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January 31, 2010

You Don't Need a Weathervane to Know Which Way the Wind Blows

My living room window is like a wide screen TV where I'm watching the Saturday morning snow show. Wood smoke pours down from the chimney and floats in and out of the downy flurry. Birds hop and peck at the seed below the feeder. Tree limbs catch flakes. Inside where it's toasty warm, water pipes tick and the rocking chair squeaks. Closing my eyes for my morning meditation, I become aware of how drowsy I am. Soon, my head drops down to my chest and the dreamless morning drifts like a spilled pillow of angora falling silently to the floor.

See the video clip HERE.

January 29, 2010

Winter's Postcards to Spring

1. Flight Risk
2. Down and Out
3. Santa's Big Hangover
4. Brighter Days Ahead

January 28, 2010

Where the 13 Thursday Flow Can Go

13flko73.gif1. Joe, leaves the house, kisses Colleen and says: "See you later, sweet pea." Colleen kisses Joe back and answers: "If I'm a pea, then you're a pie, as in sweetie pie."

2. My poem "After the Golden Globes and in honor of Valentine Day" has been published at Ronni Bennett's Elder Story Telling site HERE.

3. "I think the heart has to seep under the floorboard like water or slip through like mail. I hope for a low threshold when it comes to love." ~ That was my answer to my blogging friend Poe when she asked, "How do people get into your heart?" HERE.

4. Speaking of leaks, Sunday we woke to a leak that flooded part of our basement. It had rained so hard and long that it seeped into the foundation. Our water pump man confirmed that we weren't the only ones.

5. Confused about Health Care Reform? A very good and balanced article on health care reform is HERE.

6. Our warmed up leftovers from Floyd's new Mickey G's Italian Bistro and Pizzeria tasted as good on Sunday as they did on Saturday night. "I can get addicted to this," I said to Joe, "but think of all the money we'll save. We don't have to go to Italy now!"

7. THIS is the song that's been stuck in my head ever since eating at Mickey G's.

8. How Joe went from being called Oprah to Opa: My kids use to tease Joe when his long curly hair got big and unruly by calling him "Ofra Winfrey." Now he's just called Opa (as in Grampa in German) by 18 month old Bryce.

9. I had fun coming up with names for THIS video: Block Talk, Knock your block off, and If You Build It, It Will Fall.

10. When faucets leak here does the water go? Does it drip down into an underground purgatory? Collect into selfish pools that no one can drink from? Like a ticking clock our lives spill out. Drop by drop children die drinking dirty water. While rest of the world sprinkles their lawns, kills dandelions, and sings in the shower. ~ Excerpt from an old poem, titled The Leaky Faucet.

11. Current pet peeve: Buying olive oil by mistake that isn't virgin because it and the non-virgin oil bottles look the same. Virgin olive oil isn't hydrogenated, whereas light olive oil is, and so is a walking heart attack. It doesn't taste as good either.

12. Sayings that I first heard in 80's that just came back to mind: Walk your Talk, What You Resists Persists, Just say Know, and Go with the Flow!

13. Question for Mickey G? Does the G stand for garlic?

Go with the flow to other Thirteen Thursday's HERE.

January 27, 2010

Moon Peace

The moon is a mutiny
a one bubble revolution
escape from the sky-sea
of sudsy clouds
It floats across the heavens
like a flower child pagan
in peaceful demonstration
against the status

January 26, 2010

Michael Gucciardo is Back!

mg.gif ~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on January 28, 2010.

Those familiar with the culinary talents of Michael Gucciardo have waited five years for him to come back home to Floyd. A native New Yorker, Michael learned how to cook authentic Italian food from his father and other family members born in Italy. Although he has cooked in Virginia restaurants throughout the region, his Floyd following of fans was formed during his many years as chef (and sometime co-owner) of The Pine Tavern Restaurant.

