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December 30, 2009

13 Thursday Sale

13wa637.gif 1. On Christmas Eve I was reminded of questions like 'how many people can you fit in a phone booth (do they still exist?) or 'how many can you fit in a Volkswagen?' See what I mean HERE.

2. Why did the chicken cross the road? I really did wonder that when I had to slow down for one that was crossing the parkway when I was driving to Roanoke recently.

3. I'm not much of a joiner but I couldn't resist joining the facebook club "I got a fruitcake for Christmas."

4. I also got a German stollen, which made me wonder what my husband was trying to fatten me up for.
5. My son Josh came home like a Santa, brought pottery and wood cutting board gifts, fixed my kitchen chairs, and turned Joe and I on to on to "Flight of the Conchords," which we watched video clips of on the laptop at the kitchen table HERE.

6. Speaking of tables, Bryce is right at home on top on the one pictured above.

7. Best recent poetic comment from a reader on my winter ice storm pictures: In the forest as sun went on trees there was this depth of tinkle as ice released and fell in a cascade like bells.

8. PBS makes me cry. While Joe was away running a teen meditation retreat I watched a show on Gus Saint-Gaudens and his sculpture, some of which brought tears to my eyes. The next night I was inspired and sometimes moved to tears by PBS specials on the lives of Louisa May Alcott, the 1800's author most famous for Little Women, and 1930's author of the original Nancy Drew classics, Millie Benson, two very accomplished, feisty and creative women.

9. Louisa May Alcott used hashish and opium and had what is known today as Lupus. On her deathbed at the premature age of 55 her last words were, "Is it not meningitis?"

10. I think the back-to-the-landers who started communes in Floyd in the 70's could be the reincarnated Transcendentalists of Louisa May Alcott's time who started utopian communities in the 1800s.

11. Since Joe's been away, I've been feeling guilty about all the wood it takes to heat the whole house for one person, but it's been New York cold here.

12. A cherry pie is merry but the romance of Christmas is short lived. The day after I want to turn over and fall to sleep.

13. Watch me yell, "I LOVE 13!" HERE

Get your 13 Thursday good deals HERE.

December 29, 2009



A sea of snow has washed up on my porch where I'm lounging in the sun like a beach bum on vacation. Should I take the plunge, wade out into it? I might need a boat to reach the other side of the yard. I might see a polar bear.

There is no shore in this high tide of white. I'm surrounded. Birds easily hop on top of it. Squirrels chase each other like kids out of school.

My house is like an ark stocked with everything I need to wait out the flood. One day melting icicles pour through drain pipes like tide rushing into pools. The next, the scene is a shinning sheet of sparkling ice, frozen in place.

Anchored on an ocean as solid as the moon, I'm like an Eskimo astronaut, covered from head to toe in my puffed-up hooded down suit, making exploration treks to the mailbox. News from the outside world.

December 28, 2009

Ice is but a Dream

Most of the ice is gone now but its memory can be seen in the fallen tree limbs all over my yard that broke from the weight of it, and in the ice pictures I took of it in various stages of melt.
Dog wood buds looked like aliens in space helmets and reminded me of cryonics.
This was an ice storm with teeth.
As it warmed, icicles froze mid drip.

December 27, 2009

Christmas is Cancelled

iczee.gifThat's what I said to Joe Christmas morning when we woke up to an ice storm, when the power went out and I wondered how many turkeys wouldn't get cooked for Christmas dinner and how many families wouldn't be able to travel to see relatives that day. "We won't even be able to light the tree!" I was shocked to realize.

Luckily, the neighborhood farm community where we gather for holidays didn't lose their power (and even if they had some of those homes are off the grid). So I cooked my rutabagas and potatoes on the grill propane burner on our front porch, mashed them by hand and added them to the farm turkey with all the fixings.

Today, the hum of the generator takes the place of Christmas carols playing on the stereo, keeping our just hunted year-long supply of deer meat in the freezer safe. Candles last night added seasonal ambiance as I ate my Christmas fruitcake and Joe rang a Tibetan singing bowl that reverberated out like a monk walking gently in the snow.

