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December 31, 2007

A New Cowboy in Town

jocahrro.jpgThe following was published in The Floyd Press on January 3, 2008.

You know the saying ‘everything under the sun?’ Now you can get Mexican food there. A new restaurant called El Charro recently opened in the lower level of the Winter Sun building on Locust Street in downtown Floyd.

El Charro means “the cowboy” in Spanish, said Malena, wife of one of the new restaurant owners. She pointed out a large sombrero on the terra cotta wall to my husband and me while describing the traditional dress of a Mexican cowboy. Her father was a cattle raising cowboy, she told us as she wrote down our lunch order.

The restaurant is a family business, owned and operated by two brothers, a cousin, and their families. The extended family lives in Galax and has one other restaurant in Radford, Malena explained. sombcharrro.jpg

“You’re all going to love Floyd and want to move here,” I joked to her. She motioned to her daughter who was cleaning off a nearby table and explained that her daughter wouldn’t want to change schools or move away from her friends.

From our comfortable booth by a big picture window, my husband and I watched Christmas shoppers stroll up and down the tiled hallway just outside the restaurant. The hallway and restaurant décor continues the South American theme that began with the first shop in the building, the one that bears its name – Winter Sun – an outlet featuring clothing hand painted in Ecuador. elcharrofood2.jpg

I don’t remember what my husband ordered because I was happy with my own meal – grilled chicken fajitas, sautéed onions and peppers, guacamole, salsa, and beans – and so I was not tempted by his. It was a few days before Christmas and the atmosphere was festive. A family of about fifteen was celebrating together at a group of tables that had been put together to make one long one. Many of them had arrived carrying stacks of wrapped gifts, which they deposited in a pile nearby.

El Charro is the newest establishment in the building that once housed a textile factory before it was purchased and renovated by Winter Sun clothing store owner, Anga Miller. Other shops in the recently remodeled downstairs include The Craft Cottage, which sells homemade candles and soaps; Art Under the Sun, a Floyd Artist Association's working gallery; Studio One, which offers art instruction to students of all ages; Wildfire Pottery; and the Anderson Gallery and Press. colcharro2.jpg Upstairs is home to Café Del Sol; Winter Sun clothing store; and Winter Sun Hall, where performance art, dances, and concerts take place.

“This is about as close as Floyd gets to a Mall,” I said to my husband, impressed that everything in the building was so inviting, conveniently located, and locally owned. Looking out the restaurant window and waving to a friend, I added, “And the food here gets my four stars.”

December 29, 2007

Dream for President Bush on the Radio

presbush2.jpg I want President Bush to have a dream … like the one that Ebenezer Scrooge had … I want him to be visited by the ghosts of Iraqi children … who cry out "But mankind was your business"

A little Bach flower remedy for calming the nerves and some deep breathing was in order.

“I’m glad I’m not on a web cam because I didn’t dress for the occasion,” I joked to Pokey Anderson, co-host of The Monitor, a Pacifica radio program out of Houston, Texas.

I was about to read my poem “Dream for President Bush” over the phone while she recorded it for her upcoming show this Sunday. After I posted the poem on my blog a few weeks ago, it was excerpted by Blue Gal on the Crooks and Liars website, which is where, I assume, Pokey found it.

She laughed and kept me talking so that she could adjust the controls to match my voice. “What’s the weather like there?”

“It’s dreary and raining. Not too cold but cold enough to have my wood stove going.”

“Wood stove?” she questioned.

“Yes. People still use wood stoves up here in the mountains of Virginia,” I said.

Dream for President Bush was written as a spoken word poem during a solo writing retreat in November of 2002. I had rented a cabin just down the mountain for a weekend get-away by a lake. While writing it, I paced the cabin floor in front of a roaring fire, shouting the lines in an emotional outpouring, as if they would reach Bush and awaken something in him. I knew the reason for the rush to war was being trumped up. I knew invading a country unprovoked, even a dictatorship, was going against international law and would set a shameful precedent that our country would come to regret. I knew that Saddam was holding warring fractions in Iraq together with force and that without him a vortex of violence would erupt. If I knew these things, those in power certainly did. The Bush administration wasn’t being honest. The Democrats caved, the corporate media caved. I had a lot to get off my chest that weekend and I did it through writing the poem, which was more of prayer than a protest.

In the first year after writing the poem, I was invited to read it at a peace vigil in Roanoke. I read it for a cable TV show in Hull, Massachusetts, the town I grew up in, after running into a Hull Times reporter who recorded it at the January 2003 Peace March on Washington. I passed out copies at the march and handed one directly to Representative, Cynthia McKinney, and to actress, Jessica Lange, both speakers at the event. Someone read the poem at a Blacksburg Peace Rally that I wasn’t able to attend. Here in Floyd, where I live now, I’ve read it at open mics at The Pine Tavern, The Black Box stage, Oddfellas Cantina, and the Café Del Sol. When I first read it at the Pine Tavern to a packed house, the war had already begun. Although the poem was overwhelmingly well received by the crowd, one couple got up and walked out. The last time I read it, this year at the Café Del Sol, no one got up and left the room.

I want President Bush to be haunted … by the ghosts of our Founding Fathers … until he learns this lesson: that killing civilians is a terrorist act … and preemptive strike is invasion …

According to The Monitor’s website, they are a weekly news analysis show founded by Mark Bebawi on the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 in response to the poor quality of available news coverage at the time. “Since then it has evolved into a weekly examination of many large stories ranging from Climate Change to changes in the world’s economy,” the website reads. The guest list for past shows is impressive and includes Daniel Ellsberg, Molly Ivans, Seymour Hersh, Arianna Huffington, David Cobb, Helen Thomas, Gore Vidal, Frank Rich, Robert Fish, Scott Ridder, William Rivers Pitt, Howard Zinn, and others.

When I wrote Dream for President Bush I was fired up. Sadly, I’m more apathetic now. While I believe every human being can be redeemed, like Scrooge was, it’s unlikely that President will ever have a vision worthy of a leader. And even if he did, so much damage has already been done. No matter what course a president from either party takes now in Iraq more people are bound to die.

The poem that needs to be written now is one that calls for action to hold the Bush administration accountable for its chronic ineptness, corruption, and abuse of power. Otherwise we can expect the low standard our country holds now to remain, be repeated, or worsen. Such a poem, like the one I wrote, should not be considered political, but rather one that reminds us of the core values our founding fathers intended for this country and inspires us to do whatever we can to protect them.

While reading Dream for President Bush over the phone to Pokie, I found myself getting up from my chair, walking while reading, closing my eyes to feel the meaning behind words, and looking up from the typed words on paper as if someone was in the room listening.