Gucciardo's new place, called Mickey G's Italian Bistro and Pizzeria, was packed on Saturday night, just two nights after the restaurant's opening. One table of twelve was there to celebrate Gucciardo's return. A Frank Sinatra recording played in the background. Neighbors greeted each other, as waiters (mostly Gucciardo family members) hustled by carrying dishes that showed off Gucciardo's knack with capers, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, olive oil, garlic, and roasted red peppers. mickeygjo4.gif

Some diners couldn't resist craning their necks to see menu offerings at other tables. There were mussels, fried squid, swordfish, antipasto salad, meatballs, pizza, focaccia bread, and dishes with names that were hard to pronounce, such as rapini salsiccia (pasta with broccoli raab and Italian sausage).

The portions were hearty and affordable, and the ambience in the bistro was lively. At one point Gucciardo came into the dining room area and customers toasted and applauded him. It was obvious by the turnout and the warm reception he received that Floyd is glad to have Gucciardo back in town.

Post Notes: Mickey G's is located next to the Floyd Fitness Center on Parkview Road. Menu listing and other information can be found at the Mickey G's website. A short video clip of Gucciardo interacting with diners on Saturday night can be found HERE.

January 24, 2010

A Museletter: More Than a Newsletter

musemeet4.gifA Museletter mascot, a 30 year anniversary party, and a monthly crossword puzzle of Floyd County trivia were some of the ideas given at the Consensus Workshop at the library on Saturday.

The workshop was facilitated by Andy Morikawa of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley to discuss the future of the Museletter, the homespun community forum, which was created by some of Floyd's back-to-the-land-settlers more than 25 years ago for the purpose of sharing literary/artistic musings and ideas on self-reliance, growing and preserving food, holistic health, home schooling and more .musesxx.gif

A mix of 15 longtime and newer Museletter supporters attended the three hour workshop, which not only assisted the group in arriving at a common place of clarity, but modeled the structure of the consensus building process that Andy is so skilled at guiding. After laying out some guidelines, such as "speak for yourself, one person at time, share the air," Andy prompted us to individually share when we first saw the Museletter, what it means to us, and how we see it evolving.

The stories shared were rich and varied. Museletter collating coordinator, Virginia Neukirch, talked about the positive community interaction of the monthly stapling and labeling get-togethers that she does with individuals with disabilities and others in the community. andym5.gif

Jayn Avery talked about the Museletter as a writer's training ground and how she didn't start out thinking of herself as a writer, but having her writing published in the Museletter was instrumental in building her confidence to become one. Elisha Siegle, who will be sharing layout coordination and who grew up reading her parent's copies, said "It's the roots of Floyd. It brings the community together." Pat Woodruff picked up her first copy in a downtown café and thought it looked cool. She said she appreciates that the Museletter features stuff that the local newspaper misses. amys.gif

A turning point for me was when Andy asked us to brainstorm a list of all forms of local media (print and online) and then asked "Which one is closest to what the Museletter provides?" None really were.

Our brainstorming sessions were broken up into three working tables and eventually revealed the "Focus Question," How Can We Make the Museletter a Better Community Forum? From there, ideas flew on how to increase subscriptions and submissions through more visibility and community interaction. A semblance of ideas congealed and before we knew it we not only had a plan, we had people willing to implement it.

The consensus was that the Museletter needed a Facebook page - perhaps a first step in the Museletter's online presence, because who knows where more visibility and interaction will lead? musemeet2.gif In the first hour of being on Facebook (Saturday) 15 friends of the Museletter had signed on. As I type this today (Sunday) 157 have joined the Museletter fan club.

As someone who has been directly involved with the Museletter since I moved to Floyd in 1985 (in large part because of what I read in the Museletter after Bob Grubel sent me one), I left the meeting feeling proud of the cultural record that the Museletter has created and uplifted by its potential.

Thanks to everyone who participated and to our fans. Signed, A Muse.

Note: Read more about A Museletter HERE.

January 23, 2010

Ice Escapades

We were driven out of our house by ice escapades, laden trees dropping bombs of ice on to our roof.
With a gunshot cue, they were off like a stampede of horses at the races, like ladies at Filenes Basement, like Santa's reindeer landing his sleigh.
Fireworks were exploding. Mudslides were sloshing. Limbs were breaking and squirrels were fighting over nuts.
We went out to investigate the damage, taking cover under an umbrella because it was raining ice, not from the sky, but from the trees as ice melted off in an avalanche of chunks.

