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July 31, 2008

13: Walkie Talkie Talk

walktlk.jpg 1. I like to type “okeedoke” instead of “yes” just to piss off my spell checker.

2. I find the little yellow triangle icon with an exclamation point in it annoying.

3. My Exclamation poem: A kiss with punctuation … indicates excitement … long and thoughtful … to the point … ending quickly … with a flair … the exclamation kiss!

4. THIS was really unsettling, seeing my blog translated into redneck, jive, Elmer Fudd speech, and more…

5. I received a three part meme last week from poet/blogger Felicia Mitchell. The questions and answers are as follows: 1. The last book you purchased? Odd Botany, a book of poetry by Thorpe Moeckel, after he gave a reading at Floyd’s Café Del Sol. 2. The last film/network series DVD you purchased? The movie Elf for my daughter-in-law’s daughter for Christmas. 3. The last music or spoken word recording you purchased? No Promises, a CD by Carla Bruni, in which she sings the words of poems written by poets like Emily Dickinson and more.

6. More press on the Teen Meditation Retreat. This one was written by a recent high school graduate who attended the retreat on assignment for the Virginian Pilot in Norfolk HERE.

7. At first it seemed that my husband Joe had fallen under the seduction of a mistress. Since he took on the task of coordinating on-site parking for FloydFest ‘07, I hadn’t seen him in days. For the past five years, he’s volunteered his time in exchange for a weekend pass, but this year, as the Floyd high school soccer coach, he signed on to head up one of the most intensive behind-the-scenes jobs. In exchange, FloydFest makes a substantial donation to the soccer program to help with the purchase of uniforms and equipment … I knew if I wanted to spend any time with Joe I would have to come into the fold, which meant seeing FloydFest through the windshield of his golf cart. ~ Excerpt from A FloydFest Date, a story I wrote after last year’s FloyFest that appeared in the program this year.

8. At the festival quite a few people who had read the above story came up to me to ask how the date was going. I answered, “Which date? The one with Joe or the one with Governor Warner?" See HERE and HERE.

9. Now that the corn and tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters, ready for picking and eating, it’s hard to pull myself away for my planned trip to Hull, Massachusetts, (the peninsula I grew up on) to visit my family.

10. The good news is that the corn came in just when the cold sore on my lip cleared up, which means I can eat it salted and buttered, painlessly.

11. We get paid in corn for We get paid in corn … for our garden labor … We strike it rich … with every husk … pulled back … The sun has forged … an Aztec banquet … a silky purse … for August gold … More HERE.

12. “Don’t tell people how to live their lives. Just tell stories and they’ll figure out how the story applies to them.” ~ Randy Pausch October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008

13. When we were kids and we’d ask our dad to tell us a story, this is what he’d say: I”ll tell you a story of Jack and the Dory. Now my story’s begun. I’ll tell you another of Jack and his brother. Now my story’s all done.

Post notes: The photo above is of the walkie talkie my husband used while working at FloydFest (See and scroll HERE) this year. He knows I collect 13’s and made sure to point it out to me. Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. #144.

July 30, 2008

Friendly Faces of FloydFest '08

1. The Blue Fairy (aka my friend Alina) makes wishes come true. It’s a tall order, but she can handle it. She walks on stilts.
2. Most of the teens in this group attended the recent Earthsong Teen Meditation Retreat that my husband organized. Another group of teens I spent some time with were lobbying for a glow in the dark laser tag tent at the festival next year.
3. I felt like asking young Ben and Jackson for their autographs, after seeing their photos so often on their Aunt Deana’s blog and their Dad’s Life in Mayberry. It was my first time meeting them all in person, although I feel like I have known their mom Amy forever. She regularly reads my blog and read my book, The Jim and Dan Stories: A Journey of Grief and Faith, at a time when she needed support for her own grief after losing her mom. This spontaneous meet-up was a real heartwarming highlight for me.
4. FloydFest volunteers and friends, Rosemary and Walter, manning the onsite parking tent figured out the best way to pass the time. Walter got a BINGO, I heard.
5. The amazing Vivian of Spiral Hoop Dance said she was a cheerleader in school. Now she makes her living with hoops. She makes them, teaches classes, and performs (sometimes with fire).
6. After snapping this photo, I noticed these guys’ shirts read "Patrick County Sheriff." “Patrick County? Not Floyd? Oh, I think I’ll delete this then,” I joked. "Just where do you think you are?" one in the group joked back. Yes it's true, the Festival is on the Floyd/Patrick County line, but mostly in Patrick.
7. Mother and daughter, Tamra and Lotus, share a moment.
8. My two month old grandson Bryce and his family didn’t make it up to the festival this year, but Elisha and Jamie’s baby boy, who was born around the same time, did. I caught him looking like an angel in the arms of his “Uncle” Jeff.
9. I would have missed this reunion with my son Dylan’s favorite elementary school teacher (who I hadn’t seen in fifteen years) if his wife hadn’t recognized me from reading the blog and pointed him out to me.
10. The teacher and his wife, Mike and Carol, were volunteering in the beer garden. That’s where we were when one of Dylan’s best friends, who also had Mike as a teacher, showed up with his daughter and brother. Mike didn’t recognize him. I think those big arm tattoos threw him off.
11. My Asheville potter son made it up for the festival. In this shot he’s with a longtime family friend and Blue Mountain School alumni classmate, Sayulita, who was part of the FloydFest staff this year. I did creative writing with Sayulita and others at Floyd's Blue Mountain School. She ended up as a columnist for the Charlotte Observer, but is now running her own marketing business. Both Josh and Sayulita are bright lights in the world. Josh’s Clayspace Co-op webpage is HERE. Sayulita’s is HERE.
12. The people who make FloydFest happen, aka The FloydFest Class Picture, taken on the Hill Holler stage after the last act, The Avett Brothers, played. My husband Joe, who coordinates onsite parking, is included somewhere in the shot.
13. And this is the crowd that enjoyed Amos Lee’s performance, as seen from the main stage where I was watching him from. As you can see FloydFest is well attended and enjoyed by many.

