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November 29, 2009

A Sprinkling of Scenes from the Season of Thanks

Besides eating Thanksgiving turkey at a Zephyr Farm potluck, we played a rousing game of Taboo.
We lined up in the kitchen at Amy, Rowan, and Zeph's house for Vietnamese pho soup. One beautiful bowl of pho begged to be photographed.
We visited six hands of the Sixteen Hands Studio Tour at Donna Polseno and Rick Hensley's homestead and pottery gallery on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Donna's work was recently shown at Roanoke's Taubman museum, including the piece pictured here, Irretrievable Losses, in which the broken pot is part of the composition. Donna's displays are works of art within works of art.
My son potter Josh Copus, the newest Sixteen Hands member, was in town from Asheville showing his latest work at Rick and Donna's. He and Donna were set up in the old farm storage building that Rick recently renovated into a gallery. There was a spread of food and beer from Floyd's Shooting Creek microbrewery to partake. Enthusiastic pottery lovers were warmed by the toasty wood stove as they mingled and shopped for prize pieces.
Josh's big jar pots made for an impressive display on the newly built deck by the outside fire pit.
Later, we were uplifted by breaths of fresh air and lovely views as we opened a window into Josh's life by looking at his latest collage journal. (Insert singing Love is All you Need from the Across the Universe musical movie that we watched with friends on Thanksgiving night HERE.)
At some point during the long Thanksgiving season and after a long day we enticed Bryce to join us for a series of family photos (minus Josh who came too late for this one) and gave thanks for the shots he managed to sit still for.

November 27, 2009

A Grand Time at Grandin

cmpst0x.gifWhen Joe and I were down the mountain in Roanoke babysitting Bryce this week, we had lunch at Local Roots Café, a farm-to-table gourmet good restaurant on Grandin Road. Bryce was napping when we carried him in. He sweetly woke to find himself in a new environment where he promptly set about to wield a table knife into a sword and turn his nose up after tasting a lemon, which you can see HERE.

It was the best crab cake I ever tasted and the café owner, Diane Elliot (who it turned out I knew from the past), was warm and kid-friendly. lbrt1.gif After Bryce sampled a little of everything for lunch and then dumped out all the raw sugar packets to file them back in their proper place, his 20 minute sitting limit expired. I spotted him while he wandered around, which is when I learned that the café customers were kid-friendly too.

Joe soon joined us for an exploration of the grounds. We discovered the Grandin Gardens, an urban eco-village adjacent to Local Roots, when my eye caught a labyrinth and my interest was piqued by an empty lemonade stand. I learned later that The Gardens was the gathering place of Roanoke's recent 350 International Day of Climate Action, where 350 apples were made into apple butter and the ground's fountain was powered by a bicycle ride. shrbike.gif

Bryce was interested in the bicycle lending hut and, in particular, a certain red bike helmet. The only thing more interesting to him than that lady bug helmet, exploring the café compost heap, and throwing rocks in the water fountain, were the raspberries he discovered growing in the gardens. Like a wild animal that had come across a pickin' patch, he grazed for his dessert, smacking and smiling. bker9.gif

Our tour ended when we realized it was time for Bryce's big sister to arrive home off the school bus. We headed back to Bryce's house, but not before running into our friend Tenely Weaver from "Good Food for Good People," who was setting up a fresh produce stand in front of Local Roots. She greeted Bryce with a smile, bent down and said to him, "Have all the apples you want. If you don't eat them, I'll have to feed them to my horses."

November 25, 2009

The Thirteen Thursday Matchbook Message

matches3x.gif1. It was an honor to receive an email from long time blog friend Pearl telling me that she had written a poem about me. It's HERE.

2. Joe and I were watching Saturday Night Live last weekend when he surprised me by asking in all seriousness, "So who are they going to get to replace Seth Meyers on the Weekend Edition?" He got the idea that Seth had left the show by only reading the misleading headlines HERE.

3. I got a phone call from my son earlier this week asking, "Mum, do you really have scars in rings around your ankles?" He read about it HERE.

