Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Make-It-Work Moment

A few years ago, I was drafted into sewing curtains for The Vault in Asheville, and dutifully (though with a bit of whining) threw myself into bolts upon bolts of fabric.  Thankfully, I spent most of my time at the machine and not pounding grommets into yards of hems.  The end result wasn't perfect, but it transformed the cinder block walls and achieved it's goal of softening the room and keeping the sound from bouncing around.

Then, wouldn't you know, after a few years, the fire marshal decided they were a fire hazard. (?!?)  So, down they came.  The room looks very cool now, with black leather wrap around couches which certainly provide a lot more seating for conversation with friends.

But what to do with all that fabric?  I certainly couldn't let it all go to waste... So...
I turned the curtains into my Halloween costume!  This picture was actually taken in a friend's kitchen, I just played around with photoshop a little bit.  And I know, McGonagall's robe is supposed to be green, but this stuff just wouldn't dye (mixing in garlic and holy water didn't help either).  My fingers take color quite nicely, though.  Anyway.  If you see me, or the three wise men in the church pageant, wearing a lot of maroon crushed velvet this Christmas, just think of it as creative frugality.

I should add that I made the costume using this technique found in Wendi Gratz's fantastic sewer/crafter's blog.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writer Friends

My talented writer-friend Cathy Larson Sky took some time to interview me and compile this wonderful piece published in the November issue of Western North Carolina Woman.  She taped and transcribed and re-arranged (for coherency) my thoughts on becoming a writer.  Thankfully, she edited out the number of times I say "like" --- because, like, it's a LOT.  I guess I'm not as articulate on the spot as I thought I was... (It reminds me of the phrase you can take a girl out of the mountains, but you can't take the mountains out of the girl... Except in my case it's clearly the valley!  Sheesh.)

I'm also engaged in another adventure with yet another writer-friend (Stephanie Stark Poling).  And, if you hadn't seen it already in the side bar, we've started a new blog to chronicle our collaborative efforts.  We are writing a play set to be staged at the Parkway Playhouse in September of 2012:  Between the Tackles.
In fact, right now I'm supposed to be writing that play... but I'm procrastinating... Maybe I'll update that blog over there next.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Calling for Words

Last spring, I attended a training session given by Mimi Herman at Penland School of Crafts for a program called SUBS with SUITCASES.  The premise of the program is that artists (and others) lament the fact that  because of budget and staff cuts, arts education is diminishing in schools.  So, instead of just sitting around whining about it, they've come up with a brilliant plan to work within the existing system:  namely, substitute teachers.  What the program does is train art professionals to be subs, then when they are called, they are already prepared, suitcase full of materials in hand, to give an art lesson.

If teachers know when they're going to be gone, they can work with the sub ahead of time so the art lesson is related to classroom content.  However, even if you call one of these subs last minute, they will have prepared lessons ready to go.  As a former classroom teacher, calling in sick was always something I dreaded... because it usually meant more work than the misery of being in the classroom while ill.  You had to prepare all this "busy work" for the sub and then grade it all afterwards!  But with this system, teachers would have far less to pre-absence (and post-absence) work, making choosing one of these subs much more desirable.  PLUS, think about the children!  Instead of busy work, they're using a different part of their brain, appealing to other learning styles, and adding back in a missing component of their education.

Most of the subs in this program are visual artists, though there are some musicians... and then me, the writer.  It's is somewhat difficult to distinguish between "arts writing" and regular "school writing,"  but I am coming up with some any-age creative writing activities to pull out of my suitcase.

The one I'm working on now is a spin-off of magnetic poetry, but I'm just going to have the words on laminated cardstock.   Right now, I'm trying to figure out what words I should include.

So, here's how you can help:  
1.  If you have old Altoid tins, give them to me.  : )  I'll need about 25.
2.  What words spark your imagination?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Open to the New

Here is evidence I am open to something new in my life.

The other day, while my daughter was at soccer practice, I walked down to the post office to mail off a writing-contest entry.
Upon entering, I saw they had the old-fashioned mailboxes, some which even had combination locks to open them instead of keys. I gasped internally.  The slant of late afternoon sun made them appear like a bank of golden carvings.  At night, I still routinely dream of opening my college mailbox, turning the dial in anticipation of what might be inside. I think it also goes back to my fascination with small containers. (See the post below.)
Regardless, as I stood in line waiting to weigh my package, I noticed that one of the mailboxes was available for rent.  It was even one of the doors that required a combination.  If you look closely, you'll notice there aren't numbers to mark the revolutions, but letters!

