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November 30, 2008

The Outer Space Upside-Down Update

1. Hanging Out
2. Homeward Bound
3. Got Your Back
4. Look Ma No Hands

Thanksgiving in Outer Space: My sister Trish’s astronaut brother-in-law (and my one time wedding party escort at her wedding) has emailed a second batch of photos from space shuttle Endeavour’s space station mission. The latest update from NASA is that their landing back on earth will not happen at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but has been re-scheduled for today at 4:25 p.m. EST at Edwards Air Force Base in California. All our eyes and prayers are in the sky from now until then. Scroll down for more photos or click HERE.

Update: They have landed safely. More HERE.

November 28, 2008

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This

The love you take is equal to the love you make ~ The Beatles
Not long after my second son, Dylan (left), was born in 1982, I was proudly walking him in the baby carriage with his two year old brother Josh (right) by my side. I remember feeling like I had struck it rich. The blessings I felt as a mother were compounded by having two sons in tow. My own mother had nine children and one of her favorite complaints, said in exasperation was, I only have two hands. I remember thinking that two was a manageable number, seeing as how I had two arms, one for each of them.
It turns out that many of the clichés about the stages of life are actually true. When Dylan was twenty, I watched him walk to his car with a knapsack on his back on his way to live in Roanoke and was caught off guard by how hard it hit me. Then I remembered some of those clichés and thought to myself, ‘But of course. He’s my baby. The last to go. I’m normal after all.’ Now my baby is a man with a baby of his own.
I’m beginning to understand some of the cliché sayings about grandparenting that were previously lost on me, like the part about all the fun and spoiling you can have with your grandchild without the day to day work of raising them. I’d love to raise another child and I would if I had to, but the truth is I don’t have the energy anymore to match what it takes. It feels like a gift to spend time with my grandson and then let him go into his daily life, knowing he is being well taken care of by his parents.

The best part of being a grandparent is the realization that the investment of time and energy that you made long ago as a parent has paid off and multiplied. Not only do you find a new love in your grandchild but your love for his parents grows. Love pays dividends. Everyone in the family gets a share. And the sense of fun and play that a grandchild brings out in you takes the sting out of accepting the reality that you really are old enough to be someone's grandparent.

Video clip: Uncle Josh reunites with baby Bryce 6 months after his birth HERE. Bryce plays to the beat of his own drum HERE.

November 27, 2008

13 Thursday: Google Gobble

ggooglegobble.jpg 1. When I posed the idea of writing a story on the new Floyd-based Natural Awakenings magazine to the publisher, she said, “Can I buy you a cup of coffee?” I answered, “Sure, as long as it’s tea.”

2. I knew we were speaking the same language when during the interview I asked her how she found Floyd and she answered, “I don’t think you find Floyd. I think Floyd finds you.”

3. It boggles the mind: My sister Trish’s brother-in-law, Stephen Bowen, who is probably eating turkey in outer space with his crew mates right now, emailed the family some photos from inside the space shuttle on Saturday (some of which I posted HERE). It got me wondering, if Stephen can get online to email while out in space could he be reading my blog posts about the mission, and if so, where would my Statcounter say his visit was from.

4. Not only do I not shop on the day after Thanksgiving, I try to stay away from malls entirely this time of year. But I need a haircut. I want a fruitcake. Am I really too old to sit on Santa’s lap? Do I have enough butter for Christmas Eve cookies? Is it too soon to put up a tree? Read more from last year’s Mock Mincemeat Pie Hangover HERE.

5. I googled gobble and got THIS

6. I think THIS one is even funnier.

7. People are fun! The Google Gobble Soundtrack is HERE.

8. My friend, local blues musician Scott Perry is one of the few men I know who always wears a hat and isn’t even bald.

9. I have another Floyd friend named Phil who plays the harmonica. I call him the Philharmonic.

10. I’m a sucker for unnecessary knowledge. I recently learned from Pearl that the average person spends 12 weeks a year ‘looking for things.’ I then got sucked into the link she provided and learned that Steven King sleeps with the light on to calm his fear of the dark, Pinocchio was made of pine, the sand from Pacific beaches is generally 250,000 years older than Atlantic beach sand, ostriches can run 50 miles per hour, Napoleon constructed his battle plans in a sandbox, and India has a Bill of Rights for cow. The list goes on HERE.

11. My friend Doug is always pointing out that one of the downsides to living in a rural county is that you can’t get Chinese take-out here. I recently discovered that you can’t get a long arm stapler either, which I needed to staple my new TEAPOET chapbook. I eventually found one to borrow at a local church, which uses it for stapling their church bulletins.

12. Not long after we moved into this house in 1991 our closest neighbor asked to borrow a cup of sugar. But I have never bought sugar and so we offered him honey. He hasn’t tried to borrow anything since.

13. My take on church: I’d rather watch the birds and ponder Quantum Physics.

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

November 26, 2008

The Kovicks of Windfall

windfall1XX.jpg~ The following was published in the fall 2008 issue of the Floyd Compass, a newsprint visitor’s guide.

When Kari and Michael Kovick moved their family from Durham, North Carolina, to Floyd in 1999, they were following a dream: to live a more natural lifestyle and to do what they love. What they love is music.

