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July 31, 2009

Whose Glasses Are These and Why Do They Taste So Good?

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Besides dancing on stage to Donna the Buffalo and having so many family members share Floydfest with me this year, another little highlighted moment was when I gave my hard working Asheville potter son a massage on the grass in front of the Hill Holler stage to the music of Railroad Earth.
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During and after that set our group got broken up and some of us were lost for a time, but Josh was easy to find and so we used his sleeping body as a meeting spot. While he was catching up from not sleeping the night before and Joe was looking for the rest of our party, I amused myself taking self portraits in Josh’s sunglasses.
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Joe arrived on the scene and got in on the act (far right) as Josh slept on.
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Those glasses made the rounds in the hospitality tent earlier in the day during lunchtime, and THIS is the fun little video clipped interaction between Uncle Josh and baby Bryce that inspired the title of this post.

Post note: Read more about my fascination with reflection and shadow HERE.

July 30, 2009

Thirteen Thursday: Another One Bites the Dust

score13.gif1. Lately I've been thinking about those leather patches on sweaters worn by professors and realizing, as I type and click with my elbows on the arm rests of my chair, that I might be needing some soon.

2. I've also been wondering about bedsores and if there is a computer version of them.

3. I've always thought it would be fun to have a job naming lipstick and nail polish, but I don't think I'd have ever come up with the name of the last lipstick I bought, which was kangaroobie. Always the editor, I would at least change it to kangaruby, in reference to the wine red color.

4. My friend Mara took the very cool above picture of a Floydfest golf cart numbered 13 and sent it to me with her phone. Mara is a reoccurring character on this blog whose shows up frequently in the categories of SCRABBLE and SPOKEN WORD, and sometimes LOSING A LOVED ONE.

5. One thing I learned early on about living in the country is to always roll up you windows when your driving on dirt roads or your car will soon be as dusty as a dust bowl in a drought. xmalets.gif

6. A few days before my nephews were due to arrive with my sister and her husband for Floydfest, I noticed a tall lettuce plant going to the seed in the garden that looked like a Christmas tree. So I put red bulbs on it as a prank to see if I could turn their heads.

7. Favorite sentence uttered this week: The green beans are going like gang busters but the peppers are a bust.

8. Some of the writing research I did this week involved finding out the difference between a guitar lick and a riff.

9. A lick is combination of notes, frequently based out of scales or chords and used often. A riff is a repeated chord progression, pattern, refrain or melodic figure, often played by the rhythm section instruments or solo instrument, that forms the basis or accompaniment of a musical composition.

10. Speaking of guitars, HERE'S today's 13 Thursday soundtrack.

11. And a very cool optical illusion involving color that I found at Pearl's place is HERE.

12. Interesting email headings in my mailbox yesterday: Dick Cheney called; he wants his empire back. Ding Dong the Purse is Found. Scrabble on Thursday? The Jim and Dan Stories. I Hope He's Good. Josh Copus Wrote on Your Wall.

13. The full collection of this year's Floydfest photos can be found on Facebook HERE. Or scroll down to see what all the fun is about.

More Thirteen Thursdays can be found HERE.

July 28, 2009

Floydfest 09: The Beat Goes On

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1. I catch myself smiling a lot at Floydfest like I do in the garden at home. Every whimsical encounter and seemingly random exchange with others feels like a line up of destiny and adds to the whole of the enchantment that makes the festival weekend special. The picture above is of Floydfest founders Erika and Kris's son Tristen, who showed us his new twist on face painting. Can you guess? A second pair of eyes has been painted on his lids and his eyes are really closed.
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2. Gaffs and laughs are part of the Floyfest fare. You never know what you're going to see next, like my nephew Patrick pretending to eat a giant fake sandwich.
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3. And this line-up I caught without knowing it. Check out the person walking under the dress mannequin, making it come to life, as a group of balloon headed kids look on.
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4. Trish and I stopped to hear this troubadour play the fiddle. We learned that he was 12 years old, his name was Nathan Hairfield and he's been has been playing for six years. "Hairfield? Not Hatfield? That's an unusual name. I've never heard it before," Trish said. "It's not so unusual," I responded. "I know someone else with that name. You know the woman who publishes Natural Awakenings, the magazine I wrote the Floydfest story for, her name is Stacy Hairfield." "Yeah, she's my mother," Nathan said. So yes, it's a small world at Floydfest after all.
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5. There never seems to be enough time to hear even a quarter of the music offered. So I usually sample what I find myself in close proximity to. But listening to Railroad Earth this year was like enjoying a full course meal. The show was preceded with a stage talk on the greening of the planet and then went into a performance by Spiral Hoop.
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6. With lullaby vocals, lyrics that give me goosebumps, and rocking guitar riffs that make me scrunch up my face when I dance, the music of Railroad Earth just won't be put in a box. From the new Streamline Timber front of house where the Hill Holler stage music is mixed, I got an offbeat perspective and one of my favorite shots of day.
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7. After the Railroad Earth set, Kris and Erika came on stage and bid us all a bittersweet farewell. The staff took their bows and got some hoops and hollers for pulling off another successful festival. Watch a video clip HERE.
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8. I recall the early days of Floydfest and the weather, the hurricane the first year and another year when it was so foggy and cold that I wore a jacket and wool hat. This year was mostly sunny, not too hot, and often breezy. A few hard showers came and went, bringing rainbows. When Trish and I were on stage dancing to Donna the Buffalo, she noticed that people were pointing and we didn't know why. We missed the sweeping rainbow they were seeing behind the stage but caught this one at the end of the final day. A charmed ending for a extraordinary festival, wouldn't you say?

