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September 30, 2008

Asheville Potter Son

Part I of this update is HERE.
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The Community Temple Compound isn’t the only thing that was improved upon this year. ClaySpace, the studio coop that Josh started in the Wedge building in the River Arts district of Asheville got some spiffing up. The front entrance has been painted and a new gallery showroom was added to the warehouse space where half a dozen potters throw pots at their workspaces.
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Other events in Josh’s life as a studio potter took place this year that didn’t involve building or remodeling. Last May he put in a two month residency at Penland School of Craft as an assistant teacher for a class on woodfiring pottery made with local materials. Although living at Penland pulled him away from ClaySpace and Community Temple projects, the experience was enriching. "The amount of time it takes to test materials is limited, but in the class it was the topic. And you have students available to work for and with you. I honed my big jar making skills. Everyone learns," he said. Near the end of the intensive class, the students trekked out from the Mitchell County school to the Community Temple in Marshall County to see the impressive 3-tiered kiln and to witness the unloading part of the woodfiring process.
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The Community Temple was also a destination for potters around the country. A constant flow of them visited the site throughout the summer. “The ceramics’ community is a small world. People keep an eye on each other,” Josh said about the visits.
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Building projects, pottery firings, shows, and ClaySpace work aside, Josh was able to spend a freewheeling day with us. We watched the first presidential debate together at the home of one of his friends, visited a nearby Japanese garden, spent some time in downtown Asheville and Marshall, and went out to eat a few times. As we were leaving, he was ready to get back to work. Weed whacking was on the schedule, followed by preparation for the arrival of a Track-hoe, which will be used to fill in the demolition site where the property’s original house was. Materials from the March 2007 demolition were salvaged and used in the building of the kiln shed. The demolition was the first step in arriving to where the site is today.
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As we drove away, I thought about how much Josh has accomplished and how much work still needs to be done. I can only imagine what the Community Temple Compound will look after the passing of another year. I can hardly wait to see.

Post Notes: The photos above were all taken at ClaySpace. You can see pictures and read about house demolition in a post titled "The House That Josh Un-built HERE. See a video of the start of the demolition HERE.

September 29, 2008

The Community Temple Compound: Fall ‘08 Update

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It was a year ago last September that my Asheville potter son, Josh Copus, wood-fired the first pots in his newly constructed Community Temple kiln. It’s been that long since I visited the kiln site on the two acre Marshall County property where Josh lives.
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The year-old 3-tiered kiln was still hot from its 7th firing when my husband, Joe and I arrived with our truck camper for a weekend visit. It would be two days before the kiln’s full cool down, followed by the unloading of wares. Josh was a little blurry eyed from tending the fire overnight as he showed us around.
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The structural changes around the site since last year are many. Most notable is the newly built pottery studio that Joe helped Josh frame in early June. Constructed from salvaged wood, doors and windows, this studio will eventually be the pottery showroom when a larger studio is built. A village green and a house are also a part of future plans.
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I’m always amazed by Josh’s self-taught accomplishments and his keen appreciation for and ability to manifest recycled building materials. This time it was his masonry handwork that impressed me most, a stone wall around the studio building, stairway steps built into the hard packed clay dirt around the kiln, and a stone ledge and sitting bench.
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He referred to his masonry work as “hardscaping” and explained how many of the bricks and cobblestones used in both projects came from the streets of Asheville, which he collected when city workers dug up a road to build a new sewer line. Old brick stamped with logo words from Josh’s private collection also figured into the work.
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There were several newly constructed wooden ware racks around the kiln, staging stations for loading and unloading pots. The blue striped couch from when Josh lived in the warehouse loft apartment at Clayspace, the Asheville studio cooperative that Josh founded, was prominently placed in front of the kiln, offering rest for potters during the intensive tending of woodfirings that can go on all night.
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Josh’s living space has also undergone changes. A roofed porch now extends from his Airstream trailer headquarters along the creek that rushes through the property. Bamboo blinds on one side and a small paned window frame on another close in a sitting and sleeping space. A beige couch faces the roofed cooking area, which includes a long wooden counter and a large grille with and propane burner. Josh plans to further close in the porch for the winter, which will transform it into a small cabin, not unlike the one on Zephyr Farm that we lived in one summer when Josh was a boy.
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The portajohn, a fixture during last year’s kiln building and first firing, has been replaced by a composting toilet outhouse, situated behind the Airstream. “The outhouse was practice for building the new studio,” Josh said. His cat “Jean Claude Meow” charged down from a hill, where a bathtub was waiting to be a wood-fired hot tub, and into the raised bed vegetable garden. “He’s doing his job,” Josh said, which meant that Jean Claude has been keeping the mice population down.

Post notes: Part II continues HERE. See a video clip of Josh showing Joe the newly built kiln ware racks HERE.

September 28, 2008

Cheap Date

wdbeer.jpg The Wedge Brewing Company is the latest addition to the Wedge Studio building, a renovated warehouse in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC, where ClaySpace, the pottery studio and gallery that my son Josh Copus founded, is also housed. I was already buzzed from the brew tasting when I made my final decision and ordered an amber pint of “Golem.” I might have been warned by the beer’s name or the description of it on the beer list, which read, “a wicked and dangerously drinkable Belgium Pilsner …juicy and spicy.” But it wasn’t until I had partaken nearly half of it and realized I was drunk that I noticed in the write-up that the beer I had chosen had a 9% alcohol content, almost double what most beers have.