I left that day without renting the box--just to make sure I really wanted it--which it turns out I did.

So, you may now send me mail at:
Britt Kaufmann
PO Box 863
Micaville, NC 28755

I promise to write a return note/postcard to anyone who sends me mail there.  (I can hardly wait!)

I also blame Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See which tells the story of two foot-bound Chinese women who are sworn friends for life. (Link for photos of foot-binding--not for the faint of heart.) For centuries, Chinese women were not able to walk from the house to converse with old family and friends, so were essentially confined to the homes of their husband's for life.  To combat the loneliness, they developed a secret written language.  Nu shu was taught in the women's room, mother to daughter, a written phonetic language... unknown to men.  A written language, created by women, for women, to maintain their friendships, to chronicle their lives, joys and despair.  While the nu shu is still being taught to preserve a cultural heritage, it is no longer a secret, nor does it have a practical application, since women are mobile and permitted to learn men's language.

As a lover of words and sneakiness, I find this heartbreaking.  (Though I would not advocate the return of such circumstances that found this language useful.)  I guess, having my own post office box is an attempt at reclaiming a part of that intentional communication.  These nu shu writings, embroidered on handkerchiefs or written on fans, were often burned upon a woman's death to carry messages of her into the afterlife.  But some are preserved.  Nu shu was written with great care, in concise, formal, numbered syllabic patterns. As much as we now depend on blogs, email, and facebook to communicated to loved-ones far away, I lament the temporality of it all.  (And I readily admit the fact I'm addicted to all three.) This "writing" will not last, even as nu shu has done.  As a writer I wish for communication where we thoughtfully consider what we write, focus on the intimate details of self-expression and audience... not simply reposting willy-nilly the blatherings of others.

Also, there is something to be said for an artifact in hand--for anticipation, instead of instant feedback: spin the dial between my fingers, feel the resistance of the cogs, the hinge swinging open... a letter from a friend sliding out into my waiting imagination.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I'm sure I was a hoarder in another life, but in this one I've managed to keep it mostly under wraps.  But anyone who's been to my house knows I have a thing for small containers.  Sometimes I threaten my demands upon death will be cremation and then dispersal of my ashes into all my various boxes.  Then anyone who wants a piece of me is welcome to it.
Lately, I've been thinking about death a lot.  Or maybe not so much about death, per se, but about our quality of living, about our expectations of life... and about grieving.  A friend of mine from college found out a month ago she has... oh, I probably won't get all the terminology right... but suffice it to say, she's got cancer bad.  She has three young kids, like me, lived on the same dorm floor I did in college, got married the same summer I did... we even had our first teaching jobs at the same high school... and she took my mother's old job, when my mother  became conference minister.  I read her blog every morning.  Read how she hopes her youngest son will have memories of her.  (I keep a tissue box next to my computer now.)  It's reconnected me with some college friends... and it turns out my old roommate is also dealing with the impending cancer death of her mother-in-law.  And then, news reached me that one of our college professors was murdered in his home.

And me.  I am far away.  With enough time to contemplate how tenuous it all is. I could lock my doors and get a security system, yes, but that wouldn't keep out cancer. With all this time I have, I wonder if I am doing enough in this world or if I am doing too much.  Most days, feeling both is the only balance I achieve.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ahhh! Literary Festival

So... I've been doing little bit of work on the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival lately. (Not only do I need a sarcastic font, but after writing the last sentence, I'll also be calling for the gross-understatement font.)
Here... I'll give you a taste of what I've been up to:
Graphic Design

Maintaining the Literary Festival Blog:
Actually, very few of these entries are written by me, but by a host of local writers who have taken the time to review work of the authors who coming to the literary festival. Some really good books are represented. I've been trying to post a review a day.
Press Release Queen:
Which press release do you want? The generic one, or the one focusing on the film, or kids' activities, or authors who you might mistakenly overlook, or the one of interest to visual artists? And did I mention that these press releases have landed me radio spots and ACK! a live TV studio interview. ... and answer to the #1 question: When will it air? is "Well, considering it waslive and I did it at noon on Wednesday... it's already aired." Thank heavens I didn't tape it and they haven't posted it online (even though I half-heartedly requested it). I really have no desire to be confronted with not meeting my own standards.
I am not involved in of any fundraising, money-handling, schedule-making, volunteer finding, food preparation, or venue organizing! And thank goodness for those volunteers who are!