Postnote: More on Floydfest 8 REVIVAL HERE and HERE.

July 27, 2009

Floydfest 09: Everybody Had a Good Time, Everybody Saw the Sun Shine

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1. After Donna the Buffalo's Jeb Puyear sang the torrential rains away with some shamanistic good licks and lyrics about the river of love and mystic waters, the sky cleared to blue on Saturday afternoon and the crowd returned for the band's rousing set. My sister Trish and I spent some time on stage in the VIP seating area (but we didn't sit for long). She felt all-powerful when every time she changed her arm movements and clapping rhythms some people in the audience followed her lead. Video clip of the band doing Blue Sky HERE and a close-up jam HERE. You might be able to spot Trish's 13 year old son Matt in the audience on Joe's shoulders.
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2. Mara, Joe, and I stuck it out dancing through the half hour hard rain. Zipped up in a over-sized black raincoat and hood that Joe handed to me, I felt like a dancing Ninja spinning moves and flaying my arms. This is Mara and her daughter Kyla in dry clothes the next day. I didn't dare take out my camera in the rain.
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3. I know the festival theme was REVIVAL but it was a FAMILY AFFAIR (last year's theme) in the VIP tent when Dylan, Alexis, Kaylee, Bryce and Uncle Josh joined Joe and me for a four star meal served on paper and eaten with compostable vegetable wares.
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4. Bryce (hairdo by big sister Kaylee) was very interested in the coolers full of drinks, opening and closing them, digging out ice, and watching Floydfest staff fill them. He also had fun dancing and eating peanuts with Poppa Joe in the hospitality tent HERE.
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5. Speaking of hairdos, our friend Steve joined us for lunch and drew a lot of attention for his new do (not).
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6. Remember that camel from Friday's post? It's an endangered Bactrian. Its owner from Lost World Farm had hoped to offer rides but the camel wouldn't cooperate with the grassy incline on the edge of the road.
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7. Although they couldn't ride it, kids did feed the camel and were happy to ride the llamas, also from Lost World Farm.
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8. Because it was Bryce's first Floydfest, we spent a lot of time in the Children's Universe. This is Josh with Byrce inside the playground ark.
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9. Kaylee got a face painting by Yarrow Yard. The face painting documentary is HERE. We all got some shade in Joe's golf cart.
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10. Trish and her sons (Patrick and Matthew) and me in a pose reminiscent of Donna the Buffalo's Blue Sky ... My, my, my, everybody gets by ... Everybody gets high on love ...

Post note: More photos of Floydfest 8 REVIVAL HERE and HERE.

July 25, 2009

Floydfest 09: Wish You Were Here

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1. This is the photo that inspired the above title because I can easily imagine it as a captioned postcard from Floydfest. It's of my sister Tricia, her husband Dan, and sons Matthew and Patrick who came from Massachusetts for the festival this year. We had just finished visiting the hospitality tent after a golf cart tour of the 80 acre festival site, compliments of my husband Joe, who heads up the onsite parking.
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2. What other festival has biodegradable vegetable based cups and utensils, freshly juiced carrot juice, a toaster for making peanut butter and jelly toast for your kids, and soft freeze vanilla sherbet over pineapple cake for dessert available in the VIP tent? After lunch we chilled out and soaked up the ambiance in this hospitality lounge, complete with a green grass carpet.
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3. Besides knowing the science of palmistry, Joanne is a wise woman at interpreting the lines and features of the hand and presenting what she sees in a balanced and helpful way. I seek her out whenever I have someone visiting from out of town who wants a reading and here she was right at the festival for Tricia's first (of which she was very impressed with).
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4. On our way to the Global Village to check out the hammock village for day lounging and star gazing at night, I snapped this picture of a line of campers waiting for a shower. We live five minutes from the festival site off the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I've never had to test a Floydfest shower out.
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5. Here's Trish and Patrick hooping to The New Familiars in the Dance Tent (video HERE). Trish was convinced that she couldn't do the hula hoop so she made it seem harder than it really is. The hoops are weighted and easier to use than the ones we grew up using in the late 50's when the craze first became popular.
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6. We caught William Walter & Company on the Streamline Hill Holler Stage. Video clip HERE. Watch for the Tony the Tiger appearance.
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7. I had been admiring the paper parasols when I spotted this girl standing next to Asa Pickford's new fountain sculpture, which I was also admiring. Asa went to Blue Mountain School (Floyd's parent run cooperative) with my son Josh years ago.
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8. Old Floyd friends reunite at Floydfest each year. This is Gaia Yard, the source of the parasols! Gaia, who is part of the Woodsong Community, works the Renaissance Faires with the rest of her family (as does Joanne) and has a Floydfest booth. Here she's braiding a girl's hair.
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9. New faces also turn up at the festival. This one is of a llama from "Lost World" Farm. I asked the owner if they also had dinosaurs on his farm. No, but he also he did bring a camel. I tried to get a picture of it, but it didn't come out very well, so I'll try again tomorrow. Say Lovely! (Cest la vie).

More Floydfest 8 REVIVAL photos are HERE and HERE.

July 24, 2009

Floydfest 8 Kicks Off Today

4ffrug.jpg~ The following was published in The Floyd Press, July 23, 2009

Judging by pre-ticket sales, the Floydfest world music and art festival may just be recession proof, say festival founders Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson. “In hard times, we need more than ever to recreate, to camp, and experience music,” Johnson said.

“Some venues that have relied on corporate dollars might not be faring as well in this recession,” Hodges added. “Floydfest has relied on hard work, community involvement, and imagination.”

With home vegetable gardens, down-to-earth vacationing, and personal independence on the rise, this year’s festival theme “Revival” reflects that trend, Johnson points out.

