"A blog is to a writer what a canvas is to an artist." ~ Colleen Redman
I woke up wanting to see
the crane migration in Nebraska
or at least an ostrich in the zoo
Clouds swept past my window
like a clock unwinding
like the ghosts of lost loved-ones departing
I woke up imagining
that I knew the names of birds
posed in the treetops
waiting to be photographed
The wind like a speeding train
tried to squeeze its way inside
Leafless trees cowered
and mourned being left behind
I woke up worrying about lovers
abandoned by the loves of their lives
and blonde-haired children in Spiderman suits
who don’t understand
I imagined people on planes
on their way to Australia
I tried but couldn’t see their faces
buried in magazines
Yours is covered in blankets
hiding from the sun
while your breath stitches a dream
about a quest of life or death
It’s the dream that you’ll tell during breakfast
when the steam of tea rises like smoke
and dishes clink like wheels on a track
on their way to a new unknown
________Colleen Redman________dVerse Poets Pub
1. Forty-one million IQ points. That’s what a paper published by the National Institutes of Health determined Americans have collectively forfeited as a result of exposure to lead, mercury, and organophosphate pesticides. “Our very great concern,” researchers wrote, “is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies.” Child exposure “can cause permanent brain injury at low levels that would have little or no adverse effect in an adult.” More HERE.
2. I think some people claim to read the Bible like they claim to wash their hands after using the toilet but don’t.
3. One of the latest most interesting country names, recently found in the obituaries of the local paper, was for a man whose first name was Bibley.
4. “In order for a thing to be interesting, one has only to look at it for a long time.” – Gustave Flaubert
5. Me to my 3 year-old grandson: “Liam, look at those big clouds moving fast in the wind. Where do you think they are going?” Liam: “Maybe to America.”
6. In the name of patriotism and / the flag, how much of our beloved / land are you willing to desecrate? / List in the following spaces / the mountains, rivers, towns, farms / you could most readily do without. – From Questionnaire by Wendell Berry
7. I wanted to write about the crowbar I used to get us out dancing at Dogtown on a Thursday night but I was so busy dancing to Wild Life that I forgot to take pictures. The only one I got was of the drummer’s young son (above) dancing onstage to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Watch his moves HERE.
8. I recently saw a quote online that suggested we think before we speak, and ask ourselves, “Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind.” Doing that has about as much appeal to me as balancing my checkbook, and I thought to myself, ‘If I followed that philosophy, I might never open my mouth. The next day, while driving, I saw a bumper sticker that said “Respond with Love.” “In other words be a good little girl,” I said to myself out loud in the car, while realizing that many of the new age formulas for enlightenment can make me feel as oppressed as good vs. evil religiosity. – More from What’s Love Got to Do with It HERE.
9. Sometimes it really does rain cats and frogs. See HERE.
10. I think of my new eye wear as the gourmet of glasses.
11. THIS smashing chandelier draws my attention like a house on fire.
12. Some of the Stars of Floyd, all familiar faces are HERE.
13. Have you ever noticed / When you’re feeling really good / There’s always a pigeon / That’ll come shit on your hood / Or you’re feeling your freedom / And the world’s off your back / Some cowboy from Texas / Starts his own war in Iraq. – Words of John Prine who will be honored in a Pure Prine tribute concert at the Floyd Country Store Saturday night. Read Prine’s first review by Roger Ebert in 1970 HERE. ___________Thirteen Thursday
“They are from France,” I imagine myself answering in a Conehead accent if someone asks me how much they cost. Far less than my recent tooth implant but more than my camera is another answer.
I like to go into Troika Gallery in downtown Floyd for the good feng shui, the art displays and to spot some of my son’s ceramic work (center piece below). This Saturday I went in for an appointment to play dress-up with some international artisan eyeglasses and Becky Causey, owner of “a hip little optical shop where old meets new and brown meets blue” in Lynchburg and Greensboro (NC).
Causey is an optician and master stylist match-maker when it comes to finding the right glasses for each person she fits. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the first pair she chooses turns out to be the ones that seal the deal. It happened to me (and they are from France). Short of getting rose-tinted Bono shades (which I have fantasized about), I think the ones we both liked best on me are pretty snazzy.
All I could say to Joe when I got home is that “I broke through some upper limits.” He understood because he knows that I’ve never had a new car, I own zip for expensive jewelry and rarely spend significant money on myself. Yet, I still explained: I’m through shopping at the Dollar Store for readers and now that I have progressive lenses and wear glasses almost all the time, I want something high quality that fits well, works well and is like an extension of my personality. As a writer, I spend too much time on the computer. Last year I looked at some expensive ergonomic chairs, but didn’t get one. “Hey, maybe I can use the new glasses for a tax write-off,” I suggested to Joe.
