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January 31, 2009

The Watergate Plumbers Were Here

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I call these guys (Joe and our friend Bernie) the Watergate Plumbers because for the past couple of days they’ve been stopping leaks all over my house (my New Year’s resolution). In this photo they’re replacing my old dishwasher, which was almost as old as the Nixon Presidency.
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While they were doing that, I snapped a self-portrait with my camera after becoming fascinated by the facets in my new fixed faucet fixtures. Can you say that three times fast?

January 30, 2009

The Floyd Compass Points Visitors in the Right Direction

cp.jpg ~The following was published in The Floyd Press on January 22, 2009.

The idea for The Floyd Compass visitor’s guide was born when out-of-town guests asked owners of The Hotel Floyd what there was to do in Floyd, said Kamala Bauers, one of the hotel owners.

In an effort to address visitors’ questions Bauers contacted Elaine Martinez of Design Omnea, after being impressed with the graphic design work that Martinez did for the FloydFest music festival program. Bauers also enlisted the help of artist Rio Semione, who has produced calendars in the past.

Working together in 2008, the group put out the first two issues of the bi-annual guide, which includes feature articles on local artists and musicians, stories about visitor related businesses, live music and events listings, a lodging and restaurant directory, and more. The 2009 spring/summer issue is currently in the works.

Like the FloydFest program, the Floyd Compass is printed on recycled paper, using color and black and white photography and graphics. It is produced “in an artistic, ethical, and eco-friendly manner representing the best of our community’s goals and ideals,” the ad rate sheet sent out to businesses states.

“It provides a cost effective way to support local businesses,” Bauers said about the grassroots publication at a recent Compass meeting held at the Hotel Floyd Conference Room in The Village Green.

With a focus on sharing local culture and natural resources, the Compass also includes mountain lore, seasonal recipes, gardening tips, and information about local hikes and the best area outdoor activities. compass1.jpg

“I love the idea of sharing what’s special about Floyd with the world,” said Semione who did the cover art for the premiere issue and created the centerfold map of Floyd, complete with Fun Facts about Floyd.

The publication is also committed to publishing stories related to agritourism and green living, Bauers explained. She is co-owner of Wall Residences, a business that provides foster care placement for individuals with disabilities. The Wall Residences office building is the first LEED certified green building in the area. The Hotel Floyd, which Bauers co-owns with her husband Jack Wall, was also built using green technology.

Circulation of the Compass has doubled from the first issue to the second. Fifteen-thousand copies are distributed to six regional Visitors Centers, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and local businesses and lodging establishments in the area. Issues are also mailed to people across the country who request information about visiting Floyd. “And we are expanding the spring/summer issue from thirty-two pages to forty,” Martinez said. An online version of the guide with archives of past issues is soon to be launched.

Martinez and Semione both write for the publication. Semione provides artwork and Martinez contributes photography. The Compass also draws on the creative talents of other local writers and contributors. “All contributors to the magazine are paid a stipend for their work, in appreciation of the value we place on the creative spirit that is so important to Floyd,” the Compass rate sheet reads.

There is still time to list your event or place an ad, Martinez said about the new issue, due out in mid March. “If your ad is in the Compass you are in every room in The Hotel Floyd, Oak Haven Lodge, The Lawson House and other establishments,” Bauers added, pointing out that the Compass will increase its distribution as requests come forth by local visitor related businesses.

Bauers, Martinez, and Semione believe that Floyd’s strength lies in its culture, natural beauty, live music and art and that a weekend or weeklong visit to Floyd is a destination choice that can provide an affordable and fulfilling get-away in today’s down-turned economy.

“If people can come visit us and take home a little gift, whether it’s a clay bowl they bought, an experience in nature, some music that touched them, or a feeling; that’s meaningful,” Semione said.

January 29, 2009

The 13 Thursday Reality Check

13followmeg.jpg 1. The 2009 Sweetheart Valentine theme is a "Menu of Love" with a new series of candy conversation hearts that say, Honey Bun, Stir my Heart, Top Chef, and Yum Yum.

2. My friends Jayn and Emily and I put the February Museletter (our community newsletter) together on Monday. In honor of Valentine’s Day we decorated it with conversation heart stamps and used this quote by Dr. Seuss: “You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

3. I also found a quote by Dr. Seuss giving some good advice to writers: “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

4. Here in NASCAR territory, people will sometimes ask, ‘who’s your driver?’ I call the picture below of my grandson Bryce “MY DRIVER.”speedracer.jpg

5. Joe and I were told about the Ripley’s Believe it or Not upside down house in Orlando. While on vacation there we found the Ripley’s Believe it or Not crooked house building and thought that must be it. Later, back at home, I discovered Ripley’s has both a crooked house and an upside down house on the same street. HERE'S the one we missed seeing in person.