Today, both are well recognized in the Floyd music scene, as members of the band Windfall and for their individual musical accomplishments. Michael is a trained luthier, repairing and crafting stringed instruments in his home studio off Route 221. Kari, well loved by Floyd’s youngest generation, is best known for her Early Childhood Music Programs, currently held at the Floyd Country Store. Her work interfaces with Floyd’s Head Start and features interactive classes for young children (babies to age six) and their parents. Kari recently performed a children’s concert on the Jamboree stage, which included some wiggles and giggles, and even a makeshift summer snowball fight.

When the couple met in Durham in the 1980’s, Michael owned a music store called High Strung. For twelve years he ran the full-service instrument repair shop before selling it and moving to Floyd. Kari, who grew up in Tidewater, was in Durham studying psychology at Duke University. During that time she also studied voice and performed in musicals and with choral groups. Eventually, she shifted from research to clinical work, and then day care.

“Once I realized I was more of a people person than a scientist, it all boiled down to children and music,” Kari said. She considers her children’s music to be an aspect of her interest in healing, a form of preventative medicine. “It just looks like fun and games,” she joked.

The Kovicks have been inventive about supporting themselves as self-employed musicians living in the country. michaestudiz.jpgWhen repair work in Michael’s shop slows down, he picks up momentum making original instruments. Best known for his mandolin and harmonica playing, Michael has designed a harmonica holder that attaches to a microphone, which he is in the process of marketing. The mandolin he uses in Windfall performances is one of his own. The solid carved “A” style instrument has maple back and sides, a spruce top, and ebony details. While crafting it, he kept his attention on the quality of sound he wanted it to create. “It has an open sound,” he explained.

Kari’s sparkling voice is her main instrument. She also plays guitar and concedes that Michael is the most prolific songwriter in the family, although she has also written original songs. When asked if their children were musical, Kari laughed and answered that nine year old Maggie “aspires to be a rock star.” Outgoing, Maggie is primarily a singer, making up her own songs. Judging by the ones she belts out, she has a “blues voice,” Kari said.

The Kovick’s eighteen year old daughter, April, recently surprised them. They knew she played guitar but hadn’t heard her sing in a formal capacity until she sang at her graduation from a massage school in Florida. Family%20summekov.jpg With the help of friends, April put together a CD that showcases her songwriting talent and her melodic voice, one that has the ability to give goose-bumps to a listener.

Formerly known as Brother Wind, the Kovick’s band Windfall has been growing in popularity. It was founded by Michael and the band’s lead guitarist Dave Fason. Michael and Dave were joined by bass player, Rusty May, after the group’s first bass player, Ron Oliver, died suddenly from cancer. Kari, a past drummer in an all-women’s drum troupe, was the last to join. She couldn’t resist, after seeing how much fun they were having and how good they were, she said. “The bass really pulled it all together for me,” she explained, “and I love that we can sing four part harmony together.”

Each member of Windfall is an accomplished musician in their own right, and each is well featured on the band’s CD, Autumn’s Aire, and in their live performances. The band specializes in Americana/roots music, folk, blues, rock, Celtic, and bluegrass. They play originals and covers and sometimes the band accompanies Kari, doing concerts for children. Recently, performing offers have increased and their band venues have been expanding, Kari said. “What started as part time work is turning into fulltime,” Michael noted.

The dream that brought the Kovicks to Floyd has been coming true, but it’s still unfolding. More paying work doing what they love is always welcome, Kari says. But the Kovicks are also mindful of creating time to enjoy their home-life, their daughters, and their garden. “When life gets busy, we get to slow down. We’re constantly refining our dream,” she said. ~ Colleen Redman

Post notes: Windfall will be playing at The Floyd Country Store on December 6th at 6:30. Hear selections from their CD Autumn’s Aire HERE.

November 25, 2008

An Inch Worth of Poetry

I joked at the last Spoken Word Open Mic that I write an inch of poetry to my friend Mara’s yard. Not only is she a more prolific poet than me but she can memorize her poetry and perform it like nobody’s business. Below is my poetic inch of a contribution for the month of November, inspired by gazing at a recent upturned slice of crescent moon. Not only is it an inch worth of words, it only takes a second to read.

Night Curves

Low cut moon
Suggesting fullness
Everyone’s favorite
Sky centerfold

November 24, 2008

Just Your Average Morning in Outer Space

1. Breakfast in Space
2. Don’t forget to brush.
3. The Class Picture (notice the astronauts holding themselves down and the woman astronaut’s hair flying up).
4. Gravity-free Recess

Post notes: The above photos were emailed to my sister Trish whose brother-in-law is Astronaut Stephen Bowen (pictured in the first photo on the right). Stephen emailed them from the Space Shuttle Endeavour to his wife Saturday morning, who then emailed them to Trish, who emailed them to me and our other siblings.

Watch the space tool bag float in space with the earth below HERE. That’s Stephen on the right of Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. For more posts and photos on the spaceflight click HERE and HERE. And send all best wishes to the crew for a safe flight home next Saturday.

November 22, 2008

They Grow on Trees

Colleen to Katherine, Zephyr Farm neighbor: "Hey, can I bring an apple crisp to Thanksgiving dinner this year? Joe and I have gone apple picking twice this season and we have apples all over the house."

November 21, 2008

Writer at Work

Writing is a struggle between presence and absence. Inspiration enters at the border between hard work and laziness. ~ Lu Ji

Joe: Did you get your new story sketched out yet?