January 22, 2010

The Do's and Don't of Hair Do's

I got my hair done yesterday.
I let my hairdresser experiment.
She sprayed, straightened, twisted, pinned, and tied
I told her to fix me up like I was going to the Academy Awards
Now all we need are a couple of gowns.

Meanwhile Kaylee's little brother Bryce and his Opa Joe were having their own kind of fun. See HERE. More hairdressing antics HERE.

January 20, 2010

The 13 Thursday Limelight

13bub.gif1. Quote floating around on Facebook: Is heck where people go who don't believe in Gosh?

2. Satan responds to Pat Robertson's claim that Haiti's tragedy is a result of a pact they country made with the devil HERE.

3. Have you ever wondered what lives on the other side of your computer screen? Look HERE if you dare.

4. Did you know that the new Republican senator of Massachusetts once posed nude in Cosmo magazine? Can you imagine the flak the female Democratic candidate would have gotten from her opponents if she had done that?

5. Poor Ted Kennedy is turning over in his grave right about now.

6. While watching the Golden Globes Sunday night, I was wondering why the black knit skull cap looked out of place on Dexter's Michael Hall but cool on U2's Edge. And then I found out that Hall has cancer. (I wish him well.)

7. One of the hottest internet searches the day after the Golden Globes was "how old is Sophia Loren" and "Sophia Loren plastic surgery."

8. I grew up in the 60's, when nearly my entire generation saw Yellow Submarine while high on pot, so I got a good laugh when Paul McCartney was presenting the Golden Globe award for Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes and said, "cartoons aren't just for children, they're also for adults who are on drugs."

9. Speaking of plastic surgery, I'm disappointed that Hollywood holds women to a false standard of looks, so much so that they go from being sex kittens to cougars in the blink of an eye.

10. "Fame is a bee. / It has a song / It has a sting / Ah, too, it has a wing." Emily Dickinson.

11. When I image googled "limelight," I got THIS

12. So it looks like I won't be wearing hot pink taffeta ... or a French twist like Grace Kelly's ... I won't be dying my hair red to match the Cabernet ... or breaking up Jeff Bridges' 33-year-old marriage ... Follow the dialogue from the poem the above was excerpted from HERE.

13. I can't stop thinking about key lime pie.

Follow the link to more Thirteen Thursdays HERE.

January 19, 2010

After the Golden Globes and in Honor of Valentine's Day

It seems that my chances
of wearing a gown on the red carpet
and being mistaken for a movie star
are coming to a close

I've gone from being just a hair out of place
to one lost in hive of Hollywood women
stung by bees
drunk with honey
and swollen with time

No one mentions that we can see
the seams of their faces
stretched over canvases of Dorian Gray

Or that we can't keep our eyes
off their Barbie doll cleavage
for all the wrong reasons

These days my love poetry
doesn't wax as full
It takes time to thread a needle
to pin down an irresistible desire
or alter a dress that needs taking up
because I'm growing back into a girl

So it looks like I won't be wearing hot pink taffeta
or a French twist like Grace Kelly's
I won't be dying my hair red to match the cabernet
or breaking up Jeff Bridges' 33 year-old marriage

There won't be any airbrushed endings
no lifts, nips, or tucks
I don't need to keep filling
an already fulfilled love affair
one that's never been cheated-on