Post notes: Read more about FloydFest HERE. Click and Scroll down HERE for photos and stories from other years.

July 28, 2008

Musings on Music at FloydFest

db3x.jpgFloydfest is our town’s four-day music festival, headed-up by Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson, the original owners of Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd. Held every summer on 80 acres of land off the Blue Ridge Parkway on the Patrick Floyd County, the festival is attended by 10,000 or more and is going strong in its seventh year.

I hardly ever seem to be in the right place at the right time for music at FloydFest, no matter how many times I pour over the program and circle the acts I want to see. This year I saw two performances all the way through. Other than that, I caught a sampling of the talent and tapped my feet to some tunes from afar.

I came late to the “herd” (the word for Donna the Buffalo fans). I’ve liked this band since I first heard them several years ago, but after listening and watching (and dancing!) from the main stage Thursday night at FloydFest; I’m a real convert now. They have two front men, one of which is a woman, and neither of which is named Donna. The story goes that they had to come up with a band name for one of their first gigs in Ithaca, New York, near where they’re from. Someone suggested “Dawn and the Buffalo” but someone else heard “Donna the Buffalo,” and the second name stuck. al5baloon.jpg

As far as I’m concerned, this is a band that could go the big-time route of Dave Matthews. But they aren’t a Virginia band, I just think of them that way because they are a FloydFest favorite that comes back to the festival every year. Singer songwriter Tara Nevins plays acoustic guitar, fiddle, accordion, and the washboard. She’s a consummate musician with a classic, mellow voice that you swear is already famous. On the band’s webpage Tara says that the music they play is Americana that draws on many traditions, including Zydeco. But this Indie group from New York isn’t a Zydeco band. In fact, in one song I heard a Beatle-esque riff. Others had riffs reminiscent of Mustang Sally and Grateful Dead, and I can’t decide if guitarist and lead singer Jeff Puryear sounds like Bob Dylan or Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler. He writes sweet songs with progressive and light-hearted lyrics, right up there with those guys.

I first heard Amos Lee watching a telecast of his performance on Austin City Limits. My husband has been listening to him for much longer than that, after a friend turned him on to an Amos Lee CD. Lee reminded me of Boz Scaggs with Cat Stevens' voice. I love to watch the expressions on guitarists’ faces when they let their instruments speak for them, and this a soulful original from Philadelphia didn’t disappoint on that count. hillhollerx.jpg

I’m a new fan of The Avett Brothers. My Asheville potter son described this North Carolina band as “Punk Inspired EMO Indie Grass.” Their performance was passionate, fun, edgy, and tight; but it was the unpredictable and refreshing poetry they shouted that really got my attention. They sang… I'm a little nervous 'bout what you'll think … When you see me in my swimming trunks … and … Because we had to … Because I loved you … Because the damned alcohol … Because what ever at all …

I wandered into the beer garden and caught the acoustic duo part of the company called William Walter & Co. playing on the Pink Floyd Stage. I discovered this band at FloydFest a couple years ago and found them to be a good combination of danceable and listenable rock with some entertaining storytelling thrown in. When I arrived, twelve year old named Luke was onstage with the band. His two brothers, mother and father, FloydFest volunteers from North Carolina, were looking on in amazement. “How did he line that up? I asked his dad, Bill. Bill explained that last year when Luke was only eleven, he asked the band if he could jam with them. pinkff2.jpg They let him onstage and it worked out so well that he was invited back for a number this year.

William Walter is from Virginia, but I always imagine them to be West Coast, maybe because the lead singer wears his hair rumpled and his jeans slung down low. I haven’t figured out if the band’s named after him or anyone else in the group. Their website says only: The legendary Tucker Rogers on lead guitar is a tonal master with tasteful chops that blend in and out of any musical tapestry with style and personality.

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band might have been the one act that commanded the most audience participation. The Dance Tent was a rocking and the audience was hooting and hollering and waving their arms when Reverend Peyton was in the house. I hung behind, not quite ready to commit that much energy on the last day of the festival. I found myself watching my friends Lora and Kurt dance at the outskirts of the tent, as if they were spending energy for me. klora.jpg The rousing conclusion of Reverend Peyton’s show about blew my sun hat off.

With eighty bands on seven stages playing non-stop music for four days, I realize that my coverage of the music scene is on the slim side. It’s because FloydFest is like “Old Home Week” to many of us Floydians. So, I spent a lot of time reuniting with friends, taking pictures, eating good food, enjoying the colorful upbeat scene, and being damn impressed with those compostable plastic cups that I drank a few cool brews from. ~ Colleen Redman

Post Notes: I wrote about Laura Reed and Deep Pocket, who also played Floydfest, when they played at the Sun Music Hall in Floyd. See HERE. Read more about FloydFest HERE. See a video of Donna the Buffalo playing at FloydFest HERE. Avett Brothers HERE. The photos above are: 1. Donna the Buffalo. 2. Amos Lee. 3. Avett Brothers play Hill Holler Stage. 4. William Walter on the Pink Floyd Stage playing to lots of people wearing pink. 5. Kurt and Lora dancing to Reverend Peyton.

July 27, 2008

Things You Can Do at FloydFest

(other than enjoy the music and dance)
1. Hang out
2. Use an ATM machine
3. Get your face painted
4. Get your fortune read
5. Join a parade
6. Play Bocce Ball if you know how
7. Eat real French Fries and drink a beer from a plastic cup that is compostable.

Post Note: Click and scroll down HERE to read more about FloydFest. More photos and stories to come. See a FloydFunFest video HERE.