Colleen: Sometimes a great first line will come on its own and I can jump off from there. But if that doesn’t happen I just have to start from the beginning and state the obvious.

Joe, encouragingly: And a professional writer knows she can write either way.

Colleen, a few minutes later: If I can remember it’s just storytelling, starting doesn’t seem as daunting. But I take every story seriously because I know the finished product is likely to be clipped and pasted into scrapbooks by the people I’m writing about.

Post note: Click HERE and scroll for a series of stories written for The Floyd Press.

November 20, 2008

The 13 Thursday Blast Off

13moonbow.jpg 1. Why did my sister Trish Bowen, who I think looks like Meg Ryan, model a T-shirt on Fox News on her birthday? See the video clip answer HERE.

2. The photo posted below appeared in The Boston Herald yesterday and is of Trish (front and center), her husband Danny, her sons Matthew (left) and Patrick (right), and her son’s aunt and cousins, all showing off the space memorabilia they got on their recent trip to Florida to watch Danny’s brother, Astronaut Stephen Bowen, and the rest of the Space Shuttle Endeavour crew take-off from the Kennedy Space Center last Friday (which I wrote about HERE).

3. I told Trish, who was a cheerleader in high school, that she looks like she was on the top of a pyramid cheer, just like the old days.
4. Everyone is very proud of Stephen, and Trish and her family have been getting a lot of attention from the media because of his space flight, but they were famous even before that for being on my blog! See Matthew HERE and Patrick HERE.

5. It’s been reported in the media that Stephen Bowen is an ice-cream junkie and I just learned that a local ice-cream shop near Cohasset, Massachusetts, where the Bowen’s are from, named a flavor after him. It’s called Cohastranaut Crunch.

6. The Endeavour’s destination of the International Space Station was reached on Sunday for what has been described as a “home make-over.” After reading my previous post on Stephen’s space flight a friend sent me THIS link, listing the dates and times when the Space Station can be seen (as something like a bright star) from Floyd. You can type in your own location to find out the best times for you to see it.

7. When I read what the Boston Herald reported yesterday: A navy captain and the first submarine officer selected by NASA as a mission specialist, Bowen spent roughly six hours on what an agency spokeswoman called a “milestone mission,” clearing away metal grit and lubricating the joint of the station’s solar wing – I wondered if while working Stephen was thinking about laying tile, once the Bowen family business.

8. Since I don’t get CNN, I watched the launch on Youtube. I couldn’t help but wonder about how much fuel the space launch used and how much the take-off looked like a mushroom cloud.
9. Did you know that there is rocket fuel in cigarettes, along with some of the same chemicals found in lighter fluid, moth balls, burial embalmment, nail polish remover, toilet bowl cleaners?

10. The photo above is a Blast from the Past that shows my sister Trish’s wedding to Danny Bowen in 1991. That’s me on the far left and future astronaut Stephen, who was my wedding party escort, standing behind me.

11. THAT was then and THIS is now.

12. When my brother Jim died in 2001, my young nephew Patrick asked his mom, “Is Jimmy an astronaut now?”

13. The soundtrack to this post is HERE.

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

November 19, 2008

First Snow

The water in the dog’s bowl froze.
I spotted my first snow shovel at the Floyd Elementary School when I was there as one of the judges for Reflections, a literary and art contest. My favorite part of this photo is the matchbox car on the bench and how in my twisted mind I can see how it and the shovel relate.
A cold and snowy day is always a good day to play Scrabble with friends. Well, any day is good for that.
I was shopping at Schoolhouse Fabrics when a mannequin scared me. Even she looked dressed for the snow.
I wondered why I don't have any snow pictures of the overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then I remembered that the Parkway closes during bad weather. But we only got a couple of inches and I was able to make it up to Rocky Knob, just a few miles from my house, without sliding on black ice.
I call this Sign of The Times.

November 18, 2008

The Christmas Season Has Officially Begun

josack2.jpgSnow flurries. Cold wind whips. We pull up our goose down hoods. Joe shakes the tree like it’s a piñata full of gifts. Red apples tumble to the ground. I run to collect them like a girl on Christmas morning, marveling at the magic of each one.

Joe looks like Santa as he heads up the hill with his pack full to the brim. I follow behind, dreaming of cooked apples and the smell of them steeped in cinnamon, sprinkled with raisins and nuts.applesgroundx2.jpg

With the sun about to set, Joe prepares to go hunting while I’m thinking about the turkey Scrooge brought to Christmas dinner. The only thing missing is the sound of jingle bells. Merrily we smile at how generously nature provides.

Post note: Woke up to a snow covered morning. The stage is further set. More apple picking adventures are HERE.

November 17, 2008

Spoken Word at the Blackwater Loft Sets Records

novspoke.jpgWe were short on chairs and long on readers at November’s Spoken Word Open Mic. A record-breaking twenty readers performed to an overflowing enthusiastic crowd. Rose and the crew at the Blackwater Loft did a great job accommodating the last minute change in venue (due to a concert in the hall adjacent to the Café Del Sol where we regularly meet) and the unprecedented evening's turnout. Mara, with her resume-building MC talents, stepped up and did the introductions, beginning with one for the Floyd County Moonshine, Floyd’s new Literary and Arts Magazine.