6. Apparently Dr. Seuss (“the subversive fantasist who liberated children’s books from the conformist blahs of Dick and Jane”) was scolded by his art teacher for looking at his artwork upside down. I like to look at mine through squinted eyes.

7. You know how sometimes you look at a certain common word and it suddenly feels foreign or unreal? Sometimes when I read over something I wrote that’s been published a whole line can feel that way, and for a few seconds I feel a sense of disorientated panic.

8. These words are currently not taken: Monnize, Waffliest, Clundown, Cheris, Epleo, Unseepia, Agona, and Fugckabl. They are blogger verification near-words that just seem to be lacking descriptions and dictionary verification.

9. My car is being worked on, the drippy plumbing in my house is being fixed, and my dishwasher just bit the dust. I’m trying not to take it personally.

10. The Sun Magazine is my favorite magazine that I hardly ever read.

11. I like when you come back home from being away and for a brief few minutes you can look at your house with new eyes and see what you like and what you don’t like, a perspective that’s hard to get when you live in it day to day.

12. We perceive appearances and we begin to label them. Then we begin to take the label as reality. We fixate on the label and it becomes very real to us, but the appearances themselves have no label and no fixation. ~ excerpted from a Buddhist magazine I was reading when Joe and I were in Florida.

13. Remember the old bumper sticker that said “Question Authority.” I had one on my car that said “Question Reality.”

More 13 Thursdays are HERE.

January 28, 2009

Finding Poetry

It doesn’t shine from the sun
It isn’t squeezed from an orange
or found in the swirl of a nautilus shell

I can’t order it off the menu
no matter how loud the tenors sing
opera on the piazza at sunset

It isn’t revealed in the crooked tilt
of Ripley’s Believe it or Not house
wished on a coin tossed in a fountain
or seen from the top of a ferris wheel

The stars shine dim
over Orlando sub-divisions
There is no theme park for poetry

I ask for directions
from a landscape worker
who doesn’t speak English
“Is there a rose garden nearby?”

I sing in the Jacuzzi
where the acoustics are good
and poetry doesn't utter a sound

When I go on vacation
poetry gets left behind
It won’t sleep in a strange bed
no matter how fluffy the pillows
No matter how fine the beach sand
verse stays buried

But the breeze stirs a voice
from poolside books
Flapping pages hint:
Come inside
Open here
Hold your face to the gold
Steep in the fiery magenta
that can only be seen
with eyes closed

Post Note: A work in progress. Still looking.

January 27, 2009

Only in Floyd

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can you be out helping a friend collect litter and run into a neighbor who jumps out of her car, pulls out her banjo and plays you a song in the middle of the road.

January 26, 2009

Sight Seen

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1. Invitation
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2. Confusion
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3. Blueman Fashion
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4. Raising a Red Balloon

January 24, 2009

Non-believer?

cal.jpg If someone like me with a logical and skeptical mind can believe in the afterlife, there might be something to it. As a child in Catechism Class – where I was forced to memorize and recite a litany of questions and answers that began with ‘WHO MADE YOU? GOD MADE ME’ – I thought Eve being made from Adam’s rib was more fanciful than the Hans Christian Anderson fairytales I loved.

I’m not convinced that we exist after death but I act like I believe it. I feel there are other dimensions at play, that energy can be transformed but not destroyed, that the night sky isn’t flat and the stars don’t just stop at the edge of our reality. I believe there is more going on than what we can see. But I prepare for the worst. There is no after life. Our lives just stop. But believing that our lives just stop, makes about as much sense to me as Eve coming from Adam’s rib.

As a child being raised Catholic, I was relieved when the priest and my Sunday School teachers talked about the SOUL. That explained it. I knew I had one. As a child I could easily feel the magical part of myself. Watching my brother Danny die in 2001, I knew there was nothing wrong with his soul. His spirit inhabited his failing body like a bright light till the end. When he stopped breathing and his body was an empty shell, I wondered where it went.

Today the words of Lao Tzu, the Transcendentalists and the science of Quantum Physics resonate with me in a way that church never has. So much of religion seems to be about semantics. I don’t believe in a personal God, a great man in the sky that rewards and punishes. But I do believe in a divine whole, a wondrous alignment that everything is a part of. I don’t believe we need the threat of sin and hell to force us to goodness. I believe our goodness is innate. Why else would I cry when I see others lose their loved ones or rejoice with emotion when they become their best selves.

I’m not much of a joiner. Most every group I’ve been in eventually feels confining. If I was forced to go to church I’d probably go to Quaker service, where they sit in silence to worship, speaking only when an authentic urge arises. But even conforming to that seems like it would be an effort that when the novelty wore off wouldn’t feel natural to me.

I don’t pray the way I was taught to as a child. My prayer is contemplation, time in nature, solitude, and creativity. I don’t go to church like I don’t go to the gym. I go out into the paradise of my own backyard to jump on my trampoline for exercise and to praise the living spirit in everything.

