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March 31, 2009

Muses at Work

emilymusex.jpg Special THANKS and GOOD LUCK to Emily Brass (on the right) who has been raising the Floyd vibration with her music for many years and has been an invaluable member of our community newsletter (Museletter) layout staff. Emily, a social/political activist, is moving back to her hometown city of Montreal where she will be attending The School of Community and Public Affairs, majoring in Community and Public Affairs and Policy Studies and journalism. Her goal is to bring about positive world change, to put in action some of the lyrics of her originally written songs. She promises to return to Floyd for her Emily Brass Band gig at The Pine Tavern in August and to keep us posted about her adventures periodically through the pages of the Museletter.

Post notes:
I’ve been an Emily Brass Band dance groupie from back when they were called Foundation Stone and wrote about her HERE. Listen to her reggae psychedelic hippy hop sound HERE. For more about our 25 year old community homespun forum, The Museletter, click HERE. The photo is of Jayn and Emily putting the April Museletter together at my kitchen table this past Sunday. We named it “Blue Sky Moon.”

March 30, 2009

A Bowl of Kindness

On Sunday the daffodils turned their happy faces towards the sun, showing no sign of hangovers from the previous day’s constant rain. I passed a bed of them in front of the Jacksonville Center barn on my way to the second annual Empty Bowls, an international project to fight hunger, brought to Floyd by potter McCabe Coolidge and his wife Karen Day.
For $10 you pick out a bowl thrown by a local potter and fill it with homemade soup. Proceeds raised go to the New River Community Action Center’s Back Pack Project, which sends school children home over the weekends with backpacks full of food.
I arrived at 12:30. Judging from the turnout I thought I must have arrived during peak attendance, but McCabe told me it had been like that since the event started at 11:00. The house was packed. There were lines for bowls and lines for soup, made by the potfulls by volunteers. Attendance is “way up” from last year, McCabe said.
In the Hayloft Gallery, where the table of empty bowls was set up, the latest Jacksonville art show, The Earth is Our Home, was on display. Some people strolled through the gallery, enjoying the works, many of which had been made with recycled materials.
For a few minutes I felt like I was at the Academy Awards. Instead of asking others what designer’s clothes they were wearing, friends and neighbors asked each other ‘whose bowl is that?’ People turned over their bowls (that they took home at the end of the meal) looking for potter’s signatures. A Silvie Granatelli … a Carter Holiday … a Jayn Avery were some of the potters I heard mentioned.
I was too excited by the high-spirited community meal sharing and the turnout to be hungry. I didn't eat any soup but noticed how good it smelled. I don’t know who made the bowl I chose because I couldn’t read the signature at the bottom. I dubbed it ‘the bowl of kindness’ and visualized it full of miso soup for supper.

Note: Doug at Blue Ridge Muse also posted photos of the event.

March 28, 2009

As Wet as That

Spring sky weeps
into overwhelmed puddles
Hooded daffodils huddle
like drunks at a bar

March 27, 2009

A Gathering of Gardeners

4ssbwls.jpg~ The following was published in the Floyd Press news insert "Know Your County" on March 26, 2009.

The Seed Swap held at the Floyd Country Store on a recent Saturday was an encouraging start to making the event a yearly tradition. At the height of the two hour swap as many as thirty gardening enthusiasts mulled around several long tables where bowls filled with loose saved seeds had been placed.

Gardening magazines and other resources were available. Long time gardeners shared tips about planting, soil preparation, and dealing with garden pests with those who were new to gardening. Some attendees took notes.
The gathering was informal. At one point Ed Cohn, who organized the event, addressed the crowd, encouraging those who were interested to stay in touch by signing an email list. Cohn is co-director of Miracle Farm Bed & Breakfast Spa and Resort, which is also a sustainable living center and animal sanctuary

Collecting seeds in a small brown paper packet, Miriam Brancato said, "I can't wait to get in the garden." Others talked of being in the first stages of planning their gardens for spring.

On one table there was a written list of how long seeds can be saved for propagation, anywhere from two to ten years, depending on the type. swp2.gifSeeds can continuously be collected directly from non-hybrid plants that have gone to seed and be used for planting, bio dynamic gardener Florence Rewinski said.

Gloria Gerritz brought her vast flower seed collection to share. Set up at the corner of one table, hers was a popular gathering spot for gardeners attending the swap.

