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September 29, 2007

First Landing State Park

jcv.jpgOn the way to Virginia Beach we drove past a trailer park named “Superior Manor,” and a field full of cotton ready to be picked. I took pictures of my feet up against the truck window because I liked the way they looked against the scenery rushing past at 70 miles an hour while Neil Young was singing “After the Garden is Gone” on the CD player.

After sunset, the harvest full moon made an appearance and got my attention. I pulled out my notebook and scribbled like a blind artist sketching. “You’re writing in the dark?” Joe asked incredulously.

“All I need to do is decipher a word or two and the whole feeling will come back,” I told him.

We woke up the next morning at the First Landing State Park with sand between the sheets of our pop-up camper loft bed.crazycrab2.jpg
From the window we saw big barges heading for port in Norfolk, hauling stuff from China to Wal-Mart, Joe said.

He did his martial art on the beach while I videotaped a sand crab scurrying across the beach entrance walkway. It was better than a Saturday morning cartoon.

Our first campsite was too close to the road and the sound of passing traffic, so we moved to a quiet secluded one under an unidentified fruit tree. Later in the day we traded it for one with our own private beach in the backyard, big enough to play volleyball. From there we could watch the moonrise over the bay at night.puddlebike.jpg

In one day, we watched a man windsurf with a kite, rode our bikes on trail, explored a Native American chief’s hut, swam in at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, just a mile from where it meets with the ocean, and had three campsites.

In the evening we headed for civilization by way of a camp bike path. I followed Joe, who lit the way with a miner’s lamp on his head. We ended up in a hotel bar that was supposed to have wireless. Not only did we not get online, Joe forgot his wallet and had no way to pay for the beers we had ordered. Short of leaving me behind, he left his laptop at the bar for collateral while we made the two mile ride back to our camper for some money. We had a good laugh at all the things that went wrong as we peddled home. “If this was a date, I probably would have dumped you by now,” I joked.

Post Note: This was blogged from the A.R.E. (The Association for Research and Enlightenment) Library.

September 27, 2007

13 Thursday: # 100

13-100.jpg 1. My friend Alwyn has been known to care for feral cats. She named one Misery, a name whose melodic sound defies its actual meaning.

2. I have an imaginary small press called “The Nevertheless Press.”

3. I recently rushed to meet my girlfriends who were scheduled to pick me up at the bottom of my long driveway for a writer’s workshop meeting. I was determined not to be late, but as I made the trek, I began to worry that I left the stove on. I dropped my notebook and pocketbook at the end of the driveway near my mailbox and ran back to check. The stove was fine, but by then I was convinced that someone had come by and stole my pocketbook. With compounded anxiety, I ran back to find my pocketbook still there and my girlfriends pulling up. As I climbed into the car trying to catch my breath, one friend asked “What’s the matter?” “I just had a mental illness moment,” I answered.

4. Keeping it Floyd: What others are saying about us. HERE.

5. Last week I was tagged by Musing Woman with an interesting meme which asked for a list of your five strengths as a writer. The meme is still traveling around the blogsphere. I’ve been following some links to see what other writers have said. My favorite writer’s strength comes from the Inner Minx and goes like this: “My second strength lies in my strong physique. I have an uncanny ability to stay in one position for hours on end and have developed a bottom that could crack walnuts. Therefore, I am a professional lazy cow.”

6. As far as I know, my friend Will came up with the sayings “Don’t just do something, Sit there,” and Love is a Verb.” He definitely coined the term “alter-native,” referring to the Floyd alternative community.

7. I tagged Book Lover Bonnie for the five strengths challenge. In her list she revealed that she keeps a quote of something I said beside her computer. It says: “The secret to writing a book? I think it's this: Take good notes and write often enough that it starts to accumulate."

8. Whenever I see my name in print, I get a mixed feeling of pleasure and dread. Mostly, it reminds me of being called to the principal's office over the loud speaker in school. It was hardly ever for good news.

9. Some of the phrases “Loose Leaf Notes” anagrams to say are: A Feel Note Solo, Lao See Eon Loft, and Tao Feel Lone So. You can anagram the name of your blog HERE.

10. Colleen to Joe: We’re almost out of venison burger but we have plenty of sausage left. Joe: I guess we had the butcher do more sausage this year because last year we ran out of it. Colleen: Well, whichever one we run out of is the one I like the best.

11. When it comes to the state of the environment: We over slept the American Dream. The Industrial Revolution was a nightmare.

12. This is my 100th Thirteen Thursday. On August 11, 2005, TT founder, Leanne of Intricate Art, said, “I thought it might be a fun thing to start up a Thursday Thirteen thing. If you blog, I’d love for you to participate!” As many as 5 other bloggers played back then, but it quickly grew, and now Leanne is retired but the TT still goes on. In fact, over 300 bloggers play every week. The History of TT can be found HERE. FAQ’s about TT are HERE.

13. It’s last call for the beach, so I’m putting in my order before the clock strikes October. Maybe my next post will be of a sandcastle or of me swimming in the ocean. One thing I know for sure, I won’t be wearing anything like THIS.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here.

September 26, 2007

Easy Reader

colcollage.jpg AKA: Why I can’t join a book club.

Although I’ve never been a bookworm, I’ve read my share of books, many of which have acted as developmental and cultural milestones in my life.

In elementary school I was the kind of kid who would clip the smallest newspaper story I could find for current events class. I wasn’t interested in reading the longer ones that I usually didn’t understand. Although my father frequently had a paperback in his hand on the weekends, my mother was so busy raising nine kids that I don’t remember ever seeing her with a book back then. I was shocked by the number of books that my girlfriend Laura’s mother would regularly check out of the library. When Laura started reading the Nancy Drew series, I followed suit, but I never read as many as she did.

Although Shakespeare wasn’t considered cool by my peer group, I secretly loved reading it aloud in class. I thought John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was boring in comparison, but I was still happy to be reading it rather than doing what I considered to be real school work.

As a young adult, I turned to science fiction, reading most everything that Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and others wrote. After science fiction I became interested in non-fiction. I have a photo that a boyfriend took of me at the age of twenty-one asleep on a bed in England with I Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee spread out across my chest.

Then it was onto spirituality and new thought: Edgar Cayce, The Aquarian Conspiracy, books about childrearing, home schooling, homesteading, self-help, how to, and all things Irish.

When I moved to Floyd and became part of a women’s community, it was as if we were all taking the same life course. The Mists of Avalon got dog-eared as it was passed around between women, so did the Clan of the Cave Bear series and all the Medicine Woman books (a woman’s version of Carlos Castaneda-like adventures).