July 26, 2008

As Close to a President as I Get

govcolx.jpgThere were some who tried to draft former Virginia Governor Mark Warner for the 2008 Presidential Election. But Warner decided to run for the U.S. Senate, hoping to replace Senator John Warner, who is retiring. It was also rumored that Warner was on a Democratic list as a Vice Presidential possibility before his Senate run announcement.

Warner turned up at FloydFest this past Thursday night. He briefly spoke from the festival main stage, but did not strum an instrument like he did at the Country Store Jamboree this past November, in town campaigning with/for our current Governor, Tim Kaine. Not new to Floyd, Warner also campaigned at the country store with Jim Webb in 2006, and held a town meeting at the store in 2005.

Eating a meal in the FloydFest hospitality tent, Warner playfully referred to himself as “an unemployed Governor,” and joked that campaigning earlier that day was just an excuse to end up at FloydFest.
He was friendly to me (even before I told him that I was a blogger who sometimes writes for the Floyd Press and that it was possible that a photo of him might end up in the paper or on my blog at least). Even though I resisted, he insisted I pose with him for a picture (The above is not the photo I submitted to the Floyd Press but it is the best shot of him in his FloydFest Family Affair T-shirt.)

After his meal, he walked through the crowd, introducing himself and shaking hands with festival goers. He, an outgoing and popular governor that even some Republicans like, was obviously enjoying himself. One of his three aides (all in their twenties) said that Warner was hard to keep up with.

Note: Read more about FloydFest below or HERE. The more formal version of the above appeared in The Floyd Press HERE.

July 25, 2008

FloydFest is a Family Affair

ff1x.jpgThe following appeared in the Floyd Press on July 24, 2008 and also online HERE.

The theme of this year’s Floydfest, “A Family Affair,” came about at the end of last year’s festival when festival co-founder Kris Hodges realized that everyone involved – patrons, volunteers, staff, and vendors – felt like family.

But the feeling of family extends beyond the 400 yearly volunteers, the 40 paid event staff, and others who work together to make the summer music festival a success. The theme, which takes its name from the popular 70’s song by Sly and the Family Stone, is a reflection of Hodges’ overview of the event, held off the Blue Ridge Parkway this July 24 – 27. “It’s a celebration of tolerance for each other, all of us sharing this planet,” he said.

His partner and co-founder, Erika Johnson said her appreciation for the theme was reinforced by a recent Tom Petty concert she attended at a large venue in Raleigh, North Carolina. fffls.jpgThe event was ruined for her by the impersonal nature of the venue and the rowdy drinking behavior of the packed-in crowd. “For the same amount of money, you could come to Floyd Fest for the weekend,” Hodges noted.

Floyd Fest, about to begin its seventh year, is older than Hodges and Johnson’s daughter Chloe. In keeping with the family theme, this year will be the first that the six year old will be attending all four days of the festival with her ten year old brother, Tristen,” her mother said.

With Chloe on her lap, Johnson pointed out the new playground in the Children’s Universe, built by the Pennsylvanian Amish as an ark. Pointing out the building expansion project at the dance tent site, she explained that each year festival-goers are encouraged with the chance to win free tickets to fill out a survey listing what they liked about the festival and what they would like to see at future events. A bigger dance floor was at the top of the list.

“We’re doubling the dance space,” said Bob Forman, a FloydFest staff member who was onsite to work on the project.

Another new FloydFest feature, added for the enjoyment of children and adults alike, is a trapeze. Run by the Trapeze Academy, the event is an interactive one and will have a central location, overlooking Hill Holler Stage. “It takes you up sixty feet and you can learn how to flip,” said Johnson. ffpinkf.jpg

Although the festival continues to offer a range of children’s activities, healing arts, a contained beer and wine garden, a variety of vending tents for food, arts, and crafts; the main focus remains the same. “This festival is for music lovers,” Hodges said.

Headliners this year include the return of FloydFest favorite, Donna the Buffalo, along with Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green, The David Grisman Quintet, Golem, Ivan Neville, the Avett Brothers, and Amos Lee; who Hodges says has been likened to Bob Dylan. Bands will be coming from San Francisco and Brooklyn and everywhere in between.

“Virginia bands are well represented,” Hodges said. He listed Roanoke, Blacksburg, Richmond, and Charlottesville as regional areas the bands will be coming from. No Speed Limit, a bluegrass band from Galax, described on the FloyFest webpage (atwproductions.com) as “in the fast lane in regards to their musical careers,” will be performing. Floyd musicians on the roster include Mac and Jenny Traynham, and The Aliens. Floyd’s Starroot will return to the Children’s Universe with her band Somersault.

Hodges is particularly excited about the festival’s emerging artist series. asa.jpg Thirty-five musical acts from nearby and around the country will compete for an audience choice vote. The winner will return next year for a main stage performance. The audience favorite will also receive $1,000, recording time at Red Room Studio in Roanoke, and $500 to spend on marketing merchandise to be sold at the FloydFest store, Hodges explained.

With thousands of festival-goers camping and gathering on the sprawling festival site, with seven stages for four days of nonstop music, and a village of vending tents, FloydFest is a big undertaking. “We get a lot of help,” Hodges said. “This year the sponsors really stepped up.”

“The Food Lion is providing water and soda. Citizens is hosting the Cyber Café, and local landscaper John Beegle has donated landscaping,” Johnson said.

This year 80 bands will hit the Floyd Fest stages, as compared to 72 last year. Judging by pre-ticket sales, which are up 30% from last year, Hodges and Johnson are enthusiastic.