The magazine’s editor, Aaron Moore, was the first of four writers to read their work from the magazine’s first issue. Moore and others, such as the magazine’s associate editor, English teacher Jay Settle, also read the work of writers included in the publication who weren’t in attendance. mmag.jpg Cara Williams, the magazine’s art director, was also in the house.

I wish everyone who read would have made copies of their work and handed them to me at the end of the night because I’d love to be able to see and hold in my hands all the memorable lines and descriptive images that floated in and out of my sensibilities throughout the course of the three hour event.

I recall a funny poem that Gloria read about her slipping into the wrong life and someone else living hers. I hate her for it too … she said. Chelsea’s “sleeping is better in the bath” played out like a lullaby. Katherine’s poem about watching her granddaughter in Spain on Skype gave me a shiver. Jayn’s ode to the color brown was followed by Rosemary’s yielding the green of spring and summer to the welcomed orange shades of fall.

Every now and then I’d peer behind me and feel bad for all the people who were standing in the aisle. caraarojay2.jpg My husband Joe brought a contingency of five from the Earthsong Retreat in Stuart, meditators who didn’t seem to mind sitting on cushions on the floor.

The Earthsong group left at the intermission and before hearing Sam read his powerful political piece about the recent election, asking what happened to the revolution; why didn’t we vote for one of the peace candidates; and who will speak for the Palestinians?

Fourteen year old Coriander, a Young Actors Coop (YAC) member, talked about working on the Obama campaign even though she’s too young to vote. She followed that by doing Rumi in sign language. krg.jpg Her brother and fellow YAC member, Cameron, talked about The Earthsong Teen Meditation Retreat and recited a poem he wrote while on retreat there this past the summer.

Mars, another YAC member and Spoken Word regular, is taking a poetry block in school and read some of his recent prolific writings. He shared the stage with his Mom, Sue, who read several poems, one about the realities of poverty.

Mara, who not only writes a yard worth of poetry to my inch but can memorize it too, pointed out how brave everyone was to share their work, saying she was thankful for a forum that could give voice to so many views.

Rose Cherrix read a “statement” from her son Abraham in which he mentioned several people in the room and apologized for missing the event. In the end he asked for a round of applause that he hoped he could hear at his house, where he was busy working online.marssusan.jpg

Haden, who heads up "The Writers' Bloc" and is currently teaching a class on memoir writing, transported me, once again, into the believable world of his fiction. Rowan returned and newcomer Heather read several succinct and lyrical rhymes from her Facebook introduction and introduced us to her non-political Canadian husband.

Kyla provided the sweet dessert to the evening’s full fare of entertainment with an accapella song, sealing the sense of community that so many of us were feeling.

P.S. No one answered to the name Brook, number 6 on the sign up sheet, because in actuality the word said Break, as in intermission. It was written so small that I was able bump my way in line by adding my name as reader number 6B. kreads2.jpg
It was either that or be reader number 16 and I needed to be put out of misery (the thought of reading in front of a large audience) much sooner than that.

1. Group shot. 2. Mara holding up Floyd County Moonshine. 3. Floyd County Moonshine's Cara Williams, Aaron Moore, and Jay Settle. 4. Kyla, Rose C, and Gloria. 5. Susan and Mars. 6. Katherine reads. More about Floyd County Moonshine HERE. Click HERE and scroll down for more Spoken Word stories and photos.

November 15, 2008

A New Endeavour

Space%20Shuttle%20Endeavour%20Launches.jpg I had a reason to want to watch the space shuttle take-off from the Kennedy Space Center on Youtube last night. One of the astronauts on board, Stephen Bowen, is my youngest sister Trish’s brother-in-law. Stephen was my wedding party escort at Trish's wedding in 1991. Back then, we joked about my being a Peace Activist Bridesmaid to his Naval Officer Groomsman. At that time, he worked on a submarine. Now, I guess Steve, a father of three from the small coastal town of Cohasset, Massachusetts, can say he’s been from the bottom of the ocean to the far reaches of space.

At 7:55 p.m. Eastern Standard Time the Endeavour blasted off, going at a rate of 1,000 miles per hour and gaining by the time it was just 6 miles from the launch pad. Headed for the International Space Station, the seven member crew will spend 15 days performing basic maintenance on the station before returning to Earth. stevebownll2.jpg

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space shuttle Endeavour raced toward the international space station on Saturday for a home makeover job after a brilliant moonlit launch … The shuttle and its seven astronauts blasted into orbit Friday night on a mission to redo the insides of the space station, adding some extra bedrooms and a spare bathroom and kitchenette … "It's our turn to take home improvement to a new level after 10 years of international space station construction," commander Christopher Ferguson called out. Besides enough Thanksgiving turkey dinners to go around, Endeavour is carrying thousands of pounds of equipment for the space station, most notably a revolutionary recycling system to turn urine into drinking water.

Because I don’t get Fox or CNN, I watched the launch just after it happened on youtube. From takeoff until it was a bright ball disappearing into space, it took less than five minutes. My youngest nephews, Matthew and Patrick Bowen, who were on site with their parents and the rest of the Bowen family during the launch, admire and look up to their Uncle Steve. And on this night they had to look really really far.

Post notes: Update on the successful launch is HERE. See the video HERE. Read the Quincy Patriot Ledger story on Steven in which my sister and her husband Danny are quoted HERE.