"I'm very pleased with how this has all gone," Cohn said. "There was a good variety of seeds and a diverse segment of the community came out."

March 26, 2009

At Least 13 Peepers

jcrp.jpg 1. This is my 180th Thirteen Thursday, so last week when I posted my 179th on Wednesday thinking it was Thursday, I blamed it on old age.

2. I also had jet lag. But I had no such excuse when I posted THIS 13 Thursday on Friday because on Thursday I forgot what day it was.

3. I wake up with blog entries like others wake up with dreams.

4. One day is along time in blog terms. Sometimes I get to thinking I’ll leave a post up for two days but then by the end of the day the post seems so old and I start thinking about something new.

5. On the first day of Spring I sent out a Jim and Dan Stories book order (the book I wrote about losing two brothers a month apart) to a woman whose last name was Sp(e)ring. You know who you are.

6. The house I grew up in was on Spring St. The number was 10 ½.

7. Peepers are the first sign of spring in my current neighborhood. THIS is what they sound like.

8. A spring peeper is a small chorus frog that lives in wetlands, marshes, and pond or swamp regions. Only males have the ability to make the loud high-pitched noise, and they use it to attract mates. On Martha's Vineyard, peepers are commonly called "pinkletinks"; in New Brunswick, Canada, they are called "tinkletoes." In parts of the American south they are (perhaps erroneously) referred to as "spring creepers." ~ Wikipedia

9. Listening to Barack Obama answer questions at Tuesday’s Press conference was music to my ears. It reminded me of the first time I heard Led Zeppelin (in 1969 at a little place called The Boston Tea Party) and how they would go off on multi-layered musical riffs that would utterly absorb me, and then bring it all back to the beginning, coming full circle in a way that surprised me, felt complete, and made sense.

10. Checking my Facebook account: Sometimes it feels too much like living on a street full of houses and looking out the window every time someone pulls up or drives away.

11. Today’s Soundtrack is HERE. I never realized how horns could sound so much like peepers.

12. After stumbling on a series of gorgeous spring flower photos on a blog entry titled “Take a Deep Breath Pollen Sufferers,” I left my comment: “Ah … (without the choo).”

13. What’s the first sign of spring where you live?

More Thirteen Thursday peepers are peeping HERE. My other TT's are HERE.

March 25, 2009

Four Some

Grandkids Rock
There’s No Place Like Om
Flight or Fright
A Penny for Your Thoughts

March 24, 2009

I Want a Spring Flower on My Front Page

crc.jpgWhile Joe prepares the vegetable beds, tilling in manure, I’m busy raking out my flower gardens, shamed to do so by the crocus blossoms peeking through last fall’s dropped leaves.

When it comes to our garden, Joe’s better at starting it. I’m good with the follow through, the planting and tending. My garden focus starts to fizzle by harvest time, about the same time I lose control of the weeds. But I hate wasting food, so I push myself through the harvest season (doing a little everyday for weeks), and I’m always glad when I do.

This year I’ve been inspired to break through my gardening inertia by Michelle Obama, who broke ground on the Spring Equinox for the first White House garden since FDR’s presidency.

Yesterday I interviewed my friend Tenley Weaver – a certified organic market gardener who co-owns a local food distribution business “Good Food for Good People” – for a story I’m writing. She ended the interview by saying, “This is the year of the garden.”

Today I got a phone call from my friend John, a Wall Residence foster care resident who sometimes spends weekends here. John was planning for a visit and wanted to know if any spinach had come up in my garden yet.

Between Michelle, Tenely, and John I’m starting to feel inspired, and in good company.