I read all those books while raising two sons as a single parent. My sons are adults now, but it seems harder to find time to read. I acquire many books but I only read a fraction of them. At one time I looked into taking a speed reading so that I could read without such an investment of time. And I’ve always admired the Star Trek character Spock because he could hold a book up to his head and get it telepathically. But I also know the feeling of reading the end of a good book slowly because I don’t want the story to end, and I know I will miss the characters when they’re gone.

One reason I don’t read as much as others I know is because, for me, reading leads to writing. I write much more than I read these days. And writing leads to research, which brings me to the following tidbit I found while writing this piece. I wanted to know why a book is called a book: From an etymological perspective, book and beech are branches of the same tree. The Germanic root of both words is *bōk-, ultimately from an Indo-European root meaning "beech tree." The Old English form of book is bōc, from Germanic *bōk-ō, "written document, book." The Old English form of beech is bēce, from Germanic *bōk-jōn, "beech tree," because the early Germanic peoples used strips of beech wood to write on. A similar semantic development occurred in Latin. The Latin word for book is liber, whence library. Liber, however, originally meant "bark"—that is, the smooth inner bark of a tree, which the early Romans likewise used to write on.

Post Notes: The photo is a segment of a larger collage that fellow Floyd Writer’s Circle member, Rosemary, did of me and other writers for the Hotel Floyd Writer’s Room. See the photo she transformed HERE. More on my favorite books HERE.

September 25, 2007

My Mind has Fallen

My mind has fallen
down a well
like a shiny coin
has dropped

I sit in silence
and make a wish
waiting for it
to hit

the bottom

September 24, 2007

A Taste of Floyd

sfmoon2.jpg The following was published in the Floyd Press on September 20, 2007.

The "beef naturally" sausage dished up by Larry Bright of Bright's farm in Floyd was a hit. There was a line of people at the main tasting tent waiting to sample Paul Hooper's pasta sauce. Jim Politis, of Riner's Buffalo Store fame, provided a crock pot full of buffalo meat slow-cooked in its own juices.

I met these vendors and others at the third annual Taste of Floyd, a fundraising event sponsored by Slow Food USA in conjunction with the Floyd Harvest Festival. It was hosted by the Harvest Moon Food Store, which is a member of the Blue Ridge Convivium, an offshoot of Slow Food USA.

According to the Slow Food USA website, they are a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting the social and economic benefits of a sustainable food system, regional food traditions, the pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life.

Colorful vending tents and tables alongside the Harvest Moon parking lot housed a variety of locally produced foods. sfpennyfarm2.jpgBut there were also soaps and lotions to sample made by Willis resident, Alice Moyer, owner of Shady Grove Soaps. There was mead from Dugspur's Blacksnake Farm Winery and cider from Foggy Ridge Farm to be sipped. Fred First was selling note cards featuring his photographs of Floyd County scenes, and his book, which seemed aptly named for the event, A Slow Road Home: A Blue Ridge Book of Days.

Slow Food volunteer, Gretchen St. Lawrence, said the tents went up the night before in the rain. She was happy for a sunny day and for having only the wind to contend with.

While shifting through brochures from some of the small local businesses being represented, I overheard a woman ask Paul Hooper, the Martinsville owner of Hooper's Pasta Sauces, if he grows his own tomatoes. He joked that the world would not be a better place with him as a farmer.

"Everything is homemade in small batches," he offered, but was tight lipped about the ingredient sources for his special recipes, the names of which included Basil-icious, The Angry Tomato (hot), Happy Hour (made with vodka), and Marinara Sauce.

Browsing by the festively designed booths, I stopped to chat with Sarah Shannon from Weathertop Farm in Check. I recognized the farm name and told her I had purchased her eggs before, which are sold at The Harvest Moon. I learned that her family farm, which includes her husband Cedric, children, and in-laws, produces pasture-raised chickens, pigs, rabbits, and turkeys. tinaliza.jpg

Looking at photos of Weathertop Farm turkeys reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver, the bestselling author who attended A Taste of Floyd last year and later gave a well-attended talk at Floyd County High School. At the time, Barbara and her family had just moved to Virginia and she was writing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a book about spending an entire year eating only food she grew herself or purchased from neighborhood farms. At the Floyd high auditorium talk, Barbara read a hilarious chapter from the book about a turkey that took a particular liking to her husband.

Margie Reddit, the Harvest Moon owner, told me that Barbara was invited to this year's event but wasn't able to attend because of her book touring schedule.

On the Harvest Moon lawn, under a blue and gold tent, customers were sipping glasses of wine. Volunteers were taking orders and serving lunch cooked with all local ingredients by Over the Moon chef Scott Hutchinson. I recognized the voice of Floydian Tina Liza Jones, singing "Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread," coming from a neighboring tent, so I moved in closer to listen.

"Are you going to sing all songs about food?" I jokingly asked her. Her husband was accompanying her banjo with a fiddle. Another fiddle player and a guitarist rounded out the group. When I asked her if she was playing with was a new band or jam group, she explained that they were a foursome of two married couples, dubbed "Double Date," just for their Taste of Floyd gig. Other music provided throughout the day was also homegrown. Sally Walker sang before Double Date's set, and Grace Note also performed while I was there.

When talking with Sarah from Weathertop Farm she told me that her family sometimes uses meat processing equipment from Bright's Farm, a neighboring county farm that raises pasture raised pork and chickens, as well as beef that contains no prophylactic antibiotics, steroids, or growth hormones. I was impressed with the cooperative community spirit between local farms and saw more of that when I visited the Good Food - Good People (GFGP) booth.

Tenley Weaver from Full Circle Farm and Brett and Johanna Nichols from Five Penny Farm are owners of certified organic farms in Floyd and GFGP members. Their displays - next to the Indigo Farm Seafood truck and behind a table of Ethiopian cuisine - stretched across the back of the vending tent area and, because of the wide variety of products offered, resembled a grocery store aisle. Fresh garlic, local honey and molasses, exotic eggplant and squash varieties, cut flowers, baskets full of apples and potatoes, and tomatoes of varying shapes and color made a vibrantly attractive presentation.

A general event fee of $3 included more tasting inside the Harvest Moon, where cheeses from Meadow Creek Dairy in Galax, peanut butter made with Virginia peanuts, South Carolina rice, and tea from the Carolina Tea Plantation were available for sampling.

"It's the only tea grown in this country," Harvest Moon staffer, Katherine Chantal said.

September 23, 2007


writstbandhand.jpgHello my name is Colleen and I’m wearing a white wrist band with blue stars on it. It’s funny how a wristband can either mean that you probably had some fun last night or that you have recently been in the hospital.

