The Yin Yang of Cups
The Two of Love
Winter Gets a Divorce
Note: Comments may be shut down on Sunday as Loose Leaf is being moved to Wordpress. I'll be back posting on Monday with a new look that even I will be surprised to see.
The Yin Yang of Cups
The Two of Love
Winter Gets a Divorce
Note: Comments may be shut down on Sunday as Loose Leaf is being moved to Wordpress. I'll be back posting on Monday with a new look that even I will be surprised to see.
1. Strangest thing said at the Mardi Gras Ball by Colleen to Mara, who was dressed in a suit for her Mardi Gras King election campaign: "Neckties are so phallic."
2. In the morning I like to make a second cup of tea but usually forget I poured it and end up not drinking it. Joe calls it my Placebo Effect second cup.
3. As a tea lover who likes to go to tea parties, the right-leaning Tea Party movement of angry citizens who recently hosted Sarah Palin to speak for $500 a seat is ruining the whole tea party appeal for me.
4. Republicans are against health care because they are fundamentally against any and all forms of assistance? If they could take away Social Security and Medicare, in all likelihood, they would. How is it possible that these Tea Party Brown Shirts do not understand that in supporting the Republicans, they are in fact supporting their own demise? ~ Author Caroline Myss from The Republican Strategy: Covert Destruction at all Costs HERE.
5. I don't have good energy reserves. After a busy weekend, I was exhausted to the point of tears on Monday, so Joe and I never made it Laughter Yoga class, but we walked to the mailbox laughing loudly the whole way.
6. My blog friend Deana recently wrote on her Facebook wall that when she throws corn to her chickens on nice mornings, she thinks about Cinderella throwing feed from her dress (even though she has no talking mice doing her laundry and fixing her hair). I answered: When I wake up in the morning I always think about a Neanderthal waking up from cryonic suspension.
7. But sometimes I rip off the covers like pulling a band-aid off a cut and leap out of bed like THIS just to get it over with.
8. No snow in Vancouver and too much here. To those who assume that global warming is a hoax because of the severe winter weather around the country, Steven Colbert said that's like looking outside at night, seeing the darkness and concluding that "the sun has been destroyed." An excellent Washington Post piece on that topic is HERE.
9. A writer without a computer is like a boat without a motor. Thank God for pencils and oars.
10. My favorite song to sing to Bryce is "Row Row Row Your Boat." After singing "gently down the stream" I like to end it with ... "Bryce is but a dream!"
11. Does anyone have any tech speculation as to why I can't upload videos to youtube on my PC but can on my laptop and why Microsoft word PC is chewing up letters as I type?
13. I think handwritten letters are sexy in a way that emails will never be.
Let your fingers do the walking HERE.
From lumbering slumber
we come up for air
waves of blue blankets
From a warm weightless drift
comes a cold wakeful spray
Sleep sogged and dream logged
we dive into day
Uncle Josh that is, and Bryce said it more than once when his uncle was in town last week and went with me to baby-sit.
After 2 ½ hours of ball tossing, motorcycle riding, raisin eating, circle drawing ...
guinea pig holding, wrestling, tickling, book reading and more, Bryce wore himself out enough for a nap.
He wasn't the only one.
Wearing a Mardi Gras mask, I had to be asked while being ticketed and wrist-banded at the door if I was old enough to be served at the bar.
After being snowed-in and cold for weeks, party-goers turned out in sold-out numbers and showed up in full Mardi Gras regalia, shaking off winter blues on the dance floor.
The event was put on by Republic of Floyd to benefit Blue Mountain School, the alternative school that my sons and many others in the room went to. I got a good laugh when Wild Life bassist John Winniki joked on stage that front man Richie Ursomarso (who was enjoying the set like big kid) went to Blue Mountain, saying something like, "It took a while but Richie (in orange) finally graduated." Winniki and Ursomarso were joined by bandmates Luke and Jake Thomas (Kari and Mike Kovick's nephews).
Between the rocking tunes of Wild Life and the Floyd FunkStars, I don't see why we can't have a ball every month.
