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April 30, 2009

A 13 Blow by Blow

jimihendrix.jpg1. Last month I reported being on the gum diet, how I picked up an old habit of chewing and snapping and getting a general jaw workout whenever I felt snacking.

2. But my bubble has burst: Not only have I not lost any weight, I just remembered why I quit chewing gum in the first place. It’s called aspartame.

3. Aspartame, the low-calorie chemical used to sweeten diet sodas and gum, has been linked to brain tumors and lymphoma in rodents. The Food and Drug Administration has certified the sweetener's safety, but reported side effects include dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, memory loss and mood changes and more.

4. Did you know that studies show that drinking diet sodas actually causes weight gain?

5. These days bad is good, hot means cool, and people spend a lot of time and expense on hairdos that look like they just woke up.

6. Why am I not surprised that aspartame was first introduced by Monsanto, the company that has been threatening our human right to grow food with their genetically modified seeds that can’t be saved and replanted. Read more about their evil plan to control the world’s food supply HERE.

7. I saw my first Indigo Bunting of the season and my dear friend Alwyn recently had a commentary published in the Roanoke Times titled Living in a World Without Songbirds: We live in a critical and defining moment in human and Earth history, but one that I believe offers us an opportunity to rethink our way of living and our relationship to nature. Simply patching up our sick economy with its focus on growth and consumerism is no solution because it ignores the fact that we cannot have prosperity on a planet whose resources are being drained by unlimited exploitation of its essential resources.

8. My 11 month old grandson is funny. He likes to try on hats and shoes and sometimes he puts hats on his feet and shoes on his head.

9. Attention seeking Grandmother gets too much botox HERE.

10. Kazoo lips aren’t the only trick I have up my sleeve or on my head for getting my grandson’s attention. Look if you dare HERE.

11. I once played the Jew’s harp (no relation to Judaism) back-up at a recording session for my friend Starroot. I think it was before CD’s.

12. Imagine making a living as a kazooist? Kazooist Barbara Stewart is a classically trained singer who has written a book on the kazoo, formed the "quartet" Kazoophony, performed at Carnegie Hall and appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

13. Soundtrack for this post is Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic, chosen for his use of the kazoo. Listen HERE.

More playing 13 Thursday HERE.

April 29, 2009

A High Note

Flirty moon
with a crescent grin
I thought I saw
it wink


April 28, 2009

It's in My Nature

1. Screen Saver
2. Eye Opener
3. Attention Seeking Grandmother

Photos: 1. At the Blacksburg Duck Pond. 2. Tulip in my yard. 3. Sunday's Chateau Morrisette Winery Open House with Bryce and his mom and dad. The spare lips are also a kazoo and not the only thing I tried to get Bryce's attention. See the video clip HERE.

April 27, 2009

Yeah, That About Sums it Up

The Coming Together of Cultures in Floyd

Post notes: The above is a photo of postcards in a sale rack at a local Floyd coffeehouse. It was published in The Floyd Press "Know Your County" newspaper insert HERE.

April 26, 2009

The Coming Together of Floyd’s 16 Hands

1polshens2.jpgThe following was published in the Spring/Summer issue of The Compass, a Floyd visitor’s guide.

“In Floyd the anachronism of buying things locally is not some progressive trend but rather the continuation of rural tradition.” ~ Haden Polseno-Hensley, Vennue magazine

Red balloons marked the dirt driveway from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the pottery studios of Donna Polseno and Rick Hensley for the 10th annual 16 Hands Fall Studio Tour. Polseno and Hensley, both members of the 16 Hands collective, were some of the earliest pioneers in a new wave of artists coming to Floyd County during the back-to the-land movement of the 1970’s.

Looking for a place to live and make pottery, the couple found Floyd while on their honeymoon in 1974. Polseno remembers being impressed by the rolling mountain views of the Parkway overlooks, but it was the country hospitality that convinced her to settle down in the county. “The people here were so friendly,” she said.

Standing next to one of her unglazed ceramic sculptures dp.jpg – a shapely feminine form with raised arms balancing a clay basket on her head – Polseno explained that the 16 Hands Tour was loosely modeled after a larger pottery tour in Minnesota. When the group of close-knit friends who represent 16 Hands realized they were doing separate local shows at the same time of year, they decided to pool their efforts. Each renowned as an individual artist, the members drew up a self-guided map brochure and opened their collective studios to the public for a weekend tour in November and another in May. Later, the three Floyd studios – along with one at a Blacksburg location – began hosting visiting artists, some of whom have come from as far away as Mexico and Italy to participate in the tours.