4. Why doesn't anyone engaged in the mammogram guideline debate have the guts to say publicly that mammograms used to detect breast cancer emit radiation, which is known to increase the risk of cancer.

5. Recently my email inbox suffered a glitch and deleted 3,000 old emails, which gave me the strength to delete the other 3,000. Since our community newsletter (the Museletter), my blog, and the writer's circle I belong to are in flux, I took it as a metaphor to let go of the old to make room for the new.

6. The difference between a compliment and a complaint is just a few letters.

7. Question mark moon ... Each star is a period ... in the lyrical miracle ... of the story eternal. After posting this poem on Monday and getting a comment from a reader about God, I answered "I think God is a poet who wrote the uni-verse!"

8. Even in November: My laundry is sun dried. My supper vegetables are garden grown, and my wood stove kindling is gathered from the woods around our house.

9. My father never taught us how to ride a bike or play ball, but he taught us that bullies act tough because they feel small inside and that the sickest most deranged people in the world are the ones who don't think they are sick.

10. Bottles of bubbles and flashing spinning tops are mixed with the cans of beans and jars of peanut butter on the shelves in my pantry. There is not even one can of cranberry sauce.

11. I found the mysterious matchbook scene (there were more outside of the shot) on the gravel driveway in front of my mailbox about a year ago. Today seemed like a good day to post it.

12. If you think this Thirteen Thursday list (posted for Thanksgiving Day) is void of the traditional holiday fixins, read last year's entry HERE.

13. Need a compliment? Go HERE.

Thank you for reading. Read more HERE.

November 24, 2009

Hello Goodbye

We're at Bryce's house today. See HERE.

November 23, 2009

Bedtime Story

Question mark moon
Each star is a period
in the lyrical miracle
of the story eternal

November 22, 2009

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

If you wait long enough styles come back, so do blog posts. It seems that yesterday's meme "One of These Things is Not Like the Other" was called "Liar Liar Pants on Fire" when I played it back in October and November 2005, and was called "Truth or Lies" when I played it in January 2006. I even used some of the same "things I've done that you probably have not" that I did in this recent meme, so long time readers had an advantage. In those past games I revealed more about my one-time job as a night watchman, that I have done some unpaid runway modeling before, that I have segmental vitiligo (which caused the left side of my head, my eyebrow and eyelashes on that side to go white due pigment loss), and how and why Joe and I rode out of the Havasupi Indian Reservation in the Grand Canyon on a helicopter.

As for the more recently posted truths and one lie: Joe, my sons and I lived in a bus one summer on the Zephyr Farm community (our current neighbors) when the owner's of the farm house we were living it would not renew the lease and we couldn't find housing. The bus was attached to a very small cabin. We had no indoor plumbing or electricity.

Back in those days we did weekly saunas at the Zephyr sauna house. Part of the ritual was to sweat enough and get heated enough that you could jump in the pond to cool down (even in winter). It was very invigorating!

I met Jessica Lange at a 2003 peace march in Washington to protest the invasion of Iraq in. She was a speaker. I gave her a copy of my poem "Dream for President Bush, which was later read on a Pacifica Radio.

Years ago some of us in Floyd studied under herbalist Susun Weed and learned to make medicinal tinctures. I currently grow Echinacea and Valerian and make tinctures from those roots, as well as from wild weeds.

When I was less than one year old, I was hospitalized for a month with first degree burns. We had no hot water and my mother was boiling water to wash clothes. As she carried a pot full of boiling water over to the washing machine, she lost control and dropped it. I was crawling nearby and was badly burned. Back then they used butter to treat burns. Seems it worked because I was only left with scars around my ankles where hot water seeped around my socks and where they forgot to put the butter.

They say a lie is 80% truth. I actually was in a pie eating contest at a Fourth of July Parade and Celebration when I was young girl. I remember being thrilled that someone was going to let me eat as much free blueberry pie as I wanted. I did not win the contest though.

But Tabor did! She correctly picked out the pie eating lie.

November 20, 2009

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

A Meme about me, first seen at The Chrysalis Stage: All of the below statements are true, except for one. You're job is to tell me in a comment which ones you have in common with me and which one you think I didn't do.