“People want an intimate, wholesome experience, and FloydFest offers that, Hodges said. “We’re having fun. We feel blessed every day to be doing this,” Johnson added. ~ Colleen Redman

Photos: 1. FloydFest founders Erika Johnson and Kris Hodges with their daughter Chloe at the festival site. 2. Flowers in the Beer Garden ready for landscaping, which is headed-up by Barb Gillespie of Floyd. 3. Ongoing questions about whether Pink Floyd will be playing at FloydFest prompted the redesign of the Beer Garden Stage, now known as the Pink Floyd stage. 4. Large stringed instrument sculpture at the festival entrance was made by Floyd metal fabricator Asa Pickford. More photos and fun tales to come… Click HERE and scroll down for past Floyd Fest stories and photos

July 24, 2008

13 Thursday: Hold on to Your Wig

13wg2.jpg1. The Teen Meditation Retreat that Joe organized and attended last week got a good write-up in the Roanoke Times HERE. It included a large feature photo on the EXTRA front page of Abraham Cherrix (who I interviewed HERE) doing yoga. My own story is coming soon ...

2. Meditation: It’s like combing the hair … of a wild shaggy mind … making a part … untangling the thoughts … to some unruly feelings … that need grooming. More HERE.

3. These days writing has crowded out my own meditation practice. I wake up with sentences wanting to be written down, and writing them down seems important, even more important than my first cup of tea.

4. A few days ago I woke up and the first thing I said to Joe was, “which came first Yogi Bear or Yogi Berra?’

5. Last week I wrote that eating fruit and yogurt in the morning wigs me out like drinking alcohol for breakfast would (because of the sugars). I got some comments and further explained myself, saying at one point that because I have CFS I’m not your average berry-loving bear, which then led to me think about Yogi (which by the way is also what meditaters are called).

6. The results from the Wikipedia: Yogi Berra (whose first name was really Lawrence) picked up his more famous nickname from a friend who said he resembled a Hindu holy man (yogi) they had seen in a movie, whenever Berra sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat, or while looking sad after a losing game. Years later, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after Berra, something Berra did not appreciate after he started being periodically addressed as "Yogi Bear."

7. It goes on: Berra, who quit school in the eighth grade, has a tendency toward malapropism and fracturing the English language in highly provocative, interesting ways. Simultaneously denying and confirming his reputation, Berra once stated, "I never said half the things I really said."

8 Some people have said that I talk like Yogi Berra. And Deana from Friday Night Fish Fry says her way of speaking has been likened to Norm Chomsky. I mean Norm Crosby (see what I mean?)

9. I had to look up Norm Crosby and discovered this about the comedian: King of the malaprop, Norm always speaks from his 'diagram' and drinks ‘decapitated' coffee. His confusing word play and twisted speech has been an audience favorite since his days on The Ed Sullivan Show.

10. Deana thinks Bobby McGee jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge like I try to order New Balance beer at a bar when I really want New Castle.

11. Around the same time I was thinking about Yogi Berra, I also got curious about the poem “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet, and So are You,” after titling a recent blog post “Roses Are Red.” The fact that I then spent twenty minutes trying to find out who wrote it and when is why my blog mission statement reads: Whenever I don't know exactly what it is I'm doing and it borders on wasting my time, I call it research.

12. Seems it’s a nursery rhyme written by Anonymous.

13. Wig out HERE with me and Claudia.

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

July 23, 2008

Why Floyd?

corrngarx.jpg “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo Da Vinci

I’ve never been comfortable with extravagant or abstract wealth. Since I was young girl, I’ve had an awareness that land, water, and food are what define whether one is rich or poor. So much of the rest is a social phenomenon of modern day capitalism, consumerism, and media.

I’ve always been interested in my life’s work, but when it comes to a career, I’ve balked. Jobs are a fact of modern life, but if you’re doing one just for the money, it can feel like little more than paid slavery.

Years ago I began reading how-to books and spiritual books on homesteading and living simply. When I arrived in Floyd twenty-two years ago, looking to live more self-sufficiently, I found others I could learn from who were reading the same books.

And how fitting that we ended up in the mountains of Virginia where the resourceful and independent mountain people had the skills we wanted to learn, the ones you couldn’t find easily in suburbia or the cities. They knew how to make things and make do, a trait that not long ago was greatly admired, but more recently has been downplayed or even belittled (as evidenced by Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s TV show The Simple Life, for example).

I’ve never liked the stress of debt so I tend not to spend what I don’t really have. I’d rather live with less and enjoy it than live with more and have to stress about how to pay for it (and I’m thinking about both the monetary costs and the environmental costs of material things). I have quite a few luxuries and hardly live a self sufficient life, but I’m much closer to one than I would have been if I hadn't come to Floyd. Here, where there’s a long tradition of herb harvesting, I learned about self-health, learning names of what was growing around me, which herbs do what, and how to make medicinal tinctures. I learned how to use a wood stove and to preserve the food I grew (but it’s been so long since I canned that I suspect I forget how). I know where my water comes from and how to get it if the electricity goes out.

Floyd? It’s so much more than the music and art. Although, I believe that many of the musicians and artists who moved here came for the opportunity to live a simpler lifestyle because living simply is conducive to nurturing creativity.

Back to the land? Why did we ever turn our backs on it? Seems we are paying the price, or will be soon, for living too disconnected from it for so long.

Post notes:
Today I’ll be attending a small discussion on the back-to-the-land movement in Floyd, which started in the 70's. It's been called together for a student doing a dissertation on the subject. Fred First invited me and I invited my friend Jayn, a devotee of the simple life. The thoughts written here reflect what I’ve been thinking in preparation for the exchange. Should be interesting... P.S. My corn is much taller than that now and will be ready to pick any day now. This photo was taken a few weeks ago.

July 22, 2008

Mara Redeems her Blog-worthiness

scrabm1.jpg She brought mango salsa and chips. I made my specialty: rye crisp crackers with melted cheese, pesto, and red peppers. Just picked raspberries and blueberries got passed around. It was the first time ten year old Kyla played with us. She’s in the family business, after all, and also writes haiku. Coloring in a coloring book in-between turns, she held up her part of the bargain. Especially when she dropped an X on the board and wrote OX and FOX in one play.