Post note: I regret that I didn’t get a picture of Becky in action. She took the above one of me.
I recently saw a quote online that suggested we think before we speak, and ask ourselves, “Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary or kind.” Doing that has about as much appeal to me as balancing my checkbook, and I thought to myself, ‘If I followed that philosophy, I might never open my mouth.’
The next day, while driving, I saw a bumper sticker that said “Respond with Love.” “In other words be a good little girl,” I said to myself out loud in the car, while realizing that many of the new age formulas for enlightenment can make me feel as oppressed as good vs. evil religiosity.
Okay. I get the concept; love is a powerful force for good. But I don’t think it’s that black and white, and the problem with uplifting quotes like “Respond with Love” is that following such a doctrine can stop us from thinking for ourselves and from seeing each situation as unique and unfolding. As someone who has struggled to find my voice, I’m much more interested in following the soulful promptings from within my own body than theoretical and prescribed dictation from the right/light of a hierarchical heaven.
I believe the practice of responding with love can be used to avoid change, which can sometimes be dark and messy, but necessary. It also doesn’t take into consideration the ways people on both sides of the equation can be harmed under the guise of love. Making yourself indispensable to others through over-loving and over-giving can result in festering resentment when the object of your love isn’t changed in the way you want. In the end, it can cause the one being over-loved to feel inferior and indebted, or it can enable dysfunction and stop growth in all concerned.
Every wise parent knows that giving too much to our children – too many toys and too much leeway in how they behave – is not a good thing. “By always trying to protect them from adversity, we’re depriving them of the chance to learn coping skills. By not setting appropriate limits, we’re undermining our children’s character development,” says a PHD author quoted in Discipline Tips for Parents Who Love Too Much.
Although love is considered a good thing, too much of it is harmful for the same reasons that other kinds of excesses are harmful. Over-loving someone is like over watering a plant. It sounds like a caring thing to do, but too much can be deadly. And that goes for romantic love too.
Some of the typical signs of loving too much that will eventually kill relationships have been outlined by Marina Pearson, author and speaker on divorce and heartbreak. They include: You say yes when they mean no. You abandon your friends. You are only happy when s/he is around. You put the object of your love on a pedestal or downplay their behavior. You make excuses when they treat you badly.
Robin Norwood, a therapist and author of Women Who Love Too Much, writes, “There’s absolutely no difference between being addicted to relationships and to drugs. People in these relationships get just as out of control and sick physically as do drug addicts. Their lives deteriorate in just the same way.”
I suspect that “Respond with Love” is comforting to people who fear confrontation (most of us) and that people-pleasers love that kind of permission. I think those who take and don’t take responsibility gravitate towards others who do it, so they can continue to do more of the same.
Years ago, I learned the value of contradicting my program as a way to challenge habitual defense mechanisms and move out of unhealthy comfort zones. In the case of over-loving and over-giving, this would mean that those who rarely respond lovingly would likely benefit from opening their heart and responding with love more often, and those who respond with love automatically, might do well to ground themselves in fierceness and act from their gut more often.
The semantics of what it means to respond with love can be argued, but there is a lot in between responding with love and responding with anger. Honesty and authenticity come to mind. And sometimes anger is an appropriate response that can clear the air and set the stage for positive change.
The Now and Zen of It
If a Tree Falls in the Forest
____________Video clip HERE.
1. I saw my blog in a dream with a post titled The Zee Bra.
2. I think it’s fitting that the word poser is within the word imposter.
3. Check out how THIS artist folds a life-sized elephant out of a single massive sheet of paper.
4. I love Wendell Berry’s take on old age: “I know I am getting old and I say so, but I don’t think of myself as an old man. I think of myself as a young man with unforeseen debilities. Time is neither young nor old, but simply new, always counting, the only apocalypse…Even the old body is new – who has known it before? – and no sooner new than gone, to be replaced by a body yet older and again new.”