January 23, 2009

Student Works for Villagers’ Right to Sustainable Culture in Thailand

chloefxcrp.jpg The following was published in The Floyd Press on January 15, 2009 and online HERE.

Cloe Franko’s wrists are covered with string prayer bracelets, gifted to her by villagers in Northeast Thailand where she recently spent four months living, studying, and working for the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE).

The villagers were friendly and generous, intrigued by white skin and curly hair, Franko told a group who were gathered at the Hotel Floyd Conference Room to see a power point presentation of her adventures. “It was hard to leave,” she said, referring to the bonds that were forged between cultures.

A 2006 Floyd County High School graduate, currently majoring in Environmental Studies at Richmond University, Franko said she and twenty-five other students traveled to one of the most impoverished parts of Thailand for the purpose of “understanding developmental issues in Thailand as they relate to human rights and the environment from a people to people perspective.”

During her time in the Issan region of Thailand, Franko, slept on floors, lived without electricity, ate silkworms and grasshoppers (along with sticky rice, green plantain salad, fish and hot pepper sauce) and sometimes wore a pha sin (a traditional long tubular skirt). She also saw 2,000 year old cave drawings, visited an elephant sanctuary, and caught some break dancing moves in nearby Cambodia before heading home to Floyd for the holidays. The dance was performed by a former Los Angeles gang member who was deported back to his homeland after a conviction and is currently making news teaching dance to urban teens at risk.
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Under the guidance of CIEE staff, Franko and her fellow international exchange students alternated living in rural villages with host families with campus time at Khon Kaen University, where they wrote human rights letters and position papers, and engaged in group reflections. They also relayed the villagers’ concerns to local corporations and government ministries involved in the damming and mining developments that are putting the rural villagers’ agrarian lifestyle at risk.

One of the photos projected from Franko’s laptop showed her working with others on a premature rice harvest that was standing in stagnant water, a result of a nearby dam (and another new dam – Ban Koum – is being planned). Another photo shows Franko participating in a candle floating ceremony on the Mekong River. The villagers rely on the river and the ceremony is done to apologize for any harm done to it, she said. “They consider the river a member of the community.”

Thailand is a monarchy and although the King doesn’t have much political power, reverent images of him were everywhere, Franko said. Lack of education and political pressure not to speak out are two obstacles that inhibit the villagers from effectively protecting their way of life. Government corruption is another.cloe1.jpg The gaudy gold temples were a striking contrast to the poverty of rural Thai people, she pointed out.

The right to culture is a human right, one that involves rights to water, traditional agrarian systems and livelihood, Franko (in green above) explained. “We give a legal voice to the villagers,” she said.

One of the results of the CIEE group’s work in Thailand has been the recent formation of an alliance for upholding human rights in Issan. “And our human rights reports were picked up by people in Bangkok and by Amnesty International,” Franko reported.

The vast majority of Thailand people are Buddhist and Franko described seeing many of them paying alms to monks, a custom that honors and supports the monks with the exchange of food for blessings from them. The people are generally shy and hugging is not a Thai custom, she explained. A common Thai greeting is bowing with hands clasped together. The level and the degree of bowing is determined by the status of the person being greeted.

Even so, the Thai people are affectionate and Franko received some goodbye hugs before leaving the country. One villager was direct when he said to her, ‘I want you to tell the world that we don’t want this new dam.’ ~Colleen Redman

January 22, 2009

13 Thursday Poolside

13pool.jpg1. For me, reading and writing are so intertwined that I can’t read a book without a pen in hand to mark the lines I like, and I can’t write without reading each line out loud to hear how they sound.

2. Whether it is a crescent sliver or gloriously full, we know we are only observing a facet of the same spherical moon. ~ On aging – from Goddesses in Older Woman.

3. And ~ Think of yourself as the main character in a novel or motion picture that is being written by the choices you make or the roles you play and by whether you are committed to your own story.

4. A Huey Lewis drug: One of my favorite parts of road trip traveling is holding my face towards the sun while the car is zooming down the highway. With my eyes closed I see every color of the rainbow in strobe light fast motion as the sun flicks in and out of the trees.

5. The passage I’m using in meditation this week is by Lao Tzu: Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.

6. We’re on vacation in Florida but when I close my eyes to meditate it doesn’t matter what country, state or season I’m in.

7. Poolside soundtrack to go with #6 is THIS.

8. Number 7 is best sung dunked down low in the middle of the Jacuzzi where the acoustics are good.

9. My blog friend Gary sent me a link to THIS link because he thought I would like it. He was right!

10. Drinking from a plastic cup instead of glass is like eating hydrogenated margarine when you could be eating real butter.
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11. While on vacation we’ve seen a glass house, a crooked house, and psychedelic Ferris wheel HERE.

