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February 28, 2009

Ready for His Leading Man Close-up

AKA: Bryce Hates Hats
Bryce’s good looks have settled in and at nine months he’s taken on what I call the dreamboat look (seen HERE). He definitely has a leading man role in his household and he even does all his own stunts.
He looks especially good in one of his many hats, but he pulls them off as fast as you can put them on. He doesn’t think anyone else should wear hats either and takes them off people’s heads. He also hates shoes (see HERE).

Post note: That’s papa Joe and big sister Kaylee in supporting roles with the baby boy heartthrob.

February 27, 2009

Taking Floyd Moonshine on the Road

rdmill.jpgThere was no drinking and driving involved in the ride from Floyd down the Pig Path into Radford. And the only moonshine proof there was to be enjoyed was in the readings from the second edition of Floyd County Moonshine at the Coffee Mill on Main Street.

Moonshine, in this case, refers to the “flavor” of the local literary and art magazine, put out by editor Aaron Moore and associate editor Jay Settle. Even the character in Aaron's short story in the first issue, “13 Titanium Screws,” traveled on the Pig Path and others in that edition drank moonshine, hung out in bars, or on Bourbon Street.

Jay read a poem about an elderly man with a cane and his wife walking like “flowers bending slightly,” probably on their way to “Cracker Barrel.” But I swear I saw them in Applebees.jayaar.jpg

One poem that stood out in my memory was a quirky one from Java lover Chelsea Adams about a woman named Bess who eats blades of grass at a picnic, forgets her sandwich, and then expresses breast milk for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I just didn’t expect that.

The cappuccino steam machine sounded like a spaceship landing. A guy with a skateboard only came in and out of the coffeehouse front door when Moonshine associate editor Jay was at the mic introducing readers.

There was a strange juxtaposition between Peter Pan and Jesus when Mara Robbins and I read poems in dialogue about each. jm2.jpg And when Katherine Chantal said, “What coffee is to Chelsea, tea is to me and then read “Brewing a Poem,” I told her she should take a cup with her next time for a prop.

Three Radford English teachers and some of their students. Three from Floyd Writer’s Circle and others. RU teacher Jim Minick is working on a memoir about his blueberry farming days in Floyd, he said. Katherine and I left at intermission, so that’s all she wrote.

Got Moonshine? floydshine@gmail.com.

February 26, 2009

13: Buy One Get One Free

cocol.jpg1. Today while grocery shopping I learned for the first time what a BOGO Sale was.

2. I never say yes when a grocery bagger asks me if I want to keep my gum or chocolate out of the bag and tries to hand it to me. I’m not that desperate.

3. I also cringe when the deli clerk walks over to the counter from the meat cutter and holds up a piece of my turkey or ham, asking me if I approve of the cut. I can’t seem to ignore the fact that it is flesh being flapped around, and I wonder what the clerk didn’t understand about “sliced thin.”

4. It was out of character for me on Friday to go online and sign up for Oprah’s free Academy Award ticket for Sunday and chance to be on her show, but I’ve loved the watching the Oscars since I was a teenager and going is on my bucket list.

5. Even though I knew my odds for winning were one in a million, for the rest of the weekend I got a twinge of anxiety every time I thought of winning and having to pack a bag of the magnitude in a couple of hours.

6. Not only have I not had a gown since high school prom, I don’t own a pair of high heels.

7. I wondered what I would do with my hair if Oprah called, and then I remembered Mickey Rourke’s greasy hair at the Golden Globes and thought if he could go on TV like that then maybe my hair would pass.

8. My favorite Oscar acceptance speech was Sean’s Penn’s, but I also loved the way Kate Winslett asked her dad to whistle from the audience so she’d know where he was, and he did. It made me miss my dad.

9. Check out THIS mad lib Academy Award acceptance speech generator. Mine went something like this: Thank you! Oh! Thank you! I can hardly conjugate verbs! I feel so surgically enhanced! And this statue - it's so suspiciously phallic! Oh, thank you again! I just want everyone to secretly suspect that even in my wildest hallucinations, I never would have frantically prayed that this could ever liberate me from dinner theatre. I went on to thank my guru and The People Under the Stairs.

10. HERE’S the Roanoke Times write-up (in which I was briefly interviewed) of the Jacksonville Center’s Floyd Figures Artists’ Show, the group that has been drawing so many of us in the Floyd community for the past 25 years. The show inspired THIS poem.

11. I’ll never win an Academy Award, but I have won a "Be Kind to Animals" pin for a drawing I did in Elementary school art class, a quilted baby seat cover, a Crooked Road T-shirt, $100 for a poetry slam, and $50 at a Scrabble Tournament.

12. I was impressed with President Obama’s televised speech on Tuesday night but thought that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who gave the Republican response, sounded like he was reading a children’s book.

13. The weekend of the Academy Awards I actually did get a call that prompted me to pack a bag for a different kind of trip entirely. More on that soon …

Get your free 13 Thursdays HERE. Click and scroll HERE for more.