Joe got the 6.8% “Community Porter,” named for my son’s BFA Community brick art installment, which has grown into an ongoing art performance. wdbackX.jpg
Bricks from that show, made by Josh with the word COMMUNITY stamped on them, have been finding there way all over the country and world. A COMMUNITY brick was set in with others in the brew pub’s brick wall. Meanwhile, an old scratchy “Ella Fitzgerald Sings Cole Porter” record was playing on the turntable. Joe struck up a conversation with another beer tasting customer and I was babbling to the bartender about the poetry of beer and how beer tasting is like tea tasting and that designing brews might be like making perfume.

I meant to take my beer to one of the outside tables under a tree alongside the train tracks. I wanted to enjoy the evening scene and take some pictures of the wrought iron sculpture that framed it, but the bartender changed the album and I was busy singing the Beatles “Come Together” while reading the poetic descriptions of brews on the list. Joe’s Community Porter was described as: English-styled robust golden malt hops with the flavor of carob and coffee. The words bubblegum, burnt sugar, and chocolate also showed up on the brew menu.

Later, still high on Golem, we stopped for a dance to John Meyer in a parking lot before meeting up with Josh. There, I said to Joe, “This is a lot of fun for the price of a $3.50 beer.”

September 26, 2008

From the Mouths of Republicans

“Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she'd be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.” – David Brooks, conservative columnist at the New York Times

"I think it's a stretch to, in any way, to say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States." – Republican Senator Chuck Hagel

“One of the oddest choices in the history of presidential politics. This may go down as the most peculiar Vice President choice there has ever been.” – Ben Stein, Nixon speechwriter

"The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives.” – Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan’s primary speechwriter.

“Now that we've seen the entirety of the Palin-Gibson tete-a-tete, I concur with Rich Lowry and Rod Dreher. The most that can be said in her defense is that she kept her cool and avoided any brutal gaffes; other than that, she seemed about an inch deep on every issue outside her comfort zone.” – Ross Douthat, The Atlantic

“McCain’s opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir – the person in whose hands he would leave the country – is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.” – Richard Cohen, conservative columnist for The Washington Post

“Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue... Can anyone say with a straight face that Palin would have gotten picked if she were a man?” – Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review Online

“The choice also says a lot about McCain. First, that he is a bit desperate … Second, that he is one arrogant SOB. McCain is essentially telling the world that he doesn't really need a Vice President.” – Shannen Coffin, National Review Online

"My perspective is that the ticket is Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden, that they have the breadth of experience, I think they are prudent, they are knowledgeable. We just can't use four more years of the same kind of policy that's somewhat hazardous, which leads to recklessness." – Maryland Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrist

“It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?” – George Will, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, who also said in the same piece “So, is not McCain's party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history?”

"If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?" -- David Frum, National Review

"If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself." Kathleen Parker, National Review Online.

Note: After watching Katie Couric’s recent interview with Palin, I suspect more Republicans will add their concern to the voices above. See a clip HERE and HERE.

September 25, 2008

13: Double Take

132.jpg 1. This is the time of year when I put on socks, and the butter in the butter dish is no longer the consistency of mayonnaise.

2. Have you noticed how the Jonas Brothers look like the Hanson Brothers with dark hair?

3. Double take would make a good name for a second hand clothing shop.

4. I once had a recycling bumper sticker on my car that said “Once is Not Enough.” Under that one I had second one, confirming that “Once is Not Enough.”

5. Shopping for men’s shirts at the thrift shop is like looking through Hallmark cards for Father’ Day… hunting scenes, plaids, and stripes is all you get.

6. The chant “Drill Baby Drill” at the RNC separated the boys from the men. And by men I mean drunken sailors on the make.

7. Tina Fey at the Emmys on playing Sarah Palin: "I want to be done playing this lady November 5th. So if anybody can help me be done playing this lady November 5th that would be good for me." Hint hint…

8. But it was Laura Linney who made the best discreet political reference of the night. While accepting her award for her role in the John Adams mini-series she made the comment that our Founding Fathers were community organizers.

9. The economic crisis: This is what less government (The Republican motto) gets us. Privatization without oversight means a free for all, but it always falls in the end, sadly, on the backs of the taxpayers.

10. The Katrina catastrophe was another example of how less government works (or doesn’t). Bush considered FEMA an “entitlement program,” so he demoted its status and appointed inexperienced cronies to run it, dismantling the progress that Clinton had made. The rest is sad history.

11. A sure sign that I’ve been watching too many political shows and that the economic crisis is having an affect on me: I dreamt that I had two flat tires in an old car I no longer own. PBS News Hour commentator Mark Shields was my mechanic. I trusted his Boston accent and his familiar face that looks like my father’s did, so I turned over the keys and said, “I know you’re smart. I’ve seen you on TV.” He charged me a couple of thousand dollars to fix the car, and when I demanded to know why, he showed me the elaborate waiting room in his garage, part of the tacked on cost.

12. I just learned that Mark Shields is from Weymouth Massachusetts, about eight miles from where I grew up and where I lived and worked for six years. The drug dealer the movie Blow was based on, played by Johnny Depp, is also from Weymouth. So is Hal Holbrook.

13. Supposedly I should have looked like THIS when I graduated from high school in 1968. But I really looked like THIS. What did you look like in 1968? Yearbook yourself HERE.

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

September 24, 2008

Sunbather

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Last little corner of the porch
on a lifeboat following the sun
Westward light is sinking low
Soon I’ll be drowning in shadow

September 23, 2008

September's Harvest of Spoken Word

jyansbxx.jpg We could see the sun set from the Café Del Sol comfy couch at September's Spoken Word. It filled the café with a golden glow and shone on early readers at the open mic. A few of us were slightly overdressed in fancier than normal clothing, having come from our friend Jeri's wedding earlier in the day. It was also Jayn's birthday and she received a few gifts, some in the manner of Mary Oliver poems read and dedicated to her.