The four day music festival (July 23- 26) located at milepost 170.5 on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway is kicking off its 8th year today with a multi-cultural musical lineup that spans the range of genres from bluegrass, folk, afrobeat, funk, old-time, reggae, cajun, jam rock, Americana, and more. 6bassasa.jpg

Non-stop performances alternating on seven stages will include Grammy award winning Blues Traveler and a gospel group from Barcelona, Spain. American Dumpster and William Walter, two popular Virginia bands that have played to enthusiastic audiences at the Sun Hall in Floyd will be returning to the Floydfest stage, as will festival favorite Donna the Buffalo (Saturday at 5:00 p.m.). Local musicians include Mac and Jenny Traynham, The Jugbusters, Blue Mule, No Strings Attached, Dry Hill Draggers, and Kat Mills. New to the Floyfest stage include Grupo Fantasma, Hot 8 Brass Band, Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers, Blues & Lasers, Ouros, and more.

Eighteen year old Cherub Chatfield has been going to Floydfest since it started. “This is the first year I’m camping,” said the Floyd County resident. “I’m really excited about seeing Grace Potter. She’s from Vermont and I’ve never seen her play. I have all her C.D.s. I’m a pretty big fan.”

Erich Woodrum, coordinator of the festival’s Global village, plays the djembe drum. He’s looking forward to hearing Forro in the Dark, a Brazilian flavored high energy percussion band that will also be presenting drumming workshops. “There’s something for everyone,” Woodrum said. 5chunivff.jpg

Johnson and Hodges are especially proud of their Under the Radar Series, in which one audience chosen favorite band wins prize money, more exposure, and an invitation to come back next year. “It’s a big part of who we are. We’re not into recycling the same names you’re going to see at every other corporate sponsored festival all summer,” Johnson said, adding that when choosing musical acts, they keep their ear to the ground for dedicated musicians who play from the heart.

The couple’s instincts are paying off. Last year former Governor and now Senator Mark Warner visited Floydfest and spoke on the main stage. This year the Virginia Tourism Corporation will be filming the festival as “part of a statewide endeavor to acquire high quality video of selected iconic Virginia events and locations … with the purpose of promoting Virginia.” Floydfest was also recently named one of the “Ten Best Fests on the Blue Ridge” by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.

“Whenever you go to this festival you end up liking 12 new bands that you had never heard of before. It’s also a great thing for our society. People don’t see their neighbors very often or really do anything together. Festivals offer a social environment that provides many magical moments…” Donna the Buffalo’s Jeb Puryear was quoted as saying about Floydfest in the magazine.

The festival’s reputation as a family-centered progressive event is growing. Uriel Yard will be bringing her years of experience working Renaissance Faires, heading up the Children’s Universe where storytelling, theatrical performances and workshops are scheduled throughout the long weekend and balloons, puppets, fairies, and parading dragons make appearances.

The Healing Arts Village, sponsored by The Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga is a good place for festival goers to get off the beaten track, indulge in some pampering, or just unwind. The practitioners there will be offering workshops, healing arts merchandise, and body work, such as chair and deep tissue massage, shiatsu, rolfing, reiki. Nightly A.A. 12-step meetings are also hosted at the Healing Arts tent.

Another way for festival goers to get off the beaten track is to explore the 2 ½ mile biking and hiking trail that loops around the 80 acre site, a new addition to the festival scene. Culinary offerings, beer garden micro brews, and arts and crafts booths are Floydfest mainstays, as are hula hooping, bocce ball, scaling the climbing wall, dancing at the dance tent, and chilling out at the wireless café (hosted by Citizens).

Committed to the greening of the planet, festival organizers are encouraging people to bring their old cell phones for recycling and for a chance to win a prize. This year all the vending cups will be bio-degradable vegetable based, rather than made of plastic, Hodges pointed out. Eustace Conway, a North Carolinian naturalist and the subject of best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert’s book The Last American Man, will be presenting primitive life skills workshops in the Global Village.

Tickets to the festival can be purchased at the entrance and range from $40-60 dollars per day or $140 for the long weekend, which includes camping. Over a dozen non-profit groups benefit from Floydfest. The Floyd County High School Band, the Booster Club, sports teams, and Boy Scout troops trade work hours running off-site and on-site parking for donations from ticket sales to benefit their organizations. “We try to stay close to our small town roots,” Johnson said about the exchange.

Renee Lester owner of the Lawson House Inn in downtown Floyd says that guests attending Floyfest who have stayed at her Bed & Breakfast have been happy with the festivals. “It gets better every year, the organization and the music” said Lester, whose husband works for Dreaming Creek Timber Frame, builder of the festival’s main stage. Excited about festival number 8, Lester added, “Floydfest is a summer highlight that my whole family enjoys.” ~ Colleen Redman

July 23, 2009

13: That’s the Ticket

tic.jpg1. Where else can you get an ice cream and a massage, take a dance class, go art and craft shopping in an open market, and then sip a micro brew by a garden fountain while listening to live music, all in one day and in one scenic location? ~ A line from the story I wrote about Floydfest Natural Awakenings of Southwest Virginia.

2. I recently walked to the garden to see if any beans were left to harvest for dinner and found myself shouting, “To bean or not to bean. That is the question!”

3. Last night my husband Joe said “C’est la vie” and I thought he said “Say Lovely,” so I said, “Lovely.”

4. My Asheville potter son Josh recently had a chain saw injury and then Joe cut his hand with a machete. Sounds like a Rambo horror show. I, on the other hand (or foot in this case), had my gruesome injury last year. Everyone is fine, by the way.