1. I have had a job as a night watchman

2. I have lived in a bus

3. I have jumped naked through a hole in an ice covered pond.

4. I have vitiligo

5. I've rode in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon.

6. I met Jessica Lange.

7. I've made herbal medicine with moonshine.

8. I have scars around each ankle from third degree burns.

9. I've modeled on a runway.

10. I have won a blueberry pie eating contest.

Note: I'll reveal the lie in my next post. Let me know if you do this meme so I can come over and play. Update: Answers are HERE.

November 19, 2009

The 13 Thursday Page Turner

bkzx.gif 1. While driving home in the rain on the Blue Ridge Parkway at night after babysitting Bryce, I saw three possums, the one that made a car swerve and almost cause a three car accident, the one I later ran over, and the one that happily got away.

2. I saw geese flying in V formation. The next day heard birds singing as if it was spring.

3. Recent googled topics of research: Beta glucan, Friday the 13th, Elvis Costello and seizures.

4. I recently said to my friend Rosemary: I have learned not to answer right away when someone asks me to do something, because it always seems harder than it really will be and my first thought is usually 'I can't possibly do that.' She answered, "I have learned to not answer right away for the complete opposite reason.

5. I know my relationships with my blog readers are real because, in the spirit of honesty and keeping current, I find it hard to skip over something big that has happened in my life. I learned this recently when I had a (simple partial) seizure and the journal part of my blog compelled me to at least mention it.

6. A seizure in which you don't lose consciousness can feel like out of control déjà vu (when everything seems strangely familiar), Jamais vu (when common things that should feel familiar feel utterly foreign) or presque vu (being on a delusional verge of almost remembering something).

7. A seizure without losing consciousness is like having vertigo and not throwing-up.

8. I was recently enthralled watching Nova's 3 part series, Becoming Human, which traced human evolution back to our earliest ancestors. It was like the documentary to the Clan of the Cave Bear, a book series about prehistoric times that I read a couple of decades ago.

9. Clan of the Cave Bear: The Danielle Steele of Neanderthals.

10. In the past few years I've written dozens of stories about other people for the local newspaper, including one about a toymaker, a singer, a pizza maker, a gardener, a teacher, a landscaper, an author, an artist, a poet, quilters, and actors.

11. I recently realized that my interest in telling other people's stories started when I wrote my brother Jim's eulogy in 2001. As I wrote it, I remember thinking that all my past writing had been building to come to that point; what could be more important than writing someone's eulogy, and why don't we write about people's lives before they die?

12. After that, I wrote an essay about my father (a year before he died) and read it on the local NPR station. Then, my mother said, "I hope you're going to write one for me." That one got on the radio too.

13. As a writer, is THIS cheating?

The rest of the 13 Thursday stories are HERE.

November 17, 2009

Camp Supports Children who are Grieving

parball.gif~ The following was published in The Floyd Press newspaper on October 15, 2009.

At Camp Treehouse West children who have lost a loved one learn that they aren't alone. Hosted by Carilion Clinic Hospice, this year's 8th annual day camp was held at Camp Powhatan in Pulaski County on October 3rd. Serving Floyd, Radford, Giles, Pulaski and Montgomery Counties, the event is free to youths from ages 6 to 17. Parents are also encouraged to attend and receive guidance on how to support their child through the grieving process, said Renee Altizer, Carilion Clinic Hospice Manager.

Altizer explained that Camp Treehouse provides a safe place where children who have experienced a death in their family can express their feelings. "They identify with other children and know that they aren't the only one going through something this. Maybe they make a buddy that they can do things with after the camp," Altizer said. 3ncklace.gif

Age appropriate group sessions led by hospice nurses and social workers are alternated with recreational activities. During the group sessions children are given a vocabulary to describe their feelings and are supported to tell their stories. "It's amazing. They come in shy and little by little they gain trust and start to open up," said hospice social worker Sharon Crane.

