who had recently told me she likes to play Scrabble and suggested we play sometime. We pulled off a last minute game between her, her husband Don, and me.

After retrieving the board from the hiding place where Mara put it so that playing children wouldn’t mix up and lose the letters, we settled in to play. It was an enjoyable game, even though Don and Virginia are both better players than I am, and I tend to choke when I play with someone for the first time. I was also drawing bad letters. scrabbledonsm.jpg

Sipping on tea and chatting in between turns, we were near the end of the game – Don and I were neck-in-neck and Virginia was well in the lead – when Max, who works behind the café counter, walked over with the phone. “It’s for you, Colleen,” he said.

In a previous post, here at Loose Leaf, I wrote about my fellow Floyd blogger, Doug, making a joke about the Cafe' Del Sol’s phone number – 745- ACUP – which is displayed on a sign outside their building. “It’s a good phone number for a coffee shop, either that or lingerie shop,” he quipped.

With that entry, Naomi left a comment saying, “I’m going to call you at the Café next time you’re there playing Scrabble.” And she did!

“Naomi!” I blurted out, excitedly. I suspected it was her because I sent her an email before I left my house telling her I was off to play Scrabble.

“I’m here playing Scrabble and getting my butt kicked!” I told her.

“How can that be?” she asked. I guess I had given the impression on my blog that I was a pretty good player.

“I’m playing someone new and she’s whiz!” I answered. By this time I had walked into the Winter Sun Hall in the back of the building to get away from the noise of the crowded café. srabblevasm.jpg

After reading each other’s blogs regularly for about a year, I feel as if I know Naomi. She frequently features photos and stories about her life as a stage performer, playwright, singer, and artist. Because of the photos she’s posted, I could picture her in her house, see the exotic cactus plants on her deck, and imagine her cat sitting in her lap as we talked.

“Your voice is exactly how I thought you’d sound,” I told her. Naomi, who recently hosted an online party in celebration of her 75th birthday, has a warm and engaging personality that comes through her writing and was also apparent over the phone.

“The internet is amazing,” she said after sharing the story of a recent connection she just had with an old friend’s daughter, which came about by way of an old photo she had posted on her blog. I told her how my sister’s childhood boyfriend found her via my website, and how I found Terri from Island Writer whose wintering neighbors are from Floyd.

But soon, my mind wandered back to the Scrabble task at hand. I could see through the paneled glassed door leading into the Café that it was my turn. “I’ve got to get back to the game now, Naomi. Thank you so much for calling!”

Talking to Naomi was highlight in a rainy day that made my playing a bad game of Scrabble more bearable.

August 11, 2006

The Big Bang Theory of Scrabble

Mara says what she likes best about me
is how easy I am to please
Like when she showed me how to make
Celtic borders in Microsoft Word
I clapped my hands and cheered

And when she said -
while looking up a word
playing scrabble -
The dictionary always distracts me
I giggled and wrote it down

What I like best about Mara
is that she frequently says things
I want to write down

Like yesterday she offered this confession:
I want Sy Safransky (editor of The Sun Magazine)
to love me

Mara loves words
They beg for her attention
and for them we both dig deeper
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!

Some women play bridge
or poker with men
Mara and I play scrabble
to spin the world
stanza by stanza
a newborn creation each time

With a sleight of hand we coax letters
like Major Arcane from tarot
We lay them out to know our future
to surprise ourselves with their power

We talk while we play
about extra-sensory perceptions, colors of crayons,
her triple spiral tattoo, and tea

Her turn then mine
Question then answer
It’s easier to be gay or hetro-sexual
than it is to be bi-sexual

she muses

Because neither group fully claims you
I finish her thought
as the board opens up
with all possibilities on the table

She lets the dictionary distract her
while I excavate 10 points of Q
and try
to curb
my enthusiasm

How are you with paperwork?

she changes the subject

You mean writing poetry, I ask
holding my pen in the air
as if I was studying an atom on its tip
or bidding on a Salvor Dali painting

No, I mean balancing your check book

The atom falls off
Explodes a new word
She’s inventing Goddess names
for a new generation
And I
am writing
this down

I never balance my check book
I never know what Mara will say next

Post Notes: My Scrabble game with Mara got canceled today. This poem is my consolation post. For more Scrabble antics with Mara, my poetry and Scrabble buddy, and others I play with, you can scroll through my Scrabble Category Archive HERE.