I was mesmerized by the belly dancing performances of the Gyroscopic Tribal troupe. At least one dancer (Leia on the right) is a Blue Mountain School alumnus.
The belly dancers weren't the only ones to show their midriff. That's longtime Blue Mountain School supporter and current board member Luke Staengl talking about the accomplishments of past Blue Mountain school kids, including his two sons, an engineer and an artist.
During the live auction with Tom O'Neill, my young friend Mars asked me if I knew what time it was. I held up my arms to show him wasn't wearing a watch and the auctioneer thought I was bidding.
I told my friend Mara (a Blue Mountain School alumnus whose daughter in now enrolled) that she should wear red more often, as she spun me around like a flamenco dancer. I nearly danced my socks off. Well, they kept falling down. (Sorry Mara I missed the shot. This one is of Starroot and Willow, hot in red).
Speaking of red hot, it was my first time drinking beer with capsicum in it (from our local micro-brewery Shooting Creek) and eating Chef Natasha's King cake, which tasted like a marzipan stolen, only sweeter. The night was sweet from beginning to end. Joe agrees!
Post notes: More photos and narrative to come in The Floyd Press this week. Video clips of the wildly entertaining evening are HERE, HERE and HERE. A story on Blue Mountain School is HERE.
Update: Read the Floyd Press story online HERE.
~ The following was published in The Floyd Press on February 18, 2010.
Jayn Avery first made the connection between clean water and good health while studying Environmental Science at Cornell University College of Agriculture in Ithaca, New York. "It changed my life and is what ultimately led me to Floyd and to choose a lifestyle that honors the fundamentals of good quality water and air," Avery said.
Avery is part of a citizen planning committee that has been meeting since December to explore Floyd County water issues. The group currently consists of seven Floyd residents and is headed by hydrogeologist John Gannon, who, through a grant funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, works for the Virginia Rural Water Association.
"The primary function of this committee is to write a Source Water Protection Plan and then start to implement it," Gannon, who received his master's degree at Virginia Tech, said. The plan will involve identifying areas susceptible to contamination, implementing strategies for water protection, and outlining a contingency plan for alternative drinking water should a problem occur. "If a well goes bad, what do we do? If there's a severe drought, who are the priority water users? If there's a water emergency, who gets notified and how? If there's an oil tanker spill, what do we do?" Gannon posed.
Floyd was chosen for the Source Water project because its residents have a reputation of supporting environmental initiatives, and because of the area's geology, Gannon explained. "Floyd's water is good," he commented, stating that the only treatment added to town water is little soda ash to balance the PH.
"The good news is that because the water is local, we have control over it." Even so, studies have shown that the water supply for the Blue Ridge is highly susceptible to contamination due to the area's rocky geology. Findings report that rain water in the Blue Ridge Mountains makes its way into the ground water system in a relatively short period of time and without much natural filtration.
Gannon has conducted well location road surveys, has drafted his initial background findings, and is working with Floyd's Public Service Authority supervisor Elwood Holden, who is supportive of the Source Water Protection Plan and has attended meetings. "As of 2009, the Floyd public water system is made up of five wells and two storage tanks. The public water system was first installed in 1974 and serves approximately 1,500 people," The Source Water Plan draft reports, noting that the old water tower at the town's booster pump station on Locust Street is not connected to the water system and does not hold water.
At a recent Source Water planning meeting, held at the County Administrative Offices, the planning committee discussed a priority strategy. Jeff Walker, a certified Soil Scientist who is also authorized to permit wells and septic systems, cited the location of wells in proximity to gas stations as a priority issue for the team to address, adding that the gas stations owners he's talked to are receptive to protective guidelines and "want to be correct in their procedures."
Avery talked about the creation of a brochure for widespread distribution and mailing that would inspire interest and citizen involvement. It should outline in a concise manner what individuals can do to protect their water source, where to find resources, and should give tips for good septic care, she said. The team is also interested in promoting awareness on the use, storage, and disposal of household, agricultural, industrial, and commercially-used chemicals as a water protection strategy. Hazardous waste and stormwater management will also be studied.