It was an unusual game from the start, with me putting down the first word: LOOFA. After Mara played “Qat” – one of the few “Q words” that doesn’t need a U – I said, “Q’s are getting to be like Amazon females. Who needs males or Q’s? We can reproduce without them now.”

Joe was in the kitchen making his lunch when Mara noted how he bent his knees and salted his plate of food with style. She wondered if stooping while salting makes food taste better. “He always has to stoop down for me (being over a foot shorter than him) but I don’t know how it applies to salting.

My favorite word of the game was Althea, played by me on a triple word score. Turns out it’s not just a woman’s name and a Grateful Dead song, but also any flower in the mallow family.

By the end of the game the only words we could play were guttural sounds: YAR (pirate talk) … UH … ER … It was down to the wire. Mara worked it hard and went out first, beating me by just four points.

I weighted Mara and Kyla down with cucumbers (they grow overnight) before they left, and, because they had made the Scrabble house call, I handpicked them some dill to go with the cucumbers. Kyla likes summer squash and rye crisp crackers dipped in green jasmine iced tea.

Post note: The blog title comes from Mara’s complaint after reading THIS post, where I mentioned we played Scrabble but either talked about stuff too personal or nothing blog worthy happened, so nothing got recorded or posted. She protested and pleaded (see photo), “But, I want to be blogworthy!” So this time I scribbled and snapped.

July 21, 2008

Half-starved Poems

Punctuated poetry
with arbitrary line breaks
is like prose poured into
a little black dress

Every period that stops
where a line already has
is a button waiting to pop

Every comma that dangles
at the edge of empty space
is a thread that could lead
to unraveling

Every new line capitalized
in the middle of a sentence
is a zipper that won’t go up

With every start and stall
I become hungry for prose
I want a full page to read
without a stutter

~ Colleen Redman 6/08

July 20, 2008

Roses are Red

Joe and I went to a wedding.
I let him do the heavy lifting.
Leaving me with most of the kissing.
My son has a son.
And a beautiful family.
Blessings to my daughter-in law Alexis' sister Darla and her husband Adam. It was a beautiful wedding and fun party. Watch Kaylee’s strobe light dance HERE.

July 18, 2008

Hit Play

1. Press Play
2. Record
3. Pause
4. Fast Forward
5. Rewind

I was recently shocked to notice that my last Scrabble blog entry was from way back in March when Chelsea, Virginia, and I won the Literacy Volunteer Scrabble Tournament HERE. I have actually played two games with Mara since then, but we talked about stuff that was either too personal or not blog worthy, so nothing got recorded. It was fun to get together with the Scrabble Bag Ladies of Café Del Sol this past Tuesday to play. We started outside on the new Winter Sun deck but got chased into the cafe by the summer sun. You can watch some past Café Del Sol Scrabble outtakes HERE, while I'm at the dentist getting bridgework done.

July 17, 2008

A Very Berry 13

bb.jpg 1. My new line as of late is: “I’ll bring the cucumbers!” They grow overnight.

2. Working on three stories at once (like I have been this past week) is like juggling apples, oranges, pears.

3. And I’m not working with a full deck. Seeing as how most everyone else gets 52 cards of energy to spend everyday and I only get about 25, I hate having to waste energy doing things like waiting in line for my turn at the computer, which I’ve had to do lately, since my husband, Joe, started working at home too.

4. Joe is a neater gardener than me and he’s been more involved in the garden this year. Walking down the aisle of tall corn and tomatoes that he keeps neatly staked and weeded, I feel like a bride walking down the aisle in my kind of sky ceiling church.

5. 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 … The rest of this fruit loop is HERE.

6. When I was nineteen Yoko Ono’s book “Grapefruit” was like a Bible I carried around with me. HERE.

7. I just heard that The Hotel Floyd manager recently had some guests from Ireland and when he asked them how they heard about the hotel they said they read about Floyd and the hotel in The Observer, a large U.K. newspaper. Check it out HERE.

8. Summer camp is an all-American tradition for so many teens. But what kind of summer camp teaches kindness as part of its curriculum, or instructs campers to disconnect from their high-tech, high paced world in order to sit still and listen? Those are my first lines and as far as I’ve gotten on a story I’m writing on the Teen Meditation Retreat in Stuart that Joe organized this year, hosted by Earthsong Retreat and Organic Farm.

9. Why does Queen Anne’s Lace have one black floret in the middle of the flower? I’ve been wondering that since I was a little girl.

10. In some tribes Native American bead artists add one bead outside the design pattern so as not to lose their soul when gazing at the piece. Is that the answer to number nine? b2mths2.jpg

11. For me, eating fruit and/or yogurt in the morning would be like starting the day with an alcoholic drink (probably due to the fructose and lactose sugars). What I eat for breakfast might be the single most important thing I can do to maintain spending my 25 cards of energy wisely. I need eggs every day.

12. The photo above is of my two month old baby grandson named Bryce, AKA “The apple of my eye.”

13. Everyone appreciated the cucumbers I brought to our Café Del Sol Scrabble game yesterday.

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

July 16, 2008

Happy Hour and the Flower Forecast

1. Summer Snowball
2. Flower Shower
3. A Flurry of Flutter
4. A Butterfly bar serving nectar on tap

July 14, 2008

They Call Floyd a Healing Place

roseab.gif~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on July 10 and on their online site HERE.

When Rose Cherrix and her son Abraham first participated in the Spoken Word Open Mic at Floyd's Café Del Sol, they received a rousing round of applause when Rose told the crowd that Abraham recently had cancer but was now cancer free. A few in the audience remembered their story. It made national news when, at the age of sixteen, Abraham declined a high-dose round of chemotherapy and radiation and his parents were charged with medical neglect for supporting his decision.