Each camper is paired with a mentor who has gone through a training to prepare for the role. Mentors accompany campers at recreational activities and often have had first hand experience with the grieving process. cmpt1.gif

Christiansburg school teacher Reva Douglas Brown lost her brother when she was 15. After serving as a mentor at the regional Camp Treehouse weekend last spring and seeing its value, she returned for the fall camp. "I figured I could help out and it would also be good for me."
First time mentor Dennis Khasu, who is studying for his doctorate in elementary education at Virginia Tech, said he heard about the camp's call for volunteers when it was announced on campus. Khasu lost both his parents and has been a father figure to his younger siblings. "I love to be with kids," the Malawi native said.

Fun is an important component of the Camp Treehouse experience. At the camp pavilion where craft tables were set up campers made kaleidoscopes, bird feeders, paintings, beaded jewelry, and personalized picture frames. Rock wall climbing was a popular activity, along with blowing giant bubbles, music therapy, soccer, and team building parachute games. A barbecue lunch was catered by Wildwood Smokehouse.7wall24.gif

Altizer described the closing ceremony when campers, mentors, and staff gather together for a memorial service and release floating heart candles into a pond in memory of lost loved ones. "The names are read out and the chaplain does a closing prayer. It's a nice ending to a full day," she said.

Along with new friendships, each camper goes home with a journal and a blanket, handmade by a local chapter of Project Linus, a group that gifts children with blankets and quilts as a way to bolster their sense of security. ~ Colleen Redman

Note: Scroll HERE for more Floyd Press stories.

November 16, 2009

Tell Tale

Loose Leaf
Life So Far
Owner's Manual

November 15, 2009

The Weekend Update Without Seth Myers

~ Joe came home from giving a presentation on mindfulness at a Virginia Counselors Association Conference all excited about the Feingold Diet (an anti-additive diet) as a hopeful mental health component to help get school kids off drugs for attention-deficit disorder.

~ I had a set-back in the form of the first (simple partial) seizure I've had in over ten years. It went on for longer than past episodes and came in the form of a long heavy deja vu and feeling as if I was about to remember something, coupled with anxiety. I'm still trying to figure out what triggered it and still recovering from it.

~ Joe dug a hole to replant our butterfly bush in a sunnier part of the yard. I called out from the window, "I dig a pony." He got it.

~ I went to town to do an interview (pre-seizure) with a woman who has a new spa and hair salon in town. I was late because my hair was a mess and I spent an extra five minutes at the mirror trying to fix it.

~ I wore Joe's hanging name tag from the conference around my neck all day Saturday. I guess this means we're going steady.

~ Even though it's November, we woke up this morning to birdsong and ate breakfast on the porch in bare feet.

~ Recent news story reported by Seth Meyers in true twisted humor style was the introduction of a new Winnie the Pooh character because "Eeyore finally did."

~ That's the weekend update without Seth Myers. Got to go now; my feet just got cold.

November 13, 2009

Medical Charities Benefit Concert

flo4.gif~ The following was published in The Floyd Press newspaper on 11/12/09

Florence Rewinski's interest in healthcare reform hit home this summer when she underwent an unexpected major surgery. Single and uninsured, Rewinski felt healthy one day, the next she was saddled with medical bills.

"I've had insurance in the past but it was cost prohibitive," she said, explaining that while insured she was denied benefits for an emergency surgery because it was deemed a pre-existing condition. With a holistic approach to healthcare, her treatment choices are not generally covered as standard care. The high cost of insurance combined with lack of coverage and treatment options made health insurance unsustainable for Rewinski.

Not knowing if a large discovered internal mass was malignant or not, Rewinski faced her pending surgery with determination and trust. "It wasn't about the money. It was about my health," she recalled. Her doctor at the Floyd Community Health Clinic recommended the University of Virginia (UVA), a teaching hospital in Charlottesville, where Rewinski received a radical hysterectomy and the removal of what turned out to be benign fibroids.