A mix of old friends, a couple of pottery collectors, and some new tour goers sipped hot herb tea and mingled in Polesno’s old barn studio during the Thanksgiving weekend tour. Guest potter Josh Copus finished wrapping one of his wild clay pots for a customer. Copus, founder of Clayspace Coop in the River Arts district of Asheville, grew up in Floyd. For him being invited to show work with the Sixteen Hands artists was an honor and a homecoming. “Rick was my little league coach,” he said with a broad grin.
Gazing into one of Rick Hensely’s porcelain bowls or platters is like looking into an oracle where images of painted leaves seem to spin like pinwheels telling mythical stories. Hensley’s work was on display in the Hensely-Polseno Pottery Showroom, which at one time was a General Store, complete with gas pumps out front. Hensley himself was taking a break to make some quick cleaning adjustments to the family’s farmhouse chimney. It had backed up and pushed smoke into the house earlier in the morning, his apprentice’s girlfriend reported. Such is the nature of a country tour.

On the Route 8 side of town, Silvie Granatelli’s home and pottery studio sits on a hill overlooking the Little River. Her showroom full of porcelain tableware elicits a sense of delight that makes one want to throw a dinner or tea party. Granatelli, who went to school with Polseno, first became interested in Floyd when she visited to buy a pug mill (a machine that removes air from clay) from Hensley.

Developing an artistic skill that will warrant acclaim and building a studio business to the point of it becoming a destination, as the members of 16 Hands have done, is hard work. 4sg3.jpg Granatelli attributes some of the success of the 16 Hands members to starting out in a rural place where it was affordable to live. “I don’t think we could have accomplished what we have without that,” she said. She spoke of the members’ friendships, saying “We grew up professionally together.” Over the years the group has bought clay together, accessed craft shows, and generally supported and inspired each other, Granatelli said.

Three miles past Granatelli’s place, beyond the river frontage and an uphill winding road, more red balloons hung from trees, marking the half-mile state maintained road that dead-ends onto the homestead and studios of Ellen Shankin and Brad Warstler. Shankin, a potter, and Warstler, a woodworker, came to Floyd in 1976 with a friend whose boyfriend lived in the county. That relationship didn’t last but Shankin’s and Warstler’s affection for Floyd did. “It was late spring and the rhododendrons were in bloom,” Shankin wistfully remembered.

Floyd’s Old Mill Coop, which would later become The Harvest Moon Food Store, was also a draw for Shankin. It represented “people with interests like mine,” she said. 5ellens.jpg Her earth-toned stoneware conjures scenes of warm hearth, filled cupboards, and families gathered around kitchen tables. Her work compliments her husband’s fine wood pieces; lamps, mirrors, clocks, tables, and even kitchen rolling pins.

The mastery of the 16 Hands artists has earned them the dedication of collectors and repeat customers, along with about 70 new names for their mailing list from each tour, Shankin said. Floyd Countian Annie Guppy, who takes the 16 Hands Tour each fall, greeted Shankin with a hug. Shopping for Christmas gifts, she said, “Every one in my family has a piece. Each year they look forward to more.”

The combined degrees, published works, awards, and teaching experiences of the artists are impressive, but equally impressive is their community of friendship and the sustainable lifestyles they have chosen, the signs of which can been spotted on the tour in the form of raised bed gardens, honey houses, a hand water pump, a vineyard.16sign.jpg There are also signs of the children they raised together that are now grown or gone off to college.

The home studio lifestyle is one that redefines, or reclaims, “making a living” in such a way that home-life, art, and work converge. Most of the 16 Hands members don’t travel to craft shows like they did when their families were young, focusing their energies on studio sales, the tours, and part time teaching. Their current activities reflect the continuation and evolution of a model that has served them well for over twenty-five years. It’s a model that has the potential to sustain them for many more years to come. ~ Colleen Redman

Post Notes: The 16 Hands Spring Tour is scheduled for Saturday, May 2nd from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 3rd from 1 – 5 p.m. Visitors can pick up brochures around town or go to the 16 Hands website, www.16hands.com, for details. More photos of the tour are HERE.

April 24, 2009

Why Write?

I write because it’s the way I synthesize what I’m learning at the time.

I write because I hate to lose things and writing them down is a way not to lose them.

I write because on a good day, my pen is like a dousing stick that finds a well of meaning I can drink from.

I write because I’m curious to see what I’m going to say next.

I write to know and be known.

I write because I think when we leave this world only our stories endure. I might as well set the record straight.

