"A blog is to a writer what a canvas is to an artist." ~ Colleen Redman
1. After my mother’s wake, Joe and I went to the local pub for some fried clams and brew. I ran into some old school mates that I hadn’t seen since high school, and we ended up having a “who can best walk like Kevin Sheehan” (my old boyfriend) contest. Watch HERE.
2. At the pub, the men and women’s bathroom signs simply read “Stand” or “Sit.”
3. There’s a restaurant in Roanoke that has a rooster and hen signs at the bathrooms, but you’d need to be a farmer to tell the difference.
4. As someone who is no longer a practicing Catholic, I don’t receive communion, but at the funeral mass for my mother, the priest said something about it helping my mother pass freely, and my brother told me you no longer have to go Confession first, so I decided to do it. It had been so long that I didn’t do it right and was about to get busted when the priest followed me to the pew because I took too long to swallow the host and was still holding it in my hand as I walked.
5. My brother-in-law took THIS video of a balloon release for my mother. I was glad he didn’t catch me saying (as the pink balloons flew up and away in the sky), “They look like sperm” on the audio.
6. Losing our mother, our lives got turned upside down. At the beach I found myself walking on the sky and ground at the same time. See HERE.
7. THIS was my solace.
8. Speaking of bathroom signs, when my grandson Bryce was six, he rightfully got confused by the Great Oaks pool bathrooms that were marked M for mermaids and P for pirates. I thought of him later when I went to the bathroom at Mickey G’s Bistro where the lady’s room was marked with a picture of Audrey Hepburn and the men’s room has Frank Sinatra on the door. – From the 2014 One Stop Blog Hop HERE.
9. Fascination (which, like the lottery and the roller coaster, I never played or went on) used to be part of Paragon Park, the amusement park in the Massachusetts beach town I grew up in. In business since 1945, Fascination is the oldest game like it in the country. The game tables, originally installed at Coney Island in 1918, lined either side with games that look like a table version of skee ball or bingo. You roll the balls, light up all the circles, and the first one to light up all the circles wins a small cash prize. I believe it closed around 2011. More HERE.
10. It was a sad day in 1984 when Paragon Park closed and was torn down soon after. The Paragon Carousel (pictured above) was the only part of the amusement park that has remained in Hull, about a block from its original site in the middle of the park across from Nantasket Beach. Built in 1928, it was saved from auction by investors and then purchased by The Friends of the Paragon Carousel in 1996. HERE is my 2005 post about Paragon Park, which received over 40 comments from park fans and readers.
11. There was a rumor that went around among Hull kids growing up in the 50’s – or maybe it was just in my family – that if you put your finger in one of the horses mouths on the Paragon Park Carousel, snakes would come out and bite you. I was about four years old the first time I rode it and I thought the horses were real, in the same way I thought the newscasters on our black and white TV could see me in my living room.
12. It’s my mother in me that couldn’t cry when I first heard she died and my father in me that finally broke down when I saw her. – More from my latest poem, “Mommy,” HERE.
13. We all know we’re going to die. We just don’t believe it.” – From Preparing for a Beautiful End, Utne Reader
It’s my mother in me
that couldn’t cry
when I first heard she died
and my father in me
that finally broke down
when I saw her
It looked like she had one eye slightly open
as if asserting her motherly omnipresence
In life she didn’t miss a trick
and she never liked to feel left out
She left this world on August 15th
the day Catholics celebrate the Ascension
of Mother Mary into heaven
We were just glad it didn’t happen
the day before
on our brother Bobby’s birthday
Our sister Sherry shopped for the dress
that she wore in the casket
and splurged on earrings
she knew she’d like
It was like shopping for
the birthday or Christmas gifts
she stopped wanting to get
and that we will never give her again
My mother stopped collecting stuff
long before she forgot dates
and caring about the outside world
But she never forgot her nine children’s names
and the three who had passed before her
Always hard working
and always beautiful
Now she looked peaceful
but a faint frown hung on
As if to show a hint of resistance
or a fading expression of her recent refrain
“I don’t like this place
and I want to go home”
It was the child in me
that could only call her “mommy”
when I gazed into her face for the last time
and imagined where home would be now
1. Joe was off on his latest trip less than 3 hours when he face-timed me from a cafe to show me his pimento cheese burger.
2. While face-timing, I saw his big brimmed hat on the table, “Now you have to carry that around in and out of airports. It may as well be a cat!” I said, which made me think about the Cat in Hat or naming a cat “Hat.”