12. Florida is a long way from Obama’s Inauguration in D.C. (and many degrees warmer). Although I didn’t attend, I watched it on TV, and I felt the same kind of solidarity when I voted with my body six years ago, marching on Washington on another cold January day to protest the starting of the Iraq War HERE.

13. Watch Joe and I being serenaded at Mama Della’s Italian restaurant in Portofino Bay at Universal Studios by all songs moon HERE.

Poolside is on the cool side today. More 13 Thursdays are HERE.

January 21, 2009

Pomp Pageantry and History

jobrak2.jpg From our friend Timmy’s large flat screen TV in Sarasota, Florida, I watched Inauguration Day while Joe and Timmy (who only watched the start of it) played golf. Like the Academy Awards or an elaborate royal wedding, the pomp, pageantry and history had me glued to my front row comfy chair seat. That’s Joe in his commemorative inaugural T-shirt designed and sold by our Floyd friends at Green Label who offer 100% organic clothing.

It all really sunk in for me; the momentous occasion was crystallized when violinist Itzhak Perlman played Simple Gifts, a Shaker hymn I’ve sung often with others at community gatherings in Floyd. It was a meditative and surreal few moments that brought tears to my eyes.

I had to wait patiently to get a photo of Barack smiling.obamsmilex.jpg I love his smile and he didn’t really break it out until he was walking to Whitehouse during the parade.

Poet Elizabeth Alexander asked “What if the mightiest word is love?” She also said this in her poem “Praise Song for the Day” – Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of … and … In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, any thing can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp, praise song for walking forward in that light.

Barack and Michele spent the evening before the inauguration in acts of service in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Have I died and gone to heaven? poetx.jpgJoe, who grew up in Maryland and near D.C. worked at Sasha Bruce Youth Shelter in D.C., one of the places the Obama’s spent time in service. We were watching TV coverage when a scene of Barack painting walls at the shelter came up. Joe saw one of his old friends in the shot.

I admit that I was slightly nervous when Barack and Michele got out of the limousine to walk during the parade. I was encouraged to see a feisty sign that read “Arrest Bush,” and was irritated by the term “non-believers” that Barack used in his speech in an effort to unify people of all faiths. People who don’t practice any organized religion are not necessarily non-believers and some non-religious people are the most spiritual people I know. I prefer the term “non-religious.” bmxjpg.jpg

The largest inauguration crowd in history came out to celebrate, “a man whose father, less than 60 years ago, might not have been served in a local restaurant" and who "can now stand before you and take a most sacred oath.” Watching everyone navigate the freezing temperatures brought back memories of the marches I did in D.C. to protest the invasion of Iraq (photo HERE.) I wore wool long johns and a down parka to the one that took place on January 17, 2003. Since that day six years ago so much damage has been done. I haven’t been able to relax, but now with Barack in power I’m starting to. With a deep breath and a sense of relief, I can finally say, let the repair and the healing begin.

January 20, 2009

The Spell of Siesta

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I found my poetry on Siesta Key, on the pastel petite shell shore where the tourmaline gulf water turns confectionary white sand to mocha gray.
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The gulls are greedy. The scent of salty breeze is of kelp. Sifting through the finely ground out-of-this-world white powder, I look but cannot find the slightest pebble. Occasionally I come across the bump of a tiny buried shell.
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Divided by silence and loud roaring surf, miles of flat beach and sea melt into each other. Sunsets on the oceanside feels like the other side of the world. The shore is a clean slate, a place to walk, think no thoughts, lose your identity, or meet the real you.
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At night residents and tourists come out to watch the sunset. Dressed in coats to protect them from the wind and the recent cold snap, they gather on the white sand that looks like snow on tundra or like frozen canals in Holland.
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The evening light cast a lavender glow. If I didn't know better I'd be convinced that the world is flat, that the sun, a soft boiled humpty dumpty, has fallen off the horizon’s edge.

January 19, 2009

January's Porch Vacation

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The January porch vacation (not a porch at all) is a sandy bayside opening with a gnarly grove of bushes growing on either side. Joe and I settle our chairs in the muddy bay beachfront to get out of the ocean wind and to watch the sunset. A fish jumps, a dolphin snorts by. Pelicans swoop and dive. Joe reads a passage aloud from a Buddhist magazine about how our strong conviction that death comes at the end of life gives us a framework for life that lulls us into thinking that we have control when we don’t. “Life is an expanded day,” he reads. The sun slips down, shining a pathway of gold that cuts through the bay. “This is a life. Watch it,” I answer him, tossing a pebble into the quiet waiting water. In awe we watch the impact ripple wider and wider and then disappear, as though it never happened.

Watch a life unfold in 19 seconds HERE. For more Porch Vacation Reflections click and scroll HERE.