Geared towards citizen involvement, rather than looking to government to solve local water issues, the Source Water planning group agrees that education is the key. "A person can drill a deep well and draw water from a neighbor's shallow well. If a septic system is not contained it can pollute the water supply of others," Avery pointed out. "Floyd has a good balance of pasture and woods, and that's important for water retention. It's important not to overgraze pasture or over-cut woods and education will help get that message out."
Another point that the committee members agree on: It's a lot easier and more economical to prevent a problem than it is to clean one up. "Water seems to be an issue that everyone depends on, but knows little about. Source water protection is in everyone's interest, though it may be a remote priority until there is a problem," Walker said.
The completed Source Water Protection document will eventually be available to the public and a version of it will be online at the County website (www.floydcova.org). The planning committee hopes to host a spring library series of informative talks by local officers and speakers from Virginia Tech who specialize in Environmental Sciences. ~ Colleen Redman
Note: Some blog disruption may occur over the weekend as Loose Leaf is moved to Wordpress. More Floyd Press stories are HERE.
1. Why is it when someone says 'be careful' or 'drive safely' I feel like I'm doomed for disaster but if they say 'be well' or 'take care' I feel competent and blessed?
2. Strange trivia found scribbled in my notebook: How much does a body weigh after cremation? 7-8 pounds.
3. Are Ya Kiddin' Me? Weird Snow TOTALLY Fits Global Warming Pattern -- One word: moisture. A warmer atmosphere holds more water. Plus, warmer surface temperatures are triggering more evaporation of ocean water worldwide. That water goes up, up, up into that atmosphere. And what goes up must sooner or later come down. This is precisely what scientific studies are now documenting. Water vapor in the global atmosphere jumped by about 5 percent in the 20th century. Read more of this Baltimore Sun op-ed by a member of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network HERE.
4. This morning my stomach made the sound like a cell phone vibrating on a table.
5. The bad news is that I have the wintertime blues. The good news is that every time the snow gets depressingly dirty a new snowfall comes to cover it with white.
6. Did I really say that? Colleen complaining to Joe about our water pressure: "Can you change the filter? The bath water is taking too long to download."
7. Well put observation spoken by a historian on a PBS show about the early settlers of Appalachia: "The English came and built a church right away. The Germans built a barn and the Scotch Irish built a whiskey still.
8. Don't you think THIS Octomom needs to take some time off from taking caring of the kids and do something about her hair?
9. THIS record breaking tall snowwoman has truck tires for buttons, 16 skis for eyelashes and 30 foot trees for arms.
10. THESE laughing babies won American Funniest Video prize.
11. We came out of this week's Laughter Yoga class to see a smiling sliver of new moon in the sky (see photo above).
12. Look! ... A fingernail moon ... painted silver ... has landed upright ... in a wide-mouth bowl ... Clipped close from the darkness ... the moon is filed down ... to a delicate sliver ... of smiling light.
13. Best Blue soundtrack is HERE.
More TT's are HERE.
I woke too early with the weight of 1,000 year old melting glaciers on my mind, after watching last night's Extreme Ice, a PBS NOVA program on the time lapse documentation of glacial changes around the world. Last year, after learning about the non-biodegradable plastic island bigger than the state of Texas floating around in the Pacific, I was haunted for weeks with the image. Meanwhile, I'm going to clean my kitchen. It's something simple I can control.
Photo: Icebergs calved from Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier, which are currently sending 11 miles of ice into the ocean each year. Photo is from Nationalgeographic.com.
Beatniks play saucers
Ring teaspoon clappers
Jam with jazz rappers
Sing praises to Lao Tzu
Note: For more teapoet poems click and scroll HERE.
~ The following was first published in the February issue of Natural Awakenings of Southwest Virginia.
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
A 2009 series of groundbreaking mindfulness retreats was the result of a collaboration between Dr. Alan Forrest, chair of the Counselor Ed department at Radford University (RU), and Joe Klein, a licensed professional counselor. New retreats are scheduled for March 2010. The pair's innovative work has also influenced the direction of the university's College of Education towards the creation of a Mind Body Spirit Institute.