February 24, 2009

For What It’s Worth

jox2.jpgI was feeling overwhelmed and in a funk, looking for receipts to send to our tax accountant that would show my writing expenses. I didn’t want to pay unnecessary taxes on the modest amount I earned writing this year, which in some cases (when I match time spent against pay scale) I was underpaid for. The thought that my expenses could all but cancel out my earnings made me all the more determined to document a fair accounting.

There was a new voice recorder, a near fortune in printing ink, a jump drive, a new computer chair and more; all of which could be “written off.” But I’m an unorganized nutty professor type and looking through my records was like pulling a thread, inviting the unraveling of a year’s worth of paper clutter.

With piles of papers on my upstairs desk and other ones on the stairs on there way up, the sorting soon included more than receipts and bank and credit card statements. Drawers were left open and paper stacks, newspaper clippings, cards, and photographs were spread out on my kitchen table and floor.

Every now and then I would go on to something else, then return to my task and realize that I had lost my place completely. “I don’t know what I’m doing! I’m making things worse,” I complained to Joe, who was getting ready to leave town to teach a weekend meditation retreat.

He invited me for a walk to the mailbox. I thought the exercise and sunshine would do me good. Buttoning up my coat in the driveway, there, glaring at me was the gash in Joe’s truck, gauged over a month ago when I hurriedly tried to make an unsuccessful right hand turn into the downtown Village parking lot on my way to a power point presentation that resulted in a story that made the front page of The Floyd Press.

“Oh Jeez. How much is it going to cost?”

“About $100,” Joe answered.

The dog joined us and we walked while I complained about the bitter cold and the auto body repair bill. “Sometimes I think it would be cheaper to just stay home and do nothing,” I griped. “I’m not making much progress. It’s like one step forward and two back.”

Our driveway is long, so I had time to also consider the value of actions and how they can ripple out and change others in ways we may never know. I thought about the story I ended up writing, started the day I dented the truck, about a young woman in our community who traveled with a group to an impoverished part of Thailand to give villagers being displaced by development a voice. I had just received a heartfelt note from her, thanking me for the attention I gave to her cause. My story was important to her. Maybe it was to the villagers. “I really do know that money isn’t the only way we are paid,” I said.

We had stopped at the mailbox. I opened it up and sifted through bills and catalogs, my eye quickly settling on an envelope addressed to me with a return address I didn’t recognize. While Joe was looking at a package with his name on it, a book he had gotten cheap through Amazon, I ripped the envelope open.

It was a $100 check!

The check was for another story I had written, one for a national publication. At first I thought I had been overpaid but then I did the math at their 12 cents a word pay scale and realized it was right. “You get paid by the word? You’ll have to resign your Queen of the short poem status,” Joe said.

“It’s not for poetry. No one wants to buy that,” I answered, adjusting slowly to the perfect symmetry of the universe and the lesson I was being given.

Joe was happy that he practiced what he preaches, that he slowed down and enjoyed a mindful walk with me before rushing off to the retreat to instruct others to slow down. “All you have to do is turn around, look from a different perspective,” he said. I laughed because we had literally turned around and were walking back to the house.

But everything was different now. The wind was at our backs. I felt the warmth of the sun shining. The bad mood I was in had lifted.

February 23, 2009

A Fabulous February Spoken Word

cafefebs.jpgSitting in the wallflower chair in the far corner of the café at February’s Spoken Word night, I realized that my nerves at poetry readings are directly related to the size of the crowd that turns out. The bigger it is the bigger they are. From my corner perch I counted 45 people. This is a small town. Chairs had to be brought in from the Winter Sun Music Hall. Where is my comfy couch when I need it?

Café del Sol owner Sally was in form as the emcee ring leader. “I’ll be short and sweet. I’m already short and sweet," said the five-foot musician barista.

The usual suspects were joined by a few first-timers. One newcomer to the café stage, Christine Behrens, begged her cat Lotus not to bring dead mice in the house by way of a poem she read while wearing my borrowed reading glasses.christ.jpg She also read an ode to life in Floyd, saying that poetry has been flowing since she’s been in here.

Several read from the hot-off-the-press second printing of the Floyd’s new literary and arts magazine, Floyd Country Moonshine. Wise Countian author Neva Bryan saved her Moonshine flavor, "The Devil’s Better Half," for the end of the evening because of its subject matter. “How R rated can a girl from Wise County be?” Sally asked as she called Neva up for a second reading. Sex, drugs, and jail Dixie Chicks style (reminiscent of their song "Earl") was the answer.

Jayn Avery read a poem about an abandoned house and the sap being tapped from the maple trees on her farm. Katherine Chantal announced a new genre of poems to add to her signature tea poems. Grandchildren. ‘Will it be a boy or a girl?’ she asked in a poem dealing with the adjustment she had to make learning the sex of her grandchildren early by way of high tech machinery.

Don Nathan read from The Tao of Pooh, followed by his first poem in 30 years. neva62.jpg And did you know that Pluto was now a verb? After poet Mara Robbins explained that “pluto” now means "to demote," she read “Pluto takes out the garbage,” inspired by the recent meteor that fell in Texas.

Both Aaron Moore and Jay Settle, editor and co-editor of Floyd County Moonshine, read works of some of the magazine’s contributors who were unable to attend the open mic. Jay also read his poem “Canning Season,” and Aaron read from a novel he’s working on called "Barn Blazing."