If President Bush doesn't have a real dream soon … he should step aside for those who do … He should impeach himself … and ask for forgiveness … for imposing his nightmare on the world …

Post notes: You can hear the poem broadcast live this Sunday between 6 and 7 p.m. Central Standard Time (that’s 7 - 8 p.m. here) at the KPFT website HERE by clicking on the “listen now” icon in the upper right hand corner. Or, you can listen after it’s aired at The Monitor’s website HERE, archived under the Sunday, December 30th show. The photo is of a collage I made a few years ago, incorporating the first stanza of the poem.

Update: Not only can you read the poem in its entirety HERE, you can hear the clipped audio of me reading it on the show HERE. Thanks to Jeff for figuring out how to capture the poem from the hour and a half show, and to Nelson for helping me post it here at Loose Leaf.

December 28, 2007

Bizzaro Scrabble

maxscrabble.jpg To the tune of “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire,” I ask Mara, “Why did you get your haircut?”

“I won a haircut.”

“In a poetry slam?”

“No, I said I WANT a haircut. I won dogs tags in a poetry slam.”

Mara’s daughter Kyla, sitting at the next table fixing her doll’s hair, asks, “Mom, did you take your turn?” But I hear ‘did you take a Xanax?’

“Why is Xanax spelled with an X and not a Z like Xerox, which should also be spelled with a Z?” I ask. Mara denies ever taking Xanax.

By this time “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” was playing on the Café Del Sol stereo from the fake Christmas song CD that Katy Reany made for Mara. The words are changed to “We Wish You Didn’t Live with Us,” but I hear “We Wish You a Merry Whip Ass.” maramartian.jpg

It wasn’t just the lyrics of old favorite Christmas songs that were skewered. The game took a strange turn when I innocently played NASH without a G and it was only noticed a few turns later, too late to take it back. We decided that everyone could play one free fake word with the stipulation that we had to provide a convincing fake meaning for it.

So NASH, played next to JO which is an Australian boyfriend, became an English boyfriend. (I was thinking of Joni Mitchell’s one time boyfriend, Graham Nash.) NOOKY with a Y was played and RAINOIT was later changed to CRAINOIT to reach the triple letter score.

A wire of silver stars from the container of Christmas cookies Mara brought got made into a tiara and was passed around for wearing on the head.

Max asks his sister, Emma, something like “When is a door not a door?” and she answers, “When it’s a jar.” marastarwars2.jpg

“Hey, what’s that word that comes before Caboodle?” someone else (I confess) wants to know. Mara recites her poem "I Will Be Devastated When They Quit Making Star Wars Stamps" while holding up a sheet of them that Max and his family gifted her with. She uses a Darth Vader stamp to pay her mortgage bill she says. Luke Skywalker and Yoda are for letters to people she likes.

Post Notes: I specifically lined Mara’s pose up in the second photo so that she would look like a red antennaed Martian. See a short video clip of some more Bizzaro Scrabble antics HERE. Click and scroll down HERE for more Scrabble photos.

December 27, 2007

13 Thursday: Free Verse

kayleecoloringll.jpg1. My youngest son Dylan and his wife, Alexis, are expecting a baby in May. I can’t seem to say the words grandmother or grandchild yet (my first!), so I’m calling the baby my G-Whiz kid.

2. I told them that I would come down to Roanoke where they live to baby-sit whenever I can. The only two things I require are an internet connection and a baby stroller.

3. I lean towards believing there is a rhyme to the reason of life, but other times I think it’s all free verse.

4. I almost forgot how to blog over the Christmas holiday. Finally the evening of the day after Christmas I started to visit my blog friends again to see what they had been up to, sort of like when we were kids and would walk around the neighborhood the day after Christmas to see what kind of presents our friends had got.

6. Sometimes even my husband has to catch up with what’s going with me by reading my blog, especially when he’s in San Francisco helping to facilitate a teen meditation retreat like he is right now. XO.

7. My oldest son, Josh, and I just watched the Martin Scorsese's documentary, “No Direction Home,” about Bob Dylan. We had a good laugh remembering the time when Josh was 13 and I tried to turn him on to Dylan by tuning into a show he was on. It was during the phase when Dylan’s singing was shot and he garbled a song as I explained what an icon he was. Josh thought I was out of my mind. “Maybe he’s trying act like singing bad is the new good singing,” I said referring to the rebel trendsetter aspect of Dylan.

8. I was happy to find two of my all time favorite Bob Dylan songs in one Youtube video HERE, but I did have to wonder about Dylan’s choice of hat because it looks more like something Camilla Parker Bowles would wear.

9. Speaking of hats, my blogging friend Paul has a hat blog and I’m featured today wearing the leopard skin pillbox hat inspired by a third favorite Dylan song and by Deana at Friday Night Fish Fry (who really has one whereas I was only trying mine on). See HERE.

10. I wish President Bush would have an affair … I wish he'd take off his black pointed cowboy boots ... and look at the moon more often … And then I wish he'd wake up … and be inflicted with what Jim Carey had … in the movie "Liar Liar" … My Dream For President Bush poem is scheduled to be broadcast on The Monitor, KPFT/Pacifica, in Houston on Sunday from 6 pm to 7 pm CST. The host of the show must have found the poem on the internet. The roster of past guests on the show is impressive and includes: Daniel Ellsberg, Molly Ivins, Seymour Hersh, Arianna Huffington, Helen Thomas, Gore Vidal, William Rivers Pitt, Howard Zinn, Scott Ritter and others. You can read the rest of the poem HERE and HERE is the radio show’s website.

11. I’m a new Sufjan Stevens fan. I discovered him when I went to Blue Mountain Mama's site and she had several Christmas songs of his downloaded on her blog. My favorite is called “The Worst Christmas Ever.” You can hear him sing it HERE.

12. Christmas Caroling in Angels in the Attic Thrift Shop by some of my Floyd friends is HERE.

13. Is it possible to play anything but a happy song with a banjo? Do you know what the difference is between a fiddle and a violin?

Post notes: Thirteen Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. This is my 113th TT. The photo above is of my son Dylan’s stepdaughter coloring at our house on Christmas Day.