5. My 3-year-old grandson Liam learning the alphabet: “M sounds like MMMM. Like cupcakes!”
6. How a scientist at the dentist explains climate change in 30 seconds with a mouth mirror wedged behind his molars: “Well first, scientists have known for centuries that certain gases in the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide, prevent Earth’s heat from escaping to space. In fact, the Earth would be entirely frozen without these natural gases. But second, emissions from human activities like cutting down forests and driving cars, which we can measure directly, are thickening the layer of these gases in the atmosphere, which we can also measure directly, and this is trapping even more heat in the Earth and warming up our planet. Thousands of scientists worldwide are in agreement that this is happening. Third, observations of increasing temperatures, sea level rise, and melting glaciers confirm this added warming.”
7. Floyd friend Hari Berzins, author of the Tiny House Blog, and her husband Karl were on the Today Show talking about how their family of 4 lives happily and debt-free in 336 square feet of space HERE. See the their story in The Ladies Home Journal HERE.
8. I hadn’t been to a horror movie since my teenager days watching B movie axe murders at the Weymouth Drive-in in Massachusetts. But THIS movie, the House of Good and Evil, was filmed in Floyd and a friend of ours had a key role. There was an axe in the movie, but the film was more of a physiological thriller, thankfully, than typical horror fare, not so much a ‘who done it?’ but more of a ‘what did they do and when?’ in the spirit of Rosemary’s Baby, Gaslight or Sixth Sense. A New Take on a Movie Date HERE.
9. A new take on the baby carriage HERE.
10. I think of my laying hens as pets with benefits.
11. What does it mean that the word cult is in culture?
12. An ice crystal wonderland, like sparklers on the 4th of July, fairy flowers for a snow queen. Check out my photos of this rare and beautiful weather phenomena, technically known as hoar frost, rime ice or fog frost, HERE.
13. “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes each day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ~ An old Zen saying.
This winter I tried to take pictures of snowflakes, but it didn’t work out.
So I was happy to wake up Tuesday morning to an ice crystal wonderland in my yard.
Everything was all fuzzy with star frost and snow feathers.
Like sparklers on the 4th of July.
Fairy flowers for a snow queen.
The last time I saw something like this my 32 year old son Dylan was around 9. I remember him posing for on the Parkway next to some trees iced with this kind frost.
I had fun roaming around with my camera and feeling a Narnia-like enchantment.
Hoar frost or rime ice? Some just call it fog frost. All I know is that it’s rare, and it’s beautiful.
The dream of the animal stuck on my head
The dream of the woman giving me the finger
The dream in which I yell to her “that’s a load of crap”
and the one where I call your name out loud
and it wakes us both up
The dream about dog trainings on how not to kill chickens
The dream about my sister giving me a dress that doesn’t fit
The dream where I walk to Roanoke wearing a kerchief in the rain
and the one where my mother says “she’s trying to claim me”
All the dreams about children left in my care
and the disabled baby in the Spring Street crib
All the dreams of being lost in unfamiliar places
and the cell phone with numbers that float like bubbles
The dream of a woman with black hair and long fingernails
who lies when she says “only good things happen to good people”
The dream where I ask another woman for directions
I believe her when she says “there are no turns”
“It’s all the same long windy road”
The above was inspired by Ron Lavette’s poem HERE.
I hadn’t been to a horror movie since my teenager days watching B movie axe murders at the Weymouth Drive-in in Massachusetts. But this movie, the House of Good and Evil, was filmed in Floyd and a friend of ours had a key role.
So it was a date. I was relieved when a friend on Facebook, who had seen the movie when it aired at Floyd’s Chantilly Farm, said “think Hitchcock.”
The creamy, smooth Irish stout on draught got us off on the right foot, and we got introduced to the movie screenwriter (who is married to a Floydian), by Floyd Chamber of Commerce directer, Melodie Pogue, who later sold movie memorabilia at the theater. The fettuccine with a hen’s egg, savoy spinach, parsnip crème and fines herbs was also a big hit, and it was fun to catch up with our friend and Local Roots sous chef, Alex, also a Floydian.
There was an axe in the movie, but the film was more of a physiological thriller, thankfully, than typical horror fare, not so much a ‘who done it?’ but more of a ‘what did they do and when?’ in the spirit of Rosemary’s Baby, Gaslight or Sixth Sense.
I did enjoy the mystery, as tense as it was, and the challenge of trying to figure it out. I was glad the story tied up in the climatic end.
The movie’s writer and producer, Blu de Golyer (center), and the two local professional actors, Rob Neukirch (left) and Bo Keister (right), took questions from the largely Floyd audience at the end of the showing.
It was fun to hear some of the ins and outs, meet some of the locals who worked on the film and the owner of the house featured in the film (which was a character in itself and was at one time a school).