August 10, 2006

13 Thursday: What’s on your T-shirt?

13tshirtpink2.jpg 1. Last Thursday was the one year anniversary (52 weeks) of “Thirteen Thursday,” which was created by Leanne at Intricate Art. It marked my 43rd Thirteen Thursday post. I’m thinking about putting out a best of 13. You know, like musicians put of a “best of” album.

2. Did you know that you could buy 13 Thursday products; even a baby’s bib; even a dog’s sweater with a 13 Thursday logo on it?

3. I think of my blog as my writer’s storefront. At this point, I have a pretty good inventory, as indicated by my sidebar list of categories.

4. It’s okay that I don’t make money blogging, but I don’t want my blogging to cost me money. “I’d like my writing to at least keep me in printing ink,” I’ve said before. Recently, I sold an essay that was originally a blog post. The payment I received, covered the cost of a complete set of printing ink cartridges, black, yellow, blue, and pink. So I guess my goal is fulfilled, for now.

5. Or, I sometimes think of my blog as my own personal magazine that I write an editorial to each day. My category list, which includes Back to the Garden, Featured Artist, Notable Quotables, Losing a Loved One, Poetics, Politics, and S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E, could just as easily be an index of magazine sections and features like: Home and Garden, the Arts and Entertainment, News, Literature, Politics, and the Crossword Puzzle.
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6. An excerpt from a past entry titled “The Blog Files” (which could have been titled “Why I Blog”) says: For me, blogging is like playing scrabble. I don’t hold on to my Q for the whole game waiting for the play of my life. I play with what I have…for the highest score…every time. Here’s how Annie Dillard, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, puts it… "One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now ... Some more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

7. Remember the notes we used to pass in school. Not surprisingly, I was a big note writer and passer. I once kept one going to a girlfriend over the weekend. I think it was an early sign of the blogger in me.

8. My blog friend Patry recently revealed that she once held the title of the hula hoop champion of Brockton, Massachusetts. At Floyd Fest this year (our town’s yearly world music festival), there was a woman who makes her living with the hula hoop. She does dance performances with them, sells them, and teaches workshops on using them. I wish I had stopped to interview her because; I so love the hula hoop myself. Did I mention that I also recently sort of won a hula hooping contest?

9. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Harvest Moon is in September, or sometimes even October, but August is the month when most of my garden harvesting takes place. The Farmer’s Almanac calls the August full moon “Sturgeon Moon. My friend Jayn, being a poet, named the August moon in the Museletter (our local all-volunteer newsletter) “Voluptuous.” In years past, she’s dubbed it Golden Maze, Love Apple, Sunflower, and Sizzle Moon.

10. Gardening is like cooking a meal for a large crowd of people. There’s lots of planning and preparation, and then everything is ready at once! There’s a mad rush to get everything up and served before it gets overdone, cold, or before the crows and bugs come for their share.

11. I got an email this morning with a subject line that read “13.” I’m not kidding! Because it said “13,” I opened it, but it turned out to junk mail directed to investors, of which I am not.

12. I’ve been re-working some of my older poetry because the recycler in me can’t pass up the idea of salvaging some good and still useful lines. But, as with any construction, it’s a lot easier to start from scratch than it is to give some TLC to a fixer upper.

13. I think of a light bulb as a moon-wannabe.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here.

August 9, 2006

Playing Harvest Hooky

augustgardensmx.jpg The Garden:
The entrance is blocked with overgrown rows ... I walk on cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. ~ Colleen

I should be in the garden. There’s basil to pick for making pesto, onions to braid, and Japanese beetles to kill. All the corn comes in at once. I know it’s ripe when the ear worms and corn borers arrive. If I don’t harvest it for eating now, they will. They’re already getting fat.