November 14, 2008

Coming Soon to a Teaspoon Near You

Serving up savory haiku and sips of poetic brew, wave after wave of words to lull and awaken, to soothe or inspire. TEAPOET is a new 28 page chapbook by Colleen Redman, available around town in Floyd or by mail. Send $6 plus $1 shipping and handling to 151 Ridge Haven Road, Floyd, VA, 24091. To read a sampling of the teapoems featured in TEAPOET click and scroll down HERE.

November 13, 2008

13: It’s all UP from here

13elva2x.jpg1. Me on the phone with my son Dylan, father of 6 month old Bryce: “After a couple of weeks I can’t stop thinking about Bryce, and I need to see him.” Dylan: “I know. That happens to me everyday at work.”

2. Me to Joe: “Is it pathetic that the highlight of my day is my walk to the mailbox? But maybe if Lao Tzu or the Dali Lama were here it would be their favorite part of the day too,” I reason.

3. Later that same day, Joe and I laid out on a blanket in the yard in the middle of an unseasonably warm day and watched squirrels jump from tree to tree and the sun go down behind the house. “I just got a new highlight of my day,” I told him.

4. Wow! My Asheville Potter son Josh and his claymates from ClaySpace are on the front page of Asheville’s Arts and Events newspaper, Mountain XPress (pictured below). Read the article HERE. Josh’s pots also recently showed up HERE.joshxpress.jpg

5. I can be wiping off the kitchen counter, sorting through papers on my desk, or driving in my car to the grocery store when I find myself suddenly saying out loud for no other reason than to hear how it sounds, “President Obama.”

6. This first time we’ve had a president that I actually care so much about that I wake up and in the morning and think, I wonder how Barack is doing today.

7. My friend Pearl speaks my language. She recently said: "I still haven’t blogged yesterday and here it is almost tomorrow again."

8. My blog is part journal, part photo album, and part filing cabinet.

9. I’ve been excited about Obama winning since it happened, but it took almost a week for me to thaw from the numbness of the last 8 years enough to shed tears of relief. I was listening to NPR news on the ride to Roanoke to baby-sit Bryce when it happened. After a newscaster announced Obama’s plan to quickly close Guantanamo and to renew the Justice Department, which has been reduced to shambles by politicization, I just broke down.

10. My friend Amy was over helping me format a duplex printed booklet of my teapoet poems. At one point she was at the computer hitting print and I was holding sheets of 5x7 white paper, feeding them one at time to the printer so it wouldn’t jam, when I said to her, “I feel like a girl again with my Nana giving me a perm.” You’d have to have grown up in the 50’s and 60's to remember holding those small white sheets of tissue paper and handing them to the hairdresser or your grandmother who would use them to wrap a perm roller that would then be doused with ammonia and other chemicals. Amy understood. “It had to be a Toni,” she laughed and said, adding, “At least we don’t have to put up with the smell.”

11. At another point, we used a ruler to measure the booklet. I handed it to her and said, “Gee, I just love the low tech nature of a ruler. It’s nothing but a stick, but we still need it.”

12. Amy is a multi-talented entrepreneur with a great sense of humor, whose business, New Vision, provides innovative ideas and other services to help other small businesses grow. She recently started a new business selling gay greeting cards. I especially like the Christmas one. See HERE.

13. When I was in town today, someone asked, “How are you?” and I answered, “As good as can be expected from someone who woke at the crack of dawn by squirrels jumping on the roof of my house and tossing nuts down on my car.”

Thursday headquarters is here. My other 13's are here. View more 13 Thursday’s here. #159

November 12, 2008

The Literary Flavor of Moonshine

The following was published in The Floyd Press on November 13, 2008.

Floyd County Moonshine is described on the publication’s MySpace page as “Floyd’s first Literary and Arts Magazine.” Its editor, Aaron Moore, is a graduate of Floyd County High School, Radford University, and is currently a graduate student of Literature at Florida State University. For the premier fall issue, Moore brought together a collection of short stories and poetry by a range of predominately regional writers. mooshine.jpg The 68 page chapbook style magazine, which features an old farmhouse in need of paint on the cover, also contains artwork.

The name, Floyd County Moonshine, is not a literal reflection of the magazine’s content, but is “designed to arouse quaint associations of a local or regional Southern/Appalachian flavor,” says Moore in the Editor’s Preface. The publication’s subtitle, “Local Color Literature” is more specific to what it offers. Moore hopes the offering will appeal to wide variety of people, from literary academics to everyday readers. The mix of fresh voices blended with those of more established writers lends itself to crossing literary boundaries.

Although the publication is not one about moonshine, the word does appear on one occasion and several pieces include scenes set in bars, which seems fitting for the issue’s loosely held theme that Moore describes as “affairs of the heart in conflict with itself.”

Moore’s own short story, "13 Titanium Screws," sets the stage for a literary ride with a back road journey that involves an old motorcycle, a red Audi with a broken odometer, and an ambulance. Moore’s piece, which includes a midway stop at a bar called Whiskers, is followed by "High Lonesome," a poem by high school English teacher and Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative (SAWC) member David Hampton, which also includes a bar scene. Another, by Florida State University doctoral of English candidate Steve Kistulentz, bears the intriguing title, “For Every Woman Who’s Made a Fool Out of a Man, There’s One Who’s Made a Man Out of a Fool.”