5. Watch my 14 month old grandson Bryce devour one of those garden beans mentioned in #2 HERE.

6. Whenever I slow down enough to where I’m not ruled by deadlines, a schedule, or commitments to others, I begin to be aware of underlying and subtle sadness that makes me wonder if all my activity isn’t actually a coping mechanism to avoid feeling sad ... I think it’s no coincidence that I had a post about cleaning out the cellar one day and then a couple of days later one about a stirring up of a foundational undercurrent of sadness.

7. Today is the first day of Floydfest, our town’s world music festival on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which I wrote about last year in the local paper HERE. I’ll post this year’s story tomorrow, followed by some on site photos of the photogenic festival.

8. My nephews Patrick (13) and Matthew (10) are here with my sister and her husband for Floydfest. Matthew posed for one of my past Thirteen Thursdays HERE. And Patrick and I go way back.

9. I know they will have fun at Floyfest but I’m not sure it will compare to having front row seats to the rocket launching of Endeavour and watching their astronaut uncle go up in space.

10. Flowers remind me of fireworks.

11. Every now and then I wonder what Thomas Paine would think about blogging.

12. My Loose Leaf Notes FloydFest photo album is HERE.

13. And THIS is the soundtrack for today's Thirteen Thursday, a song from one of my all time favorite albums. too shy to sing along. Bet you can't not sing along.

More Thirteeners are HERE.

July 21, 2009

Books and Coffee Go Hand in Hand

xlfotblra.gif ~ The following was published in the spring issue of All About Her, a regional newspaper insert.

By the time Avis McCutchan's five daughters were grown, the stay at home mom was ready to try something new. In 2003, McCutchan, an avid reader, opened noteBooks, an independent bookstore in the heart of downtown Floyd.

On the front of the historical cedar-sided building (built in 1911) that once housed an appliance store and then a health food store, she hung her business shingle - a large attention getting sign announcing: Art, Music, Ideas, and Coffee.

"Books and coffee go hand in hand," says her daughter Rose, manager of the Black Water Loft coffee house. The loft, which opened in 2004, sits atop the book store and features a balcony porch view of the one stoplight downtown, lots of comfy sitting nooks with couches, and an unforgettable décor that mixes hip with homey. xloft4ksrvs9.gif

Inside the sunlit loft, the hiss of the milk steamer can be heard as Rose's youngest sister Grace serves cappuccino to a trio of customers perched on bar stools. Rose explains that her mother, who has read practically "everything," has a special knack for helping customers pick out books for themselves and as gifts, taking into account the interests and age of the reader.

Avis, a Maryland native, recounts how she and her husband Mac first came to the area, saying, "Mac and I went to Virginia Tech. We loved it." They never left. All five of their daughters were born and raised from kindergarten to high school graduation in Floyd. Theda, Rose, Katie, Elsie, and Grace (named after grandmothers) range in age from 18 to 33 and all have had a hand in running the family bookstore and coffee house.

Theda helped her father write the business proposal and currently writes book reviews for the bookstore blog, Blue Ridge Bookworm . Katie did most of the loft decorating. Elsie was the first loft employee. When Rose returned to Floyd after teaching children's theatre and pursuing an acting career in New York and Los Angeles, she added her past restaurant experience to Katie's to head up the running of the loft.xloft6ft.gif

"When none of us can work my dad will come in and work, upstairs and downstairs," Rose says about the family run business. "We also call dad whenever something is broken," she adds with a smile.

Between the loft and the bookstore, the McCutchan family stays busy. Along with a variety of new and used books and art and music supplies, noteBooks carries the works of local authors and musicians on consignment. The store has hosted authors' book signings and reading events. When the last book of the Harry Potter fantasy series was released, noteBooks decorated accordingly and held a Harry Potter party.

In the fall of 2006 bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver came to the Floyd County High School auditorium to read from her latest book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for a fundraiser for the Jessie Peterman Library. Kingsolver, an advocate of supporting local economies, asked that a local independent bookstore provide books for the book signing that followed the readings, and noteBooks got the job. That Christmas all the McCutchan daughters got signed Kingsolver books as gifts from their mother, a Kingsolver fan. 2sign.jpg

The Black Water Loft serves a wide variety of organic and fair trade coffees and teas, all-fruit smoothies, and locally made baked goods. They feature live music on Friday nights, host poetry readings and art showings, and are available for private party rentals. All five McCutchan sisters have a background in theater arts. Once a year they host a fundraiser at the loft for Floyd County Forensics (a high school public speaking elective). Team members rehearse poetry, prose, play scenes in preparation for competition. "I'm very proud of it," Rose says of the fundraiser. "Floyd has a reputation for having a good team. They pack the house."

Rose, director of the Floyd's Young Actors Coop (YAC), points out the art displayed on the coffee house walls, wooden window frames with outdoor scenes painted on the squared panels. "They're set designs made by one of the YAC parents," she explains. The YAC group of more than a dozen 7-18 year olds has been performing a variety of plays to enthusiastic audiences since 2005 - everything from Shakespeare and comedy to a parody of NPR's The Prairie Home Companion, dubbed The Floyd Home Companion.

"Rose is energetic and has a lot of ideas. She keeps me inspired to do new things" Avis says about working with her daughter. Rose cites her mother's organizational skills as a trait she admires. Both women enjoy interacting with the public, the local community and visitors. The bookstore's stock of maps, music, and books related to Floyd, are appreciated by customers during tourist season, which runs from summer to December.

Floyd's scenic beauty and its music and art offerings have been drawing more visitors in recent years. Last year downtown underwent a series of renovations, got a new parking lot, a sitting wall, and a timber frame public rest room. A park is slated for development. "I like the way Floyd is growing," Avis says.