~ Colleen Redman

January 17, 2010

Saturday Night Live

Saturday's night life in downtown Floyd included a quotable line delivered by poet Mara Robbins. From the Café del Sol Spoken Word stage she announced that "Pat Robertson is to Christians what Kanye West is to musicians," referring to Robertson's ludicrous remark about the earthquake in Haiti being a result of the country's pact with the devil and Kanye's onstage awards outburst. Mara followed that by ripping into a rousing performance of Andrea Gibson's poem "Say Yes."
The evenings entertainment also included a ventriloquist skit with a puppet stand-in for Spoken Word regular Wolf Cherrix who couldn't be there himself. Fifteen readers performed poetry and prose to a full house. At least one person sang their contribution and there was a last minute reading by a newcomer who identified himself as "anonymous."
My favorite part of the monthly Spoken Word scene is that the open mic is a stage for all ages sharing all levels of literary experience, as shown by this photo of college student Bedelia Burris-Mcgrath reading her original work while longtime Radford University English teacher and poet Chelsea Adams (by the window) looks on.
At the close of the evening some of us stepped into the Sun Hall adjacent to the café to check out the Singer Songwriter Showcase concert in progress. Unfortunately, I missed the first act (John and Linda Franklin) but caught Lavanah Byler performing her minimalist original songs to a rapt audience. Lavanah is a Blue Mountain School alumni who many of us watched grow up. Video clip of her performance is HERE.
It was a big night out and my friend Jayn and I were tired but we hung in there waiting to see Ash Devine, whose performance did not disappoint. Ash (pictured with cellist Andrea Jordan) lives in Asheville now but grew up in the country in nearby Blacksburg. I first met her as a middle school student shopping at Seeds of Light bead store where I worked. She was a regular performer at the Pine Tavern Sunday night open mic when she was still in high school, back in the day when the Pine was the second-home hangout of so many in the Floyd's alter-native arts community. Ash's native talent was evident then and it was a thrill to see how she has blossomed into such an engaging and soulful performer (video clip HERE). Her degree in theater and her humanitarian work as clown (which I just learned about on her myspace page) shone through during her playful audience participation numbers.

I got home in time to catch Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update with Seth Meyers, who concluded his update on a rare serious note, giving viewers the Red Cross website address to make donations for Haiti relief effort.

January 15, 2010

Scrabble Scramble

Too often my life feels like a landslide of clutter that I have to sort through to make sense of.
Some days it takes many hands.

January 14, 2010

Through the 13 Thursday Looking Glasses

jh132.gif 1. Things have finally slowed down enough around here that when Joe asked one night what I was doing the next day, the extent of my answer was: "I'm on a mission to buy broccoli." (Translation: I need to go grocery shopping.)

2. When I woke up the next morning the first thing I said was, "This is the day I'm getting some broccoli." But before I did that I took a magnifying glass outside to study the new snowflakes coming down.

3. Speaking of broccoli, remember THIS?

4. Reading an essay in Shambhala Sun by one of my writing influences, Natalie Goldberg, I discovered that she likes cherry red tootsie pops just like me.

5. That's my favorite kind of biographical writing detail.

6. Today, while in town for a Scrabble game I got a Scrabble Bingo with the word "mariners" and on the way home I saw a man watering a snow bank with a hose.

7. "Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce." Natalie Goldberg

8. Stuck at my writer's workshop recently without reading glasses, I pulled out my Avatar 3D glasses and put them on, but apparently not only did they make everything even more blurry, the other writers laughed. I can't decide if THEY make me look nerdy or hip.

9. I think the writers of Avatar could have come up a more credible name for the rock that the earthlings needed so badly that they felt it was worth wrecking a foreign planet for. The name of the coveted rock? "Unobtainium."

10. While at the café today talking face to face with people I've been in Facebook contact with, I felt like we were characters in Avatar spending time in our human bodies after some other-worldly time in outer space.

11. Once while at an overlook in California with friends, I spotted some seals down below on the Pacific shore. My friends were all convinced that what I was seeing was driftwood, but I wasn't. They hiked on and I stayed behind until I saw those supposed pieces of driftwood move around.

12. I remembered that after seeing pictures of Death Valley rocks that move themselves and imagining how exciting it would be to catch them doing it. How do you explain THIS?

13. Seeing is believing but feeling is the truth. ~ Thomas Fuller

See what others are seeing on Thursday HERE.

January 13, 2010

Wendy Wants a Bigger Island

There are no cell phones on Neverland
So, Wendy emails Peter to say
that she's joined a 12-step program
and is sewing new curtains
for the Darling home nursery

Oh and by the way
bring home some milk and bread for dinner
Captain Hook is coming over
Wendy says

Peter wants a divorce
but can't afford the alimony
He storms off the island
Takes a job in construction
He won't wear a tie to court

January 12, 2010

The Other Woman

The "other woman" is Wendy
She's co-dependent with Peter
She's passive-aggressive with pirates
and sleeps with lost boys

She threatens to leave Neverland
because Peter won't be her daddy
won't discipline the children
or stop seeing Tiger Lily

Wendy won't live in Peter's shadow
She wants to wear it as her own
She professes her love for Tinkerbell
but aims a poisoned arrow

Hooked on fairy dust
Confined by her storybook
Wendy is a lost girl
with a Peter Pan complex

Post Note: You can read my poem The Lost Adults of Neverland, published on Della Donna HERE.