An avid bio-dynamic home gardener who works for the Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamic Agriculture in Woolwine, Rewinski was denied medical assistance for her outstanding bill because she earns over $21,000 a year. Although she is grateful to have received "good caring service" at UVA, and has been making payments, it hasn't been enough. "Because the hospital is funded by the government, they follow certain payment criteria and requirements to keep their funding," she said, pointing to the possibility that her bill will be turned over to a collection agency, which could involve being served papers and facing a judge in court for non-payment.

Acting on a tip from the Laurel Creek Chinese Medicine Clinic, where she has received healthcare in the past, Rewinsky phoned the Commonwealths Attorney's office to ask about the Medical Charities of Floyd County. The fund was founded approximately two decades ago by attorney Dale Proffit and past Commonwealth Attorney Gino Williams and is still run through that office.

"The purpose of the Floyd Medical Charities is so that churches and people can do fundraisers for those in need and run the money through it," said Medical Charities' President Sheriff Shannon Zeeman. Zeeman, who is also Vice President of Floyd County Cares, explained that donations to the fund are tax deductible and the people who benefit don't have to claim income. "We don't give money to individuals, we pay their bills. Donations can be made in the name of someone in need or to an unspecified general fund," Zeeman said.

Rewinski learned from Jessica Thompson, Secretary of the Medical Charities Fund, that there was no unspecified money in the fund. Thompson suggested a fundraiser, which is when Virginia Neukirch got involved. "Florence is a friend. I knew about her health issues and that she didn't have insurance," Neukirch said, commenting on how many people today can not afford the rising cost of insurance.

A fundraiser concert to benefit Rewinski, organized by Neukirch, is scheduled for November 15th at the Sun Hall from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. It will feature a silent auction and the musical acts of Grace Note with special guests Sharon Feury and Abe Gorsky, Mike Mitchell, and Mountain Jazz with Bernie Coveney, Martin Scudder, and Tom Kingelhofer. Cost for the benefit concert is $7. "People can also donate directly to the fund in Rewinski's name," Neukirch said. (Medical Charities of Floyd County, 100 East Main Street, Room 106, Floyd VA. 24091)

"A lot of people have been helped over the years and you got to give the community credit," Zeeman said about Floyd's Medical Charities fund. Floyd Countians have a reputation for stepping up to help each other, Zeeman said, adding that "the fund is great thing for the community."

Neukirch agrees. "Florence and I would like to make doing benefit for the fund our yearly endeavor," she said.

Neukirch reports that the response to the concert to benefit Florence Rewinski has been good. She hopes that people will come out to enjoy the music and auction and spend some time together. "It should be a nice afternoon," she said.

November 12, 2009

13: The Writing is on the Facebook Wall

13kylagif.gif1. Sometimes I feel like a "Talking Head" who has "Stopped Making Sense."

2. Speaking of Talking Heads, David Byrne's latest blog entry is called "Internet Anti-Christ." He makes this point: I see that in my lifetime I will witness the end of books, or most of them, physical copies of recorded music and probably physical newspapers too. Stuff that's been around for a thousand years will be gone in my lifetime! ... All those academic books filled with Auden's or Jane Austen's letters -- it's hard to imagine a collection of someone's text messages, tweets and e-mails.

3. Weirdest mailing recently received: A catalog of unusual gifts, featuring a bust of Obama growing a green chia afro!

4. On the cover of the same catalog there was a green gieco gecko in a red Santa hat.

5. The picture above is of my poet friend Mara's daughter Kyla. Kyla was facebook for Halloween. Her T-shirt said "Write on my Wall."

6. The very least I think I should get from suffering with having 3 U's through half a game of Scrabble is to stick my opponent with 10 points by not being able to use her Q. But a Q has become like a woman who doesn't need a man to reproduce. There are at least 3 Q words without U's accepted in the Scrabble dictionary: Qi, Qat, Qaud.

7. Heard this week: "Every lie is 80% truth." How true is that?

8. Speaking of lies and half truths, I think THIS guy might be Canada's version of Jon Stewart. He makes a hilarious serious statement about the swine flu vaccine.