December 26, 2007

The Best of Christmas Eve

1. Full moon on the Blue Ridge Parkway
2. Yankee Swap Christmas Eve Class Picture
3. Break for recess
4. Two heads are better than one
5. But more is fun

December 25, 2007

Window Shopping Encore

1. Windows draw me in, the warm light they radiate, the sense of being on the outside wanting to be in.
2. A few days before Christmas, Joe and I went window shopping in downtown Floyd. With our shopping already done, it was fun just to enjoy the festive displays and stop and chat with the shopkeepers.
3. Life is so much more than the obvious. Every window is a mirror, every reflection suggesting a rich inner life.
4. Many years ago I worked in a boutique in downtown Boston. One year at Christmastime, I stood in the window as a live mannequin and drew a crowd of people who waited to see if I would move.
5. But even longer ago than that, when I was five years old I went with my family into Boston to see the Jordan Marsh Christmas window displays. The moving mannequins were dressed in late 1920’s clothes and arranged in homey Christmas settings. It was a formative experience that I will never forget. The magic was very real to me then.
6. Every window Joe and I saw was like a wrapped Christmas package waiting to be opened, invoking visions of sugar plums, gifts of the magi, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
7. A big part of the pleasure of window shopping was being outside, walking arm in arm with Joe, bundled up, going from shop to shop. With so many downtowns being lost everyday, I’m thankful an outing like ours can still happen. I’m wishing you all a magical holiday full of surprises and peaceful moments.

Post notes: Window Shopping #I is HERE. Photos are of: 1. New Mountain Mercantile. 2. Bulletin Board on Locust Street. Yes, that's Elvis. 3. Oddfellas Cantina. 4. Finders Keepers Antique Store. 5. Sue's Flowers. 6. Cafe Del Sol. 7. Finders Keepers.

December 23, 2007

Don We Now Our Gray Apparel

1. The Fog of Christmas
2. Two Redmans
3. The Presentation
4. Deck the Boughs – AKA Tree Branch Feng Shui
5. Santa Wears Red Sox

Post Notes: My Christmas memories involve snow and presents -- mostly the anticipation of presents. My strongest Christmas memory is standing at the top of the stairs with my eight siblings waiting for my dad to call us down for Christmas morning after he had gone ahead to plug in the tree lights and check to see if Santa had come. It was the pinnacle of anticipation and excitement. White Christmases were common where I grew up in Massachusetts. Although it was foggy here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia yesterday when I snapped the above photo of my house, there was some snow on the ground. Today, because of the rain, it's looking like we'll be getting more of a white wash Christmas than a white one. As for photo #2, for those who don’t know, my last name is Redman. The Sunday Scribblings prompt for the weekend is holiday memories.

December 22, 2007

Looking for Danny

ball.jpgLast night while watching The News Hour, I couldn’t take my eyes off Ray Suarez, a PBS senior correspondent. At first I didn’t know why I was drawn to look at him so intently and why I felt soothed when I did. Then I realized that if I shifted my eyes slightly -- the way I do when I look at computer generated magic art or try to see a variation of an illusion -- I could make Ray Suarez look like my brother Danny.

I found myself imagining that Dan had moved out west, started a new life, and had become Ray Suarez. It was a stretch to see Dan under Ray Suarez’s beard, but the hairline was the same and the features similar. I was enjoying fleeting glimpses of what it would be like to see my brother Dan alive again. I was marveling at how well he was doing in his new life, interviewing people on TV, when I became aware of the game I was playing.

But really, is it any stranger that Danny may exist somewhere in an afterlife than it is to think he is Ray Suarez?

Post Note: I had imagined that Ray came from Los Angeles, but in reality he’s from New York and lives in Washington, D.C. His ethnic background is Puerto Rican. More about losing Dan HERE.

December 21, 2007

The Double Trouble of Scrabble

scrablesix2.jpg It was a mega game and a record turnout with six players, two boards, two dictionaries, lunch plates, tea cups, score pads and one decked out cappuccino spread out on the two tables put together to make one long one. We drew straws to see which of two teams we would play on. As the games began, mental struggling and concentration mixed with bursts of laughter and visitors coming by to chat. I kept looking across the long table at Rosemary who kept reaching into a large brown paper bag. For most of the game I thought she was eating popcorn and was hoping the bag would make its way down to my end of the table. Turned out their three person team was picking Scrabble letters from the makeshift bag. I played for a turn or two with 8 letters by mistake, and for awhile thought I had a blank until I discovered the letter A was on the other side.

Post note: This was last week's game. Another game is scheduled for today but may be canceled because of the snowy wet weather. Click HERE and scroll down for more Scrabble antics at the Cafe del Sol.

December 20, 2007

13 Thursday: Blog Eggnog

13eggnog.jpg1. I have a fantasy poetry troupe called The Beat Mix, a play on the word beatniks.

2. My poem in which a blender figures in prominently is HERE.

3. Santa has a blog HERE. “One Hundred Things About Santa” is HERE.

4. My Asheville potter son, Josh, just got blogged by someone other than me HERE.

5. I wonder what kind of scrambled eggs eggnog would make.

6. I love the idea of hats but think of them more as props than clothes.

7. A blatant typo in the middle of a post that sits there for days before I see it is equivalent or worse than going to high school with a big zit on your face.

8. I sneeze loudly, yawn loudly, and stomp up the stairs loudly. Last night in bed I tossed and turned so loudly that I woke myself up.

9. I feel discriminated against when it comes to bathrobes. I like pink as much as the next girl, but I want a new terrycloth bathrobe and all the women’s ones are in pale pastel colors. A pale colored robe wouldn’t last a week with me before it was covered in grime and stains. Why do men get all the dark vibrant blue, green, and purple colors?

10. I was up bright and early on Monday morning to roll a guy whose midriff was showing around on a floor and blow air into a dummy. Can you guess what I was doing?

11. “Colleen, do you know how Christmas came to be called X-mas?” my friend Chris recently asked.xp.png “I don’t know, but I hope it doesn’t mean something like X-husband.” Of course, I was googling X-mas as soon as I could get my hands on a computer and discovered that: “The word "Christ" and its compounds, including "Christmas,” have been abbreviated for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern "Xmas" was commonly used. “Christ" was often written as "XP" or "Xt"; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as 1021 AD.

12. I also found out that eggnog adopted the nog part of its name from the word noggin, a Middle English phrase used to describe a small, wooden, carved mug used to serve alcohol in.

13. I use my real name on my blog because why would I want my alter ego instead of the real me to be the one to benefit from all the great friendships, connections, and opportunities that come via blogging ?

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. This is my 112th TT.

December 19, 2007


familyxmas.jpg The day after my son, Josh, packed up the Home Town Pottery Show pots that had been displayed all over my house, I set up a Christmas card station on one of the newly available table tops.

My policy on Christmas cards is that if I’m going to take the time to send one I want it to be more than well wishes and a signature. I like to use the opportunity to update friends and family, so I usually include a Christmas letter in every card.

But this year my writing has already been spent on stories for publication and entries for the blog. So inside my Christmas cards, I included my business card with my Loose Leaf Notes blog address on it and wrote on the back: My Christmas letter can probably be found somewhere here …

Not wanting the inclusion of the business card to come across as formal and not wanting to exclude those who aren’t online, I also included a photo (taken last Christmas and posted above). As an added feature I wrote a newsy flash on the back: Dylan and his wife Alexis are expecting! Ho Ho and Xo! The baby is due in May.