P. S. Thanks, Joe.

March 23, 2009

A Rubix Cube of Talent Comes Together

The Rubik Cube was invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture, Abraham Wolf Cherrix told the overflow crowd at March's Spoken Word night at the Café del Sol. Wolf followed that comment by announcing he would solve the puzzle in less than 3 minutes for his open mic reading slot. His friend provided a drum roll of sorts while another audience member kept track of time. The crowd erupted in applause when the Young Actor's Coop member triumphantly held up the completed puzzle in just under three minutes, causing one to wonder what might be next for the spoken word; jugglers, magicians?
Before reading his poetry, Greg Locke expressed his appreciation for being a part of such a special scene, where young people and older people come together and listen to each other. "I love this venue. People aren't just performing up here; they're opening up. This just doesn't happen. It should," he said.
16 readers signed up for 5 or 10 minute stage slots which ran from 7 to 10 p.m. with a break halfway through. Extra chairs were brought in from a neighboring venue to accommodate the crowd. Editor of Floyd County Moonshine Aaron Moore, who read an excerpt from his novel published in the latest Moonshine, announced that the summer issue of the literary and arts publication would be dedicated to Floyd writers. Submissions for the spring issue can be sent to floydshine@gmail.com before the April 30th deadline.
Props and poets, two storytellers, an original song sung acapella by young Kyla Robbins (listen HERE), a reading of The Raven, a poignant piece about the tragedy of mental illness, a tribute to a marriage and another to a friend, and even some printed out email jokes were shared.
Poet Mara Robbins read in conversation with fellow poet Rosemary Wyman before standing on the coffee table to deliver her dramatic performance of a poem written by slam poet/activist Andrea Gibson. Gibson recently performed at Mara's school, Hollins University. (Listen to Andrea HERE).
Roanoke Market vender Penny Lane told a story of being bowled over by love at the Market by a group of children who wanted to hug her goodbye after she led them in a sing-a-long with her guitar. Cheryl Spangler had the house laughing with her story of a kayak trip gone wrong. There was mention of a vampire, a banshee, a Snow Queen, Jesus, and a dysfunctional old boyfriend who had the gall to ask poet Gloria Gerritz, "Am I still in your will?"
You just had to be there.

Post notes: The third Saturday Spoken Word is a community outreach to promote the Spoken Word in the community. This Open Mic event is hosted by members of the Floyd Writers Circle and the Café del Sol in Floyd. The next Spoken Word will take place on April 18th at 7:00 p.m. All literary styles are welcome and beginners are encouraged to take a turn at the mic. Photos in order of appearance are: 1. Wolf Cherrix, Rubix master and the evening's emcee. 2. The crowd. 3. Aaron Moore. 4. Crowd. 5. Mara with Rosemary to her left. 6. Crowd. 7. Gloria reading.

March 21, 2009

Time Travel

bsw.jpgI’m standing on a patch of spring grass in the park with the sun on my back, pushing my 10 month old grandson Bryce in a swing. Little children are running around. Bryce giggles and kicks. Swinging high, he makes a funny face, has to catch his breath in the wind.

I’m swinging my grandson in the park. I say it out loud, waking myself to an alignment where my future is revealed as the present and I’m calling back to the past.

I’m swinging my grandson in the park. I don’t know how it happened, a beach town girl from Massachusetts, living in the country in Virginia, swinging her first grandchild in a park.

“Look. I’m swinging my grandson in the park," I say and everyone listens; the tiny girl who missed her daddy when he was stationed in the Quadraline Islands in 1952; the four year old girl in the wool snowsuit whose baby carriage was left empty when she lost her favorite doll; bcracpcn.jpgthe girl in the pink flip flops eating cotton candy at Paragon Park (We spent all our money and had to walk the 5 miles home and my flip flop kept coming apart.); the girl in the plaid clam diggers posing with her big family at a cook-out down on the Cape; the young woman who danced every weekend at The Surf Ballroom, liked boys, and went to four proms; the South Shore day care teacher who pushed little four year olds in swings, read them stories, and made play-dough pies; the woman who bore her own two precious boys and loved every moment of raising them; the jewelry maker who bought her own home with money earned vending Grateful Dead concerts; the one who married the love of her life on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1997; the writer who writes her life down.

So this is it. Here I am now. I’m swinging my grandson in the park.

Post note: I think the squeaky swing hypnotized me for this time trip. Video clip "The Next Best Thing to Flying" of Bryce's reactions to swinging is HERE.

March 20, 2009


Crowned Oracle
At the Lover’s Threshold
Spring is Her
Open Doorway

The Empress represents the Earth Mother, an abundance of the feminine nature of creation and nourishment. ~ From the Motherpeace Tarot.

March 18, 2009

13: Turning the Page

13pge.jpg 1. In addition to Floyd’s new literary and art magazine. Floyd County Moonshine, we also now have the Republic of Floyd (featuring the Floyd Enquirer), which spoofsayer Tom Ryan has coined as a “literary enema.” Tom writes about the lighter side of Floyd with a bite. See HERE.