Although much of the work presented is fictional, some of the place names will be recognizable to readers from Floyd and the New River Valley, such as the Riner "Pig Path," and the title of Jeffery Saperstein’s poem, "Radford Pawn and Coin." … The three balls, painted that color … between stop and go … hang like heavy fruit just below …GUNS ANTIQUES DIAMONDS GOLD …

Saperstein teaches at Radford University, as does Chelsea Adams, whose foreboding poem about branches in a wind storm was written the morning of and just before the Virginia Tech shootings of April 16, 2007. … Even when clothed in leaves, I see … their evil elbows jab, their need to taunt me … with their wrinkled bark, their woody skeletons … writhing just underneath … the sumptuous green …

The Moonshine collection includes some surprising twists – such as a barber whose end of life involves his late wife’s pink bowling ball in a short story by Philip Ferguson – as well as some sharp turns in time, as evidenced by Rodney Smith’s poem, "Lee in Winter," set in Lexington in 1867.

“We’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback and so much support,” Moore recently said. He explained that the first issue was financed on faith by a handful of sponsors whose names are listed in the magazine. “But we can’t continue to exist on sponsors alone,” he added. Moore is hopeful that advertisers will come forth and that more local writers and artists will submit work. “Prior publication has no bearing on what is chosen,” he noted.

Geared towards a mature audience, the collection draws on the talents of Radford University and Florida State University professors and students, members of SAWC and those of The Floyd Writers Circle, a local writers’ workshop that co-hosts a monthly Spoken Word event at Café Del Sol.

Floyd Writers’ Circle member and Hollins University Horizon student, Mara Robbins, whose poem, "Broken Laptop on Bourbon Street," appears in the issue, said she’s impressed with the first effort and looks forward to seeing more issues. “As a poet who has been writing, working, and performing in Floyd for most of my life, it’s an honor to be part of Floyd’s first literary publication,” Robbins said.

Post notes: The Floyd Moonshine cover design was done by Jake Cohen. The publication’s staff includes Associate Editor, Jay Settle; Art Director and Layout designer, Cara Williams; and Production Coordinator Jennie Settle. Editor, Aaron Moore and others whose works appear in Floyd County Moonshine will be reading from the magazine at the Black Water Loft on November 15th from 7-9. Issues are available locally for $7 per issue at Lapointe’s Used Books, noteBooks, Over the Moon, and Café Del Sol. Submissions for the next issue can be emailed to floydshine@gmail.com. For more information about Floyd County Moonshine go to: www.myspace.com/floydcountymoonshine.

November 11, 2008

Bryce Eats an Apple

His Jacket says Winnie the POOH and his pants say BOO.
He ate his first apple without swallowing a bite HERE.
See what else six-month old (on Friday) Bryce can do HERE.

November 10, 2008


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Stream of clarity flows
from an orange pekoe sea
a leafy twig floats

Note: Click and scroll down HERE for more teapoet poems.

November 9, 2008

Summer Leftovers

1. The Power of Suggestion
2. Determination
3. For Spot
4. Air Guitar
5. A Well Rounded View
6. Light at the End of the Brick Wall

Photos from summer travels: 1. Boston Commons fountain. 2. Nantasket Beach in my hometown of Hull, Massachusetts. 3. Downtown Marshall NC, where my son Josh lives. 4. Downtown Marshall. 5. Downtown Portsmouth, VA, while visiting Maury Cooke. 6. I honestly don't remember where this one was taken. It seems manifested from a dream.

November 7, 2008

The Death and Dying Series

longroadx.jpgJoe shuffled papers like a TV newscaster as people filtered into the Jessie Peterman Library's Community Room. I smiled as they entered, just happy that the temporary crown on one of my front teeth that fell out earlier in the day was still in place. The talk my husband and I were scheduled to give was number five in a six part series, presented by the local library in conjunction with the End of Life Development (EOLD). The EOLD is the brainchild of Rosemary Wyman (who I wrote about HERE) and is under the same CERC non-profit umbrella that sponsors the Museletter, the monthly community newsletter that I and others put out each month.

To a group of about fifteen, from behind a speakers table, I shared my personal experience of losing two of my brothers a month apart. I talked about the magical line-ups before and after their deaths, the hole of grief I found myself in, and the daily field notes I took from the trenches of grief’s frontline, which became my first book, The Jim and Dan Stories.

... Since my brothers’ deaths, life has had a sharper focus. There are things I can see that I couldn’t see before. If I can describe what I see from inside this hole, will it help others when they are down in one? What place is this? How will I survive it? How deep does it go? I want to know. I’ve never been here before. Can I make something constructive out of the powerless feeling of loss? Am I digging my way out, word by word?

The book weaves stories of growing up in a family of nine siblings during the 50’s and 60’s, the stories of my brothers’ deaths, and the experience of coping with grief day to day in the first six months after the losses. I read the book’s introduction and some chosen passages out loud.

... Today I made copies of Dan’s death certificate at our small local library and hoped that no one I knew would come up to say hello and see what I was doing. I didn’t want to explain. I didn’t want them to feel awkward. There’s a lot of paperwork involved with death, and I am often sad. Still, I can manage a smile when I think about Jim and Dan who both had credit card debt. Wouldn’t they love to know that all their debts are forgiven?