Too soon, the lushness of July is over. So is the rush of activities; weddings, graduations, re-unions, and vacations. By August my garden looks haggard and bug-infested. By mid-August reality sets in. Kids shopping for notebooks and new school clothes know their summer days are numbered. So do I. Soon I’ll have to put on shoes. My husband’s chainsaw has already been started up.

There’s a melancholy feeling to August that makes me want to spend the day photographing butterflies, as if storing their images before they disappear. I’d like to go to the pool, immerse myself its Caribbean blue illusion, and then stretch out on a lounge chair in the sun and read.
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But there’s work to be done. There are seeds to save, and some to plant for a cold weather crop. Red ripe tomatoes are falling to the ground. My potatoes are popping up from their mounds, as if to say “why have children if you’re not going to raise them?”

“Have you ever tried to dig potatoes in soil this dry? We need rain,” I mutter to myself, as I strain to pull up the stalk of a well-established weed that has gone to seed.

Just then a sherbet-green butterfly breezes by, causing my head to turn. My eyes follow, to where it lands, on a hanging basket of magenta petunias, long and leggy this time of year.

The screen door slams. The chase is on.

“Where’s my camera?” I shout.

August 8, 2006

Buttering You Up with Butterflies

AKA: In the Pink
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1. Flighty
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2. Fickle
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3. Been Around the Block
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4. New Kid on the Block

August 7, 2006

By Book or by Hook

1books.jpg “As someone who is 5 foot and 1 inch, I sometimes wonder what I might have done with all the time I’ve spent hemming pants and skirts if I didn’t have to do it. Maybe if I was taller, I would have read more of the classics.” ~ Colleen

I’ve been thinking about books all weekend, since Deana tagged me for the following meme. I’ve been thinking how hard it is to name only one book that changed my life; how I read mostly to learn rather than for entertainment; how if a book doesn’t grab me quickly, I tend not to finish it; how I yearn for a book to come along and grab me quickly; how there comes a point when reading yet another book feels like the acquisition of second hand information when I really want to go out and experience life adventures first hand and write about them myself.

1. One book that changed my life: The book “Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman” by Nuala Ofaolain helped to give me the confidence to write my own book. Her writing was informal and untraditional, but it was also authentic and held my attention. It made me realize that everyone has a story to tell and that writing isn’t an elite activity meant for only a handful of people.

2. One book that I have read more than once: "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise and other children’s books that I read to my sons over and over.

3. One book I would want on a deserted island: Something like Euell Gibbons, “Stalking the Wild Asparagus.” 2books.jpg

4. One book that made me laugh: "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail" by Bill Bryson. Not only did it make me laugh, it made me hike the Appalachian Trail, for a few days at least.

5. One book that made me cry: “What book made me cry?” I asked my husband. “The Jim and Dan Stories,” he answered. “That doesn’t count. I can’t say my own book. Didn’t Wendell Berry’s “Jayber Crow” make me cry?” I asked him. “Yes,” he answered. “Okay, I’m going to use that one.”

6. One book I wish I'd written: Reality aside, maybe “Word Freak,” by Stephan Fastis, the book I’m reading now about the history of Scrabble and the counterculture of Scrabble Tournament players. I’m attracted to the kind of research he did to write the book and the fact that he became a tournament player himself. I’d like to be able to play scrabble and write as good as he does.

7. One book I wish had never been written: I guess the world could live without the book Joe and I saw at a bar in Dupont Circle about extreme body piercing.

8. One book I am currently reading: Besides "Word Freak," and “Sibling Grief” (which I reviewed HERE), I’ve been plunking around “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris.
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9. One book I have been meaning to read: The book "Storycatcher" by Christina Baldwin that my sister Kathy gave me when she was here for my son’s wedding, and fellow-Floydian Fred’s book “Slow Road Home” are next up on my bedroom nightstand table.

Post Notes: More thoughts on books? Here is the first book meme I did last summer. I am now passing the tag on to the Red Queen, Ben-gal, and Leslie on top of Squirrel Spur.