December 26, 2009

T'was the Night before Christmas and All Through the House

A rumpus was roaring
Kahlua and cream was pouring
Yankees were swapping
Dudes were jive talking
And Bryce and his daddy where in the house

Watch the neighborhood Yankee gift swap in action HERE. Last year's Christmas Eve gift swap is HERE.

December 24, 2009

13: Making a List and Checking it Twice

xmas13df.gif 1. I recently became interested in the word doodad. An etymology dictionary reports: "unnamed thing," 1905, chiefly U.S., a made-up word; as is doohickey (1914). Other antonyms for doodad are: Gizmo, thingamajig, and thingamabob.

2. The problem with watching a not so hot DVD movie is that because it's not memorable there's a chance I can forget I watched it and find myself watching it again.

3. The problem with thrift shopping is this: I don't mind wearing other people's clothing, in fact it appeals to my inclination to re-use and re-cycle, but I do mind wearing their perfume, which often is so strong that it doesn't wash out.

4. This is the place where I mention that a lot of deer hunting has been going on in my family but spare by vegetarian friends by not posting pictures.

5. I wonder why it took me 58 years to notice that a pretzel is shaped like a heart.

6. A google search informed me that a pretzel is of Medieval European origin and that pretzels used to be hidden on Easter morning just like eggs are hidden today. The three holes in the pretzel represent the Christian Trinity of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit," and they are thought to bring luck, prosperity, and spiritual wholeness. Who knew?

7. I once had a bumper stick that said "Why Be Normal?" that I hung upside down on my car, just to prove the point. I remembered this recently when a friend made a comment about me stopping in the middle of the road the day after the snowstorm to get out and take snow pictures (like the ones below).

8. I also had a recycling bumper sticker that said "Once is not enough" that I put on twice to prove that point.

9. My new imaginary bumper sticker warns "I brake for barns," which means I'm likely to pull over and take pictures of them. xmaska.jpg

10. And today when I should have been baking cookies, I was writing poetry about the snow and taking snow pictures of cows and birds.

11. My sister Kathy does themed Christmas trees each year and names them. This year's was Christmas Blizzard (right). I think she could hire herself out to decorate other people's trees for Christmas.

12. I just got a Christmas e-card from recent Democratic candidate for Virginia governor Terry Mcauliffe and his family and thought for a moment that it was from one of my long lost relatives in Cork, Ireland who contacted me recently after reading THIS post.

13. What do you call people like my 17 month-old grandson Bryce who are afraid of Santa Claus? Claustrophobic.

Celebrate 13 Thursday on Christmas Eve HERE.

December 23, 2009

On the Go in the Snow

There's more than one way to get from A to Z. (See HERE.)
But Bryce says "no." Snow is too unknown. He doesn't understand why it makes his hands sting and why he can't walk in it without falling down. (See HERE.)
The stairs or nature's elevator? You decide. (See HERE.)

December 22, 2009

Winter Bloom

December trees bloom
with icy white blossoms

Shimmering snowflaked
petals drift down

Draping the ground
in a misty bridal veil

Pronouncing the promise
of winter's silent vow

December 21, 2009

Product Placement

1. I think I should charge The Gap for the posting of this picture.
2. Andrew Wyeth was here.

December 19, 2009

A Neighborhood Snowdown

An overflow of snow
No dry place to sit
No Christmas card delivery
Just a still life scene of white serene

December 17, 2009

13 Thursday: Do Not Open Till Friday

13m.gif1. Writing is a lot like surfing. You have to catch the wave of creativity and ride it. If you don't wait for the wave, you'll be just paddling without much momentum.

2. Waves come and go. If you miss one you can wait for another. But they're not predictable like a bus schedule, so you have to stay alert.

3. Speaking of being alert, and how I wasn't. Today is Thursday but I thought it was Wednesday, hence the late 13 Thursday post and title.

4. Whenever I drive at night at Christmastime and turn to see a particularly brightly lit up house, I wonder how many people drive off the road this time of year doing the same thing.

5. I probably scared some people shopping for groceries at The Harvest Moon Food Store yesterday when I came in and loudly announced what I had just heard on the radio: that the radiation from one Cat Scan is 50 to 700% higher than an X-ray and causes cancer.

6. Duh. I knew that more than 25 years ago, which is why I declined to have my son Josh get one that was prescribed after a head injury from a car accident. I was treated like a negligent parent for saying no.