3. “Every Olympic event should include one average person competing for reference.” – Bill Murray
4. Corn is the new candy. At my house husks are littered about like empty wrappers.
5. Posted by a friend on Facebook: When a presidential candidate gets two thumbs up from the KKK and the Nazi party, time to think…
6. TRUMP SAYS HE WOULD ONLY USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN A SARCASTIC WAY: “People who are worried about me having the nuclear-launch codes should stop worrying, O.K.?” Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “If I ever used nuclear weapons, it would be really obvious that I was just being sarcastic.” Pressed by Blitzer to explain the difference between a sarcastic and non-sarcastic nuclear attack, Trump responded, “You’d use the weapons and everything, but then you’d say, ‘Just kidding.’ ” – author/comedian Andy Borowitz
7. Waiting for a meteorite/ to shoot across the sky / is like waiting for a blind date to show up / I’m alone in the dark / in the middle of the yard / And nothing happens / And nothing happens … Read the rest of Watching the Perseid Meteor Shower for Kyla HERE.
8. Kyla, my dear friend Mara’s daughter, is struggling in the hospital waiting on a heart for a heart transplant. HERE is the latest update on her progress and HERE is her Gofundme page that raises money to support her and her family members.
9. Speaking of Face-timing, when my grandsons were here all day on Sunday, they played a make-shift Face-time first shooter video game with Joe on the phone for over half an hour.
10. And HERE is a blog post about attending my mom’s 90th birthday via Face-time.
11. On the hour long drive home to Roanoke at the end of the day, Bryce said, “I wish we could just teleport there.” “Maybe when you’re my age you’ll be able to. They already have cars now that drive themselves.”
12. Sweet Joe cut his trip short and took the red eye home to drive us to Massachusetts for my mom’s funeral. On the morning that I learned she had just passed, August 15, I read an update from a Facebook friend that said: Today is the Mother Mary ascended to heaven. My mother told me this as it was her birthday today and she liked that connection a lot. If she hadn’t ascended herself, she would be 103 today.” My mom was 91. HERE is a radio essay I wrote about her in 2007.
13. Death is the ultimate blind date.
Mining for diamonds
to fall in our laps
pockets of light
The planet spins
a starry web
in a dark quarry of sky
where as above so below
has us all striking gold
and we pan with our eyes
for the mother lode
____Colleen Redman / Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads
Waiting for a meteorite
to shoot across the sky
is like waiting for a blind date
to show up
I’m alone in the dark
in the middle of the yard
And nothing happens
And nothing happens
It’s like waiting for a heart
for my young friend on the transplant list
knowing that someone will die
before her life is saved
The stars seem enough
All in their right places
But if even one falls
I’ll know what to wish for
Then a streak of light
flashes like a genius
I think my eyes are playing tricks
I hold my breath in awe
______Colleen Redman / Poets United
1. A shadow stretches the truth.
2. I think it’s very cool that the word actual is within the word factual.
3. Alexa Meade is an American installation artist who paints directly onto live models and incorporates them seamlessly into painted canvases so they look like part of the painting. Check out her fantastic work HERE.
4. My 8-year-old grandson Bryce has been interested in special effects gore make-up lately. I call the photo of him to the right “Pass the Ketchup.”
5. “Bees aren’t menacing. If you don’t hurt them, they won’t hurt you. They’re just like brothers. If you don’t hurt your brother, he won’t hurt you.” –Bryce
6. THIS Scottish street performer wears a Donald Trump “haystack” on his head and sings his own comedic version of The Boxer with a line that goes: I flip and flop, and when my lips move it means I’m lying, and I just can’t seem to stop, lie lie lie, lie lie lie lie lie lie lie.
7. News Headline: Women sees Donald Trump’s face in her tub of butter. Really. HERE.
8. S’mores are so indulgent that the word has a pluralized S at the beginning and end of the word MORE.
9. No one knows for sure who invented the s’more. However, the first published recipe for “some mores” was in a 1927 publication called Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. Loretta Scott Crew, who made them for Girl Scouts by the campfire, is given credit for the recipe. – Wikipedia
10. The Power of Negative Thinking: Ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers understood the need to balance the positive with the negative, optimism with pessimism, a striving for success and security with an openness to failure and uncertainty. The Stoics recommended “the premeditation of evils,” or deliberately visualizing the worst-case scenario. This tends to reduce anxiety about the future: when you soberly picture how badly things could go in reality, you usually conclude that you could cope … The relentless cheer of positive thinking seems less like an expression of joy and more like a stressful effort to stamp out any trace of negativity. – More HERE.