The name Palin was mentioned at the mic, by way of poetic license. There was a paradoxical theme, introduced by Wolf and carried on by Chelsea, who read a poem about Pro-life/Pro-choice ...except when ... except when ... except when. Mara brought a brown paper grab bag of poems from which audience members picked. I read my summer beach vacation report in the form of one-liners: In a pinch when I'm at the beach without a notebook, I can write on a clam box menu using my flip flop sandal for a desk.ssaft.jpg

First time reader Gloria read several poems. She received a rousing round of applause for her poem about retirement, the humor of which was reminiscent of Jenny Joseph's "When I'm Older I Shall Wear Purple." Jayn confessed that she was an "Old Hippie" with title of her latest poem. Greg read "When Our Beards Were Brown," and other poems.

Steve Saft (pictured above) returned to the mic after a long absence. He read three new poems, one of which urged gratefulness for "Another Day of Life." The final stanza of that poem read, Focus on the now, not on what you think is missing. Be grateful you can still have that latest obsession-- money, family, the unpublished books. Old as you are, old poet, you still are, and from you, we do not have that final verse.kmx.jpg

Steve, a Carroll County resident who is currently recovering from a serious illness, has a new book out. It's an adventure story told in the form of a narrative poem. The book, titled Murdoch Mcloon and His Windmill Boat is available for sale at Xlibris and Amazon.com. You can read more it and about Steve's previously published book on at his website HERE.

Fellow teapoet, Katherine soothed the audience with her poem titled, "Day with Darjeeling." Mara's daughter Kyla (pictured above) closed the evening with a sweetly sung acapella song. You can hear of clip of her singing HERE.

September 22, 2008

Fairy Tales Can Come True

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Fairy Tales Can Come True … It can happen to you … if you’re young at heart … That’s the song that Ceremonialist Katherine Chantal broke out singing while she was marrying our good friend Jeri at the age of 50+. Jeri looked the ‘young at heart' part in her long flowing white peasant gown and ivory woven shawl. She had flowers draped down her long hair.
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Gee, I didn’t even know Jeri had a new boyfriend when I read the “Save the Date” wedding announcement in the August issue of our community’s monthly newsletter, the Museletter. She knew most of us would be surprised, and so she ended the announcement with her phone number for “questions and expressions of amazement.” In her front page wedding announcement the following month, she posted the time of the wedding in Eastern Standard and “Floyd Time.”
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So I met the groom, Mark, for the first time at the Sun Music Hall, where the wedding took place. I couldn’t get over what a kindred match-up he and Jeri seemed to be. They actually looked like each other. And so did Jeri’s kids, who stood up for her. I never realized how much they looked alike until I saw them lined up together.
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During the champagne toast Jeri’s daughter Amity (who played a flute solo during the ceremony) shared some humor. Jeri’s son Zach assured those of us who were just meeting Mark that he had the heart to match his mother’s compassionate nature. A sigh of relief, followed by some hooting and hollering, filled the Hall.
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Sally Walker sang to Chris Luster (on bass) and Billy Miller’s instrumentation. Vases of fall flowers adorned the long tables of potluck feast. I couldn’t stop staring at the colorful turnout of people, some I hadn’t seen in years. It was a virtual "Who's Who' of the old Floyd alter-native community and beyond.
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The celebration spilled out onto the Winter Sun deck where we enjoyed drinks and conversation, Eggplant Lasagna, beet greens, pesto, salmon and so much more.
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Our kids are having kids now and boy, are they ever cute ... and funny!
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There were plenty of Wedding cookies, apple crisps and pies for dessert. Unfortunately, I missed the cutting and eating of cake, but not before snapping a picture of it. I left early to conserve my energy for coming back to the Winter Sun building that night for the Café Del Sol Spoken Word Open Mic and to celebrate my friend Jayn’s birthday. Blessings and love to Jeri and Mark!

Post notes: A video clip of the Hand Fasting Ceremony can be viewed HERE. A clip of Zach’s wedding toast and the crowd's response to it is HERE.

September 20, 2008

Fungi Feng shui

My interest in mushrooms has mushroomed. I live along the wooded Blue Ridge Parkway and recently the right combination of damp dark weather followed by sunshine has resulted in a virtual mushroom invasion. On my daily walks to the mailbox I find these spore-bearing fruit bodies of fungus popping everywhere. I don’t know most of their real names so I have nicknamed them thusly:

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1. A Hole in Smurfette’s Hat
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2. Coffee Grounds on Donut
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3. Forrest Corsage
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4. Candy Cane Zombies
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5. Foam Rubber Flower
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6. Dish TV
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7. Nesting Dolls
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8. Saucer Landing
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9. I Hope it Wasn’t Poison
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10. This One Takes the Cake

Note: I know #3 looks like lichen but it had a mushroom stem. See yesterday’s Mushroom’s Among Us HERE.

September 19, 2008

Mushrooms Among Us

These Alien looking organisms can kill you or cure you. They can give you hallucinations or be part of a gourmet meal, and they’re just as likely to end up in a Science Fiction plot as they are to be the subject of a fairytale. The following mushrooms were all found in my yard and along the gravel driveway that leads to my mailbox. They seemed to have popped up overnight, as big as plates or smaller than a dime. I found over twenty varieties in one day. I gave some of them pet names:
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1. Piece of the Pie
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2. Venus of Willendorf
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3. Sun Sombrero
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4. Pottery Shards
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5. Chocolate Truffles
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6. Triple Scoop
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7. Baby Bird Bath
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8. A Fairy Trail
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9. Mushroom Clown
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10. Haunted Hands
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11. Turtle Helmet
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12. Lemon Shell
More Spore Lore: Many people do not know that mushroom identification is extremely difficult--not at all like identifying, say, trees. There are about 200 (natural) species of trees in North America, and a good field guide can usually help you figure out what tree you're looking at. In contrast, no one knows how many mushroom species there are (estimates range as high as 30,000 for North America); scientists do not even agree on what constitutes a "species" of mushroom or on how they can be identified; and most of the species that have been named so far require microscopic analysis for positive identification. ~ From mushroomexpert.com

September 18, 2008

Talking Heads

13tp1.jpg 1. I like PBS’s Shields and Brooks but David Byrne is my favorite Talking Head. He has a blog too. HERE.