Joe spoke from a counselor’s point of view. He touched on some common experiences of the grieving process, but also emphasized that each person has their own way to grieve and has their own timetable. Anger can be one response, so can withdrawal, he said.

“A new parent can get as much as three months off work for a birth of a baby, but we usually only get three days off after the death of a loved one,” Joe said, pointing out that our culture is set up to expect us to get over a death quicker than most of us do.

... Some of the most meaningful interactions I have had lately have been with people I barely know, while some people I thought I knew well have been silent. Some have shared their own intimate stories of losing loved ones; others have given me a knowing touch, a hug or nod. Even the smallest of gestures has meant a great deal to me because a gesture of condolence, however awkward or slight, creates a bridge, a way for relationship to go on. Without it, one feels estranged, unseen, or left behind. As much as sadness is awkward to be around, avoidance is worse.

The death of a loved one can bring profound sadness, but it can also be an opportunity to deepen as a human being. “I’m a better person than I was before losing my brothers,” I told the group. "Grief is an expression of love. It carved me out, making room to hold more compassion for others.”

... In this physical world, we have to mine for treasure. Gold and silver and precious gems are not usually found laying around on the surface of the earth. It’s the same with us; we have to excavate our own treasure, down through the door of our childhood, through the pain of what hurts, into the grief of our losses. Life nudges us to go deeper because to live only on the surface is superficial. There’s so much more.

“When a loved one dies it’s as if a color is missing from the world … If you let yourself go deeply into your sadness, you might realize that you haven’t been seeing any of the colors fully,” Joe said, suggesting that the experience can wake you up in new ways.

I shared how writing was a way to actively grieve and to control my grief. “I wasn’t happy with my day’s writing until I hit and nerve and was bawling,” I said. Remembering my brothers through stories and sharing the intimate details of personal grief was a leap of faith that has rippled out to enrich my life in ways I could not have imagined.

Family bonds were strengthened. The sense of separation I used to feel between myself and others has largely fallen away. The book is being used in a grief and loss class for counseling students at Radford University. Not only was I able to make some meaning out of my brothers’ deaths, the tragedy of their deaths was, at times, transformed into celebration. When a woman from the small town where my siblings and I grew up read the book, it spurred her to plan a reunion and book signing. Two-hundred people who knew Jim and Dan came, the story was covered by the local paper and the Boston Globe, and a video of it aired on the local TV cable channel.

Does it get any easier knowing what to say to others who are grieving after you’ve had a loss of a close family member yourself? What about when someone grieving is having a hard time moving past anger? How do you help someone grieve? What about the complications of grief when one death is followed by another? Those were some of the questions posed during the question and answer session.

Joe and I answered the questions as best as we could, noting that more open dialogue about death, dying, and grief is needed.

I closed the 90 minute talk with the sharing of a humorous reading from the book, a story from my childhood involving a plunger, some pop gun ammunition in the form of a potato, and a clogged toilet in the one bathroom we shared between eleven people.

... Its funny how as you get older, even the bad memories seem good, or how when someone dies, the most ordinary of objects can be traced back to them. So many of my actions have been triggering childhood memories. Most of my conversations either revolve around Jim and Dan or eventually get steered back to them. The space they inhabit in my heart and mind is larger and deeper than when they were alive. It’s as if a part of Jim and Dan lives in me, just as a part of me has left with them? Is that what death does? Funny, isn’t it?

Note: Visit the EOLD website HERE.

November 6, 2008

13 Thursday: Post Election and Pumpkin Reflections

pmk.jpg1. I drove over the remains of a smashed pumpkin on the way to town the other day. Getting smashed in the road is not a completely uncommon way for a pumpkin to meet its end, as opposed to THIS.

2. A new take on election yard signs HERE.

3. Apparently, I’m the last to know about the puking pumpkin phenomena. It’s all over google images and youtube. See the last photo HERE.

4. The two herbs I quickly go through time of year: cinnamon and cumin. In other words, my menu staples right now are apple crisp and chili.

5. THIS is the video clip I forgot to post a few days ago. Wait for it … Now … Nice catch!

6. Watching the results of the election last night was a lot like New Years Eve. I even had a hangover the next morning from staying up too late.

7. I can tell I have post-election fatigue when I make the drive to Blacksburg, like I did today, and don’t pull over to take a picture when I see a spectacular scene or some other kind of photographic opportunity.

8. McCain gave a class act concession speech and Barack’s post election speech exemplified that fact that he’s a true leader. I don't see how anyone could have heard it and not be moved. My favorite line was when he told his daughters how much he loved them, and then said, “You earned the puppy that is coming with us to the White House.” THIS is my other favorite part (yes, the whole 17 minutes).

9. At 6:20 p.m. on Election Day night I got a call from Barack Obama. Even though I knew it was a robocall I was stunned and star struck so much that I talked back to the recording. “I’ve already voted, Barack,” I said.

10. Floyd for Obama on the Huffington Post HERE. Those are the same activists and friends I shot photos of which made it to the Floyd Press. See HERE

11. I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality. ~ Martin Luther King

12. I celebrate that Barack will be our country’s first African American President, but I didn’t vote for him for the color of his skin. I voted for him for the content of his character. Not since JFK (who was killed when I was a teenager) have I felt so enthusiastic about a President’s ability to lead, to inspire, and to unite our country. Barack is rational, articulate, calm, caring, humble, and has demonstrated that he has a grasp on national and international issues.