11. My poem “The Collector” has been included in an Artemis collection to be used for Poems in the Waiting Room, an Arts in Health charity, registered in the U.K. that supplies short collections of poems as cards for patients to read while waiting to see their doctor and to take away with them. – Read it HERE.
12. I think of consciousness like water poured into a cup that we’re shaped by and identify with. At death, the water pours out of the cup. I don’t know where it goes, but I imagine it can travel, seep, join a larger body of water, collect or evaporate.
13. So much of life is about finding the balance between “whatever floats your boat” and “we’re all in the same boat.”
-The following first appeared in About HER, a regional magazine insert, on July 28, 2016
The four women farmers at Riverstone Organic Farm all agree that they love their jobs. Kat Johnson, Carol Bozenmayer, Dulaney Rierson and Angela Vitale each express a sense of accomplishment from working directly on the land and contributing firsthand to positive changes in our food system, rather than from behind a laptop or desk.
The 80+ acre destination farm, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd, was conceived by Woody and Jackie Crenshaw as a purposeful investment of their retirement fund and with the hope of creating an example of a new generation of farming, one focused on sustainability and bringing land stewardship and economic viability together.
The Crenshaw’s interest in farming grew out of their involvement with SustainFloyd, a non-profit citizen group dedicated to strengthening Floyd’s local economy, protecting its natural and cultural resources and promoting environmental education and energy independence. After selling the iconic Floyd Country Store that they ran for 10 years, the couple put their energies into developing Riverstone Farm. They began by looking for a skilled team of farmers with the dedication and experience to help them manifest their vision.
That was five years ago. Today, Johnson, Bozenmayer, Rierson and Vitale are the farm’s core crew. Through their efforts – with the support of the Crenshaws and the help of seasonal interns that live in cabins on the property –Riverstone Farm is the largest certified organic farm in the region. It’s fertile Little River bottomland and mountain valley meadows are home to 15 acres in vegetable cultivation, pasture-raised beef cows, pigs, lambs and laying hens. Four hoop houses and a greenhouse allow the year-round production of fresh food, which is sold directly to local customers and wholesaled to distributors in food hubs, such as D.C., Richmond, Charlottesville, Raleigh and Durham.
The farm also grows berries, perennial flowers and medicinal herbs for the Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine’s Appalachian Herb Growers Consortium. Hiking trails and a Riverstone Farm Store are open to the public daily. The store is stocked with food produced on the farm, including Riverstone jams, made by Jackie Crenshaw, using family recipes and with Riverstone Farm berries. With the recent addition of a new processing kitchen, plans are underway to develop more value-added Riverstone products, such as dried and fermented foods, frozen soups, chutneys and relishes.
Kat Johnson, a California native, has been managing the farm’s livestock since 2012. She was set to be a teacher when she realized she wanted life experience outside of the classroom. Before coming to Riverstone, Johnson had worked on organic farms in three states. She currently manages The Farm Store and the farm’s wholesale and retail accounts.
Johnson also coordinates more than a dozen farm events a year, which have recently included workshops on making cheese, canning, growing mushrooms, bird watching and monthly Farm Tastings and Tours. At a recent Tasting and Tour event, area children delighted in getting close to chickens, finding eggs in nesting boxes and petting baby lambs. Visitors sampled slimjims made with the farm’s grass-fed pork and coffee cake made with farm grown rhubarb.
During the event, about 30 people took a guided walking tour to learn more about farm operations and to experience them firsthand. With Johnson as their tour guide, they sampled freshly picked vegetables as they walked. Johnson explained how the farm focuses on what grows well on the property, without too much intervention. She talked about the benefit of livestock rotational grazing and growing winter cover crops as green manure for the soil. She lifted a large sheet of fabric to reveal kale, broccoli and cabbage seedlings growing underneath. The lightweight row cover protects plants from flea beetles and cold nights, she said.
Caroline Bozenmayer is the farm’s crop manager. She plans and implements planting and directs the field crew. Bozenmayer, who has a degree in Environmental Science, was on track for writing environmental regulations, when she realized that she wanted more direct experience with our food system. Before coming to Riverstone, she did sustainable market gardening and worked on a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm. “I feel like every environmental, human rights and animal rights issue all relates back to agriculture. A positive sustainable agriculture system is the best way to impact the world,” she said.
Dulaney Rierson – a returning seasonal intern who is now a full time crew member – thought she knew a lot about gardening. She had gardened with family members and worked at a regional plant nursery before coming to
Riverstone Farm from Roanoke. “Now I learn something new everyday,” she said. The one time hair-stylist finds farm work satisfying, saying, “You’re sore and tired at the end of the day, but you know it was a good day.” Along with her work as a farm crew member and produce packer, Rierson manages the Riverstone Farm booth at the Floyd Farmers Market.