December 18, 2007

Got Pots?

The following is Part II of "The First Annual Pot Party," the nickname I gave to my Asheville Potter Son Josh's recent Hometown Pottery Show, which was held at my house this past weekend.
1. We awoke to what sounded like a war zone. What I first thought was Josh stomping around in one of the upstairs bedrooms was really ice falling off in chunks from the pitched roof of our log cabin. After being slammed with wind and showered with sleet the night before, the sight of the morning sun brought a sense of relief, but the sudden warming it created also caused an avalanche of melting ice.
2. Coffee brewed, tea was poured, fried eggs sizzled in the skillet. Joe pulled up a chair and ate his breakfast while watching the twenty minute slide show of Frank Bott's photographs, dramatic images of the Clay Space Gallery and the recent firing in the noborigama kiln Josh built this past summer. We all had a snow day mentality. Fulfilled from the previous day's events, we were ready to welcome any new pottery show guests but weren't really expecting any.
3. But the sun shone a new day, and all was not lost by the Pottery Show announcement not getting into the Floyd Press. The announcement did appear in the December issue of the Museletter and some who had read about it there came out to see Josh's new work. Our first visitor of the day, a family friend named Paul, held up his new pasta platter like he had just won a final match at Wimbledon.
4. "I don't know a single one of them," I announced as I looked out the window and watched a group of three walk towards the house from the drive-way. They turned out to be some new Floyd residents who used to live in Asheville. Two of them knew Josh from Warren Wilson College. While they all had an enthusiastic visit, talking pottery and kiln construction, I wandered around the house getting to know the new pots better, handling them, gazing at them, and taking photographs like a portrait photographer takes pictures of people.
5. Museletter readers, Rosemary and Walter hadn't seen a trace of the balloons I tied to a tree out on the Parkway to help visitors find our driveway. Had the wind untied them? Maybe the sleet ripped them to shreds. Rosemary, whose sister is a potter interested in wild clay, leafed through the article Josh wrote for Studio Potter about his wild clay excavation from a North Carolina farmer's tobacco field.
6. Sunday's attendance was lighter than Saturdays, but like Saturday, every visit was fun filled and rich with meaningful conversation. By evening, the living room glowed as if it was enchanted. Shiny pots and foil wrapped presents under the tree caught the reflection of the string of Christmas lights in the window.
7. Every pot had been made from the wild clay and then wood fired in the new kiln. Each one had its own personality. In groups, they formed families that looked like they belonged together. I still hadn't picked out my own Christmas pot. Which would stand alone? Which was ready for a new home? I kept moving them around to see how they looked in different settings.
8. The next day while Josh was packing up to head back to Asheville, I walked out to the road to investigate the missing balloons. The wind had not untied them. They still hung, deflated and sliced. I imagined how they sounded when they popped from Saturday's gusty wind and icy onslaught. They never had a chance.

Post notes: More Hometown Pottery Show photos are HERE. A collection of posts about Josh's wild clay and wood fire kiln building adventures can be scrolled down HERE. A short interview I did with Josh in which he answers 'do you remember the first pot you ever made?' is HERE.

December 17, 2007

The First Annual Pot Party

1. It was the party I never let Josh have when he was a teenager. Although I think he had a few behind my back that weren't condoned by me. This one was not only condoned, I helped with the planning. "This is the kind of party I can handle," I said to him as he was setting up pots for a Hometown Pottery Show and I was warming cider on the stove. "It's constructive, has a theme, and a time frame with an ending."
2. My house was transformed to a storefront studio. Every surface was enlisted to make room for pots, teapots, bowls, bottles, platters, and plates. They spread throughout the living room and kitchen. A few were on the front porch.
3. "How did you hear about this?" I asked potter Tom Phelps, who along with his wife, Carol, was one of the first arrivals. "I heard it from you, Colleen," he answered smiling. I needed that validation after the announcement I wrote didn't make it in the Floyd Press. Tom, who was Josh's first pottery mentor, also saw one of the flyers I hustled to hang just days before to make up for the lack of press.
4. "Did you see the balloons I tied to a tree out on the Parkway?" I asked Jody who came with her daughter looking for mugs.
5. A slide show of photos taken by Frank Bott that were playing on Josh's laptop was mesmerizing. Frank is a photojournalist covering the growth of the River Arts District in Asheville where Clay Space Co-op, the studio and gallery that Josh founded, is located. The photos show the newly renovated Clay Space gallery, a warehouse space that was once Josh's home, and the most recent wood-firing at the Community Temple kiln.
6. A steady stream of people flowed in throughout the day. Quite a few were fellow potters, like Zack, who is Donna Polsena and Rick Hensley's apprentice. Later in the day Donna and Rick, two of Floyd's "Sixteen Hands" potters who also live on the Parkway, dropped by. Donna was happy with the plate she picked out to purchase and pleasantly surprised when I took her in my bedroom and showed her one of her ceramic sculptures on my dresser.
7. My living room chair got relegated to a hallway. "This is where you can sit and tell Santa what you want for Christmas," I told all the guests. "All I want for Christmas is a roof on our house," said Chris Deerheart, who with his partner Alina is living in a workshop studio while building a house.
8. By the late afternoon it was sleeting ice and the front steps on the porch were slick. Josh and I got back to our kitchen table Scrabble game while Joe, who had just come in from hunting, made us all supper.

Post note: See the action video clip where Josh makes a spoof sale HERE. Click and scroll down HERE for more photos and narrative on Josh's wild and wood-fired clay pottery. Part II of this post is HERE.

December 15, 2007

DANCE is in my DNA

ffddance2.jpgMy friend Luke says I dance like a pollinating bee going for nectar. I dance like I write poetry, freestyle. Sometimes I dance outside the box. With my eyes closed, I may step on your feet. I need room to spin.

I’d much rather dance at a wedding reception than catch the bouquet or eat cake. I’m always hoping they don’t play “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” or spend too much time on The Twist. I dance to the Marcarena but I don’t know the steps. I gave up steps and haven’t used them since dancing at The Surf Ballroom in Hull, Massachusetts, back in the day when slow dancing was a safe way to get close to boys and fast dances had names like The Bump, The Boogaloo, The New Yorker, and The Philly.
I think of dance as my sport. Before going out dancing at night, I make sure to rest during the day. I bring water and a high protein snack and get ready for a dancing marathon because once I get up on the dance floor I don’t sit down until the band takes a break. I don’t have to have a partner. I don’t want to talk or socialize. I land on a spot on the dance floor and then raise enough energy that I begin to orbit. Endorphins are released. It’s hard not to smile. I like to translate music into movement like I translate the world into words.