2. How come a dunce cap and a wizard cap are both the same?

3. My current imaginary bumpers sticker is a mathematical equation that says: McCain+Palin=Bushx. Hey, this is not rocket science. See HERE.

4. Truck spotted in Texas during Hurricane Ike with a sign painted on it that read: GO HOME IKE … TINA IS NOT HERE!!

5. Signs spotted at the protest against Palin in Anchorage this past Saturday: BUSH IN A SKIRT … LIPSTICK CAN’T COVER THE TRUTH … SORRY SARAH WE JUST LOVE OUR COUNTRY MORE … FUNDAMENTALY FLAWED … DIDN’T BLINK= DIDN’T THINK … BRISTOL GOT TO CHOOSE WHY CAN’T WE? Video clip is HERE.

6. Lately I’ve been reading stories from the Anchorage Daily News. Here’s one on Alaska bloggers and how their 200 a day hits have recently gone up into the thousands.

7. Loose Leaf isn’t a political blog but I write about politics. It isn’t a blog about Floyd but I write about Floyd. It’s a place where my daily journal converges with my poetry, photography, and prose. It’s a writer’s discipline and a container to organize and store my formal and informal writing.

8. As someone who has been blogging for 3 ½ years, this is my first presidential election as a blogger, so it’s only natural that there would be more posts on politics than there normally are. As the election gets closer, it’s pretty much on my mind every day.

9. I’m one of those people who think politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions and I want to be in on the decisions that affect me as much as I can. I don’t think politics is separate from the rest of life, and I believe there is truth to this quote: “Anyone who says they are not interested in politics is like a drowning man who insists he is not interested in water.”

10. Plato said this: “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

11. The last election is responsible for me taking up blogging. I had been doing a lot of political writing – which was published in The New River Free Press, Roanoke Times, Common Dreams, Just Response, Online Journal, and other places – but I got so frustrated about the Bush administration's marketing of the Iraq War and Bush’s re-election that I burned out.tonguex.jpg I decided I wanted to have more fun with writing, so I drew on my Irish storytelling heritage, posted the above bio photo of me in Ireland with a shamrock pinned to my sweater, and let the gift of gab begin.

12. The heads are talking and the tongues are wagging: This picture (right) of me and my nephew Matthew is my favorite one from the summer. I like to know that I have an influence on the younger generation.

13. What do you think of THIS two headed turtle that made Dave Letterman go “EEEWWW?”

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. #151

September 17, 2008

Famous First Lines of Last Summer

puk.jpgThe summer in review, taken from first lines in past posts. Click on the last word in each line if you want to read more.

1. My mother and I have an ongoing conversation through the clipped newspaper articles we send each other. It’s the only comfortable way we can “talk” about politics because our views are so vastly different.

2. It had all the earmarking of a mythical wound, the inch long deep gash on my leg that had reduced me to crawling on all fours.

3. All the signs of summer have arrived, the first one being that I’m in a sundress.

4. I don’t know what it means to be a grandmother. It’s probably a role you grow into.

5. Sheltered from the neighbors by a row of jasmine bushes and a fence lined with dwarf conifers and roses, a bird serenades, water streams from a dolphin fountain, and wind chimes remind me of home.

6. Mission accomplished.

7. Human voices muffle in the lullaby of tide. Overhead jets like flies to swat sting as they pass.

8. In 1969 I was wearing a black floppy hat while riding the subway from Boston when a little boy pointed at me and asked his mother, “Is that a hippie?

9. At the beach Joe said to me, “I’m so glad you introduced me to naps, baths, and beaches.” Yeah, that about sums me up.

10. 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.

11. Environmental Organizers, Scientific Researchers, Ultimate Frisbee Champions, Flower Girls, and Flower Children all came together on Saturday to celebrate the marriage of Johanna and Nick at Floyd’s High Flowing Farm.

12. Folding little tea poems … Origami notes … Petals of the Orient … Light enough to float.

13. Hung-over with fun from the wedding on Saturday, I dragged myself to a Woman’s Clothing Exchange the next day. Over a dozen women came and dumped piles of clothes all over my friend Penny’s house for a real Filenes’s Basement experience.

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

15. The beach is my new religion. Baptized in the ocean’s holy water, I worship at sunset under a big sky. At the shoreline I'm humbled, in the name of the sand, sun, and sea.

16. One is a General in the Marines, another is a massage therapist. Two are hairdressers and about four are Vietnam Vets. There is a salesman, a store owner, and a professional dancer who came all the way from Spain. The thing I like most about the Hull High Class of ‘68 is that most of us like to dance.

17. In this day of theme parks with rides like the Tower of Terror and Disney mouse and duck characters posing for photo-ops, I’m relieved there are still parks where real ducks can be fed and where you can ride around a weeping willow lined lagoon on a peddle boat with a giant swan on it.

18. What can top a Boston Swan Boat Ride? How about an all you can eat Lobster dinner?

19. In a pinch, when I’m at the beach without a notebook, I can write in the margins of a clam box menu using my flip flop sandal for a desk.