I got my first manicure on Friday. It was for a story I’m writing for a newspaper magazine insert on skin care. My nails were rough and dirty from digging potatoes when I went to the spa to get them done. I said to the woman, “I guess I’m not the type who cleans the house before the maid comes.” I’ve never had a maid, but I never had a manicure before this either, so I think the analogy holds.

The manicurist rubbed so much cream on my hand that my wedding ring came off. Once in the winter when my hand was cold it fell off into the snow. It was nighttime and we had to wait till the next day to find it.

Last night I dreamt that my back hurt. When I woke up it really did. I wonder if it had anything to do with the dancing I did last night. Once the band starts playing, I don’t sit down until they stop. But when they take a break and start up again, I’m usually too tired to dance the second set. I snap my fingers when I dance, but only the ones on the left hand. The right hand fingers can’t snap and I don’t know why.

This morning my hand is writing a short piece for a Sunday Scribbling . The prompt is “Hello My Name is …” I thought I would write more about my name, or maybe the band I danced to last night, but this is what came out when I started to write. Maybe my hand was feeling cocky because of the manicure and wanted to show off, even though just one day later my nails are dirty again.

The name of the band is Sonic Safari. The name of the polish on my nails is called Privacy Please. Today I’m going to Roanoke to visit my son Dylan and his family. I wonder if I should wear my wristband.

So what does your hand want so say?

September 21, 2007

The Mug Shots

1. The type that doesn’t wear seatbelts
2. Presumed innocent
3. Litter bug (aka shutter bug)
4. Justice
5. There’s one in every crowd

Post notes: Photos -- 1. Typewriter donated to the Hotel Floyd's Writer's Room being transported. 2. Mug made by the Asheville Potter son. 3. Colleen putting eight month's worth of pictures in her photo album. 4. Clay at Josh's ClaySpace studio. 5. On of the many Christmas tree farms somewhere in Floyd. Also, because we're experimenting and the manual moderating comment feature is currently not on, comments are taking a little longer to post. I guess it's taking Hal some time to make sure they're not spam. Sorry for any inconvenience or confusion.

September 20, 2007

13 Thursday: Riding the Wave

12wave2.jpg1. I want to be a Blue Man when I grow up.

2. I want to write a poem with the words critic and citrus in the same line.

3. I still miss Seinfeld.

4. I spent an afternoon last week with a young man with developmental disabilities and an elder woman who is losing her short term memory. It was the most fun I had all week.

5. Sometimes it feels like my health hangs by a thread. If it gets pulled too hard the whole thing can unravel. And isn’t it funny that a yarn can be a story or strands for weaving but you spin both of them?

6. I’m fighting a bladder infection brought on because the antibiotics I was on for a tooth infection killed all my good bacteria with the bad. They used antibiotics to treat a bladder infection.

7. Watching TV ads for drugs that show happy pictures set to happy music while the narrator spiels off a list of possible side effects – Abdominal bleeding, anemia, black stool, blood in urine, blurred vision, changes in heartbeat, chills – is like seeing someone beat a dog while calling him a “good boy.”

8. “Comb your hair” takes on a whole new meaning HERE.

9. HERE too.

10. Why do we have 3 letters – K, C, and Q – that say the same sound when one would do?

11. Someone owes Michael Moore and me an apology. Look HERE.

12. I recently became interested in the word “Frisbee,” wanting to know what it means and why a flying disc toy would be named that. Doing some research, I learned that there was a Frisbee Baking Company in Connecticut that made pies. Supposedly, after some college student ate the pies they tossed the empty pie tins around, which is how Frisbee got it’s name. But before a Frisbee was called Frisbee it was called a Pluto Plate.

13. I’ve discovered that the saying “I can’t catch my breath” is actually true. I’ve been so busy lately that I sometimes forget to breath. For the past few months I’ve been working with a small group on plans for a Local Writer’s Room, one of the themed rooms at the new Hotel Floyd in downtown Floyd. I’ve been shopping for art, which is collecting in my living room, and now – after just having a foster care resident for five days, writing three stories for the Floyd Press back-to-back with two more due to another paper – I just got word that it’s showtime. The Hotel Floyd has been built using green products and is decorated with all local art by local groups. Check out their website (still under construction) HERE. And read more about the Writer’s Room HERE.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. This is #99.

September 19, 2007

Ode to the Red Fruits of My Labor

Rusty brick
Burgundy blush

Ruby crimson
Rosy carnation

Scarlet delicious
Blood beet wine

Raspberry cherry
Sunset flame

Hot plum poppy
Siren chili

Cardinal petal
Coral rouge

Magenta sangria
Valentine heart

Lava ochre
Pomegranate and garnet

Post note: It's Harvest Time.

September 18, 2007

What are Your Strengths as a Writer?

keyflowr Musing Woman recently mused on her five strengths as a writer and asked me to do the same. Although most of us aren’t very comfortable pointing out what we’re good at, it seems like a useful exercise to affirm five strengths rather than five deadly sins or weaknesses. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Writing is like dousing for a natural resource. I’m not afraid to dig deep and hit a nerve. In fact, I’m not satisfied until I do. By a nerve, I mean a vein of emotion that shows me that I’m about to mine a truth.

2. I can’t process a lot of extraneous information in one sitting. Being this way has helped me not to over-write or over-explain. When I write, I say what I mean and try not to clutter my writing with what I don’t mean. I have two favorite quotes on writing advice that I use nearly every day. The first came by way of novelist, Elmore Leonard, when he said, “Leave out the parts that most people skip.” The other was by John Holt, author and homeschooling pioneer. He said, “The writer’s first job is to be understood.”

3. I love words. It’s my kind of play. I love the way they look and sound, the way they can be put together in surprising combinations to make things happen. Loving words is good for a writer, like loving one’s partner is good for a marriage.

4. Many years of writing poetry has been a good training for developing a sense of structure that can translate into other kinds of writing. Through writing poetry, I learned the importance of opening and concluding lines, sound and rhythm, bridging thoughts together to create meaning. I’m good at looking at one thing and seeing how it is like something else and reading and writing in ways other than from left to right.

5. Ultimately, the technical part of writing can always be worked on, but you can’t invent a voice. My writer’s voice is stream of consciousness language that I can trace back to my childhood. It’s untamed and seems to come from the underworld. I’ve learned to yield and listen to it. It’s the raw material of writing, that once collected into notes, I'm compelled to make something of.

What are your five strengths as a writer? Feel free to answer in a comment. If you choose to do this meme and post the answers, let me know so I can come by and read them. Also, I’m tagging Bonnie, Pearl, Vesper, June, and Leesa for this meme. Check out "Who is a Writer?" HERE.