"And we are part of it, "Rose adds. "Our business represents family, community, arts, culture, and diversity; everything that makes Floyd great." ~ Colleen Redman

He Gets Around the Playground

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He gives kisses now and has stopped throwing sand in his hair. He trusts the people in his life and is confident enough to take some risks. Swings make him feel trapped in but he can't get enough of the slide! Watch the video clip HERE.

July 20, 2009

A Who's Who of Floyd's Spoken Word

kantar.jpgI was in two places at the same time, or nearly. Arriving late to the Spoken Word and leaving early to take pictures for the paper of the all-day Relay For Life, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. I was a little discombobulated, but relieved to know that after nearly four years our monthly open mic practically runs itself now.

Only two of the half-dozen of us from the Floyd Writers Circle who regularly attend and co-host the event with the Café del Sol were there, but there were enough readers to break for a short intermission between readings. My fellow Writer's Circle member Rosemary emceed for the first half of the evening. There were two authors with new books and more than a few first time readers. newreadr.jpg

Kanta Bosniak, a past Floyd County resident, holistic health practitioner, and cancer survivor came from Pennsylvania to promote her new book, Surviving Cancer and Other Tough Stuff, which I reviewed for the Floyd Press the week before. She read from the book's introduction and an excerpt titled "No Hair Day, Part 2: Random Acts of Kindness, Serious Shopping and Batman." ... Yesterday my sweetheart, Richard, dropped me off at the VF Outlets on the way to getting his hair cut. We were preparing for the rehearsal dinner he was hosting for the wedding of his youngest son, David. Richard's barber's name is Batman ... Paul Batman. So, I joke with him that Batman is changing the world one haircut at a time... The rest of that reading was about how Richard shaved his head in solidarity for Kanta, who lost hers due to chemotherapy.
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Coincidentally, Kanta was followed by Stephen Saft, another cancer survivor with a new book, City Above the Sea and Other Poems.

Sarah Hunter, another reader new to the Spoken Word stage who also used to live in Floyd, hopes to move back someday. She read some of her poetry, about going back to college as a mother with teen aged kids, and asked during the intermission about joining the Floyd Writers Circle.

A unfamiliar couple sat towards the back sipping on New Castle beer. When the man took his turn at the mic, he expressed his concern that we wouldn't understand him because of his English accent. He and his wife, who is Scottish, took turns reading poetry written by their son back in England. sct.gif Always curious, I asked them how they came to be in Floyd and learned that they are seeing the country by way of house sitting and that they are currently house sitting in Floyd.

Never a dull moment at the Café del Sol Spoken Word. I especially love seeing new faces and brave first time readers, knowing that our venue is especially encouraging to them. I pulled myself away, and arrived at the Relay for Life at the high school just in time to see the mock Beauty Contest, where men dress as women and women dress as men.

Post Notes:
Photos are of Kanta Bosniak, Sarah Hunter, man with English accent and his wife. Click and scroll down HERE for more Spoken Word pictures.

July 18, 2009

What’s It All about Alfie?

alfe.jpgWhat's it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live? ~ Joss Stone lyrics

Whenever I slow down enough to where I’m not ruled by deadlines, a schedule, or commitments to others, I begin to be aware of underlying and subtle sadness that makes me wonder if all my activity isn’t actually a coping mechanism to avoid feeling sad.

‘Who am I and why is it important what I do?’ I ask myself, usually in the middle of the night or upon waking in the morning. Where does this sense of emptiness come from? Who am I when I’m not doing? How dare I waste precious time?

I could blame my feelings on the state of the world, the government, the weather, aging, or on thinking I don’t have enough of something. But a little self-analysis and inquiry eventually brings me to the same conclusion every time. Layer after layer comes the realization that my sadness is rooted in knowing that I will eventually lose everything and everyone I love. Even my own existence as I know it is impermanent.

I think this sadness (for lack of a better word) is what the Buddha called “suffering” (a word I find too dramatic). I think about all the consuming and self-medication humans engage in to not feel this feeling and I wonder if an underlying sadness might be a common feeling we all share.

Taking time to think and feel, before I know it I move on. My schedule starts filling up, my creativity returns and the cycle starts again.

July 17, 2009

The Kitchen Pink

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When the Well Dries Up
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When it Rains it Pours
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Bringing Rainbows and Sweetheart Shadows

July 16, 2009

Thirteen Thursday: Summer Ketchup

Thirteen2.jpg1. I recently discovered that when you’re measured in a doctor’s office they do not record ½ inches. The last time I got measured the nurse told me that and after measuring me, she asked if I wanted her to write down 5 foot or 5 foot 1 inch, to which I replied, “I want my age rounded down and my height rounded up!”

2. The brain: “A cognitive prosthesis for the soul.” Paul Bloom, Enlightenment Magazine

3. Said to Joe on taking a break from my meditation practice: “It feels like getting out of school. I haven’t lost anything I learned. I just don’t want to be sitting at a desk right now.”

4. A McCain aide on Sarah Palin: “She doesn't even know what she doesn't know.”

5. Always the poet, when Joe calls me sweetie, I call him tweetie. When he calls me lovey, I call him dovey.

6. Always on the lookout for 13 finds, I got the above photo from my brother-in-law Nelson who took it at my brother Joey’s 4th of July bash.

7. That’s my brother Johnny in the red hat cooking at the grille and HERE he is with the largest and ugliest lobster I’ve ever seen, so big that John named him “Conan the Crustacean.”

8. On our recent trip to my hometown of Hull, Massachusetts, we had a stop in D.C., so we drove Interstate 95 and it drove us …. crazy!