7. I recently interviewed an inspiring young man in our community who is living with cancer and treating it holistically, after traditional treatments didn't work. He described how many people have cancer cells in their body but that doesn't automatically mean it will spread or be fatal. "I keep myself positive with constant mindfulness about how and what I'm doing. Worry and negativity have a domino effect that is counterproductive to good health."

8. You can never have too much butter around at Christmastime.

9. The ghost of Christmas Carol: A convergence of weather (4 inches of snow) and the refrigerator turning on prompted my crystal wine glasses to spontaneously ring. The song lasted for 2 days. You've got to hear it to believe it HERE.

10. Ring for yourself HERE.

11. Why is it that I always want to knock the trees down instead of avoiding them while playing games like THIS?

12. Best bumper sticker seen while on the road this week: Back Off. I'm not that kind of car.

13. In four years of doing 13 on Thursday this is the second time I forgot what day it was. HERE is the last time I fell asleep at that switch, which starts: I've always been fascinated by the group mind that humans share, which causes us to agree about certain things like what day of the week it is, or to stay in our own lane on the right side of the road while driving down a highway. What would happen if we completely dropped out and forgot these collective agreements?

I hope I'm not to late to play with others HERE.

December 16, 2009

Decked Out

Days of Yore
Jack's Shack
Winter Sun Shines
Bank Makes a Statement

Floyd Photos:
Finders Keepers, On Woods Gap Road, Winter Sun, Blue Ridge Bank Drive-in Window.

December 15, 2009

Christmas Window Shopping

In this storybook I'm the Matchbook Girl, on the outside looking in. I'm the girl who wants that pair of red shoes in the window but doesn't have the money to buy them or the nerve to really wear them. I'm the girl who wants to come in from the cold, sit by the fire and eat Christmas pudding with Tiny Tim. I'm the one that cuts her hair and sells it, then gets bejeweled tortoise shell combs on Christmas morning.
The sounds and scents of merriment are just beyond my reach. But there's always the chance I'll be invited inside where I'll hear the ringing of bells and be convinced that Santa's sleigh is near.
I miss my sled, the one I named Betsy. I miss my brothers and sisters, my nana, the stampede down the stairs to the tree on Christmas morning, the sound of paper ripping and shouts of glee, the pink quilted poodle skirt I got when I was ten, the white furry muff that I wore to church.
At night, the fogged-up windows sparkle like stars from within. Moving mannequins with clothes from another era, make me feel melancholy because I didn't live then and those people are all gone now. I'd like to ice skate on the world of reflection that spreads out before me like a pond. I'd like to catch a snowflake and watch it melt.

Downtown Floyd Christmas Windows:
Chic's antiques, Finders Keepers, Farmer's Supply, and Oddfella's Cantina in downtown Floyd.

December 14, 2009

The Carolina Kiln Build Revisited

~ More journeys on the Yellow Brick Road as traveled by "He Gets a Kick Out of Bricks" Josh Copus
3 kilns, 2 sheds, 1 studio, and a woodfire pizza oven (pictured) just for fun; that's some of the latest structural inventory on my Asheville potter son Josh's property in Madison County and doesn't take into account the Airstream porch, composting outhouse, outdoor bath, and garden on the other side of the creek.
10 potters, 3 weeks, 2 woodfire teachers, and 1 neighbor's guesthouse; that's some of the stats from the Carolina Kiln Build, a residential immersion woodfire kiln building workshop held on Josh's property last summer and led by Josh and another Clayspace potter.
Two kilns, The Land Shark and The Burrow, were built for different purposes and added to the compound's large Noborigama chambered climbing kiln that Josh built in 2007.
Towards the end of the 3 week kiln building workshop, one of the potters was having a hard time, so Josh came up with the idea of staging an awards ceremony for her. By the end of the build Josh had presented each potter with a signed Community Brick, along with a short tribute speech, citing their unique (funny and serious) contributions to the team. (Learn more about the Community Bricks HERE.
One kiln build potter wrote an article about the build that was published in The Log, an international publication for woodfirers that's produced in Ireland and the same publication that printed Josh's "Building Community" story a couple of years before.
The article in The Log led to Josh being invited to be a guest panelist at a groundbreaking international Wood-firing Conference in Germany next year, where he'll be telling his story and presenting a paper. While in Europe, he'll also be traveling to La Born France, famous for its wild clay and pottery communities.