In August of 2005, the Cherrix family was living on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, when Abraham discovered a lump in his neck while working at his computer. After it was determined that he had Hodgkin's disease - cancer of the lymphatic system - he received the standard round of adult chemotherapy. Although the treatment made him very ill, it seemed worth it when he learned the cancer was gone. But two months later it returned. Abraham didn't think he could bear a second stronger round of chemotherapy and the radiation that his oncologist recommended. "I was so weak my father had to carry me," he said about the first round of treatment.

His mother explained that chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's disease offers an 80 - 85% chance of recovery, but if the cancer comes back a second time the percentage rate goes way down. "An oncologist testified on our behalf that Abraham's chance of surviving the second round of chemotherapy and the radiation was only 15-25%," she said.

Considering those odds, the Cherrixes did some extensive online research and opted to try an alternative, all-natural treatment. Abraham made two trips to a clinic in Mexico where he received Hoxsey therapy, an herbal tonic that has been banned as a cancer treatment in the U.S. Using the tonic and an improved diet, his strength returned, and he felt hopeful hearing the success stories of others he met at the clinic, he said. But his treatment was interrupted by a court order.

When Abraham's refusal of prescribed treatment was reported to Social Services, a chain of events began that would thrust the Cherrixes in the media spotlight. Rose and Abraham's father, Jay, faced possible jail time after they were found guilty of medical neglect by the Juvenile Court. Abraham was threatened with foster care placement or juvenile detention if he didn't abide by the prescribed treatment. Now the family had two battles to fight - Abraham's cancer and the courts.

"On the day we were ordered to deliver Abraham to the Children's Hospital in Norfolk, to do whatever they said, we were in Circuit Court with an appeal. The judge approved the appeal. A week later we won the case," Rose remembered.

Meanwhile, Abraham became a patient of Dr. Smith, an oncologist in Mississippi who uses a combination of alternative and standard cancer treatments, including Immunotherapy, a therapy that involves stimulating a patient's immune system to attack malignant tumor cells. The authorities were comfortable knowing Abraham was being treated by a U.S. oncologist who was providing treatments with some proven success. The Cherrixes were comfortable with Dr. Smith's approach. They were also pleased with the results. Under Dr. Smith's care, Abraham has been cancer free for over a year.

Abraham's illness and the court battles that followed took a heavy toll on the Cherrix family. They lost their home, their kayak tour business, and Rose's marriage to Abraham's father fell apart. But as bad as things were, many people came forward to offer support and kindness. "We got to see the good in the world and the genuine caring of so many," Rose stressed.

One of the people who came to the Cherrix's aid was a woman that Rose refers to as "our angel." Sharon Smith, a private citizen who the Cherrixes didn't know beforehand, was so inspired by their story that she contacted them to offer help. "She found Dr. Smith (no relation), our attorneys, handled the media, and put herself on the line financially, Rose said.

Elizabeth Simpson, a newspaper reporter for the Virginian-Pilot, played a key role in bringing attention to the Cherrix's plight for health care freedom, and she still keeps in touch with the family. The local radio station also got involved. "Without the media I don't think we could have done it," Abraham said.

State and local government also came to the Cherrix's aid. Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonald filed a brief to the Circuit Court in support of the Cherrix's right of appeal and allowing time for it to play out. Virginia Beach Delegate John Welch III made a statement quoted in the Associated Press, saying Abraham's parents were "fiercely devoted to their son, and have fully dedicated the family's resources to helping him get well." Believing that the medical community had "no reason to take over parental rights," he drafted a bill bearing Abraham's name that would allow children fourteen and over to help make their own medical choices. abroom.jpg
"Abraham's Law" was passed by the General Assembly in 2007 and signed into law by Governor Kaine. Abraham spoke on his own behalf at a congressional hearing in Richmond in the lead-up to the bill being passed.

Neither Rose nor Abraham hold any grudges related to their ordeal. "We tried to concentrate on making something good come from something bad," Rose said. Abraham is able to find humor and irony in what he has been through. "It was the most fun time of my life. I like to meet new people. I took my first plane ride, a cross country bus trip, and went to a foreign country," he joked.

The Cherrixes landed in Floyd in the spring of 2007 by way of an unlikely sequence of events. After losing their home, Rose began looking online for rentals. She needed something affordable and large enough to raise her five children, two of whom have autism. While online, she was browsing through emails on Abraham's website, a site dedicated to sharing health information and providing updates on Abraham's progress. Rose explained that she and Abraham had to stop reading the emails because there were so many. But on that day, a name caught her eye. Because Abraham's full name is Starchild Abraham Cherrix, she felt an affinity when she saw another unique name in an email written by a Floyd girl named "Cherub."

Abraham and Cherub became friends and when Rose discovered a rental listing for a farmhouse off Route 8 in Floyd, she asked Cherub's mother, Linda Kearn, to check it out. The roomy size of the house and the natural rural setting seemed a perfect place for the Cherrix family to thrive, and for Abraham to pursue his interests in art and the study of computer engineering.

Abraham and Rose both agree they are in the right place. "We call Floyd a healing place. Everyone has been so welcoming and accepting," Rose said. "People do what the want and no one is criticized for what they believe," added Abraham, who is now receiving holistic health care from Floyd's Dr. Garry Collins.

Mother and son recently returned to the Spoken Word stage to share their original poetry. Another round of applause ensued when Rose announced that Abraham had just turned eighteen. Abraham, who recently added "Dreaming Wolf" to his name, read a poem about a wolf. Rose read a tribute for her son's birthday, titled "Loving You by Letting Go." ... Instead of me giving you strength ... You gave me strength ... When our world was falling apart ... You were there for me ... Loving me - holding me ... So wise beyond your years ... Yet so much to learn still ... she read.

An eighteenth birthday is a milestone in any young person's life. In Abraham's case it's especially true. "I guess I got smarter overnight," he joked, referring to his newfound freedom to legally make his own health care choices. "Age is not the issue. Health care choice should be based on maturity level," he added. ~ Colleen Redman

Note: More about Abraham and his mother at the Spoken Word Open Mic in Floyd is HERE.