Post notes: The above was written from a Sunday Scribblings prompt. The photos are of me, Mara, and Joe dancing on the Poet’s Soapbox at Floyd Fest. The action video that will turn you on your head is HERE. My Dance Free Poem is HERE.

December 14, 2007

Radio Drama Comes to the Winter Sun

youngactors.jpg The following was published in the Floyd Press on December 13, 2007.

The Floyd Home Companion is a theatrical performance scheduled to open at the Winter Sun Hall on Friday and Saturday, December 14th and 15th at 7 p.m. and Sunday December 16th at 5 p.m. The show is a take-off on The Prairie Home Companion, a satirical radio show created and hosted by Garrison Keillor. It will be performed by The Young Actors Co-op, a Floyd theater group.

Inspiration for Keillor's popular variety show, which airs live from Minnesota Saturday afternoons on Public Radio, came from the Grand Ole Opry. Both Keillor's show and Floyd version of the show include comedy skits, musical acts, fake ads, and storytelling featuring local references.

There's also a movie based on The Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman and staring Keillor, Meryl Streep, Lilly Tomlin, Lindsey Lohan and others. The director of The Floyd Home Companion, Rose McCutchan (pictured below), hasn't seen the film. She doesn't want the pressure of comparing the local production with a Hollywood one, she said.

Rose, who graduated from Floyd High School in 1997, has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and Baltimore, where she's acted in community theater, auditioned for TV and film roles, and has had what she calls "brief moments of minor successes." But she began to feel like a "tiny fish in a great sea," especially in Los Angeles, so eventually she moved back to Floyd, where she manages The Black Water Loft, part of the McCutchan family business.

Both Rose and her husband, Josh Bosniak, graduated with degrees in theater from Mary Mount Manhattan College, where Rose first directed children's theater classes. I sat next to Josh, a musician who graduated from Floyd High in 1996, at a recent play practice. He explained the premise of the play and Rose's contribution as writer and director. rosedirector.jpg

"What's your role in it? I asked.

"Everything else," he answered, referring to the support he gives Rose doing whatever is needed.

Upon her return to Floyd, Rose was asked to share her theater training at a children's camp hosted by the owners of Ambrosia Farm, a local B&B. The Young Actors Co-op was formed and productions hosted by the Jacksonville Center were performed throughout 2005 and 2006.

The current Young Actors Co-op is made up of twelve actors who range in age from eight to sixteen. Most have written their own skits. Their parents are also involved. Because of the parents, "we have professional tickets stubs, a play bill, ad spots, and so much more," Rose said.

Pat Woodruff, a parent with two children in the play explained how sound effects are a big part of the radio variety show, just as they were during the Golden Age of Radio. I watched as two girls practiced their lines while pulling a chain across a wooden board. Pat explained that they were creating the sound of children climbing up a tree house while carrying a kitten for a skit Coriander Woodruff wrote, called "A Sleepover is an Oxymoron."

Many of the skits are holiday themed. Two other young actors were rehearsing for Christmas skit titled "The Cat and The Stocking." They used paper clips attached to gloves for the sound of cat claws scampering across the floor. A box of beads and bells were shook at the appropriate time to mimic the sound of a Christmas tree falling down.

Coriander, who is thirteen years old and has recorded two CDs of her electronica music, has contributed much of the music production's soundtrack. Josh Bosniak and local musician A'court Bason have also provided original music.

In some ways the production is a play within a play. Many of the children have duel roles, first playing stage managers getting ready to air a show, and then taking on the roles of radio show performers. A game show of Floyd Trivia, a skit about a UFO landing in Floyd, and an ad for Oddfellas Cantina in which three actors perform dressed in the Oddfellas logo - a farmer, a hippie, and a businessman - are all part of the show.

The Floyd Home Companion, a play about what it's like to put on a variety radio show, is scheduled to be aired on a real radio show. Hickory Dickory Dock, a children's program on Virginia Tech's Independent Radio Station, WUVT-FM 90.7, which airs on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11, plans to play recordings of the show.

Post Notes: Also this weekend in Floyd, my son, Josh Copus, is hosting a Hometown Pottery Open House Saturday and Sunday from 12 - 6 at my house off the Blue Ridge Parkway. He'll be showing new work and telling lively stories about the Noborigama kiln he built this past summer. Photo albums and press generated from the project will be on hand, along with cider and light refreshments.

Floyd Home Companion UPDATE: A December 17th email message from Pat Woodruff says: Floyd Home Companion's Saturday performance was canceled due to the ice storm. So if you have pre-sale tickets you didn't get to use or if you wanted to get to the show, but were away that weekend, now's your chance! There will be a repeat performance on Friday, December 21 at 7 PM. Tickets at the door are $6 for adults and $3 for kids.

December 13, 2007

13 Thursday: Just Hanging Out

soccer13.jpg1. What’s up with hunters that wear camouflage clothes, topped off with a bright blaze orange hat? Do they want to be seen or not?

2. I can tell it’s Christmas when I drive by a bunch of tires holding a tarp over hay bales and mistake them for wreaths.

3. At the book signing event I attended last weekend, I was snapping a photo of David St. Lawrence with his camera while he was instructing me how to use it. “Hold it like you would a gun,” he said. “Yeah, like I've ever held a gun!” I answered.

4. I want President Bush to have a dream like the one that Ebenezer Scrooge had… I want him to be haunted by the ghosts of Iraqi children who cry out … But mankind is your business … After I posted my “Dream for President Bush” poem last week (written in November 2002) it got picked up at Crooks and Liars, creating an increase of email comments and traffic on my blog. The last time I checked over there it had 152 comments. Half a dozen other political blogs also picked it up.

5. Dicken’s Christmas Carol is to Christmas what Arlo Guthrie’s Alice Restaurant is to Thanksgiving.

6. Politically correct Santa can’t smoke a pipe anymore, and there’s talk of him having to lose weight and not saying HO HO because some people think it sounds too much like the slang for “Whore.” On top of that, I saw a story on the nightly news a few nights ago about people making trips to the North Pole to see it before it’s gone.

7. The fact that Joy is in the word Jolly is not lost on me.

8. Could sputtering be an alternate plural of puttering the way slack could be for lack, or the way pets can become pests when there are too many of them?