The bond between Klein and Forrest was first forged when Klein was an RU graduate student of counseling. Klein had a longtime daily meditation and internal martial arts practice. Forrest was a proponent of gestalt, a therapy that encourages patients to arrive at awareness by being mindful of self-signals. Their intersecting interests led Klein and Forrest to host an experiential gestalt workshop in 2007.
In the summer of 2008, Klein, as program director of Earthsong Organic Farm and Retreat in Stuart, invited Forrest to attend a six-day teen meditation retreat. Forrest was inspired by the retreat model, a blend of meditation instruction, periods of silence, time for movement and creative expression, and small discussion groups for building trust and community. "He recognized the potential for transformation for both the retreat students and for the staff and wanted to offer that to adults," Klein remembers.
The first adult weekend retreat that Klein and Forrest adapted from the teen retreat model was titled "Self-Care through Mindfulness" and was geared towards caregivers - social workers, hospice nurses, ministers, educators, counselors, and students of those professions. "The gift that counselors and other helping professional have to give is the gift of presence. These retreats allow them to slow down and engage in the self examination process which is so critical in the efficacy of the helper/care-giver role," Forrest points out.
The Self-Care retreats, which happen three times a year, and another series for young adults aged 18-32 titled "Alternative Spring Break" are hosted by RU Counselor Education Department at the Selu Conservatory, a 380 acre property on the Little River, owned by RU. Along with spectacular views from the Selu lodge and meditating in its seven-sided Native American themed room, retreatants are nurtured by delicious organic meals. The twice-a-day small discussion groups give participants an opportunity for meaningful sharing and create balance to periods of silence. "They were a surprisingly important and empowering part of the weekend for me," says Rosemary Wyman, a hospice-support caregiver and retreat participant.
Jenson Baker, a Portsmouth area teacher who attended a 2009 Self-Care through Mindfulness retreat, was galvanized by his experience and asked for Klein's assistance to bring mindfulness training to his inner-city classroom. Together Baker and Klein traveled to Omega Institute in New York for a national conference, attended by teachers, administrators, and mindfulness pioneers from across the country with the mutual goal of introducing mindfulness practices to school children K-12 as a way to strengthen inner resiliency.
At Omega, Klein and Baker met keynote speaker, Linda Lantieri, an internationally known author and expert in social and emotional learning, conflict resolution, and crisis management. Lantieri's accomplishments implementing programs across the country, including one in New York for cultivating inner resiliency in public school staff affected by the tragedies of 9/11, made an impression on Klein. "It's clear that to cope in today's world, building skills to strengthen emotional intelligence is as important as academic skills," says Klein, who provided support to student survivors following the Virginia Tech shootings of April 2007.
When Klein learned of the RU College of Education's plan to expand on the counseling department's mindfulness initiatives through the formation of the Mind Body Spirit Institute, an annual two day symposium, he contacted Lantieri. She agreed to speak at the kick-off event, which is scheduled for March 24 and 25 and timed to coincide with the university's centennial celebration of its founding as a teaching college. The university will also be offering a 3-credit class on mindfulness and inner resiliency for RU teaching and counseling students, a development that Forrest describes as "cutting edge and occurring in only a selective few universities throughout the country."
"The response to the retreats has been extremely positive," Forrest says. This year's Self Care through Mindfulness retreat at Selu will take place on March 26 and 27. The Alternative Spring Break is scheduled for March 5 - 8. Contact Alan Forrest at firstname.lastname@example.org 540-831-5487 for more information. ~ Colleen Redman
That should say "in three easy parts," and in this case, our snowman turned out to be a girl.
Kaylee did most of the work. She rolled the balls while I shoveled her snow for packing. I would have helped more but had my hands full with Bryce who needed help walking in the deep snow and keeping his sock mittens on.
It took two of us to lift the middle part. I felt like Atlas lifting the world.
Soon our snowgirl was slowing traffic, getting waves and comments from passersby.
The wig was my great idea. I pinned it down with stretched out paper clips. Kaylee put on the carrot nose, big button eyes, and pink hair tie for lips. We named her "Big Sister."
Meanwhile, HERE'S a funny video clip of Bryce. He gave it a good try, spent 10 minutes trying to put his own boots on before I asked if he wanted some help and he gave up and took it. HAPPY 28th birthday to Bryce's daddy Dylan!