Note: Scroll HERE for more Asheville Potter Son news.

December 13, 2009

Life with Bryce

The Big Apple
The Kitchen Help (video HERE)
Rock Star
Wanna Dance? (video HERE.)

December 11, 2009

YAC Takes on a Christmas Classic

1ghost_8543.gif~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on December 10, 2009.

Mankind is my business!" bellowed the Ghost of Jacob Marley, played by Emerson Perry during a Sunday evening performance of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Sun Hall. This classic tale of redemption and Christmas spirit, the latest Young Actors Co-op (YAC) production, enlisted the talents of the largest cast yet, with many parts suited for young first time performers.

Top hats and bonnets, petticoat dresses, shawls, and eerie ghostly cloaks, along with inventive set designs literally set the stage for an engaging 90 minutes of holiday entertainment, played to a full house. timytim562.gif Period costumes from the nineteenth century were borrowed from Charlotte Atkins' private vintage collection, sewn by YAC parents Dr. Sue Osborne and Heather Spangler, and found in thrift shops. The Ghost of Christmas Present (Coriander Woodruff) adorned in a wreath of holly loomed large on walking stilts.

The addition of drop microphones by YAC light and sound engineer Woody Woodruff allowed audience members in farthest reaches of the hall to hear first time YAC actor, 7 year old Bert Avellar deliver Tiny Tim's resounding line "God bless us everyone." Special tricks of lighting projected Jacob Marley's haunting face on to Scrooge's (Cameron Woodruff) door. danc48.gif

"YAC strives to bring the highest standard of theater excellence to the stage, to provide a creative outlet for youths in the region, and to encourage a love and appreciation for the art of theater in young and old," the event program reads. Under the direction of Rose McCutchan, the group has proven once again that they are fulfilling that mission. ~ Colleen Redman

Note: Last chance to catch this performance is tonight at the Sun Hall at 7:00. Tickets at the door are $6 for adults and $3 dollars for children. Youtube video clips are HERE and HERE.

December 9, 2009

The 13 Thursday Teapoet

13tpt.gif1. They say that each year 100's of words are dropped from the English language and that 90% of what we write is communicated using only 7,000 words. Keep a word from going extinct. Adopt one HERE.

2. Enjoy a virtual cup of tea and a tea leaf reading HERE. Don't burn yourself. The tea is hot.

3. Last Thursday I asked "Why is a heavy heart empty and a full heart light?" The next day I posed the question on Facebook. Here's the best answer I got: A heart that is loved by another heart is supported in many different ways, and therefore feels lighter.

4. I have an imaginary sister blog to Loose Leaf called Loose Change: How a Writer Spends Her Time.

5. I once bought a flock of chickens for a family in Africa for Christmas.

6. In the past week my kitchen has been used to play Scrabble, butcher a deer, and host a computer doctor house call.

7. Having no access to my files and my Outlook inbox, and being displaced from my work station while my PC is in the shop, is like having a boat with neither an anchor or motor.

8. Recent Google search poetry: goose loose blues for the melting pot.

9. A Litter of Laptops: Yesterday in Blacksburg with Joe, he was seeing a client and I headed over to The Easy Chair coffee house with my laptop hoping to get some work done. Every single chair in both rooms of the coffee shop were taken by people on laptops who were not drinking or eating anything bought from the shop. I pulled up a chair at a table where a young woman was watching Friends on her laptop and did not order a drink.

10. After buying Christmas cookies at Winterfest, getting 4 inches of snow, and seeing Floyd's Young Actor's performance of A Christmas in the first week of December, I wonder how much more Christmas it can get.

11. Watch Floyd's Young Actors deliver the most famous Christmas lines as spoken by The Ghost of Jacob Marley and Tiny Tim HERE and HERE.

12. A video community of all Floyd video clips, including some of mine is HERE.

13. Poet's bio-note: I'm a nightshift stenographer hired by the muse to take down the moon's business

The poetry of Thirteen Thursday is HERE. Teapoet poems are HERE.

December 8, 2009


Who rings the bell of poetry
and what makes me sing along?