Floydfesters:
scroll down for last week's posts and photos of Floyd Fest Five.

August 5, 2006

A Writer’s Meet-up

jnprsm3.jpg Many of the best moments in my life have happened spontaneously. Last weekend at Floyd Fest was no different.

Julie Hauserman, a Florida-based journalist and radio personality (pictured here), happened to be camping across the path from the Floyd Fest Poet Tree, a volunteer soap box stage for spoken word readings, located under an apple tree, and staffed by members of the Floyd Writers’ Circle, in particular, my friend Mara. When Julie wandered over early in the weekend and introduced herself, Mara asked if she might be inclined to do a reading at some point. But Julie wasn’t interested. She was on vacation, there to enjoy the music scene.

I fulfilled my volunteer hours in exchange for weekend tickets via my essay that was printed in the Floyd Fest program and by giving a poetry reading on Saturday. On Sunday, the last day of the festival, the reader’s line-up was slim because one of the scheduled readers had to cancel. I arranged to check in with Mara at 3:00 to see if she needed any help. It was then that I met Julie, who was sitting on stage talking to Mara, and Mara’s Poet Tree assistant, Leah.

What ensued for the next 45 minutes could only be described as an impromptu workshop, as Julie shared her life as a writer, gave us pointers, and answered our questions. It couldn’t have been a more perfect line-up. Julie is a regular essayist on NPR’s Weekend Edition. I’ve been reading my essays on our regional NPR radio station, and Mara wants to break into this medium.

You know how when you tune into a TV show that you barely ever watch and they’re airing a re-run of the one and only episode you’ve already seen?

“Did you do an essay recently about making a baked Alaska?” I asked Julie about 15 minutes into the group conversation. It might have been the first time I had heard a Weekend Edition essay.

“Yes!” she beamed. It was her.

My husband heard the essay first and played it for me from the NPR website. Always my cheerleader, he said, “Listen to this. She does what you do. Maybe it’s time you should submit your essays nationally.”

Julie is also an environmental activist and writer. By the time she was sharing her involvement with the Red Hills Writer Project, a poet named Brittnie, drawn by our dynamic conversation, wandered over and joined in.

The Red Hills Writers Project is a group of writers who produced the anthology “Between Two Rivers.” The book is a grassroots effort featuring a collection of essays about place, in this case the Aucilla River and the Apalachicola River, which define the Red Hills and Gulf coast regions of northern Florida.

With Julie describing the ins and outs of how the group enlisted well known writers (such as Wendell Berry), how they drew in local voices, did fundraising, and marketing, it wasn’t long before Mara and I were fantasizing about our own Writers Project for building an allegiance to our area.

Whether or not our fantasies will manifest, I enjoyed being inspired by the possibilities, and meeting Julie, a working writer, willing to share her writer’s journey.

Post note:
Scroll down for more Floyd Fest photos.

August 4, 2006

OOh La La Lora

loras2sm.jpgThe arts and homespun wares featured at Floyd Fest this year included handmade hammocks, pottery, jewelry, stained glass, leather goods, clothes, birdhouses, and hula hoops. There was even a booth with a cider press selling freshly made apple cider.

Although I enjoyed window shopping and sampling Floyd Fest’s creative bounty, I believe it was my friend Lora Leigh Giessler who had the hottest vending booth this year. Because I know her work, I prepared to catch my breath and hold on to my hat when I finally made way to her tent on Sunday. I’m convinced that her art, so provocative and bright, raised the Floyd Fest temperature a few degrees. Her pastel painted images bud, bloom, and swell in shades of magenta, violet, rose, and peach. I found myself spontaneously laughing out loud at one of her newest pieces. Not because it was funny, but because it was so delightful.