2. Talk Show Host Bonnie Hunt has a white mug with prominent black 13 printed on it. I wanted to get a picture of it off the TV. I was waiting for her to move it, because the number was off center, when my nephew Patrick pointed out the 13 on a book in my mother’s bookcase (pictured above), so I snapped that instead. My mother looked at me strange when I told her I collected 13’s but Patrick thought it was as normal as apple pie.

3. What do you do when you’re on a plane and the person sitting next to you spills his arms and elbows over into your seat and doesn’t seem to notice?

4. Why do we say ‘can I borrow a Kleenex or a cigarette?’ as if we will give it back?

5. Speaking of Kleenex: The doctor, who was wearing a white lab coat, spoke in an English accent, which gave his announcement a sense of formality and made the distance between his reality and mine seem more dramatic. A woman was with him, also in a white lab coat, holding a box of tissue. We were in the Intensive Care Unit, next to Dan’s room, and nurses in green scrub suits were walking by us. I was trying to figure out where I could go to get away from what he was telling me. I wondered why he hadn’t taken me to a private room to tell me such devastating news. Dan only had a 2% chance of living; they weren’t going to perform liver transplant surgery with those odds, he said. The words 2% were the equivalent of a death sentence, but he spoke them as though he were giving me the fat content of a carton of milk. ~ Read “A Box of Kleenex” in its entirety HERE.

6. There’s a backroom activity going on with this blog that most readers aren’t likely to be aware of. Several of my past posts on losing a loved one (written in 2005) continue to get comments from people who land on my site from related searches, continuing the ongoing conversation about grief and loss, which began when I first started blogging, after writing The Jim and Dan Stories, a book about losing my two brothers a month apart. See HERE and HERE.

7. There are 31 billion google searches every month. In 2006 it was 2.7 billion. A week’s worth of New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century. More "Did you Know?" HERE.

8. There were two oddball things I googled for my mother when I was recently visiting her in Hull, Massachusetts. One was “blade steak” (a cut of beef I got from her freezer and cooked for us and one which she said she grew up with), and the other was “giraffe.” She was telling me that a mother giraffe drops its baby while standing up (probably during the time she was complaining that the pain of shingles is worse than childbirth). We wanted to know if a giraffe lies down when it sleeps. It does.

9. Snacking at Gate B22 in Tennessee while waiting to board a plane to Greensboro, North Carolina, my bag of rye crisp crackers dumped over and crumbs spilled out in a big pile on the floor, making me wish that the travelers whizzing past me were rolling vacuum cleaners, but of course they were suitcases on wheels.

10. Written in the margins of a book above Greensboro: Surfing a wide open field of snow in an arctic sky of cumulus clouds, I need sunglasses. First blinded, then blind, I watch from the window as the plane’s sliver tip dives through the ghostly white in a wipe out. Immersed in an avalanche of breakers, there are no landmarks to show the way or any guarantee that we will come up for air, that we will ever see land again.

11. LOOK what I just found! Bonnie’s 13 mug turned the right way.

12. Tidbit borrowed from Kenju: My name was Susan Frame. I am a lawyer. I met and married Robert who is a banker. His surname is Mee. Now we are Sue Mee, a lawyer, and Rob Mee, a banker - ironic? I have taken no end of stick for this, believe me. More stranger than fiction names HERE.

13. While I was away Joe babysat for Bryce twice and sent me a few videos to hold me over. THIS is my favorite. Check out the tongue.

Safe travels to more 13 Thursdays HERE. My Thirteen Thursday archive is HERE. #178

March 17, 2009

St. Patrick’s Buffet

shrofery.jpg My Grandmother came to America to be a servant … and then have 11 children for the Catholic Church … “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” ~ From a 2007 Poetry Reading where I make use of an Irish brogue while reading my poem, titled “My Grandmother’s Brouge.” Hear it HERE.

Although writing language down can be likened to trying to possess a butterfly, the Irish, steeped in the oral tradition of their poets, bards, and druids, embraced written language once they were finally exposed to it. To the Irish, who were said to have invented rhyme, language was a living entity and the alphabet was magical. ~More on the Irish and language HERE.

When I went to Ireland in 1997 to visit my grandmother’s hometown, I learned more about myself there than I could have in 10 years of psycho-therapy. The majority of the Irish people I met reminded me of my own family. I saw the faces of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings in their faces. And that’s not all. The Irish tend to be unpretentious, playful, tender-hearted, nostalgic, self-directed, and not overtly ambitious. They are often self-deflecting, something that can be endearing but it can also border on an inferiority complex. And I thought these traits were unique to my own family. ~ From Thirteen O’Thursday HERE.