Because I love language the way a mathematician loves numbers and a witch loves spells.

Because getting the right words in the right order is like figuring out the combination that opens a locked safe where unknown valuables are stored.

Because I’m a kinesthetic hands-on learner and writing is a good building project.

Because I can do it lying down.

I write to give my hand something useful to do.

I’m better at it than I am at talking.

Why do you write?

April 23, 2009

Thirteen Thursday Free Rent

lndlrd.jpg1. After 183 Thirteen Thursday’s I find myself wondering if there will ever come a Thursday when I have nothing left to say.

2. I also worry about the size of my blog. After four years of archives, I wonder how big can a blog get?

3. When I first started blogging I wrote this: 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?

4. Someone read in one of my recent 13 Thursday’s that my Obama bumper sticker was falling off my car and sent me a new one in the mail.

5. On Monday Joe and I woke up and discovered we had the same dream. We both dreamed of a dead body that we had forgotten about and when we remembered, even though we were innocent of wrong doing, we wondered how to explain it or dispose of it.

6. Early on in our relationship Joe and I frequently had the same dream. Once when I asked him a question in my sleep and he answered me out loud in real life (making perfect sense), it startled me awake.

7. Although I remember the first Earth Day in 1970, I had forgotten the circumstances of its origins, so I did a little research and found this on Wikipedia: Earth Day was conceived by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (June 4, 1916 – July 3, 2005) after a trip he took to Santa Barbara right after that horrific oil spill off our coast in 1969. He was so outraged by what he saw that he went back to Washington and passed a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth. Many important laws were passed by the Congress in the wake of the 1970 Earth Day, including the Clean Air Act, wild lands and the ocean, and the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

8. We can also thank him for this: In 1970 Senator Nelson called for Congressional hearings on the safety of combined oral contraceptive pills, which were famously called "The Nelson Pill Hearings." As a result of the hearings, side-effect disclosure was required for the pill in patient inserts – the first such disclosure for a pharmaceutical drug.

9. Sean Penn in Rolling Stone on Bush leaving the White House and why his administration to be held accountable: I truly think the man should be imprisoned for the rest of his life. I know that sounds like some lefty thing, but I think the state of accountability is a sham. When Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, a lot of people were upset about it, but when Ford died, these Democrats who’d once criticized Ford for that pardon suddenly had these revisionist opinions: “We need to be unified.” But long term, do you think Bush and Cheney would have gone to the trough like they did if Nixon had gone to jail? No.

10. Favorite Bumper sticker, as coined by Alice Walker: When the axe came into the forest, the tree said, 'The handle is one of us.'"

11. I still remember how shocked I was when as a little girl I first learned that we had to pay for our land, our home, and even water. My next fall from grace and innocence happened in 1957 at the Hingham Loring Theater watching Bambi’s mother be shot.

12. My childhood home was taken by our town through eminent domain and burned to the ground. Like our green house at 10 ½ Spring Street, the sewage plant building that now stands in its place faces the Hull Village Cemetery, the place we played and sledded as kids before it was so filled up with gravestones, the place where two of my brothers and my father are now buried. More HERE.

13. About the same time that the first Earth Day was happening I was radicalized by Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book.” Of course, I paid for it.

More Thirteen Thursdays are HERE.

April 21, 2009

The Earth is Our Home

Liz Stucki is a multi-medium artist and Wise Woman of Mama Lizardo’s fame (a former restaurant in Floyd). She draws, has made clocks and fairy houses, writes poetry, and is such a good cookie baker that I don’t waste my time on cookies unless they’ve been made by Liz. Liz’s exhibit (pictured above) at the new Jacksonville Center show, “The Earth is Our Home,” is called “Earth is our home, but we’ve violated our lease.”
This is what you see when you open the roof and look inside.
The 24 exhibiting artists present a variety of mediums with themes related to earth stewardship. Some artists used recycled materials in their pieces. Potter Jayn Avery’s “Nest” (pictured here) incorporates litter and makes a statement about it.
Laurel Song Cook’s “Web of Light” is off-the-grid electrified. The exhibit runs until May 17th. Learn more about the Jacksonville Center for the Arts HERE. Happy Earth Day.