Mostly Lora paints larger than life flowers in the style of Georgia O’Keefe’, but her sensual images are not limited to that. Lora is also a potter and her art reflects that. Some pieces are reminiscent of the whirl of a potter’s wheel spinning grey clay. Others capture the earthy muskiness of the woods. loras1sm.jpg

“The rhythmic patterns of the natural world” is the theme that ties all of Lora’s art together. She is also inspired by life’s contrasting quiet stillness, according to the bio on the back of her art prints. With her painter’s eye and through her potter’s fingertips, she captures the cavernous swirl of a nautilus seashell on canvas and makes you feel like you’re being quietly pulled inside it.

Not surprisingly, Lora is also a dancer. I managed to persuade her to stop dancing outside of her tent with our mutual friend, Luke, long enough to pose for a picture. “You look like a blooming flower yourself,” I told her as I held my camera steady and snapped.

Post Notes:
Floyd Fest, our town’s yearly world music festival is now in the wikipedia. You can read more about the festival by scrolling down this page, or check out the write-up in the Richmond Times Dispatch, here.

August 3, 2006

13 Thursday Rocks On

13yoursign.jpg1. My kitchen is a disaster area. My desk is in an uproar. My car hasn’t been cleaned out since my husband and I returned from our beach vacation over a week ago. I’m still processing photographs from my son’s July 8th wedding, and my feet are dirty from barefoot dancing at Floyd Fest. My blog is on a lag system. I post Saturday’s entry on Sunday and Sunday’s on Monday, if I post at all. My head is swimming with ideas and words, most of which are unlikely to be written down. ~ Monday’s journal entry

2. But it’s okay, because it’s all in the name of fun.

3. Not only did I have a Deana sighting at Floyd Fest, but I ran into Tom and Pat Devrin, Floydians who live in Cedar Key, Florida, half of the year, right next to Terri from Island Writer! I also met up with Jan, a former Blacksburg resident from my Seeds of Light days. She and I have reconnected by way of “The Jim and Dan Stories.”

4. Writing recent blog posts,“The Fairies of Floyd Fest” and “A Few Floyd Fest Favorites,” makes me feel like I’m inventing tongue twisters. Here’s a challenge: how many F’s are there in the following text? FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS. Leave your answer in a comment.

5. Today’s “Rock on” is yesterday’s “Sock it to me.” It’s hard to believe that I once had “Sock it to me” written on one of my school notebooks.

6. Number 35 of my “100 Things About Me” says: If I hear Aretha Franklin sing “Respect,” I will get up and dance no matter where I am. And number 3 says: I manifested my second husband (love of my life) by playing and dancing to Steve Winwood’s “Bring Me a Higher Love” over and over.

7. My favorite quote of late is by none other than Sigmund Freud. He said: Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.

8. Sometimes my poetry begins on its own, as a rhythmic and original line that I can use a springboard. Other times it’s like coming across a shiny coin that wants to be picked up and spent.

9. I just want to mention that I’ve never written about gout or arthritis. I’ve known for a while that there is an alternative Colleen Redman who is active in the Democratic Party in Alaska, but I just recently discovered a new Colleen Redman who is a medical writer. Oddly, both seem only a few degrees away from me.

10. I met my husband at the Great Oaks Country Club pool yesterday afternoon. He had just come from Christiansburg and brought some photographs that I had sent to Walmart online to be developed. After looking at them, I said to him, “According to these pictures, we’re having a great summer.”

11. Lately, I become nervous when I hear a crow cawing because I worry it’s blabbing to its friends about the corn in my yard.

12. Every August I get paid in corn for my garden labor. Corn is a gardener’s version of pure gold

13. Because of 13 Thursday, Thursdays are almost like a work day for me. So many bloggers to visit and comments to answer. It reminds me of playing tennis. Is it my serve?

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here.