20. Washing the salt out of my bathing suit ... I won’t cry over a spilled summer … drained empty like the last gulp down the sink … I won’t squeeze another beach day out of August … mourn the blueberries of July … dripped dry ...

September 16, 2008

A Solo Porch Vacation

pv.jpg No one comes. No one calls. The constant motion of September wind sounds like ocean surf. It flattens the tops of trees like women’s hair blown back from driving in a car with the top down. It pushes the clouds across the sky. They rush like a river intent on downstream. The sun blinks as they pass like a light bulb switching on and off, threatening darkness. Notebook pages flutter up at the corners. Poplar, oak, and fir swish like skirts, making me think of fabric: taffeta, crepe, and silk. With one gust, wind chimes fly into a panic, complaining about the end of summer, I suppose.

September 15, 2008

Junior Jamboree Kicks off Library’s New Schedule

jjam.jpg ~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on September 11, 2008.

The Jessie Peterman Memorial Library celebrated its new Sunday hours with cookies and punch and an afternoon of entertainment in the library’s new Community Room. A Junior Jamboree was performed by students of the Floyd Music School.

Floyd Music School founder and director Mike Mitchell introduced the roster of students whose performances featured piano, violin, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar playing.

Housed upstairs at the Floyd Country Store, The Floyd Music School offers private music lessons and hosts student recitals. In less than two years, the school has grown to accommodate seventy students and has recently added two new music teachers, Mitchell said.

The Sunday Junior Jamboree marked the joining of Floyd with other area library branches in being open on Sundays from Labor Day till Memorial Day each year. mikelydia.jpg

Library Branch Supervisor Cathy Whitten said that more family entertainment is being planned for Sundays at the library and will include more Junior Jamborees, along with family movies to be shown on the library’s flat screen TV or their large pull down movie screen, and other entertainment. ~ Colleen Redman

Post Notes: Floyd Music School students will be performing Saturday September 20th at the Floyd Harvest Festival from 11 a.m. to 12 and again from 1 to 2 p.m. The festival is held at the Floyd Recreational Park.

Photos: 1. Three brothers play Amazing Grace on guitar, mandolin, and banjo. The mandolin was made by the boy's grandfather. 2. Six year old student, shown playing the fiddle, is not the Floyd Music School’s youngest student. Mitchell said the school has students as young as five years old.

September 13, 2008

I Flunked the Cartwheel Test

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In high school, I flunked the cartwheel test and so never became a cheerleader. I wasn’t as disappointed about not making the team as my older sister Kathy was when she didn’t make it two years before me. Dancing at the Surf Ballroom on weekends and marching in the CYO Drill Team filled the gap that cheerleading would have and gave me the same healthy outlet. I wasn’t very athletic and knew I didn’t deserve to be a cheerleader. But my youngest sister Tricia was made to be on the top of cheerleading pyramid, and she was.
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I’m not one to care about football, but I recently went to a game. I went to cheer on a cheerleader, my great niece Samantha, who cheers for Floyd’s neighbors, the Auburn Eagles JV football team. I have never understood the game. A few have tried to explain but I quickly lost interest in following the description. Unless my sons are playing I don’t tend to follow any sport. But I feel pretty accomplished today because I made a big breakthrough in understanding the rules of football. My niece, Samantha’s mother, Chrissie explained them to me, and what-do-you-know it sunk in.
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The pom poms, the night lights, the smell of popcorn, the clapping, the stomping, the cheering all gave the evening a certain nostalgic charm. The game was close and went into overtime and my niece’s team won. Having my camera on hand kept me busy.

Post notes: I’m going to remember this cheer every time I’m about to spell psyched wrong. P-S-Y-C-H-E-D … PSYCHED IS WHAT WE WANT TO BE. GET … PSYCHED … ALRIGHT ALRIGHT … GET PSYCHED. See it in action HERE. A short cheerleading clip in which pom poms are involved is HERE. Check out Chrissie’s blog on the same topic HERE.

September 12, 2008

Who is John McCain Now?

I've always respected John McCain. Although I understand that campaigning candidates tend to adapt their talking points to please their base of support, my respect for McCain wavered as he flip flopped on issues during the presidential nomination campaign.

I don’t agree with McCain on many issues, but I was pleased to see at the RNC that more of the pre-campaign John McCain emerged. I appreciated that both he and Obama spoke respectfully of each other as opponents during their convention speeches, and that McCain was able to admit the grave setbacks our country has suffered under an eight year Republican administration led by Bush.

Although the media set the bar low for McCain’s oratory ability, I thought both his and Obama’s convention speeches were compelling. But here’s the catch and what concerns about McCain. While his fervent love of country is on the one hand admirable, it also comes across to me as almost religious, and so prone to the same pitfalls that zealous religiosity can produce.

As one who doesn’t buy into the old adage “my country right or wrong,” preferring that my country be big enough to right its wrongs, I worry that McCain’s warrior’s need for a victorious U.S.A. will manifest as stubborn unyieldingness. His outdated worldview seems to revolve around losing Vietnam, like Bush’s worldview compelled him to pick up where the first Gulf War left off, at the expense of more pressing present day concerns.

McCain has a reputation for being hot-headed and for making decisions based on gut instincts over facts. His mission to get the bad guys, with constant references to himself as a “maverick,” here to save us from the Washington establishment (of which he’s been a part for a couple of decades), is beginning to sound like “gun slinging.”

I think we’ve had enough of those qualities under President Bush.

When I combine my concerns about McCain with those I have about Governor Palin and her far right Christian conservative ideology, it adds up to an equation that looks too much like George Bush. Palin, a first time Republican female candidate for vice president, doesn’t support women’s rights. She would deny women the right to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest. She has inquired about banning library books, would support creationism taught in schools, has called the conflict in Iraq “A task from God,” and has refuted the science on climate change.