Angela Vitale, the farm’s greenhouse manager, agrees that farm work is physically demanding, but also satisfying. “It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It takes its toll physically and emotionally, but at the end of the day you can see the meaning of your work, and the impact ripples into the community.” Vitale, who also heads up the farm’s mushroom growing projects, first started thinking about food politics when she was dating a Native American who lived a reservation. On the reservation, she saw the cycle of deep poverty and became aware of how important local food systems are and how they relate to community health.
With a degree in conservation biology, Vitale was working in a lab doing biological controls for a seed company, when she was inspired by the writing of Michael Pollen, an award-winning author who writes about the effects of industrial farming on the environment and how cheap processed foods contribute to disease. “I wanted get more invested in what’s happening with our food system and wanted more practical experience,” the New Jersey native said about farming.
Along with their managerial duties, all four women are intensely involved in hands-on farm labor. They get their hands dirty and drive tractors. They manage equipment, compost and irrigation. They keep records, order supplies, and “do what needs to be done,” said Bozenmayer.
“This is a really creative job,” Johnson added. “You don’t get bored and you have to think on your feet.” Colleen Redman
Photos: 1. The women of Riverstone Farm are (left to right) Kat Johnson, Dulaney Rierson, Caroline Bozenmayer (back) and Angela Vitale. 2. The Riverstone Farm Store is located on 708 Thompson Road. 3. Farm co-owner Jackie Crenshaw and Johnson. 4. Rierson waters seedling plants. 4. Riverstone jams. 5. Johnson with mama and baby lambs that were born in April. 6. Caroline Bozenmayer uses a tractor for some farm chores. 7. Rierson lives in one of the cabins (built by Woody Crenshaw) on the farm. The other core crew members live nearby. 8. Rierson lives in one of the cabins (built by Woody Crenshaw) on the farm. The other core crew members live nearby. 9. Vitale serves up a farm-to-table Riverstone meal at a recent event at the Floydfest festival site. 10. Angela Vitale tending to the farm’s heirloom tomatoes, grated to promote disease resistance and flavor. 11. Farm co-owner Woody Crenshaw in the farm’s new processing kitchen that he built. Crenshaw also built an equipment barn and the Riverstone Farm Store. 12. Kat Johnson helps tour-goers sample rhubarb. /Our World Tuesday
We get paid in corn
for our garden labor
We strike it rich
with every husk
The sun has forged
an Aztec banquet
a silky purse
for August gold
The rain has raised
a gold rush harvest
We reap the profits
of its Midas touch
With bellies full
we dig potatoes
for poorer days
when corn is spent
_________ Colleen Redman / Poets United
1. “It used to be that artists never took credit for their own work. There was this thing literally called “the muse.” Every once it a while it comes to visit you and it’s not up to you. At some point in history we got rid of that idea and starting taking credit. Some people think that’s when drug addition and alcoholism came into play because all the pressure was on us to create …” – Chris Wood of the Wood Brothers on the Workshop Porch at Floydfest
2. What do Trump followers and some Bernie Only followers have in common? Both camps put their hopes in one man fixing everything. Both think the worst of the government. Both have spread exaggerated, one-dimensional or dehumanizing rhetoric about Hillary Clinton and both are big on law and order, meaning that they’d like to see her locked up for any and all, real or perceived wrong doing.
3. When people from either of these camps re-post misinformation and smear campaigns from questionable sites, it’s likely to backfire because when they do post something true, they’re like the boy who cried “wolf” too many times and probably won’t be believed.
4. I call the above photo ‘What’s Bugging You?’
5. You can get things at Floydfest that you can’t get easily get in the mainstream. You can actually get a good cup of tea, utensils that are bio-degradable, recycling bins at every turn and hand washing stations at every porta-john row.
6. When is shade shadow and shadow shade?
7. I can’t help but think that the above Floydfesters hanging over the fence during the Bruce Hornsby set look like zombies.
8. The theme for this year’s annual Floydfest was dreamweavin,’ which meant the display of lots of dream catchers and the poetic license to call it Floydfest 16, even thought it was actually #15. Organizers hosted a secret stage, glow-in-the-dark installation and concert in the woods that started at 2 a.m. early Sunday morning. It was dubbed Lost in Time, referring to the 15th Floyfest that leap-yeared from last year’s 14th to the 16th with the help of some Dreamweavin’ and a little Wrinkle in Time.