January 10, 2010

Art is Scary

cowr2d.gifWriting is elemental. Once you have tasted its essential life, you cannot turn from it without some deep denial and depression. It would be like turning down water. Water is in your blood. You can't go without it. ~ Natalie Goldberg

When a dark thought or a growing insecurity wakes me in the middle of the night or too early in the morning, I make note and then try to ignore it. I know it's an exaggeration that won't loom so large in daylight. It might even push me to clarify or deepen an aspect of my life.

I was recently nudged awake before daybreak with a gnawing doubt about my writing: blogging, facebooking, and the published stories I do for the local paper. Questions began to surface: What am I doing? Where is it leading? Why do I put myself out there, give so much when I know that most of what I write will be forgotten by tomorrow by most people? I felt exposed.

A few days later, in the bright sun of midday and with the cold wind howling through window panes, an answer came: Art is scary.

Whether one is a painter, a writer, a potter, a photographer, an actor, or a musician, the nature of art is to go out on a limb even at the risk of falling. I've watched my artist son drive himself to the point of getting sick. I have artist friends, and I personally know the compulsion of immersing myself in a creative project to the point of losing track of time and forgetting bodily needs.

At first glance most people would think that my blog is a personal one. But I don't see it that way. For me, it's all about the writing, or as Robert Frost so aptly put it: "All the fun is in how you say a thing." I'm no more interested in writing about what I did or ate today than a reader is to hear it. But I do like to cull the gems of everyday detail. I like to touch on our human commonality and tell the back story of life.

Blog, book, or paper, they're all variations of my writer's canvas, ways to express what I think, whether through prose, poetry, or photography. I remind myself how phobic I was in the past about public speaking, but how I didn't let it keep me from doing poetry readings. By not caving into my fear, performing on stage became more manageable, over time.

Writers are like mountain climbers exploring the inner landscape. Climbers say they climb because they have to, because the mountain is there. Writers write for the same reason. We think our way to the top. The path for us is through story. Sometimes the path is scary.

January 8, 2010

The 2009 Rear View Review

widowdarrma.jpg~ The following year review was done by excerpting the first line in one post of each month from last year. You can click on the name of the month for a full accounting.

January: Only in Floyd can you be out helping a friend with disabilities collect litter and run into a neighbor who jumps out of her car, pulls out her banjo and plays you a song in the middle of the road.

February: I woke up early for the drive to Roanoke to baby-sit Bryce. Standing at the sink, filling the tea kettle with water, I thought my neighbor's barn was on fire. I'm not used to seeing the sunrise.

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

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

May: A mother phoebe with a nest in the porch rafters has been using our picnic table for her runway while making feeding trips to her babies, as evidenced by the bird droppings I have to clean up everyday and giving new meaning to the term "poop deck."

June: By the end of June the Parkway rhododendrons are weeping petals and roadside lilies are looking sassy. 'Fireworks for Sale' signs have become evident and everyone seems to be having a yard sale.

July: 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.

August: A month with a trackhoe on two acres of land in rural Madison County brings a whole new meaning to the term "rock and roll." My son Josh said he started feeling that the industrial strength excavating machine was an extension of his body and admitted to feeling god-like moving so many huge boulders around.

September: Standing under the dogwood tree, I place myself so that the brightest star in the sky is aligned with the top of the biggest fur tree, making it look like Christmas. The moon looking on is a bald-headed profile in need of a fedora.

October: She's at home in the woods and needed to be near water before winter sets in. Although, we didn't hike all the way to the Cascades waterfall, we were uplifted by the natural setting, made giddy by the rushing water, and humbled by the randomly placed giant boulders.