Joe and I did have a question, after the fact. We wondered why our friend Rob was sneezing so much in his first scene. Was it integral to the story? “Knowing Rob and his sense of humor, he probably just wanted to play it in red nose,” I said to Joe.
I feel blessed in my life when I can let my breakfast be interrupted by a lace shadow on the floor that catches my eye.
When I can get down on my hands and knees like a kid intrigued by a bug and follow its path, the cat and mouse game between it and the sun.
Until it shrinks and disappears as magically is it appears like sand art being washed away by incoming tide.
_____________Shadow Shot Sunday
It’s easy to follow tracks in mud and snow.
On a recent hike we found deer and raccoon
And little boys walking in their Hopa’s footprints.
1. I call the above photo: I Hope This is the Last Picture of Snow That I Post This Year.
2. My 3-year-old grandson Liam is no longer afraid of our chickens. He doesn’t stand on a chair and yell at them when he feeds them like he used to. In fact, he gets up close and calls them “dude.” Watch HERE.
3. The weight of a deadline is determined by the size of the writer’s block.
4. How do I stop and start again? What exists between on and off?
5. I write like I play Scrabble: Those first few plays should be good ones because they set the tone of the game in the same way the first few sentences set up a story. Endings are important too and I plan for them early. Whether playing Scrabble or writing, I don’t want to get stuck with any high scoring letters that should be on the board. ~ More on how I write like I play Scrabble HERE.
6. After learning from an artist friend that Monet’s garden was his muse and finding out that it is a Paris tourist attraction, I’ve become interested in seeing it. The last time I was in Paris was in 1974, and I have never gotten over walking past the Louvre without going in.
7. I may have not been to Paris since 1974, but The Jim and Dan Stories, the book I wrote about losing my two brothers a month apart, was there in 2006. See HERE.
8. The Louvre has always showcased nudes. Never quite like THIS
9. Last Friday we got 8 inches of snow. I posted this picture of a robin in the snow on Facebook and called it “Mixed Message.” A friend commented that he thought it meant birdsong or chimes, but I meant winter or spring?
10. Empress: Crowned Oracle / at the Lover’s Threshold / Spring is Her / Open Doorway
11. In my dream last night I was upset because Joe had a friendship with a woman he was calling Mama Bear and he was going by the name Papa Bear.
12. I think art attacks might be good to ward off heart attacks.
13. “I would like to paint the way a bird sings.” Claude Monet
From crescent bud
to fully bloomed
Thorn tipped rose
white flower of night
courts the sky
with its blossom of light
____________Colleen Redman______dVerse Poets Pub
~ The following first appeared in the March 6th issue of The Floyd Press with a larger spread of captioned photos.
The Blue Mountain School (BMS) community knows how to throw a party. The 5th annual Mardi Gras Costume Ball, a BMS signature fundraiser, was celebrated Saturday night in three festively decorated rooms at the Floyd EcoVillage. There were three live bands featured, a Gyroscopic Belly Dance Troupe performance and a New Orleans-inspired menu prepared by the Blue Mountain High School students and Chef Jason Loftus, who is teaching a culinary arts class at the school.
Billed as the most fun you can have at a fundraiser this side of the Bayou, the event was also a parade of carnival color, as attendees went all out for the occasion and were decked in beads, feathers and glitter masks. Event organizer Jamie Reygle said the crowd turnout was better than was expected. “The costumes get better every year,” he said.
Jayn Avery, who volunteered at the entrance ticket station, said the line to get tickets didn’t slow down till after 10 p.m. and took three volunteers to manage. Volunteers directed parking and sold tickets for beverage, food and student-made mask purchases. EcoVillage co-founder Jack Wall estimated that about 300 people attended.
Announcing this year’s Mardi Gras King and Queen from the Celebration Hall stage, Reygle said that the high school’s first year would not have been possible without the support of the honored couple, Kamala Bauers and Jack Wall. Bauers and Wall are founders of the EcoVillage, where the BMHS is housed. Reygle is a BMS parent and a board member for the elementary school, which has a 30 year long history. Will Griffin, the town mayor and last year’s king helped with the crowning. Griffin wore the coat that the late Tom Ryan wore at the inaugural Mardi Gras Ball. Ryan, 1st Mardi King, conceived of the event and helped to promote the first few events.
A Silent Auction of items to benefit the school included original Mardi Gras poster art by Emily Williamson, gift certificates, a pedicure, pottery, Floydfest and YogaJam tickets and more. A Kiddie Gras Pajama Party was supervised on the EcoVillage grounds, and the rocking music of Time is Art, Spoon Fight and Lagniappe kept the crowd dancing from 6:30 to midnight.