9. A painter named Bruce paints the musician named Bruce at Floydfest. Watch HERE.
10. Cecilla Levy is an artist that transforms paper from old books into beautiful teacups and saucers. She says, “My working material, paper – mainly from old books – is fragile and perishable. I tear, cut and shred the pages and merge them together again using papier-mâché technique. The book is recreated in a way, but takes on a new form. The two-dimensional becomes three-dimensional. The process is slow and meditative.” –See some of her work HERE.
11. “Just living is not enough; one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – A butterfly in a Hans Christian Anderson story
12. Change can happen slow, fast, from within and without, and sometimes we are forced to change by circumstances, like the possibility of a Trump presidency or climate change.
13. If these people weren’t so happy, I’d think they look like zombies too.
I’m pretty sure I heard Bruce Hornsby keeping time by repeating “Pokemon Go” a few times during his Main Stage Sunday performance that closed this year’s Floydfest.
He played with the Grateful Dead for a couple of years before Jerry died, and I’m happy to say I saw some of those shows. I also had some of his ‘80s Grammy awarded albums and could happily sing along to those songs, even though he has changed some of the arrangements.
Hornsby spoke of his friendship with Jerry Garcia and how he missed having Jerry play on his new songs. “So I sampled his ass,” he said. I looked up the term and it means when musicians use borrowed sections of music from other recordings in their new works.
The band’s lead guitarist did channel some sweet Jerry-esque riffs and there were even some young tie-dye wearing dancers spinning near by. Watch the crowd respond to the music HERE.
Then the bubbles started floating onstage and “Every Little Kiss” and “the water town” started to be about missing b-b-b-bubbles and then morphed from that into B-b-bad to the Bone. I think the reason Hornsby did so well with the Dead is because he knows how to creatively improvise and seems to enjoy it.
After the concert, festival founders, Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson, came onstage to express their gratitude and participate in a staff appreciation closing.
The crew lined up and hugs were exchanged.
Erika aptly referred to this year’s Floydfest as a “sweet 16,” which it was.
Following the staff appreciation, I came across a painter named Bruce who was painting a portrait of Bruce during the set.
This Bruce was from Danbury, NC, and had worked at the Imagine Tent doing mural painting with teens throughout the long weekend. He talked about doing a show sometime in the future of all art he’s created while at Floydfest.
On a side note, if you’re one of those people who wondered what happened to Floydfest 15, here it is.
We missed the Saturday/Sunday secret stage concert in the woods because it didn’t start till 2 a.m., but we trekked down the next day to see the site installation. We met some of the people who designed and constructed it and heard that it was a very well attended glow-in-the dark happening. It was dubbed Lost in Time, referring to the 15th Floyfest that leap-yeared from last year’s 14th to the 16th with the help of some Dreamweavin’ and a little Wrinkle in Time.
Saturday was family time!
Virginia is for Lovers and so is Floydfest.
I learned that Floyd Countian Joey Kaylor, pictured here with his family, made the giant Dreamweavin’ dreamcatchers displayed center stage. Check them out above and HERE.
Their stickers say, ‘Listened to a Mom Today.’
My friend Lotus on the rocks with a friend, at her aunt Gaia’s vending booth.
I shared some love with my friend Melody (right), a festival barista at the Red Rooster Coffee Roaster booth. Melody took a lunch break, which was when I got interviewed by video by her documentarian friend about the life and art of A’Court Bason. A’Court, who passed away in 2013, was Melody’s partner and a early mentor to Floydfest co-founder Kris Hodges. Read more HERE.
The backstage cafe is always a refuge, a place to check out new bands and share the love.
It was both my son’s girlfriends’ first time at Floydfest and I know it didn’t disappoint.
“It used to be that artists never took credit for their own work. There was this thing literally called “the muse.” Every once it a while it comes to visit you and it’s not up to you. At some point in history we got rid of that idea and starting taking credit. Some people think that’s when drug addition and alcoholism came into play because all the pressure was on us to create…” – Chris Wood of the Wood Brothers, Saturday at Floydfest’s Workshop Porch stage.
Who is your Muse?
Unfortunately, Saturday night’s headliner, Greg Allman, cancelled because of illness. It was disappointing for many but also meant I didn’t feel obliged to stay up late. Today, many are sending Greg love for his recovery. – Read more about Floyfest 16 on Thursday HERE and Friday HERE. Note: The above photo was borrowed from my son Dylan’s girlfriend, Kerri.