9. If 'garden' was spelled 'gardin' I would have been beaten by a 10 year old I was playing Scrabble with recently.

10. The fact that the recent army base shooting happened in Killeen, Texas and that the shooter was from Virginia and graduated from nearby Virginia Tech is weird, but not as weird as the fact that this man who was deranged enough to kill 13 fellow soldiers worked in the mental health field counseling others.

11. Joe kisses Colleen and then says: I stole a kiss from right under your nose.

12. My baby grandson Bryce has a new little happy clap and skip in his step that I'm calling his "end line dance." I hope to document him in the act soon.

13. My "Through the Ages" Facebook album from birth to the present is HERE.

Face to face with others playing 13 Thursday HERE.

November 11, 2009

The Nutcracker

This is the part of our café Scrabble game where Mara jumps up on the chair and gives Rosemary, who has a headache, a massage, and then Rosemary calls Mara a "Nutcracker" and I crack up.

Note: Click and scroll HERE for more Scrabble pictures and antics.

November 10, 2009

Just Around the Corner

First Santa Sighting
Have a Ball at the Mall
'Twas the Month before Christmas and All Through the House....

Story time is HERE.

November 9, 2009

From Time to Time

notebook.gifAfter a few packed weekends full of back-to-back activities - hiking and staying overnight at a B&B with my friend Alwyn, covering Floyd's 350 Climate Change Action and first annual Eco-Fair, dancing to the Kind for Halloween at the Pine, attending my woman's dialogue, spoken word night, and more - it felt good to have some time this weekend, time to sit in the hammock and notice that the crickets are still peeping; time to pick volunteer garden turnip greens and cook them; time to shake out my rugs, water plants, and sweep the leaves off the front porch; time to ponder some of the questions that the Radford University counseling students asked after reading my book on grief and loss; time to talk to my son Josh on the phone and hear about how happy he is spending time with his new girlfriend; time to work on some questions for the next interview I'm scheduled to do; time to chase some fat flies (awakened by the 70 degree weather) out of the house, time to loll around on my lounge chair reading the paper and peeling off clothes.

On Sunday evening Joe returned home from running a weekend teen meditation retreat in Woolwine. He brought some delicious leftover gourmet organic food that we ate out of the containers in bed while sharing a beer and watching Bill Moyer's Journal together, a great way to end my kind of weekend.

November 8, 2009

Shinning a Healing Light

shirleya.gif~The following recently appeared in All About HER, a regional quarterly insert of The Floyd Press and other area newspapers.

Enter quietly ... A place for meditation and contemplation ... reads the chalkboard easel in front of the Living Light Center in Floyd. Inside the spacious main room, incense burns, soft music plays, and a koi fish fountain trickles water as Shirley Ann Burgess, the center's founder, explains how she decided on the name Living Light. "I believe that beyond the personality there is a beautiful light in everyone. The center is about making space for that light to shine," she says.

A mother of three with eighteen years experience in body work, Burgess teaches yoga, is a reiki practitioner and a licensed massage therapist trained in Rolfing Structural Integration, a form of bodywork that reorganizes connective tissues and can positively alter a person's posture and body structure. She recalls sitting in a women's circle years before the center opened and setting her intention. "My vision is to have a center that will provide tools to empower the individual and their health and healing process," she recalls saying.

In Burgess's manifested vision, which became a reality in June 2008, colorful exercise balls and yoga mats invite movement. Local art adorns the walls and folding room dividers suggest versatility of space. There's a sitting area, a desk, a kitchenette, and a massage table set up in small adjoining room. Everything seems placed with an eye towards calming aesthetics. shrileya2.gif

The sense of calm that permeates the Living Light Center extends beyond the building and onto its surrounding property, where a cedar sauna, a hot tub, and a meditation garden look out onto a view of Buffalo Mountain, Floyd County's highest peak. The garden features large stone croppings - representative of the "stillness within" - placed in the center of a sea of gravel that will be raked into wave patterns. A work in progress being designed in the Japanese tradition by local artist Lora Giessler, the garden will soon be available to the public for meditation and contemplation, Burgess says.