December 7, 2009

Easy Come Easy Go

The creeks are running and puddles are the growing.
A few hours of sun brings a mush of slush.
A December thaw is a good day for walking
I love trees.

December 6, 2009

A White Winterfest

There's nothing like a winter wonderland snowglobe to stir the spirit of the Christmas season, or to shake up weekend plans.
Although our town's Christmas parade, planned for today, was postponed till next week due to snow, some festive weekend events did herald in the holidays. Pictured here are some cast members from the Young Actors Co-op's latest play "A Christmas Carol" preparing to do some scenes at Friday's "Dickens of a Night." They fit right in with their period dress. I think I see Scrooge in his nightgown.
I covered the 15th annual Winterfest Art and Craft Show at the Jacksonville Art Center for the town paper. The festival, held in the center's renovated dairy barn, showcases the handcrafted works of Floyd artisans and features our local musicians. There's home baked goodies and kid's activities too. Pictured here is Lee Chichester (one of the art center's founders) talking with Lora Byler, who makes jewelry and knitted hats and scarves.
At the fest I visited with an old friend Michele Bankey of Mountain High Tye-Dye. She told me she just recently discovered I was writing for the paper (which I've been doing for four years now) when she used some recycled newspaper as a blotter for her dying process and noticed a story I had written.

Bell Gallery and Garden's
Joanne Bell and I reminisced about the early days of Winterfest before the barn was renovated and when there was no heat in it. Back then I was a vendor, selling my handmade silver wire-wrapped jewelry. Joanne still makes her pressed flower suncatchers. Her husband's photography is pictured in the background.
By Saturday morning the snow was coming down, which made for some good outdoor shots. Every year Christmas tree sales at Winterfest go to benefit the Jacksonville Center. This year Amanda Chartier sold her handmade wreaths.
The festival, set for Friday evening through Saturday evening, carried on even though the snow kept falling, although the event did close down a couple of hours early because of the weather. While there, I bought some gourmet cookies by the pound from my friend and master baker Liz Stucki. Liz, an artist who used to run the pizza restaurant Mama Lizardo's, reinvents herself every decade or so. I set my box of cookies down somewhere to take pictures and never did find them again.
Throughout the weekend there was a bustle of activity in spite of the accumulating snow. Downtown shoppers enjoyed going in and out of shops. There were artists and crafters set up at the new farmer's market and in the newly renovated (old Mama Lizardo's building) Station. And I saw at least one person take cover from the snow by putting a sled on her head.

Post notes:
I got a call late Saturday that my cookies had been found! I'm looking forward to seeing the new YAC play "A Christmas Carol" on one of their upcoming performance dates: Sunday at 6:00, Monday at 7:00, Thursday and Friday at 7:00 at the Sun Hall. Look for more photos on Winterfest in this week's paper.

December 4, 2009

The Office

Josh lays down the money letters, J, K, Z, and Q, for a winning game plan.
Mara moonlights, making dream catchers for her job at Seeds of Light, while waiting for the Scrabble business to pick up.
Colleen doesn't have an X to stand on, even so, she taunts Josh with the E's he wished he had to cash those money letters in with interest.
Josh multi-tasks, working on his collage journal in between Scrabble transactions, while Joe wanders around taking business phone calls in the background.
We all agree that the benefits are good. Having an office in your kitchen cuts out overhead and we don't have to call for take-out when the lunch hour rolls around.

Note: Feel free to pitch our show to the networks. Scroll HERE for more Scrabble photos and antics.

December 2, 2009

13 Channels

note132.gif1. New answering machine message: What's your story, Morning Glory?

2. There's more where that came from HERE.

3. Paradox: Why is an empty heart heavy and a full heart light?

4. While interviewing the owner of a new spa in Floyd, I discovered that cosmetology and cosmology are light years apart but I can't keep the two words straight.

5. Sometimes while reading a newspaper story that continues on to another page I feel like I need a GPS system to find it.

6. The color of my blog is dictated by the word LEAF in the title and the fact that I'm Irish American.

7. When Asheville potter son son Josh was in town for Thanksgiving and the 16 Hands Studio Tour, he and Joe went down the mountain to babysit Bryce. I called them Two and a Half Men.