9. The trip included an unplanned tour of old-time carousels. We just happened upon the Dentzel Carousel in Glen Echo near D.C. and the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, and of course we visited THIS, the Paragon Carousel in Hull that I rode when I was five and thought if I touched the horses mouths snakes would come out and bite me.

10. I don’t do grilles. I bought mine only because it has a gas burner on it and I was afraid if we lost electricity I wouldn’t be able to make tea. When I’m not making tea on the grille, I use it for storing dog food.

11. I love to walk the beach because it’s a clean slate everyday and you never know who you might meet or BUMP INTO.

12. Remember in the early 80’s when Reagan tried to pawn ketchup off as a vegetable in the school lunch programs to save money and Carly Simon sang THIS famous song in a ketchup commercial?

13. In Belgium they eat mayonnaise on fries.

Catch up with others playing 13 Thursday HERE.

July 15, 2009

Poet/tea

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Poets rhyme sugar
with teacup and saucer
They alliterate morning
with mug

July 14, 2009

What Lies Beneath

jjunk.jpgWhat lies beneath is eighteen years of junk collected in the cellar, piled on the pool table we bought to keep teenaged boys home a little longer, crammed into cement block corners, strewn on dusty shelves. We didn’t even need the three new tarps to order the disorder, as described on Oprah by her un-clutter guru: one for throw-aways, one for give-aways, and one for stuff to sell. With a little Virgo nature and a pick-up truck, we’ve set our intention and made a good start at reclaiming what used to be a cozy spot to sit by the woodstove but over time has deteriorated into what I call “bad feng shui.” A moldy dark cluttered foundation. A place to avoid and to blame our bad moods on.

July 13, 2009

Bosniak’s Book Chronicles a Creative Approach to Healing

~ The following was published in The Floyd Press newspaper on July 9, 2009.
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Any “loss” contains the potential of renewal.” Kanta Bosniak

When Kanta Bosniak left Floyd in 2007 to make a new life in her home state of Pennsylvania, she didn’t know it would include a personal battle with cancer. Today, as a cancer survivor, the holistic health practitioner is sharing her story of healing in a book titled Surviving Cancer and Other Tough Stuff: An Illustrated Journal and Workbook for Healthy and Abundant Life and Becoming Who You Really Are.

The 382 page book, part memoir and part resource guide, begins with Bosniak’s story of caregiver burnout, a divorce, and closing down her Locust Street Alpha Learning Institute where she hosted human potential workshops and conducted her hypnosis and life coaching practice. Dramatic life changes that followed her move from Floyd included working as a nanny in Pennsylvania and an online romance that developed into a serious relationship just before the discovery that she had uterine and ovarian cancer and would require radical treatment.

The treatments Bosniak sought and received combined allopathic care (surgery and chemotherapy), the direction of positive intention, nutritional improvements, reiki (a channeling of energy with the laying on of hands), prayer, and other healing arts. Braced by the wisdom gained from years as a practitioner, a Quaker, an artist, and an interfaith minister, the one time Floyd Press weight-loss columnist faced the challenge of cancer with the same determination she had previously faced losing 100 pounds, recovering from childhood traumas, and dissolving a fibroid tumor through holistic methods.

Told in a natural voice that makes for an easy paced read, Bosniak’s story is permeated with her sense of love and gratitude. It is illustrated with journal entries, the author’s whimsical drawings, photographs (before, during, and after chemo-therapy), and even original cartoons. Bosniak’s step by step account of her journey takes the reader through pre-op, operating room, and post-op procedures and provides an intimate look at how she physically and emotionally navigated through such a life threatening challenge. The book is dedicated to readers and to Bosniak’s father, who passed away this year. Familiar names of people and regional places are generously woven in.

About her surrender and pro-active approach to healing, she writes: I had an empty, scooped-out feeling. I felt simultaneous opposite emotions: Emptiness and desire for life, uncertainty and confidence. Detachment and intention. I might have to go and based on the aggressiveness of the tumor, it might be sooner rather than later. These were practical and useful feelings. I felt I couldn’t afford to overly attach myself to the idea of staying in my body if I was going to have to leave. On the other hand, I understood the power of intention. And I wanted it to make sure it was working for me. homkanta.jpg

Directing her intention, Bosniak began making a wedding guest list and imagining the life she would build with her partner. She focused on the love she had for her son Joshua, a musician, and listened to his music everyday. She visualized the cells in her body filling with positive healing love. When a colleague invited her to prepare a presentation on her creative healing process for an Association to Advance Ethical Hypnosis conference, the invitation galvanized her into action. Realizing that her experience could be an opportunity to help others, her daily journal practice changed. She began chronicling her journey more consciously and the results became the bulk of the book.

“I blogged about it and the responses I got were amazing. Much of it was from people who didn’t have cancer. I began to think maybe this book isn’t just for cancer patients,” Bosniak remembers.

In the same way her past columns in the Floyd Press were read and appreciated not only by people with weight issues, Bosniak’s book about healing from cancer hit a far-reaching chord. She realized that “motivation is motivation. Making change is making change.”

“Facing life’s challenges requires a certain set of tools. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. Whether it’s cancer, divorce or losing a loved one, the process is the same,” she says. She began to ask herself ‘what is that process?’ Her question spurred the book and the some of the answers she came to provided material for the last two sections of the book, which features an outline of practical nutritional and lifestyle information and related resources.

Although Bosniak grew up in Philadelphia, her connection with Floyd came early in her life. When she was very young her father worked at Roanoke College and the family lived in Salem. She remembers traveling with her father through Floyd by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway and being touched by its beauty. “I was about 4 years old. It struck me hard,” she says. Drawn by the peaceful beauty of the south and the courteous kindness and of its people, she relocated here as a young mother. “Floyd will always be my home. It’s my heart connection. I’ll be going back and forth the rest of my life,” she says.