April 20, 2009

Dead Orange

After my father died that winter
I let an orange in the fruit bowl go bad
I was curious to watch and hold it
as it decomposed

I expected it to rot
spread its blight
attract fat flies
But it only dried
into a hardened
sunken shell

It lives still in the corner
of my bedside table drawer
It looks like a fossilized breast
with a thumb print pressed
in its nipple-tipped center
a scar from when it was pulled
from its mother

It once held juice
a sweet and sour fruit
with seeds to be planted
to carry on its name
its brand and reputation

The backside is blackened
with a telltale mark
like a dented bumper
never fixed

Its color is still recognizable
exotic skin squished and frozen
It has no scent
or sound when I shake it

It could be jam
Or someone else’s orange
that was sadly never eaten

Kept in the dark
how long can it last?
What is it good for now?

~ Colleen Redman

April 19, 2009

Open Mic Highlights

One might have thought that April's Spoken Word would bring seasonal poems about spring, Earth Day, or even taxes. But what we got included a letter from Julius Caesar, some frolicking ferrets, a dead orange, and an adaptation of The Raven involving an appendectomy (quote the surgeon nevermore). Although, Neva Brown did return to the Café del Sol stage, reading a short story from her book with a side line theme of forest clear cutting, and I read my inch worth of poetic praise for forsythia.
We all rubbed our hands together and reported the results as Greg led us in an audience participation demonstration of a martial arts exercise designed to feel energy before reading his poetry. Gloria asked rhetorically, 'aren't all my poems about death, really?' before sharing hers.
One of the evening's highlights was a performance piece delivered by two members of the Floyd High School Forensics team, Bedelia Burris-McGrath and Kaya Norton (pictured). It was a poignant and tightly delivered dramatic scene from a play about Alice on LSD and her alter ego/witness, a talking stuffed rabbit from her childhood. Bedelia returned to the stage later to be a back up dancer (a jig in this case) for a friend who sang an Irish song. "If anyone has the urge to sing along, they can leave right now," the singer joked.
Another highlight was when Mara (second from right) led an impromptu group in an adaptation of a creative writing class exercise called The Stereotype Poets' Hall of Fame. She enlisted a stellar line-up of other readers who convincingly played the parts of Classic Poet, Beat Poet, Gothic Poet, Angry Poet, Secret Poet, Hip-Hop Poet, and Professor Poet.
A David Bowie song, the expansive shores of a king sized bed, and the image of young men swimming still linger. I left at 10:00 with readings still going on, so who knows what happened next.

Post notes: That's Stephania reading a comical short story about ferrets. For more pictures and narrative on Floyd's Third Saturday Spoken Word Night, click HERE and scroll down.

April 17, 2009

I Kid You Not

1.Maestro of Play HERE.
2. Sound Check
3. If the Hat Fits Wear It
4. You Can Make a Flower This Pretty, Click HERE.

April 16, 2009

13: Flower Power

13flwr.jpg1. Earth Day in Floyd has a blog. Read all about it HERE.

2. Another new blog in my blogsphere: My Asheville potter son Josh is following in his mother’s footsteps as a documenter. He just started his own (collectively written) blog for the Carolina Kiln Build, an immersion onsite workshop for building two new kilns on his Marshall County property … coming soon. Check it out HERE.

3. Lately I feel like I’m two timing my blog whenever I spend a lot of time on Facebook.

4. I recently got involved for days posting a Facebook “Through the Years” retrospect photo album of my life from babyhood till now. If you liked the Easter bonnets HERE, you like some of THESE old photos.

5. Last month I saw a fascinating show on evolution vs. creationism on PBS. I was surprised to see how proven the theory of evolution actually is and was so in awe at the miraculous process of it that I asked myself ‘why can’ that be God or at least part of God's miraculous creation?’

6. A neuroscientist responds to the millions who would say that there shouldn't be a connection between God and science, a clip from the Tavis Smiley show that Joe and I watched this week HERE.

7. Other online germinations coming to bloom: An excerpted version of the Museletter – the 25 year old Floyd alter-native community forum built on back-to-the-land flower power – is now online HERE.

8. The computer screen is a writer’s empty canvas. Printers ink is the paint.

9. Draw your own powerful colorful flower HERE.

10. A quote we used in the Museletter this month: Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment. ~Ellis Peters.

11. “I wake up with blog entries like others wake up with dreams,” a recent one liner from a past TT that was posted on Blogations HERE.

12. Joe and I have been waiting for a very late check to be delivered, which brings a whole new meaning when it’s time for our daily walk and I say to him “let’s go CHECK the mail.”

13. I like to post a blog entry late at night and wake up to comments.

More Thirteen Thursday blooms are HERE.

April 15, 2009

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids

healkid.jpg~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on April 9, 2009 and HERE.

“I call it ‘The New Math,’” said Harvest Moon store manager Katherine Chantal about the store’s “Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids” display. “1+1=3. For every two snacks donated by customers, the Harvest Moon donates one more.”