“Say Green!” someone called out as Max Charnley snapped a photo of spoken word performers at the Café Del Sol this past Saturday night. Because the Open Mic, scheduled every third Saturday, was on St. Patrick’s Day this month many in attendance were donned in green clothing. I wore a sage green sweater that was purchased in Ireland and had the word “Blarney” sewed in the tag. “I don’t know whether blarney refers to a bunch of baloney or the gift of eloquence. It’s probably something in between,” I joked. ~ From Say Green! More HERE.

In the name of the Mother … the Sun and the Holy Wells … Ireland is a green kite … let go by the fairies … Landed in the ocean … and anchored by rock. ~ Read the whole “Ireland Loves Me, She Loves Me Not” poem HERE.

When Kathleen arrived, we questioned her choice of green, a pale mint, but she redeemed herself when she proudly pointed out the family heirloom pinned to her vest. It was an antique political button that said “Donal J. O’Callaghan, Mayor of Cork” with a black and white photo of the mayor himself. ~ From “The Charlie’s Angels of Scrabble: Play one for St. Patrick,” HERE.

Photo: The Harbor Express Ferry from Hull to Boston’s Logan airport was decorated for St. Patrick’s Day.

March 16, 2009

A Beach Batch

1. Dunes and Dudes
2. Sleeps Like a Log
3. Couple’s Only
4. Beach Attire

March 15, 2009

Joggers, Dog Walkers, and a Beachcombing Blogger

Here in Hull at my mother’s house, the landmarks of my life are the pieces of litter I pass on my daily beach walks that have been washed up from winter storms – the plastic dish detergent buoy, a single abandoned Christmas tree, an array of lost and tattered toys, cups, shoes, and gloves.
From Nantasket beach you can see three lighthouses (Graves, Boston, and Minot) and can watch low flying planes navigating in out of Logan airport. At low tide the beach is like a wide open track for joggers, dog walkers, and beachcombers like me.
When I walk I expect to see dogs chasing sticks and joggers plugged in to their ipods. What I don’t expect to see is a 4 foot plastic alligator or hydrangea blossoms blown from nearby yards skipping on the shoreline like tumbleweed. I don’t expect to see so many sad deflated balloons tied to colored ribbons tangled on the beach.
I like the way the finest sand collects like snow drifts. Dunes with a few tufts of sea grass growing in them remind me of a desert. Sunken footsteps look like those of astronauts who have walked on the surface of the moon.
A plastic bag carried by a sea breeze scoots in fits and starts like a sandpiper along the water’s edge. A woman walking her dog pauses. “He likes people,” she says as the dogs sniffs near me and wags his tail. I smile and say hello but don’t stop long enough for petting.
Bored with snapping more photos of unlikely litter, I’m on a new mission, filling my pockets with shells to send to my Asheville potter son Josh. “We need shells for the next firing,” he said when he called, explaining that they use shells as props, to separate pots in a loaded kiln. Shells are mainly calcium with a residue of salt from the sea. When a shell flashes to vapor in the kiln the sodium leaves interesting marks on the pots, my alchemist potter son tells me.
Josh was hoping for scallop shells or something with ridges but all we have in Hull is quahogs, the kind we painted as kids and used for ashtrays when we left home to get our own apartments. There is also an endless supply of common mussels in shades of dark blue-purple, but having grown up with seeing them constantly they hardly register now and I rarely include them in my collections. Today, I stuff a few in my pocket. I wonder what kind of vapor flash a wood fired purple mussel shell will make.

March 13, 2009

“You Can Quote Me”

My very first blog entry appeared online on March 12, 2005. In honor of that I’m posting a collection of excerpts on blogging from entries written over the past four years.

When something exciting happens and my husband Joe hears me say, “Now that’s something to write home about!” he knows it means I’m going to blog about it.

Blogging brings out my nutty professor side and appeals to the record keeper in me. I consider my blog to be my writer’s petrie dish, my lab where new work is developed and sometimes launched from.

My blog is the driving force behind my writing. It’s the place where everything starts, the day to day marriage between my love of the written word and my love of record keeping. If my published writing was a theatre film, my blog would be the DVD, with special features, links to follow, and posted outtakes.