Bosniak will soon return to the home of her heart to share her uplifting story with others. A book signing and reading is scheduled at noteBooks on Locust Street on July 17 from 7 – 9 p.m. She will also be reading excerpts from Surviving Cancer and Other Tough Stuff at the next Spoken Word at the Café del Sol on July, 18th at 7:00 p.m. ~ Colleen Redman

Post Note: Bosniak’s book is available at Amazon.com. She can be reached via her website KantaBosniak.com.

July 12, 2009

A Summer Curtain Call

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1. Show stopper
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2. Scene Stealer
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3. Heart Breaker
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4. Side Splitter

July 10, 2009

Day Tripping on Martha's Vineyard

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The island was known as Noepe, "land amid the streams," by the Wampanoag Indians who inhabited it (still do). "Martha's Vineyard" is said to have been named in 1602 by English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold for his daughter and the island's wild grapes. It was called Martin's Vineyard (most likely after Gosnold ship's captain, John Martin) for a time.
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Location of the "Jaws" movies, home of some Kennedy's, James Taylor, Carly Simon, and John Belushi's grave, Martha's Vineyard is a half hour ferry ride from Falmouth, Cape Cod. The Island Queen ferry landed us in Oak Bluffs with a view of the village green and gazebo.
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Hidden in plain view, as magical places often are, we discovered a world of gingerbread cottages tucked away in the center of town. Originally a Methodist tent camp, the mid 1800's cottages were made from kits. The invention of the band saw at the same time explains the generous use gingerbread design on the more than 200 cottages. More photos HERE.
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Our salty ferry captain with hair like Jerry Garcia's took us across to Menemsha, a small fishing village in the town of Chilmark and the location site of Roy Scheider's character's boathouse in the 1974 movie Jaws. My mother complimented the ferry captain on his naturally curly hair and they flirted for the rest of the trip to and from the village.
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The last time I had been to Martha's Vineyard was in the 70's. This was the view from the Menemsha Galley lunch bar where we ate on the back porch. It turned out that there was a real chef in the kitchen and the crab cakes were renowned.
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So, that really was a naked man we saw walking on the beach below the overlook at the Gay Head Cliffs. Only until I got home and googled Gay Head (Aquinnah) did I discover that the clay/cliffs beach is one of the few nude beaches left in the U.S.
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Somewhere on the 10 by 20 mile island, we stopped at sculpture garden and somewhere we allegedly got a speck of a ding in our rented midnight blue Hyundai. Next time we won't use A-A Island because they charged us an extra $90.
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We sipped microbrews and nibbled peanuts, throwing the shells on the floor. A heated discussion with my mother about Sarah Palin's resignation caused a couple to stop me on the way out and thank us for the entertainment.
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All in all it was a fun-filled day and precious time spent with my mother. We made some good new memories.

July 9, 2009

Route 13

13blogstreet.jpg1. Said to Joe while driving on Interstate 95 from D.C. to Massachusetts, “If we’re not broke from paying tolls we can stop and buy some dinner.”

2. Not only is driving on Interstate 95 a nightmare, they make you pay for the grief they give you, to the tune of about $40 to get through New York and New Jersey.

3. I call “toll booths” “troll booths” because being made to stop for them reminds me of the Billy Goats Gruff passing the troll to cross a bridge to get to their grazing field.

4. On the road we pay the troll to let us cross his bridge … Because with every trip there is a trap … and with every road we lose the grass … “Let us pass!” we say to progress … But progress says, “No … I’ve got a hunger to grow and I’m coming to eat you up!” ~ Poem adapted from “The Billy Goats Gruff” and read at a Blacksburg town council meeting in protest of the Smart Road development sometime in the 90’s.

5. Some would say that gourmet Irish/English food is an oxymoron, but we found just that at a restaurant near D.C. where we had “bangers and mash,” sausage, garden peas, mashed potatoes, gravy , topped with whole mustard seeds and washed down with Guinness beer.bmashw.jpg

6. I also like bubble and squeak (another Irish/English dish, made with potatoes, carrots, and cabbage), and I think it’s funny that “plates of meat” means “feet” and “apples and pears” means “stairs” in Cockney Rhyming Slang.

7. After we ate our bangers and mash we toured Glen Echo Park, the amusement park museum next door. Next, we went to a meditation class in Washington. As people started coming in the meditation hall and setting up their blankets and mats in front of the speaker's altar, I felt like a picnic was about to ensue.

8. Pillows and cushions made me think no, maybe a pajama party.

9. We found out that a beach in Connecticut called “Calf Pasture Beach” is as good as any place to stop and kill 2 hours of rush hour traffic. While there, I saw a horseshoe crab and a tree full of berries that looked just like blackberries only white.

10. Funniest recent moment: Before we left for Massachusetts I picked up the Museletter (our community newsletter) mail at the post office and one subscription renewal included an spelling correction for a woman named Grace Woods. She crossed out the S in her last name on the address label and wrote next to it, “only one tree.”