Healthy Snacks for Healthy for Healthy Kids, a local program that provides snacks for school children, began last April when Karen Day, a Unitarian Universalist minister and community organizer, became aware of a need.

“I was at a planning meeting of Angel’s Bounty to address hunger and needs in Floyd County and someone said, ‘I work in the school system and I know there are some kids who come to school without snacks,”' Day explained. She remembers thinking that bringing snacks to kids was a doable task to undertake. ‘We can do that,’ she said at the time.

Day and her husband, potter and writer McCabe Coolidge, began talking to their friends and neighbors. ‘I want to help with that,’ several people said upon hearing about the project.

The first contact Day and Coolidge made was with 1st grade Floyd Elementary School teacher Becky Thompson. “You don’t want to think about a kid without a snack when others have one. Becky and some other teachers were trying to fill the gap out of their own pockets,” Coolidge said, “buying snacks out of their own paychecks.”

Healthy Snacks received a $300 seed grant from Angels in the Attic. Jeweler Anne Vaughan matched that donation. 2karmc.jpgOthers donated crafts for sale to go to the program. When Chantal heard about it she put Coolidge in touch with the Cliff bar Representative who supplies The Harvest Moon with all natural organic energy bars. The company donated four cases of Cliff bars and the sales rep interviewed Chantal. They're interested in spreading the Healthy Snacks idea and sponsoring other locales, Chantal said.

Pointing out the emphasis on the word “healthy” in Healthy Snacks, Coolidge said, “These are healthy snacks. Were getting the idea out to kids what is healthy.”

Initially five volunteers took turns buying snacks – crackers and cheese, granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits – and bringing them to Becky Thompson. “There’s a supply in Becky’s room now and teachers know and come in and get snacks. Kindergarteners and 1st graders only have snack time, but sometimes a teacher from an older grade comes in and gets a granola for a kid that didn’t get breakfast that day,” Day explained.

By May of last year the Healthy Snacks volunteer team was providing 100 snacks a week to the school. Efforts were stepped up when a teacher asked Day if they could supply 100 snacks a day so that every kid could have one during SOL testing.’

Day and Coolidge, who came to Floyd from North Carolina three years ago, have a long history with food. “We’ve worked in soup kitchens, started soup kitchens. I was a cook in a day care,” Coolidge said. In Asheville the couple started an urban garden project and Day was active in organizing CROP Walks (Community Responding to Overcoming Poverty), a Church World Service initiative that raises money for anti-hunger programs.

In Floyd, Day and Coolidge head up Empty Bowls, a fundraiser that benefits the New River Community Action Center’s Backpack Program, which sends some school children home for the weekend with backpacks full of food. At the end of school last year, the couple launched “Portable Produce,” delivering surplus produce from local farms to “people with no cars, mostly seniors, people with disabilities, and children involved in health intervention programs,” Day said. 3thankycards.jpg

The Healthy Snacks program has also been funded by a cash donation jar at the couple’s Wildfire Pots Studio in the Winter Sun building. Primarily a pottery studio, the space gives the projects visibility. “People come in and look at the snacks display, read the press coverage posted, and start asking question,” Coolidge explained.

Wildfire is growing along with the food sharing. The couple is planning to knock out a wall and expand the studio into an adjacent room to give more exposure to the projects. They hope to raise enough money for a cooler for produce, and baking healthy snacks on site is a possible future option. The studio expansion will be unveiled and celebrated at the next First Friday event, which falls on May 1st.

“Both Healthy Snacks and Portable Produce started with no money. It started with people willing to drive and to help.” Day pointed out. She refers to the food related projects as neighbor to neighbor sharing that has developed naturally, step by step. Citing the generosity of the community for making the projects successful, she said, “What we like to do is find people who want to help and make it easy for them to.”

The Healthy Snacks volunteer pool has also grown. The program now includes all four county elementary schools. The children appreciate that. Some made handmade cards thanking the volunteers for the snacks. ‘Thank you for the dilishies snacks for helping us do our SOL, one colorful card read.

April 14, 2009

Green Sleeves

1. Reason to wear gloves in April: Stinging Nettles from my neighbor's farm.
2. On the move fast food. Look what else Bryce can do HERE.
3. Rip Van Winkle slept here.