I checked out the Laughter Yoga class at the Floyd Fitness Center because I thought it would make a nice story for the paper because I know we could all use a good laugh right about now in the middle of a blizzardy February.
The group was less than half its normal size because of the recent bad weather and still iffy traveling conditions. They invited me to join in but, being adverse to all things yoga, I declined to participate, choosing instead to observe and take pictures.
I should explain that as a person with dyscalculia (a spatial learning disability), I have been traumatized in the past by trying to follow practices that hint at anything with choreographed steps, preferring instead impromptu movement, freestyle dancing, and not balancing my checkbook. Also, since my husband does a few kinds of marital arts, practices more than one meditation tradition, and is engaged in a growing number of therapeutic modalities related to his counseling practice, I find that I have swung to the opposite end of the spectrum, becoming somewhat of a hooky-playing rebel skeptic in balance to him.
Well, the yoga mats never came out (until the closing laughing/silence meditation) and instead of plows, headstands and sun salutations, the yogis strutted around like sumo wrestlers, bounced around like flobby puppets, and generally threw themselves into giggling giddiness. The whole thing was right up my silly alley, a wholly unserious and contagious fast track to fun, not to mention (which I will in the formal story) the health benefits and implications for uniting people that laughter can offer.
It was hard to keep the camera straight. In the one video clip I took, I could hear myself laughing ... laughing ... laughing ... my way to enlightenment, or at least to lightening up.
1. These days our knights on white horses are the local farmers on tractor plows coming to plow us out.
2. In light of the Supreme Court's recent vote not to limit corporate campaign spending, I think THESE new robes are well suited.
3. I recently became interested in the poetry of Haitian born poet Michele Voltaire Marcelin after seeing her read on the PBS Newshour. I was happily surprised to notice as she read that her poetry is un-punctuated like mine because models for un-punctuated poetry are hard to find these days.
4. I drive like I read and write poetry. I override blinker signals if what the car is actually doing is counter to them, like I stop for line breaks even if there is no period there.
5. Last week I posted a quote by the late J.D. Salinger - "I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy" - which started a comment conversation in which a reader introduced me to the word "pronoia."
6. Curious, I did a little research and discovered that the word was only recently coined and that there is a whole website devoted to it. The first modern use of the word pronoia I can trace occurred during the psychedelic 1960s and 1970s -. Grateful Dead lyricist and grizzled veteran of both Millbrook and Haight-Ashbury defined pronoia as: the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf. ~ from http://www.pronoia.net/
7. I need to get out more: Between the bad weather and a bad cold, I've been spending too much time indoors. This was brought home when Joe returned from being out and said: I saw some kids sledding," and I answered by saying, "Tyra Banks did a show on women with two vaginas."
8. With all the snowstorms this year it's like the winter's been sick and keeps going into relapse.
9. I'm a loud sneezer. I learned it from my dad who not only sneezed loudly, he cursed as he did it. Instead of AH-CHOO, he said AH-SHIT.
10. "Life is split at the seams. No one knows the exact number of the dead. They were ours. They were yours and mine. Yet, we let them die. So, I will write a poem, and you will write a letter, and he will send some money, and she will say a prayer, but we will forget, as we have forgotten before. We closed our eyes, covered ourselves up, when this island without secrets, this island caught upside-down, spread open by the great storm, went belly-up, exposing memories and guts. Disaster on disaster, mud on mud. Life is split at the seams." ~ Michele Voltaire Marcelin (punctuated by Newshour transcribers.)
11. In last week's Thirteen Thursday I posted a lost and found notice about THIS missing purple wool beret. I also posted a notice about it on Facebook and in the Museletter (our community newsletter). On Monday I got a call from Sally at the Café del Sol saying my beret had been found.
12. "She's an empty vessel ready to be filled by ideology she doesn't understand." ~ Chris Matthews on Sarah Palin after she suggested that Obama could play 'war card' and declare war on Iran to win reelection. Listen HERE.
13. I think the word sneeze sounds like a Dr. Seuss character, especially after learning that a sneeze can expel irritants out of a nose for up to 100 miles per hour!