8. I repeated that line to my friend Karl who but it didn't register. He doesn't have a TV.

9. HD was touted as the latest thing in TV viewing, but since getting I lost the majority of my network channels and I'm lucky if I get one channel that comes in good. I don't want cable or dish because of THIS.

10. I made a new friend whose name is Sarah Beth Jones and for the first couple of weeks after meeting her I kept calling her Sarah Jessica Parker. Joe has a colleague named Susan Stone that he calls Sharon Stone.

11. My writer friend Rosmary said she barely recognized me with my new notebook. She associates me, rightly so, with THIS one, a notebook I liked so much I bought a dozen, but have recently run out of them.

12. My new notebook may be boring but I'm lost without it. I left it at the Café del Sol after the Spoken Word night. When I went back the next day to get it, it had the above sign taped on it. So now it's not so boring.

13. I once left a notebook in Applebees restaurant and when I returned an hour later to get it, I discovered it on the floor being used to steady a wobbly table!

The Thirteen Thursday channel is HERE.

December 1, 2009

A Mini- Vacation at Spa a'vie

ash512.gif~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on November 27, 2009

A'vie means 'for life' in French, says Ashleigh Ward, owner of the new "spa a'vie," located downstairs in the Winter Sun building. The name reflects the sense of wellbeing that Ward hopes her spa services will impart to others.

Born in D.C. and raised in Maryland and Alabama, Ward moved to Floyd from Montgomery with her mother a decade ago. She apprenticed in the spa arts and hairdressing at the Salon and Day Spa in Floyd, where she received what she describes as "hands-on real world experience." Two semesters of required book study were completed at the Roanoke Technical Education Center (ROTEC) on the Patrick Henry High School campus in Roanoke.

But her training began even before that. Her mother, Barb Gillespie, an artist and massage therapist, owned a spa in Montgomery called The Comfort Zone. "I grew up with it. I was there everyday after school," Ward remembered. As a young girl, she enjoyed giving practice pedicures to her grandmother.

Today, whether she is cutting, coloring, or styling hair; doing a manicure, a pedicure, a relaxation facial, or a body wax, Ward says she gives her customers her utmost attention. "I want them to feel amazing when they leave, as if they just had a mini-vacation," the licensed cosmetologist said. lavie.gif

Using her own homegrown plants and essential oils from Young Living Oils, Ward makes her own spa products - scrubs, lotions, face and foot masques. Plans are in the works to include herbs provided by local herbalists and goat's milk lotion from Faith Mountain Farm in Floyd into her products. She incorporates hot stone therapy in her treatments and reflexology (acupressure massage) in her pedicures. Her wax line is organic and shampoos are sulfate-free.

Hair products used at the spa are from Schwarzkopf Professional, a European company unique to this area and renowned for its innovation and quality. An all natural line of Schwarzkopf hair care and hair color products will soon be available in the U.S. and will be carried at spa a'vie, Ward was pleased to report.

"I can accommodate a wide range of tastes," she said about her hair cuts and styling, "from classic and sophisticated, to modern and edgy, and everything in between."

Designed by Ward and Gillespie, the spa has the feel of an old world parlor. A lamp casts a warm light on a sitting area that features a Victorian loveseat where customers can sip coffee or tea. Hanging plants and gold framed mirrors add accent to the eggplant colored walls. A bowl of fresh fruit sits on an antique wooden dresser. A small flat screen TV airs product information and can also be used for playing videos for children when their mothers are getting treatments, Ward explained.

The spa has a side room where Gillespie does massage by appointment and Ward makes her spa products. Holiday gift baskets featuring Ward's spa products will incorporate baskets from Medina, a Floyd based family run business. "I like to support local," said Ward, who hopes to one day expand the spa to include a hot tub and more. wait.gif

With a focus on affordability and elegance, the spa is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays by appointment. A grand opening is planned for Saturday December 5th from 5 to 8 p.m. "I hope people will stop by and see the place and enjoy a glass of wine," Ward said.

"I'm excited to be part of the blossoming downtown scene," she added, expressing her appreciation for her family, friends, and the community. "I couldn't have done this without them." ~ Colleen Redman

Note: Scroll HERE for Floyd Press stories.


The moon left its thumbprint
But pleads its innocence
No stars have been stolen
No alibi confirmed