April 13, 2009

Easter Tofu at Earthsong

Tofu tempura, miso soup, maki rolls, and salad were on the Easter meal menu on the last day of the Teen Meditation Retreat this weekend at Earthsong Farm. Wolf (teen who couldn't make the full retreat but is part of this community of young meditaters) and I got lost three times driving from Floyd to Patrick County for this tasty macrobiotic meal. We burned up a lot of calories backtracking and trying to figure out where we were, so we were hungry when we arrived.
The retreat features Walking Meditation, Sitting Meditation, and Kitchen Meditation, practiced with loving skill by Jagadisha and Linda (pictured).
Noble Silence, Small Discussion Groups and Workshops are also part of the schedule. One of the workshops the teens participated in was the building of a thatched roof wigwam (outdoor sleeping quarters). My camera ran out of batteries before I could get a shot of that, or of the whimsical bed springs arbor that leads to resident caretakers Emily and Cameron's home and gardens.
My husband Joe (one of the meditation teachers) and others at the farm had been working these past few weeks on getting the cabins ready for the event. They painted the Dharma Hall cabin - where sitting meditation, dharma talks, and a final day gratitude ceremony takes place - a "Tropical Essence" turquoise. Leah thought the cabins should be named, maybe by the paint colors. The girl's cabin was "Heather Mist."
Conversations were lively and the fellowship meaningful. Hugs were passed all around as teens, teachers, parents, and friends said their goodbyes, some promising to meet up again at the weeklong summer retreat in August. You can read more about Earthsong Organic Farm and Retreat HERE and MAYA (Mindful Awareness for Young Adults), the national organization that the Virginia branch of teen meditation retreats is part of, HERE.

April 12, 2009

The Ghosts of Easter Past

Easter at my Nana's House 1957: Me, Sherry, Kathy, Danny, Johnny, Jimmy (baby Joey was probably with my mom nursing), and Bobby and Tricia weren't born yet. Happy Easter to all!

April 10, 2009

My House Loves Butter

My house loves butter
It glows in spring with forsythia
With 1000's of lampshades dangling yellow
Bright bulbs illuminate April

April 9, 2009

13: Word to the Wise

132x.jpg1. I have never typed LOL (except for just now), but did type LMAO once. It was when I wrote that talk show host Bonnie Hunt had a 13 on her coffee cup and my sister Sherry told me in a comment that it was really a B for her name.

2. Poets are the nutty professors of words.

3. While in Blacksburg today I looked for my favorite word carved in the sidewalk on the corner of Draper and Jackson but found that it was worn to the point of being unrecognizable. What was my favorite word in cement? WORD.

5. Last weekend I provided care for a man with disabilities. I told him that after supper we would sit down and “catch up” but he heard Ketchup and got confused.

6. An alternative word for spring is boing.

7. I was recently scared by a dust ball the size of a gerbil under my phone table. Well, maybe the size of a mouse.

8. We just got a blast from the past, which means that winter blew and threw its weight around.

9. Speaking of blasts from the past, I find myself tuning in to those Time Life paid music advertisements as if they were favorite TV shows, especially the ones from the 60’s.

10. My Obama bumper sticker may be hanging off my bumper but I’m still attached to it. That’s what I told my husband when he asked me if he could just pull it off and I said ‘no.’

11. Not only has Obama begun to repair relationships with Muslims and rebuild ties with Turkey, he’s now the first U.S. president to hold Seder in the White House for Passover.

11. Some beautiful old country names for my collection, found in the local newspaper obituaries: Men: Vencil, Cephas, Sumpter, Gratton, Esker, Saford, Leston, Waller, Harless and Coy. Women: Arnedia, Nannie Belle, Hava, Hettie, Treva, Reneda, Lita, Daphina, and Essie.

12. And these words have not been taken: asofati, tenfig, cootat, veright, whan, dimpers (taken from blogger word verifications. I just know they have the potential to be real words).

13. In three words? To Obama? HERE.

More Thirteen Thursday words HERE.

April 8, 2009

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

A Fallen Star
A Close Encounter
An Eye Opener

April 7, 2009

The Old Church Gallery Quilter's Guild

2nmoore.jpg~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on March 26, 2009.

As the Old Church Gallery Quilter’s Guild membership has grown so has the size of their meeting locations. Formed in 1986 as a part of The Old Church Gallery, the quilters outgrew the gallery’s original Presbyterian Church location. They met at the Wilson Street gallery location, the Jessie Peterman library, the new Presbyterian Church, and then the Bank of Floyd Community Room. When the Community Room ceased to be available, the guild began holding their bi-monthly meetings at their current location, The Jacksonville Center for the Arts.