A few more photos: Dancers and decorations frame a performance by Spoon Fight, a local band made up of past students of BMS.
Blue Mountain High School students, Vivianna Lynch and Alex Hicks hold up the King Cake students made with Chef Jason Loftus in the EcoVillage kitchen. Loftus, a former House of Blues Lead Saucier, is heading up a Blue Mountain High School Culinary Arts class at the school. Proceeds from the food served at the Mardi Gras will go to a class trip to New Orleans. This photo appeared on the front page of the paper.
Buster and Julie Mowles came from Salem to attend the ball after reading about it in The Roanoke Times. From a café booth, they sampled the Mardi Gras menu and agreed that the jambalaya was delicious.
Elvis, aka Ann Shrader, dances with Katie Roberts. Shrader, who stayed in costume all night, won the best costume prize (Chef’s choice for two at Mickey G’s Bistro) and sang a number on stage with Lagniappe (see first photo.)
___________Our World Tuesday
What we want to say to winter.
When humans see their shadows.
The roar of blue sky gets louder.
Robins patiently wait.
Liam breaking bad.
____________Shadow Shot Sunday
~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on March 6, 2014. A couple of photos have been added.
Donna Polseno did some preparatory research for The Great Road: Contemporary Wood-fired Ceramics, an exhibit she presented at Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art, where she is adjunct curator of ceramics.
At the museum members’ opening Friday night, the renowned studio potter and sculptor explained her discovery of an 18th century trade route that the exhibit was named after. The route, which passed through Roanoke from Pennsylvania and continued south through Tennessee and North Carolina, linked together early American potters who settled along the route for access to trade and local clay.
The Great Road: Contemporary Wood-fired Ceramics exhibit brings together the work of nine contemporary potters who reside in the same geographic regions of the old trade route. Rob Barnard, Josh Copus, Kevin Crowe, Judith Duff, Dan Finnegan, Naomi Dalglish, Michael Hunt, Mark Hewitt, and Michael Kline are all wood-firing potters, practicing the earliest ceramic tradition of using wood as a fuel source for kiln firing.
Polseno spoke of the potters represented as being at the top of their field, those who teach and speak internationally and who write about ceramics. She talked about international potters who worked in the U.S. after World War II and the influence they had on regional potters, which created a shift of wood-firing beyond functionality.
One of the featured potters that Polseno introduced to the attending crowd was Josh Copus (pictured above), who was raised in Floyd County, Virginia, and currently lives in Asheville. “I have three different kilns on my property in North Carolina that all generate different effects,” said Copus, who digs his own clay.
Copus talked about the community building component of wood-firing, saying, “My kilns are staffed continuously for days. We run eight hour shifts three shifts a day. It’s process that I can’t physically do alone.” He also spoke about his focus of making pottery that reflects a sense of place.
Kevin Crowe (pictured to the left with Polseno) was also in attendance. Crowe is a featured potter from Nelson County, Virginia, who said he began his journey as a potter after seeing a historic museum piece and wondering how it was made. “It’s a good time to be a potter,” said Crowe, referring to all the information available to potters that “used to be secret.”
Exhibit openings that were also featured on Friday night included From Picasso to Magritte: European Masters from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, FOR Instance: the Art of Martin Johnson.The Great Road: Contemporary Wood-fired Ceramics exhibit will be shown till May 17. ~ Colleen Redman
Photos: 1. A variety of forms and shapes, glazed and unglazed, were represented at The Great Road exhibit. The green glazed pieces in the center are the work of North Carolina potter Michael Kline. 2. Josh Copus, whose pot is pictured in the background, addresses the crowd at the exhibit opening. Copus, founder of Clayspace Coop in Asheville, is soon off to Australia to be a presenter at an international wood firing festival and for a ceramics work residency on the island of Tasmania. 4. Local ceramic artist and Taubman Museum adjunct ceramics curator Donna Polseno is pictured with Kevin Crowe, whose wood-fired work is part of the Great Road exhibit. Polseno has been teaching ceramics at Hollins University since the inception of the ceramics program in 2004. She is founder of the University’s “Women Working with Clay” annual symposium and was the 2013 featured artist at Floyd’s Jacksonville Center for the Arts. 5. Copus pictured with his mother (me!) in a photo that was taken by Katherine Devine. I’ve been documenting Josh’s career HERE.