11. Said to Joe at 4:00 today while enjoying lunch and a micro-brew at an outdoor café: “Beer is the new tea.”

12. At 4:20 (still sipping): “Beer is the new joint.”

13. Directions to more 13 Thursdays: take a left click HERE.

July 7, 2009

Hansel and Gretel Were Here

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A tour of the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard is like walking into a storybook. The perfectly preserved and elaborately decorated cottages were built in the mid 1800's as part of a Methodist summer campground. Tucked away in the middle of town and entered through a downtown alleyway, many of the more than 200 cottages encircle an open village green.
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Home of munchkins? Hobbits? Hansel and Gretel's witch? The cottages are privately owned. A few live in them year round but most are inhabited by summer residents who have hopefully adjusted to the tourists who come to marvel at the flower gardens, the tiny porches, high peeked roofs, dainty gables and balconies painted in lavender, pink, and robin's egg blue.
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One cottage owner looked to be doing a crossword puzzle on his miniature porch, another stopped to chat with us. The pre-Victorian cottages are an example of American Carpenter Gothic architecture, which coincided with the invention of the band saw, she said.
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Valentines, rainbows, butterflies, and angels were just some of the decorated cottage themes. Most cabins had a name displayed somewhere front and center. (Pictured above are my sister Sherry, me, and our mother.)
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As far as I can tell the term "gingerbread house" was named after the frosted filigree decorations on the cookies made popular by London sweet shops of the 1800s.
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The gingerbread cottages of Oak Bluffs look almost good enough to eat, but are best for photographing and for stirring up girlhood fantasies about white picket fences and dollhouse play.

July 5, 2009

Let's Hear It for the Home Team

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1. Hometown Colors
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2. Glad for Gloriosa
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Club Med
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3. Diving Board Disco (video HERE.)
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4. A New Josh in Town
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5. Say Cheese

July 3, 2009

Bumper Cars, Sangha, Bangers and Mash

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Our trip up to Hull, Massachusetts, for a family cookout and to take my mother to Martha’s Vineyard was planned as a mix of vacation and networking for the meditation retreats that my husband Joe runs. It became a tour of carousels when, after an exquisite Irish dinner of “bangers and mash” and Guinness, we stumbled upon the Glen Echo amusement park near D.C. The park is well over 100 years old and features an elaborately designed state of the art 19th century carousel. With another carousel in Hull and still a third on Martha’s Vineyard Island, a theme had begun to emerge.
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Unlike Paragon Park, the Hull amusement park I grew up with that was torn down in the 80’s, Glen Echo has been preserved and is now something of a museum to the era of bumper cars, fun house mirrors, and cotton candy. I felt like a kid again. I knew all the lingo. The word “Whip” (a classic amusement park ride of the past), spoken to Joe as we walked through the park, became like an “Open Sesame” command that brought the park to life when a park tour guide heard it as he passed and decided to give us a private tour, even though the attractions were closed for the day.
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As a small girl riding the Paragon carousel (the last remaining remnant of Paragon today), I was transported into a magical place. The music was grand, and the fairytale spinning under the brightly lit canopy was all very real to me. The Glen Echo carousel is even more mesmerizing. It features not only carved horses and carriages, but lions, ostrich, giraffe, reindeer, and over-sized bunnies. Thirteen coats of paint were removed during the renovations, down to the lavish originals, which were then re-created, the tour guide explained as the organ music filled the round merry-go-round house.
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He also showed us the ballroom where contra dances are currently held. I pointed and shouted with recognition when I saw where the bumper cars where. Getting in a bumper car brought back all the excitement and tension I felt as a girl anticipating and fearing the crash and burn of a head-on collision. After a tour of the park, Joe and I drove to a nearby Unitarian church for one of the largest Buddhist Sanghas (spiritual community) in the country to meditate and listen to a dharma talk on loving kindness. It was an unimaginable perfect start to a vacation. My kind of unplanned date night.

July 2, 2009

13: Gently Down the Stream of Consciousness

z13sky.gif1. My two favorite words heard recently are brouhaha and jalopy.

2. I keep getting the Jubilee and the Jamboree mixed up. We have both in Floyd now.

3. I've been calling the Station, the newly renovated old building in town with apartments upstairs, the Dakota of Floyd.
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4. While shopping this week I saw a bright gold bra with a smiley face on one of the cups.

5. My first trip to the Country Club pool resulted in some pictures of the tadpoles (a pre-beginner swim class), at least 13 of them.
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6. Learn why I have a brand new pink blow up raft not yet out of the package HERE.

7. I bought four new cushion lawn chairs that unfortunately required some assembly but when we opened the box to put them together, we discovered there were no screws, bringing a whole new meaning to "we were screwed!"

8. I just got a message from the little voice within that my rice cooking on the stove is burning. Be right back.

9. The rice was stuck to the bottom of the pan but still eatable.

10. Speaking of pan, I was recently asked in a meme that I didn't finish to name a fictitious character who made a lasting impression and my answer was Peter Pan.

11. Because I grew up on a tiny peninsula in between Boston and Cape Cod, I'm fortunate that I can visit my family and have a beach vacation at the same time.

12. Whenever I say Cape Cod, I think about when I was a young girl picking wild blueberries there with my grandmother, which leads to remembering a poem I wrote about baking a birthday blueberry pie for my son Josh ... I feel my grandmother's wildness in me ... navigating rough edges of coastline ... as I steer the rolling pin like an oar ... like an antique relic from her "roaring 20s" ... it rocks back and forth ... And especially this stanza: As I search the bowl of blueberries ... for the bluest black ones ... I remember 4 and 20 ... blackbirds baked in a pie ... and my son arranging battles ... between blueberries and grapes ... The blueberries always lost because he ate them ...

13. I just this second remembered that Josh's birthday is on July 10 and I may be away for his birthday, so now I'm going downstairs to find a card to send him.

More Thirteen Thursday fun HERE.

July 1, 2009

Tea Haiku

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A scented cloud lifts
from a lake of Darjeeling
Bamboo flute notes rise

Post Note: Click and scroll down HERE for more tea poems.