Drawing on Burgess's expertise and the skills of other practitioners, the Living Light center offers a range of holistic healing modalities, including Swedish massage, shiatsu, hot stone therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, quantum bio-dynamics, cranial sacral therapy, naturopathy, breathwork, meditation, pilates, and yoga. Along with ongoing yoga and pilates classes, a reiki circle, and a women's circle, the eco-friendly center hosts workshops and guided hikes on the Buffalo in May and October.

Everything from a 15 minute chair massage to a 90 minute table massage followed by a hot tub is available at Living Light. Massage, sauna, and hot tub packages are offered by appointment or for walk-in traffic on Fridays and Saturday from 4 - 6 p.m. "We're geared towards working with the residents of Floyd and surrounding areas and visiting tourists. Farmers, lawyers, professors ... singles, couples, and groups ... children from infancy to people in their 80's have used our services," Burgess explains. 3lltub.gif

A leader in Floyd's growing holistic health care movement, Burgess believes in an "integrated health system" where doctors and practitioners communicate and work together. She'd like to put Floyd on the holistic health map. In May she initiated a first meeting to bring interested parties together. Approximately twenty people, mostly practitioners, attended. "Everyone from doctors to chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists," Burgess remembers.

Known as the Floyd Holistic Health Network, the group meets regularly and is currently working on a directory of holistic health providers and their locations. In January, the network is scheduled to do a series of public presentations and demonstrations under the sponsorship of Floyd's Jessie Peterman Library.

Outside the Living Light Center, Burgess stands by the hot tub and sets the scene of an upcoming event: A day hike to the Buffalo with a catered picnic lunch, followed by a massage and a dip in the hot tub, where participants can soak, reflect back to the Buffalo, and enjoy the fall foliage while sipping tea.

"Yes, we serve tea," Burgess says. "It's really all about the client. What their needs are and what they want." She explains that the idea behind Living Light is to provide the encouragement and space for people to nurture themselves, so that they will then have energy to nurture others. "We want people to slow down. Go inside. Not feel hurried," she says. ~ Colleen Redman

Post notes: Shirley Ann is also a soccer mom who raisers goats. See the completed meditation garden. HERE. The last photo is of a Mother and Children's Night Out at Living Light. Scroll HERE for more Floyd Press stories.

November 6, 2009

November Remembered

1. A Watered Down Version of Trees
2. Tunnel Vision
3. Tangled up in Blue
4. Honks for Food

Note: A short video revealing the tops of the watered down trees is HERE.

November 5, 2009

13 Thursday: Sushi Belushi

belush80.gif1. The worst part of being dressed up as a Blues Brother for Halloween and wearing a buttoned-up shirt and tie is that my bra strap slipped off my shoulder while dancing at a party and I couldn't find a way in to put it back. Pictures HERE.

2. This week I attended the Radford University counseling class on grief and loss that uses my book (The Jim and Dan Stories) about losing my two brothers a month apart as part of their curriculum. I speak to the class, do some readings, and answer questions. It was my fifth time attending, the first time being in 2003.

3. My poet friend Mara whose husband died the same month my brothers did and her twelve year old daughter Kyla also attended as speakers to give their perspectives on grief and loss. Mara's father and Kyla's grandfather died a little more than a month ago and they talked about that too.

4. After the class, we went out for sushi, which is when Kyla showed me the sushi shirt (pictured) hanging behind the restaurant counter. "Next year I want to wear that shirt, put on dark sunglasses and be Blues Brother John Belushi Sushi," I said.

5. When Mara introduced herself and Kyla to the class, she said, "Think of us as the Gilmore Girls, but they have better writers."

6. For me, speaking to the class is a little unsettling, kind of like being on Jay Leno and having to talk about myself and the making of my last movie instead of just acting in the movie.

7. When I told Mara that Rumi did not write down his poetry but spontaneously recited it as people followed him around and wrote it down, she was jealous and said, "I want someone to follow me around and write down what I say."

8. I began the talking part of my presentation by trying to put the class at ease, telling the story of how I recently received a Sports Illustrated mailing in my brother's name that was soliciting a renewed subscription from him. On the envelope in big letters next to Danny's name it said, "We Want You Back." I was able to laugh and say, "Yeah, I know what you mean. Get in line."