“Speak now or forever hold your peace,” Young Actor’s Coop (YAC) actor Cameron Woodruff, who can’t hold his peace, read while wearing the dark sunglasses of his adopted brother Wolf, who recently attended a Spoken Word as Darth Vader, causing barista Ann to shout from the latte steamer behind the counter, “How does Darth Vader look like John Lennon?” amoore22.jpgWe all sent Wolf (Abraham Cherrix) our well wishes upon hearing that he has pneumonia.

YAC actor Bedila McGrath read a well told and moving story she wrote in her high school English class called "The Deer in the Woods."

Along with two new poems, I read my Moonshine contribution "Jesus Paints Graffiti" … Jesus wears a bathrobe and reads the obituaries … He has a long braid like Willie Nelson’s … He drinks his tea black … leaves the cap off the toothpaste … and never uses an ATM machine …

Gloria Gerritz went to Kent State? Or was that poem fiction? Laura… Heather…. Stephanie…I forgot to bring home the sign up sheet, so I’m likely forgetting some readers. It was a thoroughly entertaining evening. The 7-9 time slot morphed into 7-10:30

Post notes: The Floyd County Moonshine can be purchased in local Floyd cafes for $7. Photos: 1. Crowd 2. Christine Behrens 3. Neva Bryan 4. Aaron Moore. Click and scroll HERE for more Spoken Word posts with photos.

February 21, 2009

The Countess of Coffee

sall.gif~ The following was published in the winter issue of All About Her, a regional news insert.

She's affectionately known by some as "The Countess of Coffee," and is the "Little Diva" in the band "Little Diva and the G-Strings." Co-owner of Floyd's Café del Sol and vocalist performer with a degree in Music Therapy, Sally Walker says her love of music and good coffee are about to converge.

"I've started to work on a new CD. All the songs are about coffee," Walker said in between bites of a tuna salad lunch and with the afternoon sun beaming in the large café windows.

Sally and her husband Frank opened their café four years ago after missing the lattes (espresso with steamed milk) they had in Seattle while visiting Frank's daughter, Sarah. "We wanted to have quality lattes here in Floyd," Sally said about the couple's initial interest in opening a café. That interest was further piqued when the owner of the Winter Sun building, a renovated textile factory, made a comment early on in the building's renovation, saying she thought the corner spot of the building (where the café now sits) would make a cute café.

"Cafés are fun places where a lot culture and networking happen," Walker said, citing another impetus behind the conception of Café del Sol. She was also tired of commuting for her music therapy practice, which took her into the school systems of Roanoke and Allegany Highlands.

Once the Walkers let their adventurous spirits win over the prospect of the hard work they knew opening a café would involve, they did their own renovations. swswss.gifFrank built the cafe tables. His daughter Sarah, who ran cafés in Seattle, flew in to teach barista arts to the Walkers and their staff - which has included two daughters, a son, and a son-in-law.

Today, Café del Sol is a hub in the downtown landscape of the one stoplight town. Along with a variety of coffee drinks and teas, the café serves lunch and desserts, and offers wireless internet access. Besides their regular hours of operation, they host a Friday Night Music series (which Sally sometimes sits in on), and the third Saturday Spoken Word Open Mic. The café is also home to what Walker calls a "rotating cast of characters," referring to the café "regulars" and any combination of the café's twelve young employees, many of whom Walker says she has watched grow up.

"It's a fun place to work. I think we keep it fun behind the counter," Walker said. Judging from the tip jar that says "Afraid of Change, Leave it Here" on one side and "Support Counter Intelligence" on the other side, the CD soundtrack, the comfy couch in the corner, and the rotating local art that graces the bright gold walls, it's clear that Walker and her staff strive to provide an atmosphere for relaxing and focusing on the lighter side of life.

"We freshly grind each draw," Walker said, explaining the art of making a good latte. "Steaming milk is a multi-sensory skill," she continued, describing how attention must be paid to the look of the drink and the sound of the steam wand as it changes pitch. Pitch is something the musician barista knows about.

Since she was a child Sally has been drawn to performing. In the 70's she played folk music in coffee houses and joined the River Flow Band. In the 80's she sang with Just Jake, a band whose name Walker coined when she plunked the dictionary and her finger landed on "jake" (which means A-OK). sallyjwss.gif Her musical background cumulated in 2003 with the release of her first CD - World on a String - a collection of jazz standards that showcase her sultry smooth vocals.

It's hard to imagine with all Walker juggles that she still finds time for music gigs, but she does. This past year she has performed at a wedding, a benefit, a private party, along with gigs at Oddfellas Cantina and the Zion Church Oak Grove Pavilion Summer music series. She still has a few music therapy clients in Roanoke. "On Tuesdays I go to Roanoke, see my clients, pick up bagels, and then go to Sam's Club for café supplies," she quipped.