13. After the last presidential election in 2004 a friend drove over to our house, shaken and with tears in her eyes at the result. This year another friend had a similar reaction but for the opposite reason. Our candidate won AND Virginia went blue. Click your mouse HERE for a virtual Victory celebration.

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

November 5, 2008

Election Day 08

vt.jpg As soon as I reached the four-way intersection to make the turn to the Floyd County High School where I vote, I could tell it wasn’t an ordinary day. There were cars coming from two other directions with blinkers flashing, signaling that we were all converging to the same destination. When I took the turn that led to the school the first thing I noticed saw the Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin signs that lined either side of the road.

It was 10:30 in the morning and the voting line stretched from the donut and coffee station in the school corridor, along a row of lockers, and into the cafeteria where four voting booths housing touch screen computers stood. The atmosphere was orderly and friendly. People were greeting their neighbors and chatting about the weather and the price of gas. One man offered to find a chair for an elderly woman. vtx.jpg

When it was my turn to vote, an election officer gave me the drill. I mentioned to her that I had recently read that Virginia was one of only 12 states in the country that doesn't have a paper trail. She said they were working to change that. No one was voting at booth #4. It was being prepared to be carried outside to accommodate a voter who was physically unable to come into the building, another volunteer told me. Two young girls, acting as election pages awarded me with my I VOTED sticker. It took a total of no more than 15 minutes to check Obama/Biden, Warner, and Boucher.

Seems like everyone in Floyd votes and then heads over to the Angels in the Attic Thrift Shop, maybe because Tuesday is only one of three days that it’s open. vote3.jpg I ran into friends there, and at The Harvest Moon Food Store and the Food Lion, who reported their voting experiences. One friend who wore an Obama button (a certain amount of feet from the voting venue entrance) while passing out sample ballots at a different voting location was the recipient of some ugly comments. Everyone else had upbeat stories to relate. At the Café Del Sol, where I was hanging up flyers for the November 15th Spoken Word, I ran into a van contingency from the Woodsong community who were in town to vote.

A man who I struck up a conversation with at the thrift shop told me that he once voted for Mickey Mouse and wondered why his vote wasn't included in the newspaper with others when election results were reported. cnn.jpg “Well, if a few people voted for Mickey Mouse, now that would be a story,” I said. "One vote for Mickey, it’s just a joke that barely registers.”

Update: Virginia went blue and Barack Obama won the Presidency! McCain just gave a class act concession speech and I'm waiting to hear Obama next while trying to absorb the reality of what just happened. The photo shown here was taken at 7:30 at El Charro Restaurant where some of us in Floyd gathered to watch the election results. It shows the first few of many states Obama won in.

November 4, 2008

The Office

The urgent, repeated call of a Pileated Woodpecker makes me turn my head and look. The maple tree in the yard is bared to the bone, exposing our neighbor’s red garage in the distance. Joe’s soaking his foot that he injured in a soccer game. Notebooks and catalog pages full of possible Christmas presents flap in the breeze. “I thought Indian Summer was for October,” I say to Joe, peeling off my jacket. Scanning the sea of leaves in our yard, our eyes simultaneously land on the bird feeder, dangling empty. Each of us hopes that the other will get up and fill it. The phone rings and Joe takes the call.

Just another day at the office, I suppose.

Post notes: That's Joe and I working on the talk we were set to give at the local library on grief and loss. More on that in a future post. Now, it's off to the polls.

November 3, 2008

Apple Picking

You’re golden
I’m red delicious
Basking in the sun’s
October glory
You’re Adam
I’m Eve
Fallen from the hold
of daily duties
Love is the fruit
freely given

Post notes: You can see the same tree in photo #4 full of blossoms in the spring HERE. Apple picking plays a big role in Joe’s and my life and was the scene around which we met twenty-two years ago. You can read more about that HERE. See photo #1 come to life HERE.

November 1, 2008

Scenes from Halloween

1. Living off a Blue Ridge Parkway dirt driveway with no other houses in sight, this was the first time in the 17 years we’ve been here that we got any real live (two!) Trick or Treaters.
2. I didn’t have any candy so they settled for apples (which I didn’t make them bob for).
3. I wanted to trade some apples for a few coconuts off their mom’s costume but her coconuts weren’t ripe yet.
4. Later that night, Joe and I went to dance to The Kind at the Pine Pavilion. The band is longtime local favorite that plays mostly Grateful Dead cover tunes. They inspired my costume (see below), created for the Grateful Dead song “Dark Star” and influenced by recently seeing the movie Star*dust.
6. Major Tom, the bartender host, dressed as The Colonel. In the email Costume Party invite, he posed: Join us as we attempt to answer the ultimate Halloween question … why do so many Floyd men seem to enjoy wearing women’s clothing?
7. My friend, builder Bob by day, who won a costume contest at the Sun Hall as a lady a couple of Halloween’s ago, can attest to how much fun it is to wear a skirt and wig.
8. I call this: Blind Date Gone Bad.
9. And this one: The Stalker
10. Question still looming: Are you a good witch or a bad witch and which witch is which?
11. The fortune teller predicted it would be a fun night of dancing, and it was!

Note: Soundtrack clip is HERE.