9. Beatles music played a role in the book I wrote, especially the song "Let it Be," which we sang to Dan when he was dying and then at his funeral. Kyla sang George Harrison's "Blackbirds" to her grandfather when he was sick and at his memorial party. The RU professor teaching the class ended it by playing THIS song. We sang along.

10. Every time I do the class I get some version of a question about whether or not I believe in an afterlife. My current short answer is this: My heart tends to believe it. My mind tends to not believe it.

11. Read about two past classes HERE. Blog writings on grief and loss are HERE.

12. I've never seen The Gilmore Girls and when Mara referred to her and Kyla that way I was thinking of The Golden Girls (three elderly ladies living together) and was confused. I asked her about it later and she explained it over sushi.

13. Kyla was Facebook for Halloween. I like eel.

More playing 13 Thursday HERE.

November 4, 2009

Life on Paper

Are poems like autumn leaves
forgotten after they fall?
Do we only pay attention
to the bright red maple
and ignore the buried brown?

Do we pile them up to burn?
How long before they yellow?
Is no word immortal?
Are they fleeting as thoughts?
Transparent as ghosts?
What do poems do
in the afterlife?

November 3, 2009

I Vote for Candy

And I elect Bryce as the cutest dragon boy. The photo was taken by Bryce's Aunt Darla and posted to her Facebook, where I clipped it. Watch Bryce walk upside down HERE.

November 2, 2009

Tea Ceremony at Living Light

My empty white tea bowl on a white paper saucer held so much potential that I found myself smiling. It seemed to smile back like a happy full moon with a secret.
After the swirling tea was poured and my bowl was filled, I gazed into the steamy pool like a clairvoyant. With a meditation cushion tucked beneath me, I sat, letting my mind be transported to a mountain valley creek. To the tune of a monk's chant, I watched the dance of floating sticks and the shift of mud mixed with clear mountain rain.
Cakes, dark chocolates, sweet potatoes were served in silence. The song of a singing bowl rang us into the present.
Outside in the misty afternoon, the top of Buffalo Mountain was obscured in fog. Our collective attention turned to the dedication of the newly constructed mediation garden, designed in Japanese tradition by local artist Lora Giessler.
The boulders in the center represent the stillness within, unchanged by the waves around it. Around the garden wheel we stacked rocks, each one a testament to the living moment and the balance it takes to live it.

Post note: Floyd's Living Light Japanese Garden is open to the community for meditation and contemplation. More about Living Light HERE.

November 1, 2009

Ghouls, Fools, and Witch's Brews

I saw a couple of cowgirl trick-or-treaters and rows of lit up jack-o-lanterns bobbing up and down the streets of Floyd on my drive through town last night. It was a misty dusk and I was on my way to The Pine Tavern Pavilion for their annual Halloween party featuring the music of The Kind. Once there, I saw blogger Fred First in a bathrobe and some other scary sights, like this Bride of Blood, posed (above) with my witchy woman friend Kim.
This was the first Halloween in years that I actually showed my real face, so I was shy at first. I hung out with the mimes (Sally and Laura) who turned out to be excellent dancers.
I had watched a youtube clip of John Belushi and Dan Akroyd singing Soul Man to get in the mood before I left the house. "Somebody hand me a cheeseburger (if not a harmonica)" was my line for the night. I did some Belushi moves on the crowded dance floor and got in touch with my Motown roots. I also got some attention from my roaring 20's flapper friend Ilima.
Some people made pit stops to the town costume collector's closet before showing up to the party, and that's how the Blue Fairy (Alina) was transformed into the Queen of Hearts and her Prince of Peace Piper (Chris) became the Mad Hatter.
I was sure Mara was the recently kicked out planet Pluto, but she informed me she was really "The Center of the Universe."
I'm still waiting for my friend Rowan to let me borrow his Mexican hat dance hat. Halloween is a great time to reveal alter-egos and let the child within play, and the group pictured above takes the Halloween party cake!