What began with twelve quilters in 1986 has grown to over seventy. Pauline Hodges, guild treasurer and a founding member says that national and international teachers are active members of the Floyd based guild. “The majority are not from Floyd. Members come from Winston Salem, Covington, West Virginia, Blacksburg, Meadows of Dan, Smith Mountain Lake, and Roanoke,” she noted.7libr.jpg

Still operating under the Old Church Gallery umbrella, the guild shares the gallery’s mission of preserving and showcasing local culture and art. According to the guild’s webpage, a second goal is “to establish a framework within which experienced and beginning quilters may learn from one another, sharing techniques and quilting advances.” Their bi-monthly meetings serve that purpose.

Hodges, a Floyd native who grew up with quilting, says that guild meetings draw an average attendance of about thirty members. Meetings are planned by an alternating program director and generally feature a short business portion, followed by a teaching demonstration, a workshop, or lecture. Once a month members participate in a “Show and Tell,” presenting their creative works to the group. ”3jdypaul.jpg

Recently the guild hosted Pennsylvania quilter George Sicliano for a lecture and a “trunk show,” which refers to the car trunk load of Sicliano’s fiber art that he brought to show. Male quilters are uncommon and there are no male members in the Floyd guild, Hodges said, but she remembers a male quilter from Asheville who was a quilt show judge.

“I don’t remember not quilting,” Hodges, said, explaining how quilts were “made from leftovers from what you sewed at home. In the past, dresses and quilts were also made from the feed sack bags that farm animal feed came in. Reproductions of feed sack bags and civil war fabrics are available today and used by some quilters, Hodges explained.

Born of ingenuity, quilting is an art that has adapted to modern times. “The majority of members use sewing machines but some do hand quilting,” guild president Karen Tauber said. “We don’t go down to the river and wash our clothes any more. We all have washing machines and are glad to have sewing machines.” 5kimsam.jpg

Tauber, who teaches quilting at the Blacksburg YMCA and organizes the yearly Blue Ridge Quilt Festival, remembers when guild founding member Effie Brown gave a presentation of her life’s work as a quilter and spoke about the old days of quilting. Brown, one of the eldest members, gave some advice, saying ‘if you want to do black quilt do it early in your career because later your eyesight won’t work.’

The guild has its own show in the Floyd Elementary School at the Woman’s Club annual Arts and Crafts Fair each October, displaying “over 150 entries from across the US which includes every sort of quilt from traditional to contemporary and ranging from large bed quilts, to miniature quilts, with an always impressive display of wearable art,” the guild website reads. Every year a guild member is featured and a show winner is chosen. The public is encouraged to enter their fiber art in this impressive annual exhibit.

Service work is also a guild activity. At a recent guild meeting member Kim Horne posted a pattern for making quilted bags to hang on the backs of walkers and wheel chairs for donation to area nursing homes.6qbrd.jpg Quilters who brought their sewing machines got busy cutting and sewing for the project. The guild has also donated collaboratively made quilts for fundraisers. Most recently they made and donated one to benefit the Jacksonville Center for the Arts.
Guild members have sold their quilts, won show awards, and have had their designs published in books. “But family comes first,” one member said. “I still have some of my grandmother’s quilts,” said Floyd native Jane Shank.

Quilting in Floyd is a part of its mountain culture, passed down through generations and through the help of guilds like the Old Church Gallery Guild. Although the guild has expanded beyond the county and draws from talent far and wide, its traditional roots remain.

As for the guild’s next location move, they hope it will take them full circle, reuniting with the Old Church Gallery, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary. “We hope to someday have our own space with a big room with the Old Church Gallery,” Hodges said. ~ Colleen Redman

Note: For more information about The Floyd Quilter’s Guild go to http://floydquilts.freeservers.com

April 6, 2009

Five Miles of Separation

womstc2.gif As a brain-based educator who developed an educational program on slavery, who speaks to her Avatar by way of meditation and facilitates group dialogue in communities, author Judy O'Brien has a stranger than fiction background.

The spiritual journey she recounts in her autobiographical book "The Way of the Mystic" is compelling, but I was even more gripped by how she applies what she learns to her everyday life. A crisis with her daughter who was adopted from China, a felled tree that killed a man and crushed her house, a pantomimed conversation with a clerk in Targets who directed her to an answer by way of sign language are all scenes that haven't left my mind since I read about them on an airplane headed to Boston a few weeks ago.

With settings that include a labyrinth in France, a temple in the jungles of the Yucatan, and the LOTUS/Light of Truth Universal Shrine in Virginia (which I went to the dedication of in 1986), Judy's dreams, visions, and waking life converge and unfold during her seven year long initiation into the "mysteries of the intelligence of the universe." Underlying the stories, involving dolphins, a horse, a confrontational question about her professionalism are themes of alignment, not taking life events so personally, following one's inner guidance, and opening to opportunities to use more than eyes for seeing.