Walker is looking forward to some extended time in the recording studio in February, saying "I love being in the studio." If all goes well, a visit to the Café in late spring might include a café signature latte, a tasty treat, and some good conversation, all to the tune of Walker's new songs playing on the CD stereo. ~ Colleen Redman

Post note: Sally records her CD's at Floyd's own Mountain Fever Studio. Locals can hear her sing Friday night February 27 at Oddfellas Cantina in Floyd or click HERE.

February 19, 2009

13 Love Notes

redapplexxs.jpg1. HERE’S my new paper shredder. I bet you can’t look at it and not laugh.

2. I left my wrist band from The Kind at the Pine Tavern last weekend on my wrist all weekend because it was pink, an appropriate accessory for Valentine’s Day and a reminder of going out dancing with my sweetheart, my husband Joe.

3. The next day Joe and I saw our mutual sweetheart, nine month old grandson Bryce. See how much fun that was HERE.

4. On Valentine’s Day morning I was putting two bright red apples in the fruit bowl and wondered why we don’t give our sweethearts a dozen red delicious apples instead of roses for Valentines Day.

5. Turn the name of your blog into a ee cummings poem HERE.

6. I call the photo above “The Royal Flush” or “Playing your cards right.”

7. Need a good pick-up line? Try THIS.

8. Were I live we still see unregistered pickup trucks with the words FARM USE painted where the license number usually is.

9. If you’re new here you might not know that apples play a romantic role in Joe’s and my relationship. When we met Joe said he liked my spirit right away. I was excited about my trunk full of just picked wild apples. Later, at our wedding he presented me with an apple instead of a ring (I got the ring later) and said it symbolized the fruit of the love that we tended.

10. I’m glad I still live where smoke comes out of chimneys. It looks so cozy and burning wood that Joe cuts makes us feel self-sufficient. I feel bad for new homes built without chimneys because I think we may be burning wood for heat again someday.

11. Ain’t that America? I only get 4 TV channels, so I’m only just now watching the Obama inaugural concert, youtube video by youtube video. I had heard the buzz about Bruce Springsteen and U2 but didn’t know that John Mellencamp played. John has the same birthday as my brother Dan (who loved his music) and he reminds me of Dan. I’ve like John since his "Hurt so Good" days and was happy to see he was invited to play.

12. What is the letter version of a mathematical equation? I think it could go something like this: LOVERS = Resolve + Solve + Love + Revolves + Evolves.

13. I think BUSY should be spelled BIZZY because when I get too BIZZY it makes me DIZZY.

Throw 13 kisses HERE.

February 18, 2009

Playing it by Ear

saysox2.jpg I write poetry by ear like a musician who doesn't read notes can still play music. ~ Colleen

Some people make quilts, stitch blocks of designed fabric together. Others mix colors and paint. The theme of my creative life has been finding my voice and using it through speech and the written word. Considering that, it was no surprise that my recent series of collages have been about finding voice, with captions over my head or scrabble letters, cookie fortunes, crossword puzzles, and magnetic poetry flying from where the top of my head has been cut with scissors from my face.

I first started using my poetic voice writing poems in my bedroom as a teenager. My awakening to language had less to do with school and more to do with popular music and maybe the discovery of pot. At the close of the 60's, I experimented with psychedelics. My first (and only) trip revolved around words. Whatever I thought appeared as words to be read over my head.

If a singer overuses her voice without training, her voice can be damaged. I wonder if the same could be said for poets.

I got a late start. For a variety of reasons - as a female, as a sibling of nine from a blue collar family - for too much of my life I didn't know how to use my own power to make things happen and I wasn't even aware of the truth of that.

It's too late for me to start using punctuation in poetry now, I tell my poet friend Mara. When Mara was accepted to go to Hollins University for creative writing, she suggested that I might like to go back to school as well. "What? And spoil my self-taught reputation?" I answered.

My sister Kathy is a master seamstress, something she inherited from our grandmother and I did not. Kathy taught herself rug braiding (and then hooking). After a couple of years of making rugs and because she wanted to solve a rug making problem, she took a class. She learned what she needed to know about braiding but also ended up teaching the teacher and the class some rug-braiding tips and techniques that they didn't know. She went on to later teach her own class.

Since those days in my bedroom when I would spend hours writing poems and reading them aloud to my sister Sherry, I haven't been able to NOT write. I keep plugging away at what I do by instinct and with perseverance. I may have had to take the long way around more than once, but eventually I discover what I need to know. Eventually I do arrive.

Post note: Click and scroll HERE for more "Say So" collages.

February 17, 2009

What Not

1. The Cold Shoulder
2. Thread Bare
3. Shop Till You Drop
4. Thanks A Lot

Post note:
Alternate caption for #2 is "Embarrassed," as in "I'm bare assed."

February 16, 2009

Swing Your Partner at the Floyd Fitness Center

7swingdx.jpg~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on February 12, 2009.

Floyd Fitness Center Manager Ellen Wright organized her first Swing Dance Class at the Winter Sun Music Hall. At that time her eldest son was a member of the Floyd County High School Band, which held yearly Jazz and Swing Dance Concerts. “They were well attended but not well danced,” Wright remembered about the events.

Realizing that most of the band members didn’t know how to dance together, she enlisted the help of Christiansburg’s Sapphire Ballroom and Dance Center for a Swing Dance Class for ages fourteen and up. “It was a successful class with 30 students. Half of those were teens,” she said.