Sound familiar?

With McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for his running mate, the respect I once had for him has dissolved. I consider his choice to be a sell-out departure from the moderate independent McCain of the past. I find myself asking, if McCain loves his country as much as he professes and wants only the best for it, why would he risk letting someone with such radical views and limited world experience so close to the presidency?

Ultimately, I see the McCain/Palin ticket as a vote against progressive politics, and I fear that if they prevail in November we’ll be headed for the Bush administration all over again. Or maybe something worse.

Post notes: Charlie Gibson's interview with Palin is HERE . HERE is a video clip on Palin's church that makes Jeremiah Wright look like a choirboy. Towards the end of the clip Plain makes the "task from God" comment. My recent post on Palin is HERE.

September 11, 2008

13 Talking Points

tp13.jpg1. I like to keep at least one toy in my pocketbook. For some reason it makes me feel prepared.

2. Working my laptop touch pad is like eating noodles with chopsticks. I’d rather use a fork and mouse.

3. I feel like THIS more and more often. It's worth a whole listen.

4. I thought I recognized THAT guy. I used to have a crush on him and heard him sing at the South Shore Music Circus in the 70’s. Here’s a BEFORE and AFTER video of him and THIS one, dedicated to my sister Sherry. (Thanks to Marion for starting this sentimental journey by emailing me the first video, unaware of what she'd stir up.)

5. It’s a fun idea for a S-C-R-A-B-B-L-E lover like me but I don’t think I’d have to guts to have a tombstone like THIS. More unusual tombstones are HERE.

6. I thought the Drill Baby Drill refrain that the crowd chanted and Giuliani joined in on at the RNC sounded like a bunch of drunken sailors and was as bad as Bush’s Bring ‘em on.

7. Pulitzer Prize winning author and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman said during an interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that chanting Drill Baby Drill refrain at the RNC is like the equivalent of chanting “IBM typewriters … IBM typewriters” at the onset of the computer age. He also said he thought Obama was the only green candidate left. More HERE.

8. My Terry Gross is young, has long straight blonde hair, looks a little like the actress Laura Linney, and doesn’t wear glasses. This Terry Gross – the real one who produces and hosts National Public Radio’s interview talk show “Fresh Air” – is petite to the point of looking like Mary Martin playing the role of Peter Pan. She has short cropped hair, wears glasses, and is in her late 50s. ~ Read about the time I got interviewed by Terry Gross (sort of) HERE.

9. Last week I wondered when saying “God Bless America” by each politician after each speech given became required. Here’s what I found from the Washington Post: The omnipresence of “God bless America” as a political slogan is an entirely recent phenomenon. We know because we’ve run the numbers. Analysis of more than 15,000 public communications by political leaders from Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932 — the beginning of the modern presidency — through six years of George W. Bush’s administration revealed that prior to Ronald Reagan taking office in 1981, the phrase had passed a modern president’s lips only once in a major address: Richard Nixon used it to conclude a 1973 speech about Watergate.

10. Ripped from the pages of my journal: Republicans and Democrats are like Fords and Chevys. Like the Yankees and the Red Sox, they have an almost irrational need to take sides.

11. How did the left come to refer to liberal and the right conservative? This apparently arose from the use of the terms in the parliaments of foreign countries; the parts of the parliamentary chambers located to the right and left of the presiding officers accordingly representing conservative and liberal elements respectively. More HERE.

12. I never liked the symbol of the donkey for the Democratic Party. The Republican elephant is only a little better. Seems neither party chose their mascot symbols. They got stuck with them after a series of cartoons by Thomas Nast that first appeared in Harper’s Weekly in 1874. More on that HERE.

13. If Republicans are from Mars and Liberals are from Venus, where are Independents from?

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

September 10, 2008

Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky

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Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
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Actin funny, but I don't know why
scuse me while I kiss the sky
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Purple haze all around
Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
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Am I happy or in misery?
What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me
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Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if its day or night
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You got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Post notes: We recently had some company in our yard: Jade in purple hair, his sister Lotus in a purple skirt, and their mom Tamra who came to practice martial arts with Joe. See the video wherein Tamra steals the show HERE.

September 9, 2008

Here and There

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1. Downtown Upkeep
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2. Flood of Memories
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3. Light at the End of the Tunnel

Post notes: I got some pictures developed yesterday and thought these three somehow went together, visually and in a past, present, future sort of way. 1. Farmer’s Supply in Floyd recently got a touch up. 2. Nantasket Beach at sunset in my hometown of Hull, Massachusetts 3. Chesapeake Bay Tunnel on Virginia’s eastern shore. The future is in sight.

September 8, 2008

Cherrix Speaks to Medical Students

ac2.jpg ~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on August 28, 2008 and is a follow-up to a previous story HERE.

“You can pull up the weeds but if you don’t get the root, they’ll come back,” Abraham Cherrix recently told a Medical Ethics class at the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

It seemed an unlikely statement for an eighteen year old young man to make to a lecture hall full of future doctors. But Cherrix – who made national news in 2005 when he refused radiation and a second round of chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease – was talking about his approach to wellness.

Invited by Professor Robert Miller for his second speaking engagement at the College, Abraham was accompanied by his mother, Rose Cherrix. Rose and Abraham’s father were found guilty of medical neglect for supporting Abraham’s decision to forgo more standard cancer treatments. She and her five children moved to Floyd County from Chincoteague Island, Virginia, in the spring of 2007, after losing their home and businesses to mounting medical bills, but winning their court case appeal. It was a case that prompted the passing of a new Virginia Law in Abraham’s name, one that gives teenagers the right to have a say in their health care decisions.