Head on over for more Thirteen Thursdays HERE.
~ The following was published in the winter 2010 issue of All About Her, a regional newspaper insert.
When Kamala Bauers was 10 years old, her 7-month-old brother James suffered complications from Spinal Meningitis that left him severely disabled. Today, Bauers and her husband Jack Wall are celebrating their 15th year as directors of Wall Residences, a business that provides foster home placements for people like James who have significant support needs. "I have the best job in the world," Bauers says, "one that makes a difference in people's lives."
Bauers met Wall in 1994 when she was employed at a residential treatment center for adolescents and finishing up her degree in social work at Radford University. He was the Intellectual Disabilities Director of Valley Community Services Board in Staunton.
"He had this idea of bringing people out of institutions and into home settings. I was drawn to it because of my brother. I wanted to see people with disabilities have real lives in spite of their challenges," says Bauers, who explained that her brother James was institutionalized for many years but now lives in a group home.
By 1995 Bauers and Wall were married and had made their first foster care placement: in their own Floyd County home. Their business quickly grew. "People saw what we were doing and started asking questions about how they could open their homes to support people with disabilities too."
Although it's not always possible or appropriate for families to provide fulltime support to adult family members with disabilities, the family system is the most functional and natural way to support them, which is why Wall Residences promotes a family model in their services. Built from the ground up, Walls innovative services are also cost effective.
"The cost of institutional care is unsustainable and a burden on taxpayers," Bauers points out. "It's an expensive process and a medical model. Most people with disabilities don't require or benefit from that level of support."
With an individualized approach and a person-centered philosophy, Wall Residences supports adults with disabilities to pursue their personal interests, build meaningful relationships, and find paid or volunteer work. "Our foster care residents are known in their communities by name, rather than by a label," Bauers says, adding that they become part of the family they live with.
Folding towels at recreation center, washing lunch trays at an elementary school, organizing and distributing food at a food bank, or sweeping floors at a rescue squad station are some of the jobs that Wall residents fill. One resident is currently taking swimming lessons.
Robert, who is non-verbal and has cerebral palsy, spent 38 years in an institutional training center before becoming part of a family in Floyd. Drawing on local services, the family connected Robert with the Radford University Speech and Language clinic where he received instruction on how to use a head pointer for communicating. Later, while on vacation with his foster family, it was discovered that Robert loves parasailing. "He'd do it all the time if had the opportunity. It's an expensive hobby," Bauers joked.
Wall Residences' foster care providers also benefit from the residential model. "It's challenging but rewarding work. Because we're a small business with low administration costs, we can reimburse our foster care providers at a high rate," Bauers says. Providers are trained and certified, as are their hourly back-up workers. They're supported by regular visits from Wall Program Managers, an important part of the team, and attend Wall's yearly conferences where nationally known speakers inspire and talk about trends in the service provider profession. Some providers have been with the agency since its inception. "Our experienced providers mentor new providers," Bauers notes.
After five years Bauers and Wall's home-based business had grown to the point where it was no longer feasible for them to provide direct support to a resident in their home. Currently, the agency supports 310 individuals in 175 homes throughout Southwest and Northern Virginia. In 2008 the couple moved their business out of their home and into a state-of-the-art energy efficient green office building that houses nine offices for staff, a conference room, kitchen, reception area, and 82 solar panels on the roof.
Apart from the work Bauers does on behalf of people with disabilities, she is a founding member of the Partnership of Floyd, a citizen group that works with the town pursuing grants for town projects. The group is currently working on the development of a downtown park. "I am a firm believer in giving back to the community and I'm committed to making things better where we live, says Bauers, who remembers joining a "Save the Whales" club at the age of 14.
Although she misses doing direct foster care out of her home, Bauers is encouraged by the excellent services Wall provides, and by the success stories she sees everyday as a result of that. "I really believe that we have an obligation to make a difference in the lives of others," she says. Bauers is doing just that, one person at a time.