November: The worst part of being dressed up as a Blues Brother 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.

December: 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.

Last year's year review is HERE.

January 7, 2010

13 Thursday: The Big Chill

snan2xg.gif1. On the first day of the New Year my computer said this: 2010/01/01. The big decision was whether to call this New Year "two thousand and ten" or "twenty ten."

2. Out for the benefit concert for our friend Wolf Cherrix on one of the coldest nights in Virginia history, my friend Jayn and I were talking about our woodstoves like lovers we left at home. "Are you thinking about your woodstove right now like I'm thinking about mine?" I said to her. We were both wondering if we'd have to rebuild the fire when we got home.

3. Either a boyfriend or a baby, I thought to myself when I heard my husband Joe tell someone that we'd been nursing the woodstove all day.

4. I've gone from calling the cold spell we're in "New York cold" to "Arctic Cold."

5. It's humbling to see how much wood it takes to keep a house warm in a week of frigid temperatures and I feel guilty about the trees that are giving their lives to keep me warm, especially when Joe was away for 5 days and I was heating the house just for me. I guess those who don't heat with wood can't see the effects of their heat source as directly as those who do.

6. "Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience." ~Henry David Thoreau

7. I often work on more than one story at a time and jump from one to another. Recently, I typed a sentence in the wrong word document and the world of formal writing and personal writing converged. I ended up saying this: The role of the medium is to be an intermediary between the physical world and the spiritual world for fear that I'm going to fall of the map.

8. The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them. ~ Raymond Chandler

9. My Zen sentence of the day: "A wood fire touches the stars." Get your own Zen sentence (found at Pearl's) HERE.

10 I realized while filming THIS video clip yesterday that the word tea is within the word steam.

11. If you're awakened by gunshot at 6:00 a.m. in the city you might figure there's been a robbery or murder. If you're like me and live in country you can be pretty sure it means your neighbor is shooting squirrels.

12. According to Jibjab, "of all the years that have passed in time, there has never been one like '09." See their video review HERE.

13. My automated New Year Resolution 2010 is: I will stop kissing strangers right now. Get yours HERE.

More playing 13 Thursday are HERE.

January 6, 2010

Tea Poem

Contemplation steeped
in a pool of lavish tea
Share a cup of gold

Note: Meditate on the video clip HERE.

January 5, 2010

Simply Put

New Year's Day 2010: I like a simple life, when a lunch made from scratch and a walk to the mailbox are the highlights of the day. When I'm free to drop what I'm doing to photograph swirling shapes of steam coming off a freshly poured cup of tea illuminated by afternoon sun.

I like it when the first line of a story breaks through and I can write it down right away. When I can go from doing that to doing research on a dying writer's last words, or the life of Patti Smith, or the etymology of a word that strikes my fancy, like brouhaha or jalopy.

I like it when the red-headed woodpecker in the yard catches my eye and I find myself writing BIRDSEED on my latest shopping list. When I can sit with a catalog and leisurely fantasize about the winter boots I want for Christmas next year. When I can make a call to my mother in Massachusetts to wish her a Happy New Year because I hardly ever make calls and she usually calls first.

I like to stop during the day and flip through a new literary magazine to read a few stories and poems. And when one certain poem brings me to tears I like to let them come. I like to read the writers bio-notes and email the author to say thank-you.

I like a day when I can get lost in thought while wiping down the kitchen counters or sweeping the floor, and then stop mid-sweep to browse through the pamphlet my friend Alwyn authored for Christmas. I underline in neon yellow the part that says: "Our task is to merge the peace testimonies of the past into a new vision, in which peace with the earth is synonymous with peace on earth."

I like that there is no football or parade noise coming from the TV when I'm lying on my bed in the middle of the day with a pen to mark up a printed copy of something I've written. Just the sound of the wind howling and the wood stove fan blowing.

At dusk, I like to sit quietly and study the meeting of light and dark on the window pane, where the room seems to stretch out into the yard and it's hard to tell the difference between physical reality and reflection.

The day goes by too fast, but I enjoy it like a rich dessert. Just a couple of bites at one sitting. I don't like to be overfull. There will be more tomorrow. I save room.