September 17, 2007

Dueling Poets Talk Back

gregll.jpg In the end I'm like Rosa Parks ... I don't want to get up and go where I'm told ... I work just as hard as any other poet ... and I write from where I sit ... Colleen

Mara and I performed our dueling punctuation poems as promised at this month's Spoken Word open mic. The best part was that both our poems were work-shopped at our writer's circle earlier in the week as poems, not as a poem with punctuation and one without. In the end, the irony was that the audience members listening couldn't see the punctuation, or lack of it, and so the point was mute.

Refreshing newcomer to the open mic stage, June, read a poem about a dying squirrel. ... even in this moment of anguish I admired his full tail and beautiful coat. It seemed the right thing to do ... junell2.jpgShe's also a new Floyd blogger and you can read her poem in its entirety on her blog HERE.

Greg brought a prop. No, I don't mean the tattoos up and down his arms. I mean a painting he did. His poem was directed to all the art buyers who didn't buy it at an art show he placed it in once.

Chelsea Adams loves coffee! Retired, for the time being, from teaching writing at Radford University, Chelsea has a new chapbook, called Java Poems. The tie in to the main feature of Café Del Sol was not lost on Sally, who introduced each reader. ca3.jpg "You can come read your poems here anytime," Sally said into the mic after Chelsea faced her addiction with odes to her dark potent master.

When she read one called "Seductress" written in the voice of coffee it made me think about vampires, the gory lure. .. You are afraid of your desire for me, the hold I have on you, my sultry depths, wary of the jittery feeling I sometimes create in you, leery of a night without sleep ...

By the end of her java reading she was proclaiming "Hallelujah!" in a poem titled "Salvation." Research proclaims drinking six cups a day prevents diabetes, cancer, a heart condition ...

Janean wears red shoes and writes funny, sexy poems. The pieces she read ranged from poems about drag queens to those about her love of the opera. "I don't know if I should believe a word you say," I joked at the end of the night.
"It's all true," she insisted.

There were only six readers, but each brought a rich variety of good work to the mix. We started on time, ended early, and really appreciated the people who came out to listen. But we really didn't end where we ended. Last month the café was closed when we arrived, and we ending up doing a sidewalk street performance. This month we stayed till the chairs were turned upside down on the tables and Sally gave us a tactful reminder that we didn't live there.

Laurie and Rob, a couple from Roanoke arrived late. Mara, who knew Laurie from Hollins College, decided they deserved a private reading. Four of our six readers agreed to hang around and an impromptu round robin reading around the coffee table ensued. As the café staff cleaned up, we re-read our poems and broke out some other ones. Mara recited one for memory so naturally that Rob thought she was just talking and interrupted her. roundrob2.jpgI wanted to correct the line I flubbed during the official reading. After that I read a poem about spooky sunflowers to ring in the beginning of fall, which seems to have arrived overnight.

I can't stand to see them droop ... Faces hung like lamps bent over ... Their lights are out ... Their shame is as drastic ... as their joy was in August ... They burn at both ends ...

Maybe next month -- October 20th from 7 -9 at Café Del Sol -- we'll read dueling ghoul poems.

Photos: 1. Greg reads 2. June 3. Chelsea 4. Janine 5. Left to right: Janine, Mara, June, Laure (can't be seen), Rob, Colleen. Scroll down HERE for past Spoken Word entries.

September 15, 2007

Confessions of a Cobalt Blue Mug Collector

cobaltblull.jpg It’s not a serious collection. Not like my seashells, which are spread out all over the house, collecting dust in the corners of my attic, and stuffed into plastic bags in junk drawers next to thumb tacks, screwdrivers, calculators, and old keys. I don’t think of myself as a person with a collector’s personality. I don’t like knickknacks, more things to dust. It just sort of happened. It only took one. Soon there were others.

My eldest son doesn’t much like my cobalt blue mugs because he’s a potter and can make better ones. My husband likes to add to the collection by bringing home new ones. His frequently have pictures of lighthouses on them. We have one from Radford University where he got his Master’s Degree in counseling. It says “RU” and currently has a chip on the lip.

The thing about my cobalt blue mugs is that they have to SAY something. cobaltcup2.png My very first one said HULL, the small Massachusetts beach town I grew up in. I was visiting my parents when I saw it in their house. I admired it and my mother gave it to me.

I was sad when my HULL mug broke, and when I later tried to replace it, the closest I could get was a “Hull Lifesaving Museum” one with a picture of Hull’s historic seafaring captain, Joshua James, on it. I bought it at the Lifesaving Museum, which used to be the Coast Guard Station, right next to the house I grew up in. I found a second mug just like it at a yard sale across the street from the Life Saving Museum. I used to know the family that lived in the house where the yard sale was, and so I still call it “the Ottino’s house.”

One cobalt blue mug I have came from the Goodwill Thrift Shop. It says “Coffee is only for Closers.” I bought it because it was cobalt and because I knew I’d enjoy thinking more about the saying on it. I imagined that it once lived in a realtor’s office, that someone got it as a commission gift. I wondered how it ended up in the thrift shop. Did someone get fired? Someone needier than me probably should have had that mug. I don’t drink coffee, I didn’t sell anything, and don’t need anymore mugs for tea. I just liked the cobalt color.

I regret that my cobalt blue mug from Aspen that I got for a cheap price in a souvenir shop broke the first year I had it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back that way. I don’t think I have any with lighthouses on them anymore. I still have my most elaborate, most expensive, and most recently acquired cobalt blue mug. It has a celtic knot design on it and was purchased at the Café Del Sol. I have a small matching cobalt blue teapot that my sister Tricia gave me as a gift.

I wonder if this post will cause friends and family to shower me with cobalt blue mugs.

Gone to make tea … Accompanying poem is HERE. More Sunday Scribblings on the "collector personality" is HERE.

September 14, 2007

The Lost Adults of Neverland

I don’t want to grow up …I don’t want to wear a tie … and a serious expression in the middle of July … ~ Song from Peter Pan

Before I knew that Pan
was the goat god of wild creatures
I wanted to be Peter
Not so much because he could fly
But because he wouldn’t grow up

Before I knew that a grown woman
named Mary Martin was playing Peter’s part
I already didn’t want to wear a tie
Or bra, or garter belt

Before I knew that the Catholic Church
turned Pan into the devil
stole his horns and hooves
changed his pipes to snakes
his pasture into a fallen Eden
I had a crush on John Darling
even though he wore glasses
and a girl’s nightgown like mine

Wendy was invisible to me
until the Beach Boys sang about her
A California girl with a tan
She went to the beach with Tiger Lilly
who wore a bikini

My mother raised five lost boys
My father was a pirate
And before I knew that a pipe playing Pan
could elicit Pan-ic in the hearts of men
I was struck with an anxiety disorder
that made my hands shake
too heavy to lift
too tired to clap for an ailing fairy
I didn’t want to need a mother
or be afraid of my father
or face the croc who swallowed the clock
and knew my real age

Before I learned that Pan was a nature spirit
whose name meant “to pasture”
I had already moved to the country
I understood the importance of the shadow
and taught my sons to sew

They played on the ledge
behind our living room curtains
“Can you see Neverland? I asked them
“Have you met Tinkerbell?”