~ Colleen Redman
Note: For more information go to wallresidences.com or call 540-745-4216. A story on Wall's LEED certified building is HERE. Photo is of Kamala with Donovon, a Wall foster resident. Click and scroll HERE for more Floyd Press stories.
Haiku with high tea
Best to sip slowly
Don't brew the oolong
Note: Click and scroll HERE for more teapoet poems.
The snowed-in took advantage of Sunday's sun to get outside for a walk in the neighborhood. This group broke the cabin fever with tea and cookies and good conversation inside the warmth of our house before heading back up the homegrown plowed hill to their farm.
The creeks were full and rushing.
Old mailboxes were full of winter's special delivery.
A snow covered mill looked picturesque at sunset.
Horses enjoyed a supper of hay.
Snowed-in and sick, but it could be worse.
We got Nora Jones on the stereo, dry wood for the stove, and a pot full of hot miso soup.
We got tissues and cough drops, a down comforter spread. We got PBS and a library movie to watch.
Our neighbor plows the driveway for the third time this winter. We thank him with venison burger.
We got merino wool long johns and fur lined moccasins. We got back rubs and hot baths to soak in.
The bird bath angel in the yard is decked in a full length gown of snow and the wrought iron lawn chairs are up to their seats with it.
I'm waiting by the window for the pileated woodpecker to return, so I can crank a window open and snap a zoomed in photo.
Snowed-in and sick, but it could be worse. So far we haven't lost power.
Note: Should I call baby Bryce to shovel our cars out? HERE he is shoveling out his own.
~ The following appeared in The Floyd press on February 4, 2010.
Computer consultant Ben Kiser is not your average technician. The 1999 ECPI College of Technology graduate and owner of Kiser Computing Consulting LLC not only repairs computers and keeps them running smoothly, he also makes house calls.
Kiser, a North Carolina native and father of two, had completed an associate's degree in architecture when he realized the potential of the computer field and decided to make a career change. While pursuing his degree in computer electronics and during his 9 years working as a System Engineer for Carilion Clinic, he repaired computers for his family and friends on the side.
By the time Kiser started his home-based business in the fall of 2008, he had a built-in clientele. Still, it was a leap to trust that the business would grow enough to support him and his family fulltime, Kiser said. With the growth of computer use, the advent of high speed internet in the area, and word-of-mouth referrals, Kiser's faith and skills have paid off. "I've been busier in the last two months than I've been all year," he noted.
Locally, Kiser has installed or cleaned up cable networking (for internet, phone, and TV) for The Village Green, The Station, Collin's Chiropractic Clinic, LCF Group, The Maples Bed and Breakfast, Crenshaw Lighting, Slaughters, and more. He's traveled to Hillsville and Roanoke and places in-between for work and has been all over Floyd County.
As a resident of Floyd since the 7th grade, Kiser knows his way around the county. He also understands the lack of technical skill that can make even unplugging a computer system - with its multitude of cords - an ordeal for some home users. 'We're here to help step by step. Not geek you out,' the Kiser Computing Consulting webpage (kisercomputerconsulting.com) tagline reads.
Whether working for small businesses or individuals, customer relationship is Kiser's specialty. The benefit of making house calls is that he can explain computer problems in language that his customers understand and can show them detailed strategies for solving those problems, Kiser said. If a computer needs extensive work and has to be taken back to his home shop, he returns when its fixed and reinstalls it, making sure it's working before he leaves.
Through his small business account with Dell, Kiser can order high quality business class computers at a discount and pass the savings on to his customers. He also saves customers money by directing them to free online sites that can assist in keeping their computers running fast and clean. As a follow-up to his services, he's created a youtube video that provides a step by step guide through the maintenance process.
Working from home allows Kiser to spend more time with his family. His wife, Holly (Nolen) Kiser, is a licensed day care provider who also works out of the family's home, a log home that Kiser built six miles out of town on Franklin Pike. Kiser appreciates that he has the freedom to adjust his schedule so that he can pick up his 7-year old daughter Alexis at the school bus stop, his 4-year old son Levi from pre-school, or help out his wife. "But I also put in more hours than I would at a regular job," he said about being self-employed.