Since blogs have become popular, there’s been an ongoing public dialogue about their purpose. For the most part, I see them as a modern twist in the ancient art of storytelling. Once an entirely oral tradition, storytelling today is done in a variety of ways. Storytelling venues keep changing, but the reasons for telling stories remain the same. They’re told to preserve culture, to instill knowledge and values, to inform, entertain and socialize. Human beings are a story telling species. We are known by our stories, and our stories are what remain once we are gone.

The hardest part of Guerilla Blogging is finding your cursor when the daylight casts a glare on your computer screen. You’ll need to learn how to balance your lap top while riding a bike, turn your laptop carrying case into a makeshift mouse pad, and be ready to pick up and move at a moment’s notice when the wireless signal gets low. There will likely be gnats and other bugs to contend with and discomfort from sitting on the ground. And don’t even try guerilla blogging if you can’t get used to being stared at by people walking or riding by. Some will stop and ask what you’re doing. Be prepared to explain what blogging is. Some people still don’t know.

A blog is to a writer is what a wood shop is to a woodworker or what a studio is to an artist.

I may speak English, but I think in Bloggish – that ongoing internal conversation that when put down on paper amounts to writing. My Bloggish comes in blocks of thought, too short to be a commentary or even an essay, but just the right size for …a post.

Blogging is an act of self-sufficiency that isn't dependent on editors and publishers. Not only is it an immediate forum where you can develop your writing skills, I also believe that when you share your creative output, creativity grows larger in you.

I consider my blog to be a time capsule of my recent life, which I will print out and bind in a collection for my descendants.

With blogging, the small press just got smaller. My own blog is a one-man-band writer’s reality show. Not only do I get to write what I want, but I have some diverse and witty readers (many of whom are also writers) that inspire me and sometimes leave comments!

Sometimes I wish the word “blog” didn’t sound so much like “blob” and remind me of the 1958 movie (The Blob) staring Steve McQueen where something falls from outer space and gets stuck on his arm and then grows and grows until it covers his body. It’s good for blogs to grow – more readers and posts everyday – right? It’s not going to take over my life – right?

As a writer, my blog gives me the opportunity to break down my body of work into digestible bite size pieces. About a week’s worth of posts will fit on one page at any given time. I think of them like a 7 course meal. I like to have a variety of short and long entries highlighted with a photo or two, a quote here, a link there, and a poem for those who have room for dessert. Sometimes a post is meant as an appetizer to whet one’s palette for a future main course, and often the entries (knowingly or not) are loosely related or compliment each other in some way. After preparing and serving up my own offerings, I frequently go to someone else’s site to see what they’ve been cooking up.

And lastly, my favorite: I can’t help wondering if I had been jogging instead of blogging these past four years how fit I might be now.

Post note: To read an essay I wrote on blogging that aired on WVTF a few years ago and was also published in the Hull Times, click HERE.

March 12, 2009

13 Snowball Moon

sndb133l.jpg 1. Snow looks out of place on a sandy beach and some sand on beaches looks like snow.

2. Sometimes while driving downhill on the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, my car feels like a pin ball falling down the bottom of the game. Then, as if being flicked by a flipper, I’m back climbing up a hill.

3. I grew up playing pinball machines and still remember when the machine would TILT, sort of like a computer freezing up today. I also remember Pong and Pacman, two of the first video games.

4. Winter on Nantasket Beach: The ice cream truck is a snow plow.

5. The best place to pick up the internet in my mother’s house (where I’m helping out while she recovers from shingles) is in the middle of the bed in my father’s room. He passed away in 2005.

6. I had a dream that my brother Danny (who died in 2001) was dying again and we went to be by his side.hssu1n.jpg He died in the afternoon but continued to move around and seem alive. We were told that it was just a reflex reaction, and even though he was supposedly dead we didn’t want to leave him while he was still acting alive. In real life we left my brother’s body too soon after he passed. He was technically dead buy I knew more was still going on.

7. I’m easily disorientated when out of my own surroundings. Packed in plastic bags for easy travel, my tryptophan capsules that I take when I can’t sleep look just like my multi-vitamins. All I have to do is take one tryptophan instead of a vitamin at breakfast and I’m napping by10 a.m.

8. The only thing I can figure as to why walking the beach in winter isn’t as much of a high as when I do it in summer is that in winter I have shoes on.