“I’m a big fan of positive thinking,” Abraham told the class, referring to his fourteen month cancer-free status as evidence of his being “cured.” Considering that one oncologist testified in court that Abraham’s chance of surviving the second round of prescribed treatment was 15 – 25%, and that his first oncologist outlined the way he would die if he didn’t accept the treatment, Abraham’s come-back is remarkable.

From a speaker’s podium, Abraham explained to the class that he almost died (or wanted to) from the first round of adult chemotherapy. “My father said I stopped breathing a few times.” When his cancer returned, the success rate of chemo and radiation treatments for it declined. Abraham’s intuition told him to pursue alternatives. But the holistic treatments he traveled to Mexico to undergo were interrupted by the court. Eventually Abraham came under the care of Doctor Arnold Smith, an oncologist from Mississippi who uses low dose radiation treatments, spread out over a long period of time, along with complimentary alternative therapies and vitamin supplements.

The classroom hall of nearly two-hundred medical students listened to Abraham’s story with rapt attention. The medical tradition they are studying is one that teaches a focus on treatment of the whole person rather than primarily on the disease. The College webpage reads:

The practice of osteopathic medicine includes using the most current scientific knowledge to promote health and prevention and to diagnose and treat patients with disease. Osteopathic physicians prescribe medications, perform surgery, and use osteopathic manipulative medicine as a tool to diagnose and treat patients. The philosophy of osteopathic medicine originated from the teachings of Virginian Andrew Taylor Still over 100 years ago and is based on the beliefs that, given the optimum conditions, the human body has the amazing ability to heal, that the structure of the human body is directly related to the function, and that the health of the individual is related to the body, mind, and spirit.

Following Abraham’s narrative, the class engaged in an hour long question and answer period. Many of the student’s questions revolved around the diet and lifestyle changes that Abraham says have contributed to his healing.

Abraham pointed out that the re-occurrence of his tumors and the degree they returned seemed to correlate with his diet, especially with the ingestion of too much sugar. “Tumors feed on sugar,” Dr. Smith answered when Abraham asked if he could eat donuts.

Currently Abraham is committed to an alkaline diet that includes lots of vegetables, no sugar, and no artificial additives. He spoke of other preventative therapies he uses to maintain his well being, such as a detox foot bath and Laser Therapy, administered by local chiropractor Garry Collins to stimulate or inhibit certain cell function and to boost immune function.

One student asked Abraham how he managed high school during his illness. Primarily a homeschooler, Abraham was doing a combination of public high school and homeschooling when his education was interrupted by cancer.q%26aac.jpg He is planning to get his GED and is interested in possibly becoming a Naturopath, saying, “I might even be joining you here in this class.” He also designs WebPages and does Reiki (a hands-on healing modality) and would like to pursue those interests more.

Another question posed to Abraham was one about his religious faith. With a Christian background, Abraham responded that “Jehovah, God, Great Spirit, or whatever you call Him or Her” helped him cope with his illness.

Both Abraham and his mother stressed the importance of mainstream medical treatments, but said they would like to see those combined with alternative therapies that don’t create side effects. “I’ve talked to hundreds who have been cured with alternative therapies. How can I not think they can work?” Abraham said.

“What we hope is by telling Abraham’s story, people can work together with the medical community for a broader understanding and that someone else won’t have to go through what we went through,” Rose added. She commended the students for wanting to help people heal.

Abraham, who recently turned eighteen and can now legally make his own health care choices, reminded the class of how important it is for doctors to listen to patients and to communicate positively. “When you talk to your patients, you affect them,” he said.

After the class, students lined up to ask further questions and to personally meet Abraham and his mother. Many commented on Abraham’s positive attitude and on what an inspiration he was. Professor Miller encouraged Abraham to continue his education, saying, “You’re a bright young man.” ~ Colleen Redman

September 6, 2008

The Café Porch Scrabble Game in which I Played the Word ‘Blog’ and Rosemary Complimented Doug on His New Haircut

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I usually like to play Scrabble between 12 and 2:00 p.m. By noon I’m awake enough and after 2:00 I start getting tired. But this Scrabble game was scheduled for 10:30 because Rosemary had an appointment to get her haircut at 12:30. “So you can take advantage of my sleepy state and Rosemary’s long hair,” I wrote to Mara in my email confirming I’d be there.
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Mara wanted to know how Rosemary’s hair could hinder her game. “Maybe it would get in her eyes,” I guessed. Rosemary suggested that she’d feel better about herself after the haircut and that self-confidence would boost her game. Biblically speaking, Mara reminded us both about Sampson, whose long hair gave him strength, which made me think of the Red Sox who finally won another World Series after most of the players grew their hair.
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The high protein peanut gallery at the table next to ours included Tom Ryan, a local satirist who authors the Floyd Enquirer, and Doug Thompson, political commentator and founder of Capital Hill Blue and Blue Ridge Muse. Both are red meat writers who from time to time stir up controversy. Tom had his notebook spread out on the table, so I took mine out too, just to level the playing field, in the event that something other than Scrabble got played.
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New Improved Super, Speed, and Regular Scrabble were all represented. After Rosemary complimented Doug on his haircut, the word “blog” was played and photographed, and Emma (seated with short hair) proved she could prevail, Mara showed me and Café owner Sally (standing) how to play “Speed Scrabble.” Then it was time for Super Scrabble. Emma and Mara were playing it as I was getting ready to go. I noticed that the board was much bigger; there were two Z’s, and a number of quadruple word score boxes.
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I can verify that the leather jacket biker rumors about Doug are true. Here he is revving up his Harley engine and waving to Rosemary who is off to get her hair cut off. And HERE is the result of some of Tom’s latest notes. Close up of Doug and his Harley HERE.