January 3, 2010

Howling at the Moon for Wolf

The babies were cute and the Country Store Christmas stage looked pretty. How could I resist documenting the event?
One photograph led to another and soon snapping pictures and videos took precedent over my urge to dance.
The turnout was good, the music top notch, the fellowship fun, and the reason we were there was heartwarming (in stark contrast to the bitter cold weather outside).
It was a fundraiser for Floyd 's Young Actors Co-op actor and Spoken Word performer Wolf Cherrix (center), who has been managing Hodgkin's lymphoma on and off since 2005.
The entertainment, the venue, the arts and crafts and other door prizes were all donated. Volunteers who organized the event said $1,600 was raised for Wolf's holistic health treatments. Owwwwwoooo! Yip Yip!

Post note:
Story and more photos will be in this week's Floyd Press. Videos of musical performances are HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. More about Wolf's story HERE.

January 2, 2010

Green Label Organic

raingeor1x.gif ~ The following originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Natural Awakenings of Southwest Virginia.

What happens when two socially conscious people with backgrounds in business meet at a clothing trade show, fall in love, and pool their talents? The answer is Green Label Organic Sustainable Threads, George and Rain Lipson's family run business that wholesales and retails 100% organic cotton clothing with a message.

George is a self-described "long time T-shirt designer who has always wanted to change the world." His wife Rain, an organic gardener and environmentalist, ran a Meadows of Dan bakery and craft shop in the late 1980's and early 90's. While Rain was in Floyd working in retail, as an owner and an employee, George was designing and marketing rock-and-roll T-Shirts for a California merchandising company.

Today the couple employs two full-time and various part-time employees at their West Oxford Street warehouse and outlet store, which is within walking distance of downtown Floyd. From the warehouse, they ship their organic cotton T-shirts and tops imprinted with messages such as Support Local, Save What's Left, and Live Simply to 500 stores around the country, including to national chains such as Whole Foods and REI, and to military PX stores throughout the world. greenlab.gif

Rain explains their preference for organic cotton. "It takes approximately 1/3 of a pound of pesticides, herbicides, and defoliants to grow enough cotton to make just one conventional cotton T-shirt." Being organic is important, but it's just the icing on the cake, George says. "A T-shirt has to look good, and have a message you feel good about wearing."

People feel good about wearing Green Label Organic shirts for another reason. "For every person who loves our message, there is another who compliments us on how our shirts feel," says George. The low impact dyed shirts, processed within 200 miles of Floyd, are made of ring spun organic cotton, which gives them a super soft feel.

When the Lipson's launched their business nearly 5 years ago, only hard core environmentalists were interested in organic cotton clothing. George's friends in the clothing business were initially concerned about the possibility of his success, based on past failures of organic cotton lines in the industry. But the Lipson's felt that the tide was turning green. "We set out to take organic cotton from plain, vanilla, and boring, to colorful, affordable and fun," Rain emphasizes. One look around their outlet store reveals a rainbow of T-shirt colors, ranging from eggplant, poppy, and navy to bluebird blue, green moss, and brick red.

"Our mainstay of design ideas--99.9% of the time--come from George," Rain notes. For George, who at one time considered a career as a writer, a T-shirt is an empty canvas waiting for an artful message. He relishes any challenge to condense a message into to an image and a few words. For instance, his Hummer design features a Hummer vehicle captioned with 'Bummer.' "The Hummer is a symbol of conspicuous consumption, a lack of care for the environment and for each other," George remarks. Other designs include a guitar paired with the words Organic Rocks and a buzzing honey beehive that says Respect Labor.

Interest in Green Label Organic's creatively designed shirts for men women and children has been growing alongside the global movement to "go green." Keeping their local clientele, online customers (greenlabel.com), tourists, travelers off interstate 81, and their wholesale markets supplied in shirts keeps the Lipsons working overtime. "Green is not a fad. It's a way of life, a lifestyle that more and more people are embracing everyday," Rain says. ~ Colleen Redman

January 1, 2010

2010: Parting Shots

Santa heads home with his sleigh
A new year is a clean slate
In between years on New Year's Eve
No one said it would be easy