July 13, 2008

Child's Play

1. Powered by the Sun
2. Baby's Moon Roof
3. Flights of Fancy
4. Fleeting Youth

Post Note: The above photos were taken last Wednesday when my grandson Bryce's sister Kaylee and I babysat for him while his mother went to a class.

July 11, 2008

Poet Gives Jump Start

Mara's introduction for Hollins University writing teacher Thorpe Moeckel at the Café Del Sol was so well crafted and delivered that Thorpe thought maybe he shouldn't read any poetry, after all. Her words were a hard act to follow. But follow them he did, taking us listeners on a ride through Alaska, Maine, and North Carolina, where we met his grandfather, father, a pecan farmer, some kids who were court ordered to take one of his rafting trips, and more.
I was intrigued by a man who has been published in Orion and Mothering, and was touched when he said that he reads better when his wife is in the audience. His passion for river rafting and words converged in a way that made me want to go home and write poetry, or never write it again. I laughed, got some emotionally charged goose bumps, and sometimes just drifted in the tide of his words, hanging my arm over the side of the Café Del Sol's comfy couch.
After the reading, Thorpe -- a thoroughly likable guy who almost moved to Floyd once -- signed books and answered questions. "How do you teach poetry?" my friend Jayn asked him. I think he answered something related to rafting, something about going with the flow.
Mike Mitchell (left) who teaches fiddle at the Floyd Country Store left the lights on in his car all day. And so it was an unlikely ending to a poetry reading. Everyone left charged up.

Post Notes: Thorpe's books Making a Map of the River and Odd Botany can be purchased on Amazon HERE and HERE. Scroll down HERE for more Spoken Word posts. The third photo of Alli C and Mara was taken by Tracey Ann because I wasn't tall enough to score the shot.

July 10, 2008

13 Thursday: Over the Top

13elva3.jpg 1. On the Fourth of July, I made a red, white, and blue dessert for my house guest: strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream!

2. I actually had two house guests over the weekend, one who wore American flag boxers, and the other wore Red Sox ones.

3. I found myself being thankful that it doesn’t take any gas to walk to the mailbox after I made several trips back and forth when the mailman was late.

4. The Rhododendrons on the Blue Ridge Parkway are in peak bloom and my long driveway is lined with them, which makes the walk to get the mail enjoyable. After my last walk, I checked the Wikipedia and found that the word Rhododendron comes from the Greek words for rose and tree. There are over 1000 species, including azaleas. It’s the national flower of Nepal. Photos coming soon …

5. When emails and blog comments come into my mailbox, a bell rings that I imagine is saying “Cha ching.”

6. Every time Mara called over the weekend, my friend who I was providing respite foster care for and who likes to answer the phone, handed it to me after answering, and said, “It’s your sister, Maria.

7. He also said, “I bet you wore bib overalls in high school.”

8. How wrong was he? I teased my hair and wore black fish net stocking.

9. June emailed me THESE very cool creative painted hand photos. And THIS was my attempt at the same.

10. After posting about thrift shopping while listening to Warren Zevon’s Werewolves in London, I did some research and listened to some Zevon songs because anyone who writes lyrics like: I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand … walkin through the streets of Soho in the rain … gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein … is interesting to me.

11. Zevon, who experienced a range of successes and failures, rehab, and more than one comeback, wrote lyrics like John Prine, but darker. With prophetic songs like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and an album called “Life’ll Kill Ya,” Zevon was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2002 and died in 2003. His insight on facing death, coined on the David Letterman Show: Enjoy every sandwich.

12. I know THIS is over the top. But I’m posting it for my Asheville Potter son Josh (who at one time wore smiley face boxers) because it’s his birthday, and I think he’ll find it almost as funny as the Napoleon Dynamite talking birthday card I sent him. Happy Birthday, Josh!

13. And THIS is only almost over the top: Seems Jim Carrey recently went to the beach wearing his girlfriend Jenny McCarthy’s bathing suit. (Scroll down for the up close view.)

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. #141

July 9, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction

1. A Tolkien Tree
2. A Martian Landing
This is the part where spooky music is played and you wonder what happened next.

July 8, 2008

Winning the Thrift Shop Lottery

thriftshop.jpgThe thrift shop is my casino I keep going back to. Sometimes I buy clothes I don’t really need, or ones that end up not working out. But at $3 a pop I can afford the bet, whether I win or lose. The payoff is silk, linen, rayon, cotton, and merino wool in my favorite shades of magenta, rose, honeysuckle gold, indigo, turquoise, and azure.

Most of my friends don’t like thrift shopping. They don’t want to browse through church lady clothes and all that polyester. But I don’t have to dig for my treasure. I’ve gotten so good I don’t even use my hands to leaf through the rows. Scanning up and down the aisles with my eyes, I can spot a special fabric or color like a butterfly zeros in on a flower. I have radar for brand names. I consider them a jackpot, not for any show-off notion of status, but because they are made well and tend to fit better.

Thrift shopping makes up for growing up as one of nine kids with knee socks that always fell down because the elastic was worn out. At the Goodwill, I can afford cashmere, to be dramatic, to take fashion risks. And I’m not limited to the cookie-cutter fashion of the season. I get to pick through decades of styles.

It’s also a way for me to practice the Law of Attraction. I start thinking about what I want before I start looking. And I like the idea that thrift shopping is a form of recycling. It’s cheap. It’s fun. It hurts no one.

There’s only one problem. My collection of thrift shop clothes keeps growing, but I don’t have a walk-in closet. Not even close.

Post note: Yesterday while in Christiansburg getting my haircut, I hit the Goodwill and came away with nine new items, only one of which I have to hem. I also heard a great mix of songs on the loud speaker and I like to sing while I shop. They always play the really best hits and not the ones you hear at weddings. I can hardly think of anything more fun than thrift shopping while listening to Warren Zevon sing the Werewolves in London (which made me smile and think of Janet). It’s the simple moments in life, like that, that end up being so memorable.