I wore a feather in my hair
like Peter wore in his cap
fell in love with a John named Joe
sewed a fallen hem with the point of my pen
and jumped off the plank into the underworld

I found the flower child in Peter
the poet, and the courage to clap for myself
I danced on the ledge and looked down
saw the flickering light
that threatened darkness
was the promise Peter made
told to innocent children
while time was ticking

Where is the pixie dust?
Will my children be snatched?
Am I too old to skip or sit on the sidewalk?
Will I see a white light and tunnel
on my way to Neverland?

Before I knew that Pan was a lustful old man
and that Peter was lonely when the boys went home
I was a child who knew I’d never fly
I was a girl determined
not to join the ranks
of the lost adults of Neverland
not be tied to a 9 to 5
wearing panty hose and stilettos
in the middle of July

Post Notes: The above poem is one in a a series of poems about Peter Pan that were read at the FloydFest Coffee Bus this past July. The photo is of me reading the poem on the Poetree Soapbox, taken by Deana from Friday Night Fish Fry, who caught part of the show.

September 13, 2007

Thirteen Thursday Blues

13bob.jpg1. My current philosophy on entertainment is a lot like how I feel about food. Provide it yourself or get it locally grown whenever possible.

2. Years ago when I started to become less likely to travel distances for events, I remember saying “Let them come to us.” And some did. Leon Russell and Maria Muldaur performed here in our little one stoplight town. Ani Difranco played Floyd Fest. Native American shamans Sun Bear and Wallace Black Elk were here, so was renowned author Barbara Kingsolver .

3. I’ve seen Ziggy Marley in Radford and the Indigo Girls in Blacksburg, and more recently John Mayer and Dave Matthews Band. Radford and Blacksburg are cities that feel more like towns that are in Floyd’s backyard. I’m less likely to travel to Roanoke for concerts at the Civic Center, because Roanoke is a bigger city and an hour away. Although when it comes to The Blue Man Group (coming to Roanoke in November), I’d not only drive there, but I’d wait in line for tickets.

4. There’s another new blogger living and writing about Blue Ridge country life. I recently left a comment on her site about blogging and said, “Welcome to the biggest water cooler on the planet, or in our case a hose.”

5. As a Massachusetts transplant it took me fifteen years of living in Virginia to like country music. It’s taken me even longer to like moonshine (or to finally taste moonshine that I actually like and that doesn’t taste like nail polish remover.)

6. At a recent birthday party a friend broke out a mason jar of moonshine that had been aged for over three years (because, like me, she didn’t think she liked moonshine when it was gifted to her). Woo hoo! It was made with peaches and tasted like a fine liqueur.

7. Some of us argued about the peaches. They were burgundy red, hard, and looked more like beets. So we pulled one out and cut it open. Yup. It had a pit.

8. For years writers of stories about Floyd, looking for an angle, would mention either pot growers or moonshiners. From my point of view I see both of these activities as a sign of independence and self-sufficiency.

9. You can make wine or beer, but not moonshine legally. You can get morphine-like drugs prescribed or off the internet without a problem, but aren’t allowed to grow a particular herb in your garden for your own use, the same one that Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson grew.

10. I just got a Charlie horse in my foot a few minutes ago. It’s like skidding on the ice while driving in winter. If you steer into the direction of the pain like you steer into the direction of the skid, it won't be so bad or last so long.

11. Historically, part of the Appalachian tradition in this area has been to gather herbs and dig roots (Ginseng was plentiful), to make medicine from or to sell. Some of us still harvest wild herbs and make medicinal tinctures and teas to use for all variety of ills.

12. ****The Blue Man Group on Global Warming HERE.

13. And THIS is my Bob Dylan’s Got the Highway Blues Rant.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. The blackboard and Bob Dylan fun was compliments of the Generator Blog.

Post Note: My server host will be moving my blog to another server tonight from approximately 9 – midnight. If you are unable to post comments during that time, please try back again later. Other than that, I don't think anyone will notice anything different.

September 12, 2007

Turn Yourself Around

Country hick
red, white, or blue neck

yuppie, yippie
hippie, hopi
do the hokey-pokey
and turn yourself around
cause labels are limiting
and that’s what it’s all about

Post notes: The above poem, written circa 1992, was read into a mic at a 4th of July Party for Wall Residences, an agency I used to work for that provides foster care to people with developmental disabilities. It appeared in the 1997 edition of Appalachian Voices, a literary supplement put out by The New River Free Press. It was read at a Spoken Word Event at Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd a few years ago and is included in Muses Like Moonlight, a collection of my poetry.

September 11, 2007

Something Fishy in Floyd

indigofarms1.jpgThe following was published in The Floyd Press on September 6, 2007 with the title “They Specialize in the Catch of the Day.”

I’ve nicknamed them the Indigo Girls, after the female singing duo from Atlanta. But this Floyd County duo goes by the name of Indigo Farms. Indigo Farms owners, Teresa Nester and Susan Handy, don’t sing. They don’t make CD’s. They sell fish.

From the back of their white refrigerated truck, they sell everything from Artic Char to Wahoo; from salmon, scallops, and snapper to catfish, crabmeat, and cod. But it all started with shrimp.

On a warm day in late August in front of the Harvest Moon Food Store, a popular stop on their fish truck route, I learned the history of Indigo Farms. What began with recreational trips to the North Carolina coast to visit Teresa’s sister became Indigo Farms in 1993 when Teresa and Susan began supplying fresh seafood to the Pine Tavern Restaurant, back when Michael Gucciardo was the chef.

Now they make weekly treks to the coast, bringing back seafood for restaurants from the Château Morrisette to those in Mountain Lake and a few in Roanoke. They also sell to the public. Besides the Harvest Moon and other Floyd locations, they make retails stops in Riner and Blacksburg. Their schedule is outlined in detail on their website, where they also share seafood recipes and photos of their trips, complete with ocean sound effects. indigofarms2.jpg

As the Pine Tavern began incorporating fresh seafood into their menu and receiving positive feedback for it, others started making requests, Susan, the former Floyd recreational department director explained.