9. Another sign of global warming: Joe and I raking leaves on Sunday instead of shoveling snow.

10. Does passion fruit flirt? Are elderberries old? Have you ever poured a watermelon and drank it by the gallon? So I brought my Fruit Loops poem to my writer’s workshop. After reading it out loud, one of the members joked, “What has happened to you?” The group renamed the poem “A Slamming Fruit Jam.” I was reminded that I left out persimmons and someone wondered if a pumpkin should be considered a fruit. I rewrote the ending HERE. (And yes, June, I will be reading it at the Spoken Word Open Mic this Saturday at the Café Del Sol.)

11. Apparently, Carly Simon revealed to Dick Ebersol who she was singing about in the song “You’re So Vain.” Ebersol won a lunch with Carly Simon in an auction for charity in which she agreed to reveal who it was. She allowed him to give the rest of us one clue. He has an E in his name. Believe it or not I learned about this while researching fruit for the poem mentioned above because. And if you know the words to the song you will know what fruit was mentioned in the song.

12. Have you ever noticed that whenever Oprah breaks for a commercial and she says “We’ll be right back,” she always says it twice?

13. Have you ever noticed that whenever Oprah breaks for a commercial and she says “We’ll be right back,” she always says it twice?

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

December 12, 2007

December’s Unlikely Porch Vacation

edge.jpgOn the same day I received three Christmas cards in the mail, I also sat in a lounge chair on my porch, sunbathing with barely a stitch on. The feeling was spring but the sun hung too low. The sound of my neighbor’s lawnmower had been replaced with the sound of a distant chainsaw. Last week we were bringing in firewood with gloves on and keeping the stove going day and night. Today it was chickadees happily eating sunflower seeds, Joe doing martial arts in the yard, and confused oak buds green and plump looking ready to pop. Lunch and laptops were spread out on the picnic table. A walk to the mailbox turned into a hike, bringing us to the creek where our dog Jazzy likes to drink and where the boys used to play. In a morning out of time, in between worlds or seasons, I peered down into the creek water as if it was an oracle and said to Joe, “Wait. Don’t move.”

“This one’s called “Living on the Edge,” I said, showing him the picture I snapped.

December 11, 2007

Home for the Holidays

josh.jpg During the last couple of phone calls I’ve had with my son Josh, I’ve learned that a mouse was living in his pottery kiln and that he’s taken up Scrabble. I’m shaking in my boots on the second count because, according to the scores he’s been reporting, he plays Scrabble better than me, and I’ve been playing on and off for a couple of decades.

“But you never even liked the game growing up,” I questioned. He explained that he didn’t understand the strategy then. He had played once and didn’t like it. Occasionally Dylan, his younger brother, would play with me.

“But that was only because he knew how much I liked to play and Dylan is sweet that way,” I said. Josh, who likes to play games competitively, agreed.

No sooner had Josh finished the loading, firing, cooling, and emptying of a new kiln, the 1st Annual Holiday Sale at the newly renovated Clay Space Co-op gallery, which Josh was hosting, geared up.

And then he caught his breath, which came in the form of playing Scrabble with his girlfriend Anna. Anna is also a good player, but it’s hard to compete with a play that involves the letter Q on a triple letter box going in two directions. joshstudiowords.jpg

I’m not surprised that Josh, a word lover who has been published in Studio Potter magazine and recently had his handwriting on the front cover, would catch the Scrabble bug. He likes to play Mad Libs and recently coined the word “chillaxing,” by mixing chilling and relaxing together.

We’ve been on the phone more than usual, making plans for his trip home this weekend to host a Hometown Pottery Show, Saturday and Sunday from 12-6. It’s an open house and the house that will be open is mine. I’ve been telling friends who know I’m a reclusive non-entertainer that now is their chance to finally see where I live.

So no more chillaxing for me. I’m going to vacuum and sweep the cellar floor.

Post notes: The first photo is one taken by photographer Frank Bott, who is documenting the evolution of Asheville’s River Arts District where Josh’s Clayspace Co-op is. The second photo is of a recent Studio Potter magazine cover, an issue on clay and words. It features Josh’s handwriting of a quote by Shoji Hamada speaking to a young potter. It's written on the ClaySpace wall and says: It is important for him to dig deep beneath his own feet to find the spring water. This is better than finding a section of the river of tradition that has already become unclear and weak. True tradition never comes from water flowing above ground: it comes from underneath the ground, from a man's own experience. Individualism is important, and without it one cannot do any good work in this age. To find real individualism does not mean the we should follow the new fashion, but rather the old way, the classic way. What is classic is always new. Fashions are always old ... Click HERE and scroll down for more on Josh's work.

December 10, 2007

Window Shopping

The following are downtown shop windows with scenes of Floyd reflected in them.
1. New Mountain Mercantile
2. Oddfellas Cantina
3. Bell Gallery
4. Farmers Supply
5. Floyd Barber Shop
6. Blue Ridge Muse

Post notes: More on reflections HERE.

December 8, 2007

Dickens Would be Proud

patsigns.jpgThere were seven us, all authors, on a Dickens of a night. We were invited by our local independent bookstore, noteBooks, to sign books as part of the evening festivities, which included late night shopping, Christmas caroling, musical acts, and visits with Santa. I wore my leather Victorian lace-up granny boots, a long black skirt, white blouse with a gold laced vest, and a fur trimmed hat shaped like Santa’s. The funny part was that I wasn’t in costume because those are my real clothes.
Next to me at the author’s table, Pat Woodruff had on a long black hoop skirt, a lacey top, and black Victorian heeled boots. She had the newest book, Strange Tales of Floyd County, and did the most actual signing. The rest of us bantered back and forth, greeted guests, and drank tea or coffee out of mugs that David St. Lawrence had given us with the name of his book on the front, Danger Quicksand: Have a Good Time.

But mostly we spent our time being entertained by Lee Chichester’s live falcon, CJ. Lee, author of Falcons and Foxes in the U.K: The Making of a Hunter, also has hawk. daviddickens.jpgI had thought her falcon was named “Seajay” because it squawked like sea gull, but Lee told me CJ was short for Crow Jo, a variation of Mo Jo, which had been the name his original owners had given him. Back then he hunted ducks, now he hunts crows. CJ had his eye on the decorative sequined fruit in a bowl between David and me, and in particular the red apple, because it looks like blood, Lee told us.