When Wright took the position as manager of the Floyd Fitness Center in the fall of 2007, she recruited the dance center once again to teach local dance classes. 2swingd1.jpg After the fitness center’s Grand Opening in the winter of 2008, dance classes were added to the gym’s program and began the following summer.

“Everything we do is partner dance, whether it be the waltz, the fox trot, swing or salsa,” said Linda Stancill, Sapphire Dance Center owner and instructor. The dance center, which opened in the summer of 2004, offers private lessons, workshops, and group classes. They also hold events, such as the 2009 Valentine Lovers Ball, described on their webpage as a romantic evening of dining and dancing.

Other dances taught through the Sapphire Dance Center include Country Two-step, Ballroom Dancing, Essential Latin, Tango, Rumba, and the Carolina Shag – a swing dance style that originated in North Carolina and involves leg kicks and fancy lead-follow footwork. Based on requests, Carolina Shag classes will be offered at the Floyd Fitness Center in March, Stancill said. Essential Ballroom and Salsa classes are scheduled on the same night as the Carolina Shag. A Country Two-step class is slated for April.

Although the dances taught at both centers are partner dances, you don’t need a partner to sign up. At Thursday’s Swing Dance Class at the Floyd Fitness Center more than twenty students were nearly evenly divided between men and women. 3swingdax.jpg The group of adults-of-all-ages lined up to watch instructor Dennis Williams review what was taught in previous classes before pairing up and practicing their steps to music on the classroom’s hardwood floors. The 25 x 28 foot room, which features natural light from skylights, a sound system, a ballet barre, and a walled mirror, is also used for CPR classes, Holistic Health Seminars, and is available to gym members when classes are not being conducted, Wright said.

The collective mood of the Floyd Swing Class was upbeat. Students followed Williams’ instructions as he called out Spins, Hammerlocks, and Belt Turns. One of seven Sapphire Dance Center instructors, Williams has fifteen years combined dance experience in jazz, tap, hip-hip and clogging. He has participated in musicals with Summer Musical Enterprise as an actor, dancer, and choreographer and is a former lead singer of Virginia Tech’s New Virginians. 4swingdx.jpg

Announcing to the students that he would not be available for next week’s class, Williams told the class that his fellow Sapphire dance instructor Lane Mattox would be instructing the last class of the series. He encouraged them to show off their skills to Mattox, who some were familiar with from past classes she has taught in Floyd.

Dancing is fun, social, and it’s beneficial to one’s wellbeing. It’s also a good way for couples to spend time together. A Sapphire Dance Class Gift Certificate for an upcoming class would make a nice Valentine gift, Wright suggested.

“I’m really pleased with how it’s going,” Stancill said about the classes in Floyd. Considering the smiling faces of some Floyd dancers as they left the gym after class, it appeared that they were pleased as well. ~ Colleen Redman

Note: For more Floyd Press stories click HERE and scroll.

February 14, 2009


Intimate greetings
on unfolded hearts
Our love is an open book

At the close of the day
our message is delivered
Held at the binding
sweet sentiments are sealed

~ Revised February 14, 2009

February 13, 2009

The Elephant in the Room is a Bear

1. Watch Bryce and his not so imaginary friend HERE.
2. Feeding his Nana HERE.
3. A Slinky Gets Out of Hand HERE.

Post Note: Happy Birthday to Bryce's Daddy Dylan! See Dylan (or at least his ponytail) at Bryce's age HERE.

February 12, 2009

13: I Can’t Believe I Wrote the Whole Thing

wrote13.jpg1. I woke up early for the drive to Roanoke to baby-sit Bryce. Standing at the sink, filling the tea kettle with water, I thought my neighbor’s barn was on fire. I’m not used to seeing the sunrise.

2. Later in the week Joe went down to baby-sit. While he was there Bryce got a hold of Joe’s cell phone, pressed the right buttons and called me up! Twice!

3. I hate starting a new notebook. It’s like moving into a new house with everything I need packed away in boxes.

4. Ben and Jerry launched a new ice cream flavor for Obama’a inauguration called YES PECAN!

5. It’s been said (but I can’t verify the truth of it) that the also asked the public for ideas for flavors for the Bush Presidency. Some of my favorites are Nut’n Accomplished, Impeach Cobbler, Abu Grape, The Housing Crunch, Chunky Monkey in Chief, WMDelicious, Bloody Sundae, and Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder.

6. Yesterday I interviewed a dairy creamery owner that home delivers milk butter and ice cream. Some of their more intriguing ice cream flavors were Birthday Cake, Espresso, and Moo Tracks. I guess I was influenced by Obama’s ice cream. I got the Butter Pecan.

7. Have you heard about the new Pomegranate cell phone that can make a cup of coffee? Shop HERE.

8. I wonder if anyone has ever named a baby from a blogger word verification name. Some ideas seen recently are: Rombonan, Havari, Flundie, Korrae, Tostra, Sessula, Meralan, or Glasmabi.