“In the beginning it was only shrimp. Now we’re into octopus and squid,” Teresa joked. The best part of running their own business has been the people they come in contact with, she told me.

“We’ve become part of their lives and they’ve become part of ours. We’ve watched their kids grow up,” remarked Teresa, who was previously employed as a technical writer at the Radford Arsenal.

“Even the customers get to know one another,” I responded. “I’ve met some new people and caught up with old friends while standing in line waiting for fish. I’ve been in a line of as many as four people. Do you ever get lines longer than that?” I asked.

Teresa’s answer surprised me. “Oh, at least twenty and we’ve probably served as many as two hundred in Blacksburg in one stop.”

“Blacksburg people love fish!” she said.

Their Blacksburg connection started when a woman asked them to make her house one of the stops on their route. “If you come, I’ll tell my friends,” the woman told Susan.

Susan and Teresa know many of their customers by name and some are on nickname basis, like “Salmon Man,” who I met soon after Susan mentioned his name when he pulled up for his weekly purchase of salmon. tshirt2.jpg Earlier, a customer shared details of her recent fishing vacation; another one remarked that she started buying fish from of the back of the Indigo Farms’ truck when her now teenager was a baby in diapers.

In the winter the women wear insulated jumpsuits to keep warm as they work. In the summer they carry extra ice and pack it in with customer orders.

“I’m like the family butcher,” Teresa said, referring to the fact that she knows what their regular customers like. Some order ahead. Others mosey over to the truck and check out the list on the Indigo Farms dry erase board before making their menu decisions.

It was late in the afternoon on Saturday, so many of their most popular offerings had sold out, as evidenced by their names being crossed out on the board. The blue flag on top of their truck flapped in the breeze as I settled on a pound of catfish for my order. I snapped a photo of Susan in her Indigo Farms blue T-shirt talking to “Salmon Man,” as Teresa bagged up my fresh fish. She packed it with extra ice.

Post Notes: Visit www.indigofarmsseafood.com for more information. This story went online HERE. Another fish story is HERE.

September 10, 2007

Summmer's Parting Shots

1. Last call
2. It flew right by.
3. I'm already looking forward to next summer.

Post Notes: 1. Butterfly in my yard. 2. Chair seen by the side of the road in Christiansburg on Friday morning when I was driving home after the John Mayer and Dave Matthews concert at VA Tech HERE. 3. Sign seen at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd where our Writer's Circle met yesterday and where we had a discussion on punctuation! Fellow Circle member, Mara Robbins and I will be reading our dueling poems on punctuation and poetry at the Next Spoken Word Night at the Cafe Del Sol, Saturday, September 15th, 7 -9.

September 9, 2007

The Voices in My Head

notebookteall.jpg The secret to writing a book? I think it’s this: Take good notes and write often enough that it starts to accumulate. ~ Colleen, from The Jim and Dan Stories

As a writer, the most important discipline I’ve learned is to take notes when the dictation of writing begins. I drop everything, resort to writing on my hand if I can’t find a pen, pull over when driving if it starts coming too fast because trying to recreate it later is a waste of time. It’s never as good as the way it first comes through, in an original voice that I clearly hear as if it was being dictated.

I don’t know where it comes from or what makes it start. Sometimes I start receiving dictation while I’m working on something else. It’s like watching a TV show and the newscaster breaks in with a message. I grab a pen and write it down. I don’t have to know what it means. It’s not the time to fuss about where it will be used or to complain about the lack of wages it will earn. I know who my boss is. I do my grunt work. Write it all down on anything I can find. Some writing starts in a notebook and ends on the side of a popcorn box scribbled in a dark theater.

Maybe if I do my job long enough, eventually I’ll be promoted, have more say in the process of writing, institute a more predictable schedule. But for now I don’t ask too many questions. I just transcribe the words I hear in my head like I don’t have a choice. That’s my commitment to writing. It’s what being a writer means to me.

More Sunday Scribblers writing about writing HERE.

September 7, 2007

Waiting on the World to Change: Mayer and Matthews Play Virginia Tech

hokieunitex.jpgI’ve never paid much attention to football. It took two big names, John Mayer and the Dave Matthews Band in concert together to finally get me into Virginia Tech’s Lane stadium. This free concert was conceived by Matthews, the Grammy award winning musician from Charlottesville, Virginia, as a way to show support for Tech after the deadly shootings of last April. Showing their Hokie spirit by wearing school colors, Tech students, staff, faculty, and friends filled the stadium with wall-to-wall maroon and orange.

Mayer, an avid blogger with school boy good looks, plays the guitar as if it was an extension of his body. Just seeing him appear on stage wearing a maroon Hokie T-shirt caused the crowd to erupt in ear piercing applause. Hearing him belt out his Grammy winning hit, “Waiting on the World to Change,” so close to home was a thrill.

“This is my prayer for you,” he told the Tech crowd before letting the lyrics of his song “Gravity” speak for him. johnmeyer1.jpg Oh gravity … Stay the hell away from me … Oh gravity … Has taken better men than me … Now how can that be? … Just keep me where the light is … Just keep me where the light is … The blues that oozed from his red electric guitar were matched by the soulful facial expressions that Mayer made as he played.

I’m a dancer who needs a big space to move around in, but our seats were set up for watching football. I’m sure I stepped on my neighbor’s toes a time or two, and I might have knocked over someone’s drink while dancing. During the intermission between bands, I looked around and saw a few familiar faces, but I had never seen so many Hokies in one place. It was my first time witnessing the coordinated effort of Hokie fans as they rippled like dominoes from one end of the stadium to another doing their signature cheer. Let's go ... Hokies ... Let's go ... Hokies ...

Even though I knew that South African born Dave Matthews was from Virginia, I was surprised to hear the twang of his accent when he said things like, “”Thanks ya’ll … and all of that stuff.” Admittedly shy, Matthews sings better than he talks on his feet into the mic. johnmeyercropblue.jpg Although, he did manage to speak about coming down from Charlottesville in a red van to play at much smaller Blacksburg venues many years ago. And his words were especially appreciated and met with applause when he said, “These are some dark times and the dark side, but I can’t think of anywhere else in the world I’d rather be than with y’all.”

The song that Dave Matthews Band chose to open with, “Two Step," related well to the reason we had all come together. Celebrate we will … Cause life is short but sweet for certain … Hey, we climb on two by two … To be sure these days continue … Things we cannot change …

I have a lot of respect for Matthews, who has weathered the premature deaths of close family members, and has lent his support for farm aid, rebuilding New Orleans, and other worthy causes. But who knew that he could dance like James Brown flat footing at the local jamboree?