Now, since I'm also presenting this year, I suppose I'd better figure out which poems I'm going to read!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest Blogging

I've had two recent "guest blogger" gigs that you might want to read, since you're here.
The first was for Cheek Teeth the official blog of the literary magazine Trachodon. This is a great blog for writers wanting to think about craft -- it also includes a fair amount of flash fiction and essays of interest. Here's the permalink to my post about seeing my first play produced & click here to see what's new on their site.
The second is about my summer adventures in raising chickens at the blog 100 Memoirs. This blog is kept by a former college professor Shirley Showalter and is a collection of short memoirs, thoughts on writing memoir, and reviews of new and important work in that genre. Here's the permalink and here you can see her latest post.

And how the chicken saga has continued! I'll post updates soon...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In Praise of MiLo Acres

First of all, take a look at this meal my husband and I cooked! Then I'll regale you with all the mouth-watering details.
The meat is grilled salmon topped with a sauce of dill, mustard, leeks, white wine and butter. In the center top are homefries-style potatoes and onions with garlic in the same dill-mustard sauce. There is also a wedge of lemon and several slices of cucumber -- which are pretty obvious, but you'll understand why I mention them later.

Finally, there is a salad of braised Swiss chard topped with pickled beets, onions and garlic. (To pickle them, I julienned onion, beets and garlic and left them to soak in balsamic, red, and rice vinegars with salt, pepper and honey.) No, I did not see this as a recipe anywhere, it just seemed right to my taste-buds' imagination... and I do believe they proved themselves right. I will be making this again! And see how pretty it looks sitting there on my plate.

The real kicker is that all the ingredients listed in bold above came in our CSA box from MiLo Acres. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture -- and the premise is that consumers pay local farmers up-front so they have the funds to get their gardens started and in return they provide, in our case, a weekly box of garden produce. The food is fresher, there is less gas used for transportation, and our stuff is organic, too.

Instead of wishing our current system were different, I'm putting my money where my mouth is. If you don't like big agri-business, support an alternative. It's good, old-fashioned trust: I trust that they will do the best they're able to within the confines of weather and pests, and they have not let our family down. The owners of MiLo Acres take classes, work long hours, and balance the box with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits -- some of which I would never have chosen on my own. I would have never bought beets at the farmer's market, but I'm glad I've learned how to cook with them. As an added bonus, our family is a lot healthier for getting the box. First, because the vegetables are healthier for us, and secondly, because I use so many more vegetables than I would normally -- either experimenting, or avoiding waste.

Granted, I know and love the owners of MiLo Acres dearly, but they do such a fantastic job I can't help but to rave every now and then. Particularly after a good meal, like tonight's--in which the majority of the substance and flavors came from their farm.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Writing Weekend

So, I'm on a writing weekend trying to knock out some new work despite a desk positioned right in front of a mirror. Focus. Focus. (Not on my hair.)

I've gotten my morning pages written every day, written a piece that will soon appear on Cheek Teeth Blog, and have made more "thinking progress" on the new play-in- progress.

I haven't written a follow-up about the play, but the good news is the guest blog post will go into some of that. And I'll write more about it later.

In other good news, I had a essay on ramps appear in the July issue of WNC Magazine. There are several good pieces in that issue by writers I know: Glenis Redmond, Brian Lee Knopp, and Vicki Lane.

photo by Misha Gravenor

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trailer - Part IV

Dialect - Part III

Once I had the plot in place, it was time to put words in the characters mouths. That presented all sorts of problems. First, I have not immersed myself in the letters/diaries/newspapers of the day to even come close to approximating the speech of the time period. Secondly, these were mountain characters and I wanted them to sound Mountain. So, I made the goal of not having them sound Civil War Era, but to simply sound like Yancey County -- to the best of my abilities.

But heavens knows my abilities are limited. (Shoot. I was a high school English teacher from the Midwest!) I don't sound the least bit mountain, though I always pay attention to language. (Like how folks in Yancey County say "I've not..." rather than "I haven't..." I love that!) I really like the idioms, new words, and speech patterns of the mountains, but I wasn't sure I could get it right. In fact, I'm still not sure I got it right. (Fortunately several of the cast are from here and they have helped immeasurably, even calling their mothers and mamaws to make sure I've got it right.)