9. The Pomegranate also doubles as a shaver, has a built in harmonica, can project a power point screen, and translates languages. See HERE

10. My blogger friend Patry and I are related through marriage. We had been visiting each other’s blog for a couple of years before we discovered that her niece's son is my sons' (half) brother.

11. I was excited to see that Patry recently posted a new blog after a five month absence, with her last post being titled “The Horrible and the Miserable.” She wrote, “After five months of looking at that dispiriting title, I figured it was about time to change the subject. I could talk about something else. Anything else. Sardines, for instance.” Patry, author of Liar’s Diary, has been battling a serious illness. Her new post is titled “Gratitude … Sardines … AND a health update.”

12. I’m always turned off by TV drug ads that show people on the drug living happy lives while the ad is quickly listing the drug’s side effects, some of which are death. The Gardasil ad for young girls is particularly catchy, but it’s recently been reported that a disproportionate number of girls have become ill from the vaccine and some have even died. Watch a CBS News clip on it HERE, and pass it on.

13. Something else that the advertisers aren’t telling you: The Pomegranate cell phone is REALLY an ad campaign for Nova Scotia.

More Thirteen Thursdays are HERE.

February 10, 2009

The Ripening

dnccoll.jpgMy intention is to immerse myself in the experience of aging in a similar way that I immersed myself in the experience of losing my brothers when they died in 2001. Aging and loss are inevitable life events that I can’t change or avoid. The best I can do is approach them with an inquiring and contemplative mind, as a life adventure, and ask ‘What can I learn?’ and ‘How can I make meaning out fear or pain?’

I’ve been reading a book that was gifted to me, Goddesses in Older Women, written by Jungian analyst Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen. Initially the book’s subtitle “Becoming a Juicy Crone” irritated me. For decades women are expected to be juicy, and we are. Are crones supposed to be juicy too? When will we be let off that hook?

Juicy is not the way that I would typically describe an older woman. Aren’t elder women striving to stay juicy just a reflection of our youth-obsessed culture, which is no better than and an offshoot of patriarchal culture, I wondered? It seems to me that striving to be a juicy crone only feeds into our cultural obsession with plastic surgery, fat collagen lips, and denial of impermanence.

Women are living longer these days and the “Maiden, Mother, Crone (post-menopausal woman)” phases of a woman’s life no longer fit. I and others see this triad more as Maiden, Mother, Matriarch (or mature), and Crone. A lot happens between motherhood and being a crone, and the mature woman today has time to prepare for what Sinoda describes as the “third trimester” of life.

In the active years after fifty, you may become more visible in the world than ever before, or you may develop your inner life and pursue creative interests, or you may be the centering influence in a family constellation. Far from being a non-entity, it is in the third trimester that it is possible to be more defined and substantial a person than ever. In the Native American tradition, a woman becomes fully grown at the age of fifty-two.

I like to let my life be informed by the natural world, and recently I began to think of the stages of life like fruit. As women, don’t we bud, bloom, ripen, and eventually dry up. Isn’t that the nature of life? I wondered and then realized, No! A fruit only dries up if it hangs uneaten on the vine. Life, like fruit, should be used, which I think is what’s meant by “giving back.” I think staying juicy means to let ourselves be consumed by what we were made to do. When we do that our efforts will eventually come to fruition. Our ripening can be enjoyed by all around us and, hopefully the sweetness of that will be long remembered. That’s a juicy idea that appeals to me as I head down the far side of fifty.

February 9, 2009

Art Opening Weekend: Max Charnley

maxc.jpgThe night after the 11 artist 300 piece opening of Faces of Floyd at the Jacksonville Center, I went to Max Charnley’s exhibit at Café del Sol. Max is the son of Rosemary Wyman, an artist, dancer, member of the Writer’s Circle I belong to, and fellow Scrabble player. Like his mom, Max – a 2005 Floyd High graduate and Virginia Commonwealth University Art and Graphics Design major – is multi-talented. Over the years I’ve admired his art hanging on the walls of his family home, seen him act in a play, and heard him read his original poetry to an audience. maxcwall.jpg Max’s art reflects a wide range of styles and mediums. Using acrylics, pastels, felt markers, and sometimes computer generation his work ranges from realistic to surreal. Some pieces reflect his student trips to Japan and the influence that Japanese art has had on him. Woodblock print, Art Nouveau, and Comic Book Novel styles are also represented in Max’s work.

One piece that Max titled “Floyd Man,” he did with the Floyd Figures Group, the established group of artists that hires models, regularly draws together, and is currently showing Faces of Floyd at the Jacksonville Center.maxbck.jpg Done in chalk pastel, “Floyd Man” depicts a reclining man on a royal blue couch with a serene green presence around him. It showcases Max’s hand drawing talent and his use of color, which has the power to make me take a deep relaxing breath.

My personal show favorites are Max’s two spiritful self- portraits,” The inner and outer me,” he said. Hanging across from each other (photo 1 & 2), separated by a cafe door, the one on the left is done in warm red tones and is playful. The outer Max in cool blue and more contained.