Our books ranged from a children’s storybook to a book about death (mine). One of the signers was a child who had published a coloring book. Fred First of Slow Road Home fame was there, glossy eyed from having just attended another book event the day before, which he blogged about HERE.
After an hour of bookish book sitting I had a strong urge to play hooky. “I’m going out to not smoke a cigarette," I told the bookstore owner as I headed for the front door. Outside it was unseasonably warm with just the right amount of chill in the air, and a few Dickens-like characters floating around. It wasn’t long before I found Santa sitting on a bench in front of the courthouse. It might have been the first time I had seen a completely available Santa, as though he was there just for me to fulfill a childhood fantasy. David, who was also playing hooky, snapped a photo of us. “Have you been good?” Santa asked. Of course, I denied any wrongdoing, but wasn’t able to elaborate because some children had come by and were waiting for their turn with Santa. vgdiickenscrowd.jpg

The new Village Green building sparkled with white lights. People were mulling about. I was out in front of Doug Thompson’s Blue Ridge Muse, taking a photo of the lit up window, when Doug and his wife Amy invited me in. Amy showed me the Christmas mugs she had purchased for the occasion from Angels in the Attic, our town’s popular thrift shop. Doug was busy talking to shoppers, but later that night he visited the book signers at noteBooks and took some close-up shots of CJ, which are likely to turn up in next week’s Floyd Press.

Angels in the Attic was my next stop. caroling.jpg I was drawn in by Christmas red in the window. While trying not to buy a little girls Santa dress for the granddaughter I don’t have (yet), I caught some impromptu Christmas caroling. If Santa wasn’t enough to get me in the holiday spirit, this was. Dr. Sue Osborne and her son Mars were joined by singer Kari Kovik. Judy Weinzenfeld accompanied them on violin as the woman behind the check-out counter in bright red prairie hats hummed along.

Post Notes: You can read more about the book signing event at Floyd's Dickens of a Night and view more photos on David's blog HERE. See the video recording of the Angels in the Attic caroling session HERE.

December 7, 2007

Fruit Loops

fruitloops.jpg I spent a recent morning writing the following poem, which started when I realized that cheery and cherry are almost the same word and are fun said together. But now all I can think about is, ‘what is my writer’s group going to think when I bring THIS as my latest work to be work shopped?’ It might throw them for a loop, a few heads may turn, or maybe I’ll just make them hungry.

Plum is yum
and cherry is cheery
But what part of berry is raspy?

Bananas can be split
or cause you to slip
Apples remind me of fall

I figure a fig is easier to figure
than three meanings
of the word date

A lemon could be worthless
Prune could mean cut
A raisin is a grape
But a grapefruit is not

A peach has a pit
A pear has a core
A nectarine has no neck

An orange has skin and a navel
A pineapple’s not pine or apple
A coconut has no cocoa
A cantaloupe can’t gallop or lope

Mango is tropical
Peachy is keen
A tangerine is an orange
from Tangier

Are crabapples crabby?
Do geese like gooseberries?
If blueberries are blue
and blackberries are black
why aren't strawberries made of straw?

I don’t mince quince
or wish on a star fruit
I don’t know why pomegranates
have so many seeds

Does passion fruit flirt?
Are elderberries old?
Have you ever poured a watermelon
and drank it by the gallon?

What's an apricot got
that a kumquat does not?
Have you ever had a kiwi lime pie?

~ Colleen Redmarmalade

December 6, 2007

13 Thursday: The Shape of Things to Come

13mdandala1.jpg 1. My hands slipped while writing an email to my blog friend and fellow poet, Pris, and I called her Prism, which I think is appropriate seeing as how she sees the world through a poet’s eye.

2. Once I pointed out to a friend that by adding a G to her last name “Robinson” it would become “Robinsong.” She changed her name.

3. At one time we had THIS poster of Bob Marley in our living room. Both my mother and my friend Alywn thought it was Joe the first time they saw it.

4. I’d be really sad if Willie Nelson ever cut off his braid.

5. In the first year of Joe’s and my relationship I had a hard time saying “I love you.” Not because I didn’t but because it seemed cliché to say, and it didn’t seem to cover what I was feeling. Eventually I was able to say, I’m so loving you.

6. I can tell Christmas is nearing when my stat counter says I have a visitor from Santa Clara but I read it as “Santa Claus.”

7. My friend Rosemary sent me an email asking if we could get together for Scrabble. I answered, “Let me check the master plan, aka my calendar.”

8. It’s gotten so cold lately that we’ve had to batten down the hatches, which in our case means the doggie door.

9. Such is the life of a poet: I spent a good part of the day yesterday looking at pinwheel videos and writing a poem about fruit in which one line says: What’s a apricot got that a kumquat does not?

10. I believe in the bluebird of happiness, I just haven’t seen one in awhile.

11. I got a holiday invitation that ended by saying, “google for directions.” All I could think of is what I would have thought if I got that same message 5 years ago.

12. The root of the word GOOGLE comes from “googol,” a very large number that looks something like THIS. 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, etc….. Or better yet because my hand is getting tired: THIS

13. And THIS is the shape of things to come. Make of it what you will.

Post notes: If # 13 is down try THIS one, compliments of Smiler. Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here.

December 5, 2007

In Living Color

1. The Omen
2. The Birthday
3. The Pace of Life. Click HERE to watch how fast it spins. For more commentary on the photos click on the comments.

December 4, 2007

Caution: Blogger Crossing

motorcycle2.jpg AKA: Computers aren’t the only things with hard drives that crash.

My blog is the driving force behind my writing. It’s the place where everything starts, the day to day marriage between my love of the written word and my love of record keeping. If my published writing was a theatre film, my blog would be the DVD, with special features, links to follow, and posted outtakes.

But sometimes I drive myself too hard, juggling all the different aspects of my writing: blog entries, freelanced stories for the Floyd Press, poetry, an occasional Roanoke Times commentary. I’ve recently started contributing a once a week blog post to the online version of New River Voice, a new publication out of Radford. I’ve also been involved in preliminary talks on a new Floyd publication and have signed up to do a first story. In the last few months people have begun to ask me to cover events or have given me leads on stories. I want to collage and frame my small poems, learn desktop publishing, and put some poetry chapbooks together. But my excitement at the endless supply of subject matter I want to explore doesn’t match my physical ability to do so.

Blogging takes the most time. One would think it would be the first thing to drop in looking for ways to slow down. But the informal writing I do here might just be the most personally satisfying. Some of my blogging is actually unwinding, and although my blog doesn’t generate income, it has consistently led to (modest trickles of) income. It’s given me visibility and has provided me with a writing discipline that builds momentum. The learning I’ve experienced and the connections I’ve made with others through blogging these past couple of years have been priceless.

Last week I saw a segment of the Oprah show about a woman who lost 500 pounds. When asked what prompted her to finally lose the weight, she spoke about writing online on message boards, how people enjoyed her wit, how they accepted her and didn’t care how she looked. Her experience interacting with others on the internet pulled her out of herself and made her feel more worthy. I understood what she meant and was touched by it. But I also thought of the many people who wouldn’t understand because they don’t know that relationships formed online can be real and meaningful.