9. Stuff we’ve tried to ease the pain of my mother’s shingles: DMSO, apple cider vinegar, jewelweed lotion, and Benadryl lotion. Everything helps but nothing cures as well as time.

10. Curious about the two kinds of shingles, the disease and the roofing material, I did a little research and learned that the first shingles—the inflammatory skin disease caused by latent Chicken Pox virus – comes from words that mean girdle (cengles, single, chingle, cingulus) because of the rash that tends to extend around the middle of the body. Roofing shingles comes from scincle (1200), a small piece of wood, or shindalmos, a splinter.

11. A Simpson snowball fight game is HERE. My best score was 25.

12. My directorial debut: I wish snow shoveling was THIS easy.

13. On Monday the almost full March moon in Massachusetts looked like an oversized snow ball in a wintery mix but the next day when it warmed up and the snow melted the moon did not.

If you play 13 Thursday, honk HERE.

March 10, 2009

The Sea Side

Glow Tide
Speed Bump
Soda Pop
Surfing a Virtual Net

Post note: Nantasket Beach Walk #1 can be found HERE.

March 9, 2009

American I’dHull

1. The Audience
2. The Peanut Gallery
3. The Judges

Post notes: Just another Sunday afternoon at my mom’s house in Hull, Massachusetts. Pick your favorite American I’dHull performance HERE.

March 7, 2009

I Fell for It

And Sinker

Post note: First beach walk upon arriving at my mother's house on Nantasket Beach in Hull (MA) where I'm helping out while she recovers from shingles.

March 6, 2009


redtp.jpg Flying above a white wonderland with a crook in my neck from dreaming too far to the left, I’m trying to discern between the snow-peaked mountainous terrain and the clouds. This fairy tale is set above Lapland. The sound of the plane engine is like an ogre snoring.

Looking out at the red tipped wing and then down, I smile at the snake of waterways winding their designs, not linear like the straight square roads that men make. Do we really need a sign on the wing saying NO STEP. Does anyone really walk on a plane wing?

The sky is painted colors of a child’s nursery, blue and pink. The plane seems to be hanging stationary in mid air like a mobile over a baby’s crib. Where is the string? The ceiling?

It occurs to me that I’m wearing the black band watch (a birthday present) I lost as a girl swimming at the yacht club. The clock face was big then because I was learning to tell time. Now I’m older and just trying to see the numbers, trying to understand how it is we are floating as if in a dream above the mundane routines of life, as if we were gods. Does a girl below look up and see us?

The cabin is set on fire with setting sunlight before an eerie haze of dusk descends and city lights make trails of gold. Igloos warmed with camp fires. Little children being tucked in. Stories are being read.

Everyone is quiet as the giant silver plane tips and tilts. And we don’t fall out.

~ Scribbled in no particular order on the back cover of a book, Way of the Mystic.

March 5, 2009

13 The Meltdown

13mel.jpg1. Last week my cursor starting typing everything backwards – from right to left. It felt like driving a car around that would only go in reverse.

2. Looking out the window after just waking up, I thought it had snowed before realizing that white tail deer fur was scattered all over the yard compliments of our dog Jasmine.

3. And then it really did snow, so much so that my flight to Boston was canceled.

4. This was a comment I left at Netchick’s Meet and Greet when my cursor was cursed: !! sdrawkcab gnihtyrve gnipyt si rosruc yM

5. Take the S out of CURSE and you have a CURE.

6. You can build a Ben and Jerry’s snowman HERE

7. But THIS one is better with 25 hats and more to play dress up with.

8. Speaking of ice cream: Occasionally there are perks that come with doing interviews for stories. In the past couple of years some of mine have included a CD, a facial, a concert ticket, and a cotton grocery bag. Lately it’s been dairy products. I was gifted some cheese while working on a story about a local cheese maker. That was followed by a story on a creamery in which Butter Crunch ice cream was involved.

9. The cheese maker story that I wrote for Natural Awakenings of Southwest can be read at their online site (click on magazines and March) complete with sound effects as you turn the page HERE.

10. When I was a kid I distinctly remember worrying about Peter Rabbit getting caught in Mr. McGregor's garden and about Frosty the Snowman melting. I was glad when SHE melted though.

11. As a child I was very taken by the Hans Christian Anderson story The Snow Queen. The combination of it being a deeply layered fairytale with the fact that it was the only story I remember my father reading aloud to me made it a formative experience, which is probably why it showed up later in poetry.