A night out at the Café del Sol wouldn’t be complete without a Scrabble game. maxbggle.jpg But the well-attended opening reception was deemed too stimulating for Scrabble concentration, so we settled for BOGGLE. Mara (pictured with box and Max's sister Emma) broke out a game (two actually, regular and super) and players kept changing seats and taking turns with fast-paced rounds. Even café owner Sally took a turn. Playing with us is something she’s promised to do but hasn’t (until now) since we’ve been playing at the café for the past three years. The food was delicious; especially the red pepper, artichoke, prosciutto and cheese roll spread. The spice cake with maple frosting made Max’s dad Walter’s aunt’s recipe was out of this world.

February 8, 2009

February’s Drawn Conclusion

I expose my pale skin
like a virgin to the sun
air it out of storage
access the winter damage

I warm up slowly
like a bud turned over
to the growing possiblity
of posing nude for spring

~ Colleen Redman 2/7/09

February 7, 2009

Faces of Floyd

300 works in the Floyd Figures Group Exhibit at Jacksonville Center’s Hayloft Gallery set a record. The Faces of Floyd, with so many paintings and drawings of our friends and neighbors, is a history of our community over the past 24 years and a retrospective of a longstanding and well respected group of talented artists, who are also our friends and neighbors.
It wasn’t hard to recognize the subjects in the works, so many of us have modeled for the group over the years. In fact, I modeled for the group in 1989. One of the drawings (a portrait) done at that session has been framed and still hangs in my bedroom. Another, I heard at the artist’s reception last night, was in artist Sue Clinger’s trunk. “I didn’t bring it because I hadn’t gotten your permission and it was a nude,” she said. It was so long ago that I hadn’t remembered that part (and I was fine with it staying in her trunk).
The tables were turned, and I was briefly interviewed by a reporter for the Roanoke Times who wanted to talk to models. But I didn’t say what I meant to. I posed for the group 20 years ago by way of an invite from my friend Isa Maria who was a member at the time. Also, as a single mother of two young sons, I needed the pocket money that modeling earned me, and I knew it would be an interesting experience, which it was. I quickly pointed the reporter to a few more recent models.
I was asked by one of the artists if I would consider posing again. “Okay, but I don’t do nudes anymore,” I said. “I’ll be like my friend Bernie who posed with a guitar, only I’ll pose with a pen and notebook and cup of tea.” She took my phone number.
The 11 artists (some of whom have been meeting to draw together since 1984) are Kate Anderson, Sue Clinger, Dr. Sue Osborn, Pat Woodruff, Renae Taylor, Rick Cooley, Betty Vonrbrock, Toni Lamberti, Chris Youngblood, Catherine Pauley, and Charlotte Atkins. The Artist’s reception attendance was great and probably set another record. It’s an exciting show. With artist’s work grouped together on the walls, the gallery looks like a giant art collage. The exhibit will run through March 21. I can’t wait to go back, soak up some more color, style, and emotion, and see a few old framed friends.

Post notes: To learn more about the show and the Jacksonville Center, go HERE. Floyd Figures Art Group is HERE. Roanoke Time coverage is HERE.

February 6, 2009

Have a Ball

I had a ball on Monday babysitting my eight month old G-Whiz kid Bryce.
We played for so long we got tired.
His big sister Kaylee got into the act.
The family dog Snoop was impressed.

Post Notes: Watch Bryce show off his first soccer moves HERE. Other new eight month old accomplishments are standing alone HERE and Bryce making 360 degree scoot as the family cat rushes to get away from his grab. HERE.

February 5, 2009

13 Fractured Facts

13ellen.jpg 1. THIS is not me.

2. Said to Joe on Saturday: I can’t wait to not watch the Super Bowl.

3. Michael 19 … Steven 21 … John 33 … How ironic that their deaths sound like bible verses … The hearses parked in the halls of the high school recruiting… From “For Eli,” a poem by slam poet/activist Andrea Gibson who will be reading at Hollins University Theater in Roanoke February 22 at 8 p.m. Hear her perform it HERE.

4. And THIS is really worth the watch, women through the ages morphing into each other.

5. What a strange world we live in. The first of February was Imbolc, Candlemas, St. Brigit’s Day, the Super Bowl and Groundhog Day. That’s almost as weird as having Martin Luther King Day shared with Confederate Generals, Jackson and Lee Day, which they used to do here in Virginia until recently.

6. I have radar for the # 13. I took the above photo from the TV while watching The Ellen Show last week. At the time Ellen was setting up some sort of audience participation game in honor of Super Bowl. fract.gif

7. Fractals help me have faith in an afterlife. It’s a sacred geometry that just keeps on going. See HERE and don’t forget to watch long enough (half a minute) to see it in color.

8. A fractal is any pattern that reveals greater complexity as it is enlarged, showing the reality of 'worlds within worlds.’ The word was coined by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975. Although the fractals he created were derived from mathematics, he emphasized the use of fractals as realistic and useful models of many "rough" phenomena in the real world. Natural fractals include the shapes of mountains, coastlines and river basins; the structures of plants, blood vessels and lungs; the clustering of galaxies; and Brownian motion. Fractals are found in human pursuits, such as music, painting, architecture, and stock market prices. ~ From the wikipedia.