Advice Kiser received from a business associate has become his company's mission. "If you want to be successful do good work and keep your customers happy," Kiser remembers being advised. Satisfied customers are important to Kiser. He also enjoys what he does. "I'm a problem solver. I work on something till it's fixed. There's a satisfaction to seeing something fixed," he said. ~ Colleen Redman
1. Ipod and Ipad inventors are running out of vowels for naming their future inventions. Somehow Ipud, Ipid, and Iped don't ring a bell.
2. I can't help wondering if Apple co-founder and Ipad inventor Steve Jobs's productivity has anything to do with his last name (and the fact that it's plural).
3. Jobs, a billionaire Buddhist who's been referred to as the Edison our times, gives this business advice: "My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people."
4. Most reliable 24 hour weather report: The window.
5. Strangest weird creative thing found online this week HERE.
6. LOST: THIS purple wool beret. Email email@example.com if you know where it is.
7. I want to wear THIS to the Floyd Mardi Gras bash on February 20th at the Winter Sun Hall.
8. Have you heard of the Ipad for feminine protection? Apparently it's the predecessor to the Apple Ipad and boasts the ability to "download protection for up to a 1,000 periods." Watch the video HERE.
9. My husband's about to launch a new organization that will bring together all aspects of his work with teens as a counselor, meditation teacher, and martial arts practitioner. It's called iBme (Inward Bound Meditation Education).
10. Catching a cold from your partner is like the weather man predicting a snow storm but because you're in denial, you don't move your car near the road and then the storm hits and you can't get out for days because it's stuck.
11. Learning that the late J.D. Salinger fought in the Battle of the Bulge, was among the first troops to enter a liberated concentration camp, and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome made me wonder if he knew my dad, who did (or had) "all of the above."
12. I ran into my neighbor doctor at the mailbox today and he asked me how I was. "On top of the snow, ice, frigid temperatures, and catching a cold, I now have a bad case of cabin fever," I answered. He didn't have anything for that.
13. Salinger considered publishing an invasion of his privacy. He also said this, "I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy."
More 13 play HERE.
Last week I got an email from Gary, who blogs at Coffee Muses, telling me that my Asheville potter son Josh Copus is featured in the Artist Spotlight of the latest issue of Our State magazine. I hadn't seen it yet and neither had Josh, but we got our hands on one quick.
"I got a real kick when I turned the page and saw the picture and thought wow, I know that guy...and we've never met!" wrote Gary, a Loose Leaf Notes reader whose been reading my ongoing posts documenting Josh's work.
The writer of the piece, Alli Marshall, did a masterful job of weaving together the highlights of Josh's ceramics career in the past five years: The founding of Clayspace, the working studio and gallery that Josh founded in the River Arts District of Asheville; His UNC of Asheville BFA Building Community graduate show that featured a giant wall of 1,000 hand-built bricks with the word COMMUNITY on them, ceramics exhibits and performance art; The Windgate Fellowship grant he was awarded that allowed him to buy property in the country where he built The Community Temple, a large noborigami climbing chamber kiln; The 3 week immersion Carolina Kiln Build that Josh hosted on his property, where 12 potters from around the country built two kilns; even the incorporation of one of Josh's Community bricks incorporated into the wall at the Wedge Brewery, where a beer (Community Porter) is named after Josh and where Josh is a weekend bartender.
The magazine Our State is to North Carolina what Blue Ridge Country is to Virginia. The article is broken up into 3 sections: Building Kilns, Studio Strolls, and Community Firepower, which are accompanied large colorful photos.
In the closing paragraph Josh talks about the downtown Clayspace studio and gallery, saying, "This place is a huge part of my identity. I like the activity and the interaction." Marshall writes, and I get chills, "While much of the integral interaction is with the other Co-op ceramists, Copus is quick to include the outside community - tourists, art enthusiasts, serious collectors, and curious passersby - when chalking up important connections. "The reason people need this" - he nods to the handmade coffee mug almost always in his grip - "is the same reason they need to get out in nature or visit a farm. To reconnect. When people come here, they get to meet the artists; they like that. I'm in here being as real as I can because people are buying a part of my life."
~ To read more about Josh's potter's adventures click HERE and scroll.