January 18, 2009

I Like My Bike

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Riding bikes in the neighborhood, Joe calls out, “Here’s another fountain. Do you want to stop and get a picture?” Pulling my bike up on the sidewalk to gawk, I answer,” No, I just want to see what that guy has between his legs!”
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“Stand here; it matches your beret,” Joe says, snapping a picture. It’s always worth stopping for purple.
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There’s no doubt about it. My hair is turning the color of Spanish Moss.
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This is what Joe does while I take pictures of fountains, great blue herons and storks. “Is it Tai Chi or Bagua?” I ask him. “It’s Lihubafa (Lee-hoo-ba-fa),” he answers. “What? You’re kidding; you made that up.” Then I wonder, did Joe learn his moves from THIS master?

January 16, 2009

Under an Orlando Sky

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1. In the land of ‘Fireworks for Sale’ and palm trees I say to Joe: Now this is why we go on vacation so I can read Eckhart Tolle in Denny’s, sleep in a treehouse, and pull over on the side of the road and pick an orange from a tree.
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2. Under an Orlando sky Joe is recovering from overwork while I’m taking still life photos of my teacup. Light pours from freshly squeezed sun. Clouds billow like steamed cream on cappuccino. Rippled blue pool water makes reflective patterns like the skin of an exotic creature. A lawnmower roars.
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3. Since I’ve been hanging around the pool at this luxury villa home where we’re staying, I’ve had the urge to tame my roughly hewn country nails and get a pedicure to match the coifed landscaping of the gated yard. Terracotta clay/mud roofs and cinder block stucco for homes were once cheap building choices for the common people of the Mediterranean. Now it’s Old World style. Tiger Woods lives nearby.

January 15, 2009

13: The Lorax Lives Here

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1. Near the Florida border in Georgia, in a rustic whimsical setting, is a Treehouse Hostel that Joe and I just visited. The 130 acres of swampy forest and community reminds me of an Ewok village.
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2. Inside a geometric dome wood building is the hostel common room where a wall is decorated with photos of past hostel managers and visitors. There are musical instruments for guests to play on around the community woodstove, which on this day was burning.
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3. The last time I was this delighted was when I first saw wildcraft herbalist Susun Weed’s "Amusing Muse Museum" in Woodstock, New York, a room with wall to wall postcards and pictures of inspiring women.
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4. Our tour guide was Ken (pictured left and right).
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5. When Ken told us there were seven treehouses, I asked, “One for each dwarf?” He laughed.
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6. A meditation bench overlooking a duck pond, a rope swing, a lake, and a labyrinth are all part of the hostel in the forest.
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7. Even the bathhouse is beautiful. There’s also a craft room so that guests can explore their inner artist.
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8. Arugula and greens were growing in the hostel garden. This is what Ken called a chicken tractor, a portable bottomless pen that can be moved around the property.
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9. The glass house is considered sacred space, as is the sweat lodge, and a labyrinth.
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10. The honeymoon treehouse was named for the couple who built it while on their honeymoon.
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11. I want my own poetry mailbox. I love that the flag is up on this one.
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12. If your cell phone rings while you’re at the treehouse hostel you’ll get tossed in the pool, Ken told us.
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13. A garden bed.

More 13 Thursday's HERE and HERE.


January 13, 2009

A Downhill Ride

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This is the way we head south from the mountains.
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Or is it North?
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Somewhere where the pipes don't freeze and it’s warm enough to swim like fish.

Note: That’s our friend Rowan who was here for dog sitting instructions.

January 12, 2009

It’s Not Thursday

1. I’m distracted from writing deadlines by a suitcase in my bedroom that I’ve been slowly filling with flower print warm weather clothes.

2. I’m irritated because it seems like we’ve all been gagged from speaking out in support of the Palestinian people.

3. I found myself watching people in my age category at the Golden Globe Awards to see who looks too good to be true.

4. By next Thursday I’ll be in a different state and I may actually be sleeping in a tree house.

5. Where was Jack Nicholson?

6. In the last two weeks I’ve written about Thailand, tourism, comedy, and cheese.

7. Some of the perks I’ve received recently while covering stories for The Floyd Press include a Crooked Road T-shirt I won at a fashion show, a facial, private opera singing, a CD, and now cheese.

8. I recently went to a goodbye party for a friend who is moving to Hawaii. I had key lime pie and pineapple juice.

9. Lately I’ve been part Wild Thing (doing whatever I want whenever) and part Second Child(hood) Thing, as evidenced by my taking up chewing and snapping gum again after twenty years of not doing it.

10. I think sunglasses look cool but I never could wear them because they make things too dark or unnatural.

11. It’s hard to be cool when you’re a child, when you’re falling in love, or when you’re getting older, which leaves such a small window of opportunity for being cool.

12. I forgot that I had my digital recorder in my pants pocket when it accidentally turned on and caused me to walk all over the house checking TVs and computers to see what was on before I discovered it was coming from me.