9. Snowflakes are like fractals too. "They are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.” ~ Unknown.

10. Even more miraculous and mysterious than fractals and snowflakes is the work of Japanese scientist Dr. Emoto who wrote the book The Hidden Message in Water, which describes how water molecules transform into beautiful crystallized shapes with loving thoughts and becomes ugly with hateful ones, as viewed under a microscope. Watch HERE.

11. The human body is 70% water. Imagine how our thoughts affect each other.

12. #3 in my December 4th Thirteen Thursday asks “If you had your own talk show, would you dress more like Oprah or Ellen?”

13. Thirteen Thursday is a fractal of sort, a meme (from the Greek to mimic) that keeps on going. See how it spreads out HERE.

February 4, 2009

Snow Day

Bright white against a blue sky gives cheer to the gray mid-winter scenery. The clouds look like drifts. The trees are outlined in snow and slick hills glisten in the sun.
When it snows the Blue Ridge Parkway closes. Its federal land and they literally lock it down. From my house I can only drive south as far as Rocky Knob Campground, which is where I was when I discovered a dad and his two daughters sledding.
It made me happy to see them, but I also felt nostalgic, remembering when I was a girl sledding down the Hull Village Cemetery hill with my brothers and sisters. We had radio flyer sleds with metal blades that we could steer. I called my sled Betsy because that’s what my mother named all our old second hand cars. She would talk to them on cold mornings, beg them to start.
When my sons were boys they would stay out sledding for hours in their green rubber boots from the thrift shop that never seemed to fit and with their plastic sleds that were hard to steer. A snow day always makes me think of reading to the kids when I worked in day care. I especially remember reading Ezra Jack Keats “A Snowy Day” with a boy name Peter in a bright red snowsuit on the cover.

Post note: LOOK.

February 3, 2009

Teapoets on Super Bowl Sunday

Camellia Sinensis and the Celtic Goddess Brigit. Seven women and a daughter. Scones and apple cobbler.
Crème de fresh and marmalade, red rooibos and Pu-erh carmel tea. Steeped in poetry, painting, and candlelight. Haiku oracles and stated intentions.
From the Gaelic Goddess Brigit and Imbolc to Christian Candlemas and Saint Brigit, patron of holy wells and sacred fires; fires of hearth, healing, forge, and poetic inspiration. The day marks the middle of winter and holds the promise of spring.
Teapoets on Super Bowl Sunday. Did the groundhog see her shadow?

February 2, 2009

He Gets a Kick out of Bricks

joshbricksx.jpg My Asheville potter son, Josh Copus, is a self-confessed brick geek. He collects found bricks, recycles old bricks, makes his own bricks, and builds wood fire kilns with bricks.

It’s been more than three years since he harvested a lifetime supply of clay from a tobacco farmer’s field, and more than two years since his UNCA thesis show that featured his wild clay pottery and several art installations made from his handcrafted bricks.

Now, in what Josh calls “a defining moment,” he has manifested an infinite supply of bricks, more than enough to build a couple more wood fire kilns on his Marshall County Community Temple compound, a three acre property that already houses the three-tiered Noborigama climbing kiln that Josh built. pipevbr.jpg Because of the Noborigama kiln, the property has already begun to be a destination for potters from all over the country.

A friend put Josh in touch with one of the owners of a major brick plant down south. Josh had just finished visiting the plant and was hauling a truckload of seconds (bricks slightly under company standards) back north to his property when he phoned me. “It’s an absolute goldmine, a shinning pile of light,” he said with excitement.

Describing the plant operation, he said, “The volume and operation is hard to fathom.” Twenty-four hours a day bricks of every shape and size you can dream up are made on train cars and fired in a train kiln the length of a football field, he explained.

Josh’s enthusiasm was contagious, as he expressed his liberating sense of support, gratefulness for having had the opportunity to talk shop with a fellow brick geek at the plant, and appreciation for the alignment that allowed the fortuitous turn of events. cbri.jpg His respect for the tradition of bricks was apparent.

“Nothing would have happened without bricks,” he said. I remembered the BFA show, the theme of which grew from a found clay pipe (power), a clay vessel (food) and a brick (shelter), and his12 foot tall and 20 foot wide brick wall that demonstrated the strength of a collective with the word INDIVIDUAL stamped on each one. Other bricks stamped with the word COMMUNITY continued the theme and reflected the name of the show, “Building Community.”

I thought about the role that clay has played in civilization, and then about the Industrial Revolution as Josh explained that the plant makes bricks that can withstand the high temperatures of furnaces.jshb.jpg They supply an aluminum smelting ore company and other industrial refractory plants, like those for making steel.

I jotted notes as he talked. His knowledge of clay and firing began to go over my head. Soon he was sounding like an alchemist/chemist using phrases like “melting points relative to partial size…” and words like “flux.”

“When they write the book, this will be a whole chapter,” Josh said with the excitement of a chocolate loving kid who had just visited the Willie Wonka factory. As far as he was concerned the cargo he was hauling could have been bricks of gold, or the gold at the end of a rainbow, payday for a few years of non-stop hard work.

Post Note: Click and scroll down HERE for archived stories and photos recording Josh’s career as potter, kiln builder, and ClaySpace Coop founder.