12. A broken piece of glass embedded in our sight … holds us hostage to bitterness … Shame cuts // as does a sharpened wit or pen … slash by slash the Druid’s Ogham … worn by time tells the story … He was saved from the Snow Queen … because somebody loved him … and because he finally was able to cry … out the glass // which was really a mirror … But his red shoes remain lost … down the river … I didn’t know then that my ancestor’s had no shoes … I didn’t learn that in school ~ From The School of Higher Learning, a 1999 poem about my Irish ancestry.

13. Unlike me THIS Loose Leaf Notes blogger is not very talkative.

Go HERE before they melt.

March 4, 2009

Josh of All Trades

bplnt.jpgSometimes on weekends my Asheville potter son Josh buses tables at a restaurant named Table. As a working artist with school loans, he's learned to make a living in a variety of ways and has become what I call a "Josh of all trades."

In one recent week he transported a load of brick seconds 400 miles on Monday, was hired by a friend to haul sod around in a trailer on Tuesday, did a pottery demonstration and a slide show lecture at Haywood Tech (one of the places he went to school) on Wednesday, volunteered his time teaching 3 classes at the Madison County Middle School on Thursday, made pottery and manned the gallery at the Clayspace Coop he founded on Friday, and bused tables at the Table for Valentine's Day (one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants) on Saturday. brp.jpg

A few days later he called from the road while making his sixth trip home from the brick plant down south where he's been hauling seconds to his Madison County property. He fired off these stats: 6 trips, 4 pallets a trip, and 400 miles each way.

Bricks are made in kilns made of bricks. As a potter who wood fires in kilns made of bricks Josh values and uses a lot of them. He's handmade his own on occasion but these plant seconds are firebricks in a quantity that Josh could never hand produce. After six trips back and forth to the plant, he now has enough (and then some) to build two new kilns on his Community temple compound to compliment the 3 chamber Noborigama kiln. Why so many kilns?

Every type of kiln creates a different product, Josh says, and a smaller one is needed for smaller firings. Josh and one his Clayspace mates are planning to build two different shaped single chamber kilns this summer and teach an immersion kiln building workshop as they do. treadlecon.jpg Eight students will be chosen by letters of intent and informal interview. There will be a nominal fee for lodging, but the workshop will be free, Josh said, adding, "I want people like me five years ago to come to this workshop."

"What an opportunity. I bet you wish you came across something like that when you were starting out," I said.

"I did. That's why I'm doing it," he answered.

Post notes: Read "He Gets a Kick out of Bricks" for background to this post. Photos above are of Josh at the Brick Plant and him building a treadle wheel. Read more about the summer kiln building workshop, dubbed The Carolina Kiln Build HERE.

March 3, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway Snow Hike

With more than eight inches of snowfall on the Parkway there was no chance of flying to Boston today (where I was due to help my mother who is recovering from shingles). There was no chance of even driving into town.
All trips and blog posts have yielded to the weather. So have the weighted branches of trees laden with a mix of ice and snow.
Joe had to help me pull on my big L. L. Bean boots (which I haven’t worn in approximately 10 years), over my wool mukluk slippers. The ordeal reminded me of all those past years of dressing kids for snow, first my younger siblings, then the kids at the daycare where I worked for many years, and later my own two boys. Once outside we saw that our cabin was hidden under a canopy of snow filled trees. Sadly, a favorite dogwood tree in the Narnia part of our yard had cracked in half from the weight.
Jasmine, our chow, got to play sled dog, forging a path ahead of us during a mile long hike in the snow.
While hiking, I did some investigative reporting while Joe, the hunter, kept his eyes open for animal tracks. We found some rabbit ones (two long feet side by side from hopping) that led straight into a hole in the trunk of a tree.
At the top of a ridge looking out onto Sugarloaf Mountain we enjoyed the view down into Woolwine.
By the end of the hike my legs were tired from trudging in the winter wonderland, but we also felt enlivened, like two kids on a snow day vacation. Returning to our cabin with smoke coming out of the chimney was like returning to our mountain chalet. With boots, socks, and coats hanging from the clothes rack by the woodstove, we remembered what winter is meant to be and what we had been missing about it.

Post note: Watch a clip from our mountain hike HERE. Boston is penciled in for later in the week.

March 2, 2009


Snow Gets a Green Light
Black Top Turns White
It's Fur Coat Weather
That’s All She Wrote