August 2, 2006

A Few Floyd Fest Favorites

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1.Jack in the hat. Jack (on the left) is a member of the meditation satsang I belong to. Here, he and his friends in various hats are volunteering at the Jacksonville Center information booth.
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2. Is it any wonder that I lost my parked car and almost missed my scheduled reading under the Poet Tree?
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3. The go-go-girls of Hill Holler Stage. Anonymous friend, Grace, and Kyla.
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4. This is Iris Dement singing on the Dreaming Creek main stage. I enjoyed her song about her mother giving her truth. She’s a songwriter who stands for something. Recently, in an interview she was quoted as saying that “the poor are treated like the enemy.”
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5. Deana likes the lights in the beer garden. I like the antique fence that surrounds it (connected in places by grapevines). It’s my favorite place to hang out at Floyd Fest because it’s cozy and wooded and off the beaten track. And see Tabor, I’m wearing cool summer clothes here that are not black.
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6. Under the Floyd Fest Big Top, you can buy festival music, T-shirts, and posters, and even books by moi. You can meet the performers and get your CD’s signed by them here as well.
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7. Kathleen, a member of the writer's workshop I belong to, always has an interesting perspective. Here, she’s holding a frame that once held a poem that was hanging from the Poet Tree. Remember the magic mirror from Romper Room? See you next year, boys and girls!

August 1, 2006

Floyd Fest: The Homecoming

volkeretcsm.jpg Floyd Fest, our town’s yearly world music festival, is a people watchers paradise. My favorite part of the weekend festival - just six miles from my driveway on The Blue Ridge Parkway - is the cross section of people who attend it. Once on the sprawling grounds of open fields and wooded pathways, roles and differences tend to fall away, as people of all walks of life and ages speak the same language of “fun.”

Floyd Fest delivers what you’d expect from a premier music festival – great music, good food, creative arts and crafts, and a variety of children’s activities, but it has some special touches that you might not find anywhere else, like the lily pond landscaped with flowers, portable hand washing stations, a rock climbing wall, and a cyber café hosted by Floyd’s own Blue Nova. The timber wrights who built the impressive timber-framed main stage, roast a pig at their campsite each year. Sweetwater Bakery bakes bread onsite in their hand built brick oven. johananasm2jpg.jpg

While I enjoy intermingling with the mix of interesting people who attend Floyd Fest each year, I especially look forward to being re-united with Floyd friends, young and old, who, because of distance or the hectic pace of life, I don’t see nearly enough. This year, I kicked up some dust in the beer garden, dancing to the music of William Walter with Suzanne. I hadn’t seen my old Grateful Dead dancing companion, who lives in Arlington now, since last year’s Floyd Fest.

Last year, when I read poetry on the soapbox stage under the Floyd Fest Poet tree, I remember looking out and seeing Volker’s smiling face in the audience. Grown-up now and living in California, he was in town for Floyd Fest and made a point to come by and hear my reading. Volker was back again this year, this time with his sister Johanna, a past Floyd High School Salutatorian who went to the prom with my son, Josh, and loves the Red Sox nearly as much as he does.

Asa’s baby girl has gotten big. She was taking in the festival sights from the carrier on her daddy’s back. I snapped a picture of Joel holding his nearly year old daughter while her mother, unaware, danced to Donna and the Buffalo. asasm.jpg

Lyn Willow and I pulled up some grass and had lunch together when our paths crossed and we both discovered we were hungry. “We couldn’t have pulled this off if we planned it,” I told her, laughing.

Sitting in the shade of the Healing Arts tent catching up with Jeff, founder of the Blue Ridge School of Massage, I saw my friend Mara’s daughter rush past. “Kyla, did you put on some sunscreen?” I shouted out. She was on her way to march in the Children’s Parade.

It’s been estimated that over 10,000 would attend Floyd Fest this year, and from the look of the crowds, it may have been more. And yet, Floyd Fest feels like a small world, where town officials, artists, farmers, and business owners converge as families to share the beauty and music of our area and to welcome newcomers and new music into it. joelff.jpg

A homegrown homecoming, a cross pollination of the best in music and people, by the hands of the many, mostly volunteers, who guide it; Floyd Fest feels like home, because it is.

Photos: 1. Volker, Joe, and Suzanne listening to Mara spout poetry from the soapbox. 2. Colleen and Johanna re-united. 3. Asa and Indigo. 4. Debbie enjoying Donna and the Buffalo while Joel holds Cassandra who is waving.