July 7, 2008

Not Just a Pretty Face

I want a poem
I can live happily ever after with
even if we fight

I want a compatible poem
a surprising contradiction
a line that holds open a door

I want a poem
that will talk to me
but one that won’t say
what it thinks I want to hear

I want a poem meant to be
one that compels me
to look twice
to read out loud
to fold over the corner
of a check-marked page

I’ll know it when I see it
a fresh face in the crowd
the poem I browse anthologies
to find

~ Colleen Redman 6/08

July 5, 2008

Oh Say Can You See?

1. Keep your eye on the road
2. Keep your eye on the ball
3. Keep your eye on the camera
4. Keep your eye on the sky
And don’t forget to stop and smell the wildflowers.

Photos: 1. Hay is being cut all over Floyd County. I got behind a load of it on my way home from town yesterday. 2. Our nephew, David, who reads my blog, takes a practice swing. He’s in town to participate in the Teen Meditation Retreat that Joe is managing, hosted by at Earthsong in Stuart. 3. What can I say? I said ‘say cheese’ but only one person was listening. 4. A row of children watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July. 5. I was thinking of Sandy -- who lives in Florida and misses the wildflowers of this area -- when I took this photo on the side of the road. At least one person pulled over to see if my car had broke down.

July 4, 2008

Stars and Stripes

m%26m%26mss.jpgAKA: M&M&M

Little did my friends, Maria, Miriam, and Mara, know they were posing for a stars and stripes 4th of July photo when they struck this celebratory pose after dancing to Laura Reed and Deep Pocket last Friday night. Happy Fourth of July! ********** ////////////// ********* //////////********* //////////******* //////////******* //////////******* ////////

July 3, 2008

13 Thursday: Write On

mara13cp.jpg 1. You know when you forget someone’s name and no matter how hard you try, even if it’s on the tip of your tongue, you can’t remember. Then you go off and do something else and the name just pops in your head? Writing poetry is like that.

2. At Johanna and Nick’s wedding, my friend Eli, who works at the Chinese Medicine Clinic I go to, was massaging my injured ankle. “I’ve hurt this ankle before. Well, you know my chart,” I said to him. “I try not to think about people charts when I’m at a wedding,” he answered. “And I try not to write stories about people when at a wedding, but once I get home anything goes," I answered. And it did. See HERE.

3. Years ago when I worked in day care there was a little boy who had been born on the Fourth of July. His middle name was Boom.

4. Last year at a fourth of July party I got THIS close to a shark.

5. Live fireworks HERE.

6. You’ve heard of Girls Gone Wild? THIS is Wild Girls in Need of a Hairdresser, starring yours truly.

7. My blog roll is starting to feel like my closet, kinda overstuffed with stuff I’m not using.

8. The jury is still out on my new answering machine message. Jayn likes it; Mara can’t get used to it because it doesn’t elicit poetic answers like my last one and won’t make me any friends, she says.

9. This is it: People who work at home … Don’t answer the phone … At least not right away … Do I need to pick up? … Call you right back? … After the beep have your say …

10. I tend to putter and stutter before the flutter of keys on the keyboard each day.

11. Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck. ~ George Carlin

12. David Letterman on George Bush: We should get our money back on that guy, don’t you think?

13. The photo above, taken at the Spoken Word this past Saturday night, is of Mara’s signature cargo pants with a 13 signature written on them, and my signature notebook. Also pictured are my remedies for public speaking phobia: a bottle of rescue remedy and a dark beer. More on that phobia HERE.

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. #140

July 2, 2008

Local Brethren Churches Celebrate 300th Year Anniversary

oldphoto.jpg~ The following was published in the Floyd Press on 6/19/08

Thirteen branches were represented at the 300th year anniversary celebration of the Brethren Church, which was founded in Germany in 1708. The event took place at the Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren on Saturday and drew a full house of church members and guests. It was the first social event held in the church’s recently built Social Hall.

Members of the church dressed in period clothing, in styles that dated back to 1790 when Brethren from Pennsylvania first settled on the land that is known today as Floyd County. Event tables showcased historical church items, some of which were provided by Beaver Creek Brethren church member Donna (Spangler) Graham. groupindressx.jpg

Graham lives in the house that once belonged to her grandparents. The house remains home to a number of family heirlooms. She pointed out an antique church songbook that had her grandmother’s name, Clara B. Vest, inscribed in it. It was a gift given to her grandmother by her grandfather prior to their marriage in 1919. Graham said her grandfather, Herman Spangler, preached at several Floyd Brethren churches, including the original Beaver Creek church, which moved to the current Ridgeview Road location in 1945. Among Graham’s collection of church memorabilia was a photo of a past congregation of men in front of the old Beaver Creek church. There was also a small bell she remembered as a child being rung when it was time for church to start.guestspeaker.jpg

Lester and Judy Weddle began the scheduled musical entertainment, leading the group in song. Judy Weddle is the daughter of a previous Brethren church pastor.

Guest speaker at the themed celebration was District Executive David Shumate. Mixing humor, prayer, and storytelling, Shumate spoke on the history of the church and on his own Floyd roots. He noted that Floyd has the distinction of being the first to allow English speaking members into the Brethren church in large numbers, which was considered very liberal in 1800.
~ Colleen Redman

July 1, 2008

Pink Floyd is Turning Blue

1. Here in Floyd, we have Old-Time Bluegrass Pickin’
2. And Blue Ridge Parkway views
3. Another kind of blue perspective
4. Another kind of pickin'

Photos: 1. A street scene from the Friday Night Jamboree last week. 2. The Saddle Overlook, near where we live. 3. My favorite summer sun dress (from Winter Sun), as seen through my reading glasses. 4. Last night I picked two tubs of blueberries from our garden.