What's even more "stranger than fiction" is that I know Judy. I know her because her background is similar to mine. She's my age and was raised in the same religion (Catholic) that I was in a town that borders my hometown. Less than five miles separated us as young girls whose paths crossed but never met.

I met Judy several months ago when she came to Floyd to help a mutual friend get a women's dialogue off the ground. Here's what Judy says in her book about the practice of dialogue, of which I am grateful to be a part of:

The reflection that the dialogue circle provides can be utilized as a fast moving current to move participants to the doorway to a transcendent awareness. Dialogue is talk that moves you forward!

A practice in dialogue is to assume that everything is, at least in part, construction of one's own making.

Think of a dialogue as a mindful conversation, a kind of meditation ... it is a kind of talking labyrinth, in which the opportunity exists to enter the unity at the center of one's Self.

Shamanic drumming... The Ark of the Covenant ... A Black Madonna ... A Dark Night of the Soul. Although I may sometimes put different words to my own transcendent experiences, Judy and I have been on parallel paths most of our lives.

I'm glad we finally met. And I'm glad she wrote this book.

Love, Wild Thing

April 4, 2009

Hold on to Your Potato Chips

blbrach.jpgLoud gusts of wind on the Blue Ridge Parkway sound like breakers on the shore. They make blades of grass quiver and hikers hold on to their hats. Spread out on a picnic blanket with my head propped on my bent arm, I watch a hawk surf the cloudless blue sky while my friend eats his bologna sandwich. He sits in a beach chair, passing me a plastic bag and then a napkin so they won’t blow away.

Tucking them into my jeans pocket, the nature of our conversation turns to food. What do you like better French fries or potato chips? Apple butter or peanut butter? Ham or bologna? He can’t decide. He likes them all.

After his lunch pail is empty and the hawk is long out of view, we walk back to my parked car at The Saddle overlook. He teaches me a happy song about walking in the sunshine that he and another friend like to sing when they walk.

Remembering another song about walking, I sing the chorus to Aerosmith's "Walk this Way" in my best heavy metal scream. A look of surprise turns into a frown. He lets me know he likes country better than rock.

Post note: I do respite care some weekends for foster care families, providing support to adults with developmental disabilities. You can read about my close encounter with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith HERE.

April 3, 2009

Going Green

Spreading the Wealth
Weeping Willow
The Other Side of the Fence

April 2, 2009

13 on a Wet Trampoline

bbulg.jpg1. I just got asked to a do a writing assignment via a Facebook Instant message.

2. So of course I asked the subject of the proposed interview in a Facebook Instant message if he want to meet me.

3. I named this week’s Thirteen Thursday for THIS video clip.

4. I recently read a list of “Top (111) reasons why I became a poet” by J. E. Peele on Pearl’s blog. My favorite reason to be a poet was: “I’ve arranged to have “orange” rhyme with hinge, flange, and strange.

5. I became a poet for the poetic license. It was either that or be a clown.

6. I like to sing the chorus to THIS song when I’m jumping on my trampoline.

7. I think I like that song because when I’m jumping I feel like a Mexican Jumping Bean.

8. I recently found myself telling someone that the Floyd Empty Bowls fundraiser was smashing success. No bad pun intended.

9. I was interviewing the manager of the Black Water Loft a couple of weeks ago, scribbling scrawling notes in my composition notebook, when she asked, “How many notebooks a year do you go through?”

10. She looked concerned about my messy note taking and said, “But you understand it all, right?” “In a week I won’t be able to read a word of it,” I answered. Truth is, sometimes I pull over on my drive home from an interview to review and rewrite some of my notes, because I can’t read my own writing and if I wait even a day to translate, I won’t remember what I wrote.

11. I just burned a pan on the stove and I hate the way the house smells almost as bad as I hate Deal or No Deal.

12. My son Josh has a nickname for the alcoholic panhandler he knows in Asheville. He calls him a “Mashie,” as in: “Mashie a question … can you spare a dollar.”

13. My brother John (who grew up in the era of “men don’t cry”) calls goose bumps “man tears.”

JUMP (as in Eddie Van Halen) on over to the Thirteen Thursday headquarters for more TT’s HERE.

April 1, 2009

When Words Run Out

When there are no A B C’s
no L M N O P’s
Don’t waste words
They don’t grow on trees