September 5, 2008

The Failing of Sarah Palin

Although John McCain has voted with President Bush 90% of the time, it’s his Vice-Presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, who is most like Bush. You would think that after eight years of enduring the most unpopular president in modern times, Americans would balk at an anti-science candidate who calls the war in Iraq “a task of God” and admits that she hasn’t thought much about it. The media, who seem to have been bullied into backing off from further probes into Palin’s background, are now touting her as a down-home rising star.

But the folksy thing backfired with Bush. His lack of foreign policy experience and lack of interest in the world beyond Republican politics proved to be devastating. Are we going to fall for it again? Do we really want (by her own admission) a pit bull in lipstick who wants to ban books and have creationism taught in schools a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

Not only does Palin denounce the science behind climate change, she is gung-ho to drill in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Preserve (a band-aid solution to our reliance on foreign oil). She wants to deny a woman’s right to choose abortion even in the case of incest and rape, and is willing to play politics using the same old bent rule book that Bush used, the one that got us into Iraq in the first place: Saying it is so makes it so whether it’s true or not.

In Palin’s RNC speech, written by George Bush’s speechwriter, we heard once again about those evil Democrats who raise taxes, and yet Democratic candidate Obama proposes a tax break for 95% of Americans. We heard that Democrats can’t wait to pass programs they can’t pay for, and yet it was a Democrat (Clinton) who balanced the budget and paid down the deficit and a Republican (Bush) who has blown it sky high. We heard that Senator Obama hasn’t passed any significant legislation when the record shows that is not so.

I find it ironic that Palin puts down Obama’s celebrity-like appeal when that is what she herself is riding on, or that she feels comfortable belittling his grassroots community organizing two decades ago in Chicago, while complaining at the same time that her past job as a mayor of a small town isn’t being taken serious.

I’m tired of linguistic twists that dumb down smart voters and candidates by calling them elitist. Sadly, the spirit of hope and non-partisanship I was uplifted by listening to Obama at the DNC has been deflated by Palin and others using the same old Rush Limbaugh-like name calling tactics that stop debate on the issues, make differences personal, and further separate Americans. ~ Colleen Redman

Post note: Watch the video of Republican political pundit Peggy Noonan and others questioning Palin's experience while unaware they were being broadcast HERE.

September 4, 2008

13 Thursday Gets My Vote

13votehopex.jpg 1. I watched PBS's full coverage of the Democratic National Convention like others watched the Olympics (which I didn’t).

2. I don’t watch sports either, but watched Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, and Michael McDonald sing at the DNC like others watch the Super Bowl at halftime.

3. I’m a registered Independent, fiscally conservative, who votes Democrat because they represent my interests in Labor Rights, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Environmental Protections better than their counterparts. (They also have been better at balancing the budget and controlling the deficit as of late).

4. From day one my first choice for the Democratic Presidential Candidate would have been Al Gore, then Obama, then Hillary. I liked Kucinich too but he reminded me of Ringo to the Beatles Paul, John, and George. We needed his truthful drumbeat to keep it all together, but in reality, he wasn’t going to be writing or singing those top ten songs.

5. Gore (who is my true president in an alternate world) joked: John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them, the same policies all over again. Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous.

6. Seriously though, he also said: “We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization. Every bit of that has to change.”

7. Oprah supposedly cried her eyelashes off listening to Obama’s speech. See HERE.

8. Republican, Pat Buchanan thought it was the best speech he ever heard and that it transcended politics. See HERE.

9. Buchanan’s favorite line from Obama's speech: I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

10. One of mine was: I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington. But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.

11. I remember a time when every single politician that gave a speech didn’t have to end it with “God Bless America.” When did that become required?

12. Bill Clinton’s appearance at the Democratic National Convention was met with one of the longest ovations ever recorded at such an event. That was before he got stuck in an elevator.

13. I guess I wasn’t alone: More people watched Obama speak from a packed stadium in Denver on Thursday than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final "American Idol" or the Academy Awards this year, Nielsen Media Research said Friday. ~ AP

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

September 2, 2008

What's the Buzz?

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1. Hollyhocks and Bees
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2. A Birthday Tea
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3. A Rainy Day Pair
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4. A Window of Opportunity

September 1, 2008

Labor Day Labor Pains

poolll.jpg Our weekend was almost ruined by a tech pain in the neck. “It’s all Geek Greek to me,” I said to Joe, after he had spent a couple of hours at the computer trying to remove a computer virus that disguised itself as antivirus program warning of viruses.

Our computer had a virus and I felt sick, because of it and for another reason. While Joe was navigating the matrix of the computer virus world, I was in a virtual tailspin with a bad case of vertigo.

When my latest bout of vertigo came back while at Bethany Beach last week, I tried to ignore it, the way you decide not to scratch poison ivy because you think not scratching will make it go away faster. But now I was holding on for my dear dizzy nauseous life.

But our weekend wasn’t a total loss because baby Bryce and his mom and dad came up from Roanoke for a visit. vitb.jpg We tucked the sick computer in and went up to Chateau Morrisette Winery for brunch, even though I was feeling like pregnant woman with morning sickness and was stumbling a bit ( hoping no one thought I was drunk from the wine tasting).

After Joe read on my blog that I called walking the beach at sunset during my vacation my Vitamin B-each shot, he started calling B-ryce his vitamin B. It’s hard to feel bad with a new baby and enough vitamin B to go around. Bryce’s laughter is contagion I’m happy to catch. I sat down when I held him.

Photo: Empty lifeguard stand at the Floyd Country Club Pool, taken during our last swim of the season. The pool closes after Labor Day, another sign of the end of summer.