13. Bryce, meet your Poppa Joe HERE.

January 10, 2009

Warning: Dizziness May Occur

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Photo booths have come a long way from the ones I remember at Paragon Park, where for a dollar you could get a strip of black and white Polaroid style pictures.
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In the Mac computer photo booth with Joe, I realized all my kaleidoscope and fun house mirror dreams.
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Joe and I boldly went where no one has gone before in a sort of giddy bordering on queasy way.

Note: Watch Colleen lose it in the Fun House HERE.

January 9, 2009

'Comedy Through the Ages' Hits a Funny Bone

1grksx.jpg ~ The following was published in The Floyd Press, January 8, 2009.

The Young Actors Co-op (YAC) played to a full house in their last performance of Comedy Through the Ages at the Sun Music Hall on Sunday. The production took the audience through the history of comedy from the Greek classics to Saturday Night Live. The journey began with “Dawn of Man,” a skit in which a caveman slips on a banana peel. It ended with a futuristic scene in which a Captain Kirk character shared the stage with Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker and talked into a banana phone.

The historic scenes were introduced by “The Laughter Piece Theater” (a take-off on Masterpiece Theater) written by Haden Polseno-Hensley and played David Diaz, as “Paw Paw” in silk pajamas, and Marsden Woddail as his grandson.4cchap.jpg Marsden’s character played the straight man to the grandfather who was apparently getting misinformation about the history of comedy from the internet. The two actors provided a comedic structure for period and modern comedy scenes (and a chance for YAC members to change the sets).

Victorian melodrama, a scene from a Shakespeare play, vaudeville, radio, sketch comedy, and parody all figured into the production. A corrupt King, a hunchback, a harlequin (Italian jester), soap opera characters, and a dead parrot in a Monty Python skit played by Abraham Cherrix and Ian Gammarino were also represented.

Marsden Woddail (pictured above) performed comedy without out words as pantomime actor Charlie Chapman. Coriander Woodruff romped around the stage dancing, riding a unicycle, and taking pratfalls to “Make Em Laugh,” a song from the 1952 musical “Singin’ in the Rain.”
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Another scene, involving a cast of characters in a kingdom, enlisted audience participation by way of prompt signs that read “Boo” or “Cheer.” Actor’s lines were delivered with punch authentic sounding accents.

One high energy highlight was when the entire cast jumped off the stage for an MTV-like dance performance to Al Yankovic’s “Eat it,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat it.”

Zany material by radio comics Burns and Allen was believably performed by Gammarino as George Burns, Belinda Burris-McGrath as the ditsy Gracie Allen, and others (pictured above).

Two months of practice and 159 (impressive) costumes were cited by cast members at the final bow. 7bows.jpg The group of thirteen actors thanked parents who were instrumental in bringing the production to the stage, writer Haden Polseno-Hensley, and YAC director Rose McCutchan.

Judging by the laughter and applause from the audience during the show, the tongue-in-cheek bios in the production program, and the bunch of bananas presented by the cast to McCutchan at the end of the evening, it’s clear that comedy is this group’s forte.

Post Notes: Watch video clips of Monty Python Dead Parrot, Beat it Dance, Make Em Laugh, The Sword and Styrofoam from the performance. For more information about YAC go www.myspace.com/FloydYAC

January 8, 2009

Thirteen Thursday: The Work and Playlist

IMG_0319.jpg 1. I played THIS song (another personal anthem of mine from the 60’s) on New Year’s Day and had myself a good cry. I was happy for the song’s ability to reach in deeply and make me remember and feel.

2. I also played THIS (the yin to the yang of the previous song) and it made me happy.

3. Hitting the nerve of sadness is like hitting an acupressure point on the body. It hurts and feels so good at the same time and wants to be poked and prodded to break up the stagnation.

4. Ever since I said I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions I keep coming up with some good ones. My latest is I want all the drippy faucets in my house to stop leaking.

5. I’m on the gum diet. That means at night when I have the urge to snack I chew and snap gum and get a real jaw work-out.

6. It’s not too late to make a New Year Resolution. If you can’t think of one, you can be assigned one by clicking HERE.

7. Playing those old Cat Stevens songs from Harold and Maude made me think of Ruth Gordon (who played Maude). I was curious about her and her thick accent, which I knew was familiar to me. A visit to Wikipedia revealed that she was from Quincy Massachusetts, the same city I was born in and 15 minutes from where I grew up.

8. My favorite color is the fiery magenta I see when I close my eyes and hold my face up towards the sun. It's a color I’ve been missing lately.

9. When my son Josh was seven he said, “Mom, people say when you close your eyes all you see is dark but it’s not true. I see all tie-dye stuff.”

10. World’s Tallest Snowman (something else I’ve been missing) is HERE.

11. My real New Year resolution is to clean up my virtual desk top from three years of pictures and video clips that have left little space on my hard drive. So that ought to keep me busy.