The fact that my husband and I didn’t stay till the end wasn’t a reflection on the show. davmatt.jpg As performances go, it was one with a big impact, a spectacular light show, and the big brass and rousing fiddle jam sound that the Dave Matthews Band is famous for. But after three hours of high volume music and crowded dancing, I was tired and hungry.

We had taken our bikes to the concert to avoid the stadium traffic. As we pedaled off into the warm night, the band was well into their second hour of playing. We could hear them singing the familiar refrain from Bob Marley’s "Three Little Birds." ... Don’t worry about a thing … Every little thing gonna be all right … Singing: don’t worry about a thing … cause every little thing gonna be all right.

The song trailed off as we glided downhill in search of good pizza and a cold beer.

Video clips: 1. John Mayer sings “Waiting on the World to Change” at Tech HERE. 2. Hokie Spirit Cheer HERE. 3. Dave Matthews Band sings Two Step at Tech HERE. The above was published in The Floyd Press on September 13, 2007.

September 6, 2007

13 Thursday: Write Up My Alley

13noteimageche2f.jpg1. Whenever I’m given a writing assignment, I feel like Rumplestilskin being asked to spin straw into gold. At first it feels impossible that I will ever be able to create something out of nothing, but sometimes and somehow I do.

2. I was asked to write stories for a women’s magazine insert in regional newspapers after the editor saw some pieces I did for The Floyd Press. I had hoped this meant I could write about women minorities, activists, and eccentrics but the theme for the next issue is “skin care.”

3. There will be some free facials, manicures, and pedicures involved.

4. Years ago the Appalachian Women’s Alliance met here in Floyd and hosted a poetry reading at Oddfellas Cantina, back when it was under the management of the couple who now run FloydFest. I signed up for a spot to read, but the crowd was noisy and busy eating. When it was my turn, I got up on the stage, leaned into the mic, and said loudly, “Let’s talk about sex.” Everyone dropped their forks and their jaws and the room got quiet. I read THIS poem.

5. Three dentist appointments and one tooth infection later, I guess I’m glad August is over.

6. September highlights won’t only be the free facials and manicures I’m getting. Dave Matthews and John Mayer are also on the schedule. They and others are doing a free concert for Virginia Tech students and staff in support of the school. Because my husband helped with counseling after the shootings, he was able to get us tickets. NOTE: POST WITH PHOTOS AND VIDEO OF THE CONCERT COMING UP NEXT.

7. TomFoolery: Tom Ryan, who spoofs Floyd on an irregular basis, says he recently got a call from Hollywood. According to Ryan, Tom Hanks wants to play him in a movie about “the pathos and bathos inherent in (his) multiple marriages and their seemingly inevitable failures.” Due out this fall, the name of the movie is “Saving Ryan’s Privates.” More of Tom’s latest HERE.

8. Tom has reported in his most current Floyd Enquirer, The Floyd Press front page stories on July 5th included: Roaming Skunks Become Big Problem on Main Street,” and “Storm Interrupts Yard Sale.”

9. Believe it or not, writing foster care quarterly reports for the state for eight years helped me to be a better writer. In them I had to review what took place in a brief and cohesive way, outline where there was progress, report any drama and cite what was done to address it, while mixing in direct quotes from the client; all the elements that make for good story telling.

10. My mother was a waitress who never wrote orders down. I like to do stories the same way. If I pull out a pad and start taking notes, everyone starts acting different, including me.

11. Yesterday I did an interview with a young woman who sells Mary Kay. As soon as we sat down and she said, “What kind of skin do you think you have; normal, dry, or oily?” I laughed and said, “Oh, I have a few questions for you too."

12. Scientific objectivity goes on the premise that the scientist is separate from the object of his or her study. But Quantum Physics tells us that everything is connected as a whole and that you can’t study anything without affecting it.

13. Potters Who Aren’t Named Harry: Did you hear about how my Asheville Potter Son, Josh, got addicted to Harry Potter books and read six of them back to back in two weeks? Details about his recovery HERE. The movie is HERE.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here.

September 4, 2007

Houston We Have Ignition

kilfgroup.jpg The following is Part 2 of “First Wood-firing at The Community Temple.” Part one, “The Countdown” is HERE.

My potter son, Josh, who was a big Lord of the Rings fan when he was a boy, confessed to me while he was dunking pots into glazes that he had just read six Harry Potters books in two weeks.

It had been three months since the last time I visited him at The Community Temple kiln site in Marshall, North Carolina, during the early stages of the kiln building when the shed roof was being raised.

“How did you do that with all this going on?” I asked, referring the pressing deadline of getting the kiln ready for firing pots already promised for shows. maynardkilnf.jpg

Sean, a potter from the Clayspace Coop that Josh belongs to and part of the kiln work crew, joked that Josh had been taking some extra long lunch hours lately.

“I got addicted to them,” Josh explained.

We estimated that Josh’s Harry Potter diversion set the wood-firing schedule back by about two days and that it might have been Josh’s girlfriend Anna’s fault since she had the books and was reading them too.

Later, I was in our camper making lunch for the workers when my husband, Joe, came in for some reason I forget now. He was getting ready to head back to the kiln site to cut more firewood when I said, “Hey, if Josh asks you where I am, tell him I’m out here reading Harry Potter.” woodforfire.jpg

Next, I heard a ruckus coming from the work site. Peeking out the camper window, I saw Micah, Josh’s neighbor Rob’s daughter, unload six cases of beer from the trunk of her car, which made me wonder if the firing that night was going to be “Wood-firing Animal House Style.” The beer was hauled to the spring box to keep it cool, and in the hours leading up to the first firing and for a couple of nights and days that followed, it proved to be refreshing to more than just the woodfiring crew.

The Community Temple, which will directly serve five Clayspace Coop potters, is aptly named. Because wood-firing is a labor intensive process that demands round the clock time and care, it takes a small community to pull one off. The kiln’s name is also appropriate considering the number of potters and friends who came out during its building to offer support. The visitors that floated in and out to see the kiln on the day of the first firing were like a who’s who of regional potters. There were also a few from neighboring states. joshpaulis.jpg

Karl, a potter from Josh’s hometown of Floyd, Virginia, arrived bearing pesto to share and other fragrant delicacies from his garden. Maynard, also a potter, came all the way from Nashville (Yes, you heard me right. That’s Asheville with an N) hauling a load of firewood on the back of his truck and pulling another load in a trailer. He, dubbed the “Fairy Godfather of Wood,” brought a clay horse that his niece had made to add to the community of pots being fired.