I’m prone to exhaustion and it comes over me easier and more often than it does for most others. Sometimes I’m forced to work from my bed. While my body lies flat, my mind floats in and out of activity and frequently new ideas come. Reaching out, I fumble through the mess of papers spread out on the bed and feel around for my notepad. I write and rest. Rest and write. If I start to feel sorry for myself when my energy sputters or stalls, I think about Laura Hillenbrand, the author with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who wrote the bestselling book Seabiscuit entirely from her bed. Or I think about my widely published poet and blogger friend, Pris, who also has CFS and whose personality and creativity shine through in spite of it.

A friend recently asked me what my goals as a writer are. My most recent line about my writing of late is that it’s like being in a self-study master’s degree program, one designed to give me experience and shape me into a better writer. But why even want to write better? I hadn’t thought much about what my writing might be leading to. I didn’t have much of an immediate response for my friend, but when I thought about it the next day, the answer came easily.

My current writing goals are these: It has to be fun; I prefer to be paid; I like to show people in their best light and cover stories that are inspiring.

December 3, 2007

The Emily Brass Band Shines On

emilybsax2.jpgThe following was published in The Floyd Press on December 6, 2007.

Roberta Flack meets Bob Marley, that’s how I first described the music of Emily Brass when she was lead singer for the popular Floyd-based band, Foundation Stone. Back then I considered Foundation Stone to be a hometown “house band.” They regularly played at The Pine Tavern Restaurant, renowned for its Sunday Night Open Mic, community gatherings, and the Italian cooking of chef, Michael Gucciardo.

But then the Pine Tavern closed and later Foundation Stone folded when Emily and her husband, Jacques, the band’s bass guitarist, broke up. It felt like the end of an era, significant losses that would lessen my opportunities to dance with and socialize locally with friends.

The Pine Tavern has been open under the new management of Reed and Jane Embrey for over two years now. They serve down home Southern cooking that the Roanoke Times has rated with 4 ½ stars. Tom Ryan, a satirist who authors the online Floyd Enquirer, tends bar in The Tavern Room. This past Friday night, the venue and the sound of Foundation Stone were reunited. Emily, a singer, songwriter, and saxophonist, hosted a party for the release of her new CD with her new band, The Emily Brass Band.

In the old days bands played in the restaurant’s main room. Tables were moved to make room for dancing. Over the years, I and others wore down some of the Tavern’s wood floor shine with our enthusiastic and persistent dance steps. Since then the place has expanded. On this night, the last of November, we danced under the Tavern Pavilion, closed in with plastic and warmed with portable heaters. But it didn’t take long for people to throw their coats over the backs of chairs. Emily has a stage presence that encourages a feeling of celebration, and when she plays sax she reminds me of snake charmer with a talent for getting everyone up and shaking to her rhythmic grooves. emily2.jpg

“Who knew?” I asked more than once of those who danced near me, after hearing lead guitarist Richard Ursomarso play. I’ve known Richard, a Floyd Market Gardener, for years but didn’t know he could play guitar riffs like a top chart musician. Other band members who rounded out the reggae, jazz, and hip-hop influenced sound were bass guitarist John Lindsey, keyboardist James Pace, and Foundation Stone drummer Dave Brown.

Emily, who is originally from Montreal Canada, is an environmental activist, and her lyrics reflect that. We once shared a group bus ride to Washington D.C. to protest the start of the Iraq War. She wore a large silver Statue of Liberty crown to go with her hand painted sign that read “Protest is our Patriotic Duty," one of the slogans we came up with at a sign painting party the night before the march. She volunteers her time to help put a local newsletter together, which frequently happens on my kitchen table, and sells Guatemalan clothing when she’s not busy writing and playing music.

The name of her new CD, “Open Door,” suggests the hopefulness that is an integral part of Emily’s style. With a sultry voice ranging from soothing to commanding, she raps and sings lyrics that prod listeners to think about how they live, urging global awareness with a hip upbeat that causes me to look around and smile at my dancing neighbors.

Although most of the songs Emily performed were new ones off her CD, every now and then she would shout out to the crowd that it was time for a “Foundation Stone fix,” and the audience would cheer and prepare to sing along.

Emily’s website, emilybrass.com, best describes her music and what it’s like to dance to: Like a musical shape-shifter, Emily Brass takes you on a psychedelic hippie-hop journey, channeling the ghosts of old school rap, rock-steady reggae, ragtime jazz, and 60's rock & soul, while relentlessly keeping you in a sweat-inducing, smile-inspiring trance-dance, all night long.

Maybe not all night long for some of us, but when it comes to the music of Emily Brass, I’m good for at least a first two hour set.

Post notes: HERE'S a short video clip of the band on the Pine Tavern Pavilion Stage Friday night. And HERE is a Roanoke Times write-up about Emily which links to audio of two of Emily’s songs. Emily’s CD can be purchased online HERE. It is also available in Floyd at noteBooks, Café Del Sol, and New Mountain Mercantile; and in Roanoke at Seeds of Light.

December 1, 2007


writeleaves.jpg My feet is my only carriage, so I’ve got to push on through. ~ Bob Marley

The following is a Sunday Scribblings prompt, scribbled in my notebook while sitting on the porch soaking up the last of the yesterday's sun.

My hand is walking across the page. It gets more exercise than my legs these days. But I fantasize about long walks through deserts where my life depends on my ability to do it. I love stories about the slaves who walked these mountains on their way to freedom. The Lord of the Rings is a favorite, read out loud to my sons when they were young, that's based almost entirely on walking.

I once wanted to walk the Camino, the 500 mile pilgrimage trail in Spain, after reading Shirley MacLaine’s book of the same name. I planned what I would carry, what shoes I would wear. I have a book on my shelf titled "Best Irish Walks," and another called "Inn to Inn Walking." But not only have I not gone on any of these walks, I haven’t read either book.

I’ll walk to pick apples or on any beach. I’ll walk for a good photo opportunity or up my long gravel driveway to get the mail. I used to take long walks when I lived in Massachusetts, but I was always bothered by guys driving by and yelling comments from their car windows, or pulling over to try and pick me up. Now older and in the country in Virginia, I tell my husband thank-you after he nudges me to take a walk with him and I do. I like to walk with my neighborhood girlfriends, but we only do it a few times a year, and when we do it’s more for talking than for walking.

I plan more walks than I actually take. On the other hand, (pun intended) my hand springs into action at the slightest writer’s prompt. So why isn’t my handwriting in better shape? My signature is an unreadable scrawl that looks like a doctor’s. Does my left hand feel left (pun intended) out of the writing workout? Do my legs?

I can’t help but think I should be walking right now instead of writing about walking is like.

Post Notes:
In the spring I wrote THIS about walking, the New Year’s Resolution that I denied making.