12. Now that I’ve been to Cirque du Soleil, the next show on my bucket list of entertainment is to see the amazing PILOBOLUS live. HERE’s an amazing tribute to New York that I watched them perform on Conan O’Brien last week.

13. And THIS is my kind of teapot poetry.

~ More Thirteen Thursday's HERE.

January 7, 2009

A New Brew

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Tea Blossom Blooms
Rusty Rose Mandala
A Sunrise Flower
in an Earl Grey Day

Note: Click and scroll down HERE for a selection of Teapoet Poems.

January 6, 2009

Calendar Brings Past and Present Together

kicalendar.jpg~ The following appeared in the Floyd Press on Thursday January 1, 2009 and HERE.

Whether purchased as a quality keepsake or for use as a functional calendar, the 2009 Floyd County Historical Society (FCHS) Calendar is a way to own a bit of Floyd history. Created by FCHS photograph archivist Kathleen Ingoldsby as a fundraiser for the society, this second annual publication features a visual history of Floyd told through postcards of the past.

Penny postcard images, restored old photos, and informative narrative tell the story of wars, moonshine stills, early schools, mills, and mail delivery. Antique stamps and postmarks, one as old as 1809, are arranged on the black glossy backgrounds of full-color monthly pages and bring to light the history of postcards and the early days of the Rural Free Delivery (RFD).

The RFD came to Floyd in 1902, and during its heyday, dozens of post offices with names like Amos, Aria, Bay, Carthage, Ego, Pax, and Posey dotted the county. bramehtl.jpg A photo of a mailman delivering the mail by a horse and buggy appears with the calendar’s introduction. Next to it is a photo of the Nasturtium Post Office, no bigger than a small one room cabin.

The Hotel Brame postcard, featured for July, was one geared towards tourism, reading ‘Floyd’s Summer Resort 2900 Ft. above Sea Level.’ Built in 1904 where Dee’s Country Places Realty is now located, the Hotel Brame was once a hub of activity where one went for lunch, “to dance, to buy furniture, do banking, have a tooth pulled, to shop for fine clothing, visit the telephone switchboard, go to the butcher, or (with indoor plumbing) for a refined overnight stay,” the calendar states. A horse hitching post is shown in the forefront of the postcard.

“Back then it was as common to see oxen hitched there as it was to see horses,” Ingoldsby said, explaining that Locust Street was once known as Jockey Street because people sold and traded horses there on Court Day, a day when many countians came to town.

Drawn from the FCHS archives, the postcards and photos illustrate trends and the hairstyles and fashions of the day. The month of March shows the Noah Reed family in Sunday dress, posed in front of their home with a family pony included in the shot. A painted canvas backdrop is draped behind them to simulate a studio setting. February’s page presents a colorful display of valentine themed postcards.
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In the upstairs Historical Society office on Locust Street, stored in boxes in a closet, there are 1800 photos and some postcards that have been numbered, described, scanned and stored in a database by Ingoldsby. “It’s a treasure and a wealth of a community resource,” she said, un-wrapping an album of postcards with protective gloves on her hands.

Although the closet where the items are stored is monitored for humidity levels and each box contains a black archiving sheet that absorbs acid and moisture, the space is less than ideal for long term storage. Eventually the items will be kept at the Jessie Peterman Library in a climate controlled area, and the digital data base will be available to the public. “The library partnership is a fine example of the community working together to accomplish major goals,” Ingoldsby said.

Many of Ingoldsby’s pursuits are related to her love of history and its preservation. She is an active member of the Floyd County Historical Preservation Trust, on the Old Church Gallery board, and has produced digital films of historical relevance. In 2005 she participated in an intensive three week course at the National Archives in Washington D.C. to learn “all aspects of archiving and collection management.” Ingoldsby also designed and authored the Walking Tour Historic Guide, another fundraiser for the FCHS, which lists forty-five sites of historic interest, most within walking distance of downtown Floyd.

“It’s touching to be able to look back and look into people’s lives,” Ingoldsby said about her archival work. She encourages people to do their own family research.

With images of early life in Floyd, along with holidays and current events listed, the calendar brings together the past and present. As the FCHS’s major yearly fundraiser, it supports their further work in a way that entertains, educates, and celebrates those who came before us.

On the back page of the 2009 calendar, sneak previews of coming attractions includes a postcard of the Farmers Supply building with gas pumps and Model-T cars out front. ‘Greetings from Main Street, Floyd Virginia,’ the card announces, ending this year’s calendar on a high note with the promise of more to come.

Post Notes: Calendars are $10 and can be purchased at the Floyd Chamber of Commerce, The Floyd Country Store and other places around town. They are also available by mail for $12.50, which includes postage and handling, from the Floyd County Historical Society, P.O. Box 292, Floyd, VA 24091. For more information, visit www.floydhistoricalsociety.org. Emails can be sent to floydhistoricalsociety@yahoo.com. ~ Colleen Redman

January 5, 2009

Once Upon a Time in a Cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains

talkco2.jpg If I were writing a fairytale about my life it would be one about a heroine princess who goes off to be alone. In the quiet of time spent alone she would discover special fruits with special powers, winds that talk, and stars that sing. At night she would sit by the fire and wonder. Her days would be filled with happy activity, making creations of words and color.