Firewood, and a lot of it, is the key ingredient in wood-firing. “We burn enough in one firing to heat a house for a whole winter,” Clayspace potter Matt told me.1stchamermix.jpg

When I asked how many wood-firings they do each year, he answered, “about four or five.”

Meanwhile, Josh buzzed around like the kiln maestro conducting the symphony of elements that must come together for a successful wood-firing. Even so, he was always ready to take the time to greet visitors and act as a host. His ceramics teacher at UNCA, Megan Wolf, dropped by, towing her young son in her arms. With them was Jon Keenan, a ceramics artist and the associate director of UNCA’s Craft Campus, an upcoming facility that plans to merge creative arts with green building technology.

Later, work stopped to greet Paulus, a longtime Penland teacher and potter who came to see the kiln with a woman I recognized from seeing at Josh’s UNCA BFA show. Two other women potters brought pizza that night. Others called on the phone.
Vases, platters, plates, mugs, bowls, lidded jars, and teapots loaded into the first chamber looked like a still life art installation. I was told by more than one potter that loading the kiln is the most complicated part of wood-firing, the part that involves the most thoughtful planning.

“You have to know what each piece needs,” Matt told me. I learned that it takes a special knack to determine how close each pot should be to the fire and how to stack so many various sizes and shapes and get them all to fit.

At 11:00 p.m. Saturday night the kiln was ready.

Josh used Sean’s lighter. Joe uttered the words, “Houston we have ignition.” Everyone was speechless when it finally happened. Then, Anna broke out her violin and played as the fire began to rise. Joe joined in with his flute. joshsitsdown.jpg Rob, from the farm above Josh, had company from Atlanta who had come down with him to witness the occasion. “Like the first torch at the Olympics,” one of them said. A sense of reverence and magic hung in the air.

“Look,” someone noticed, “Josh is finally sitting down! It was the first time in several days that anyone had seen him do that.

Post notes: For the rest of that conversation, go HERE. The first show of pots fired at the Communty Temple is one that Josh is curating, and will be held at the Good Dirt Gallery in Athens, GA this upcoming weekend. You can scroll down to read Josh’s curator’s statement HERE.

Photos: 1. Joe, Megan with baby, Sean holding up pot, Josh, Jon, Matt. 2. Maynard admiring the clay horse. 3. Joe and Sean unloading Maynard's truck. One block of firewood is caught in mid-air. 4. Josh talks to Paulis. 5. Pottery in front chamber ready for firing. 6. Josh lights the fire. 7. Josh finally sits down. Karl sits behind Josh.

September 3, 2007

First Wood-firing at the Community Temple: The Countdown

kilatnight.jpgA Noborigama chambered climbing kiln is built on a slope, and each succeeding chamber is situated higher than the one before it. The chambers in a noborigama are pierced at intervals with stoking ports. Climbing kilns have been used in Japan since the 17th century. ~ Wikipedia

Like a rocket ship with shuttle attachments, the Community Temple kiln in Marshall, North Carolina, has three individual chambers for wood-firing. When my husband and I arrived this past Friday night for the kiln’s first launch, my son, Josh Copus, and other Clayspace Coop potters were glazing their pots and building brick shelves inside the adobe chambers to load them onto.

After greetings and updates and after setting up enough night lighting, my husband, Joe, stationed himself at the electric stone-cutter.communitytemplebr.jpg A steady stream of water was pumped over the whining saw, preventing the diamond blade from getting too hot, as he cut through bricks. Various sizes were needed for “the furniture” the potters were stacking, which included chamber fireboxes and firewalls, along with the shelves.

Curious about everything, I took photos and asked lots of questions as I navigated around the impressive 27 foot long kiln. Clayspace Coop member, Eric Knoche makes pots with dramatic architectural angles. He was dipping them in a milky white glaze. Matt Jacobs, another Clayspacer, is known for the small houses that often show up on the pinnacle of his pots, reminiscent of refuge on mountainous landscapes. “They look like Dr. Seuss-like worlds,” I told him. 1stchamber.jpg

Matt was making a mixture of pine sawdust, clay, and sand in a wheel barrow for “wadding.” I guessed by the name that it was something to plug up kiln openings but was told that the material would be balled up and stuck on the bottom of each pot to buffer it from the direct heat of the brick shelf surface.

Louisa, Matt’s girlfriend and an anthropology student at Warren Wilson College, brought Ellen, a fellow student who was doing field work for their class. The idea was observe while participating in a community project and then write about the group dynamics. Ellen and Louisa sat on a dirt step under the lights, sticking what looked like various colored cone incense into blocks of wadding or clay. The box they were taking them from said “pyrometric cones.” Josh explained to me that they would be put in the kiln and act as testers as they reacted to time and heat. lousiaelle.jpg

Later, Louisa and Ellen would ball up the wadding, and I would be handed a trowel for chipping away extra mortar that had dried between bricks on the chamber walls.

Potter, Rob Pulleyn, Josh’s always supportive neighbor who sold Josh the property the kiln was built on, dropped by with a few pieces to be included in the momentous first firing. Rob is the former founding owner of Lark’s Books and is currently heading up Marshall High Studios, the development of creative space for a community of artists in the historic Marshall High School on Blanahassett Island, downtown Marshall.

But the firing didn’t happen as planned that night. Delayed by a day, every one got some sleep, knowing that the next couple of days and nights would involve the painstaking and constant watching and stoking of the fire, done in shifts by the Clayspace community of potters, family, and friends. To be continued … joshinkiln.jpg

Post Notes: The Community Temple is a manifestation of Josh’s pottery career that began with the excavation of eleven dump-truck loads of wild clay from a local tobacco farmer’s field (as outlined in the article Josh wrote for Studio Potter); followed by his UNCA BFA show on Building Community, involving a 15 x 18 foot brick wall installation constructed out of handmade wild clay bricks stamped with the word “individual” to represent the strength an individual has when joined together in community; and leading to the winning of a Windgate Fellowship Award to help fund the construction of a wood-fired kiln and further his exploration into using local materials in ceramics.

To see a short video of Josh glazing pots at the Community Temple this past Friday go HERE. Kiln building photos are HERE.

UPDATE: Newly downloaded video - When we arrived for the weekend of the first kiln woodfiring, Josh was building shelves to load pottery on inside the kiln's second chamber. At the same time he was orchestrating woodfiring steps to others. See a clip HERE.

September 1, 2007

Seeing Red

1. Red on red collision
2. A case of mistaken identity
3. My husband went to a Red Sox baseball game and all I got was this T-shirt.

Note: For something that will really make you see red, go HERE.