But it would also be a story about the perils of solitude because solitude is a double edged sword. A few slips, sharp wrong turns, and sweet solitude transforms into isolation. The heroine forgets her verbal language, how to speak, how to be with other people. Her hair grows longer. She is older. There is never enough solitude. The more she gets the more she wants. Day and night come and go and she forgets there is a difference between them.

Her prince hero returns. She remembers him but has forgotten how to talk. They gaze at each other. He knows the well she lives in. She breathes deeply, comes up for air. She blinks in the sunlight, feels a nearly forgotten sensation in her body. Moved by the power of being seen by another, her eyes fill with tears. And then she finds her voice and speaks.

"If I were writing a fairytale of my life it would be one about a heroine princess who goes off to be alone ..."

January 3, 2009

Please Don’t Eat the Scrabble Letters

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1. Future Scrabble player plots his strategy
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2. Bites off more than he can chew
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3. Uses board for surfing
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4. Digs for good letters
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5. Pleads innocent when his grandmother protests his putting them in his mouth

Post Note: See the action video clip HERE.

January 2, 2009

I Came THIS Close to Making a New Year's Resolution

"Well, if you want to sing out, sing out and if you want to be free, be free 'Cause there's a million things to be..." -Cat Stevens

I'm not one to make resolutions, although when the New Year arrives I do find myself reviewing the past year. I like to brainstorm, set intentions for life direction. I weigh what was meaningful and what was not.

Sometimes I feel left out listening to others' specific New Years resolutions to stop smoking, lose weight, or any other number of ways to better themselves. I try to come up with a concrete resolution I can get behind. But I never feel serious, the resolution feels empty, not practical, I don't want to announce it, hold myself to it. If it hasn't happened yet I don't want to beat the dead horse.

This New Year's Day an idea came, custom made for me. If I was going to make a New Year Resolution it would this: to write more legibly in 2009. If I could write more legibly I could spend more time with the notebook and less time plugged in at the cyber space controls typing at warp speed. I could read my own notes. Joe could read my shopping lists. I could take down interview quotes with the confidence of a legal secretary, and people would stop commenting that my signature looks like a doctor's.

But as the cartoon wise woman Maxine said about resolutions on Kenju's blog: They have a short shelf life. What are the chances that my handwriting will improve, and if it does what are the odds it will last? I can say I want it. And then allow it. But for me lasting changes don't tend to happen with determination or force.

Lao Tzu says: Express yourself completely, then keep quiet. Be like the forces of nature: when it blows, there is only the wind; when it rains, there is only the rain; when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.

January 1, 2009

13: Ringing in the New Year

c092.jpg 1. My blog is like the economy. It seems to be in a recession. Visits and comments, like retail sales, are down from last year.

2. In the evening when I’m upstairs typing on the computer and I even hear “Deal or No Deal” on TV, I have to go down and shut it off because I fear if I don’t Nielson will think I like the show and it will stay on air longer than it should.

3. I’m typing this on New Year’s Eve. I can see the moon through the trees. It looks like THIS poem.

4. “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say, ‘I don’t want to’.” ~ Lao Tzu

5. Josh, his brother Skye, and I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over the holidays, where Brad Pitt’s character is born old and becomes younger with the passing of time until he dies as a baby. I came away thinking that the premise wasn’t so much stranger than the fact that we watch our babies transform into adults and then they watching us grow into old people. Truth is at least as strange as fiction.

6. I’ve been to Time Square for New Years Eve, discovered it’s an overrated mostly drunken mob, and I never even got close to seeing the ball.

7. Today’s Soundtrack is THIS, which I first heard while driving in a tunnel in Boston under the influence of the 60’s.

8. This is really sad. LOOK at what the Thirteen Thursday Hub looks like now.

9. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Doug at Blue Ridge Muse has a list of the top 2008 Floyd stories HERE.

10. I spoke with Joe on the phone. He’s away, busy managing a five day New Year’s Teen Meditation Retreat. Tired and a little homesick, he said whenever he needs a boost he looks at a photo of our 7 month old grandson Bryce or remembers that Barack Obama is president.

11. And I am stuffed with facts…overweight with the nightly news…Poetry is the bell …that saves me from being…all-consumed ~ From “Political Prose is Hard Labor”

12. I once called poetry a sweet tinnitus ringing in my ears.

13. Speaking of ringing and bells, HERE is Bryce playing with some of his Christmas toys and navigating one in particular (it rings) that proves to be a handful for him. I video-taped this today (Wednesday) when it was 2008 and now it’s 2009. Happy New Year one and all!