To begin, I read Horace Kephart's chapter on Mountain Dialect and wrote down words that I thought were awesome (like golmed and slaunchwise) that I absolutely had to use. Then I watched several YouTube videos that exemplified speech patterns and accents (one with playwright Gary Carden). And then, I'll confess, I would go out to eat all by myself at 'Lil Smoky's in town and just listen to the oldtimers talk to each other of a morning. Then, maybe, I'd hear it in my head long enough that I could go home and write.

As much as I know "writing in dialect" is not the best, you would truly lose one of the great things about Yancey County if you would perform this play without the Mountain lilt and twang. So I wrote it like I heard it, and later went back and cleaned up and standardized some of the spellings. Like fire is spelled fire, though everyone from hear knows to call it far. And flour is spelled flour, though the cast says it correctly as flar. But I did keep kilt and ruint spelled as such.

The longer I live here, the more turns of phrase I could incorporate. So would I rewrite it yet again? The short answer is: I wouldn't care to. And if you're from Yancey, you know that means I would be more than happy to do so.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Super Photo for the Play

Such a great press photo. They've totally captured their characters.

Researching the Play - Part II

I have the great fortune of being friends with Charles F. Price, a historical fiction novelist, who wrote a distinguished series of four novels set in Western North Carolina during the Civil War and Reconstruction. While his books are fiction, he researches meticulously, obsessively so that he is certain he has got it as close to right as possible. The dialog, the structure of the novel, and some of the characters are imagined, but the setting, the historical context, and locations are all grounded in solid research.

As not only a friend, but a mentor, there was no way I could look him in the eye if I wrote a play that grossly distorted the documented facts. So I needed to be sure I knew what those facts were. Fortunately, he was also a great resource and photocopied from his own personal library several passages that aided greatly in my research.

Two of the historians most helpful to me are well known in WNC region and in Yancey County: Dr. Lloyd Bailey (editor of the series Heritage of the Toe River Valley) and Michael Hardy (a reenactor for 28 years and author of a wealth of books on the Civil War). Plus Michael Hardy keeps up a fantastic blog full of information and musings that I found fascinating. Now whether these two actually approve of the play remains to be seen. I will not speak for them. I'm simply saying I read their work in an effort to be accurate and took inspiration from it.

I did confess to Michael that I'd written a romantic comedy about the Civil War, but I'd put no actual historical figures on stage. He deservedly called me "chicken." But I didn't want to misrepresent a real person. I simply wanted to take what I found as a fascinating chain of events and make the
history entertaining. I wanted it to come to life in an enjoyable, memorable way and for those strong women to live again, however briefly, even if it was just on stage. No one knows their names, but their blood still runs in these families here in Yancey County. Being a mother is tough work (if you're going to do it right), and I guess I hoped to prove to all of us here, we've got what it takes to do it.

Resources Used in Writing the Play:

“A Female Raid” Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, North Carolina), Monday, March 23, 1863. Accessed from Learn NC website. <http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4187>.

Audio Excerpts : The Homefront: Hardships of War” North Carolina Museum of History. 2005. Web. .

Bailey, Lloyd. The Heritage of the Toe River Valley: Volume II. Lloyd Richard Bailey, 1997.

Bumgarner, Matthew. Kirk’s Raiders: a notorious band of scoundrels and thieves. Piedmont Press, 2000.

Hardy, Michael C. The Ca. 1849 McElroy House: A Glimpse of Yancey County, North Carolina's History. Donning Company Publishers, 2004.

Kephart, Horace. Our Southern Highlanders. Outing Publishing Company, 1913.

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I. Vol. 53. Supplement. Serial No. 111. Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1995.

Trotter, William R. Bushwhackers: The Civil War in North Carolina (Volume II: The Mountains). John F. Blair, 1988.

Yearns, W. Buck. North Carolina Civil War Documentary. University of North Carolina Press, 1980.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writing the Play - Part I

In the fall of 2009, I got to create a panel for the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival which featured Alan Gratz (author of several YA novels including Fantasy Baseball) and Susan Woodring (author of Traveling Disease). I knew both of them were parents, and as the moderator of the panel (who at that point had only published a handful of poems), I wanted to badger them about how they did it: wrote and parented young, still-underfoot children. Turns out that we all have daughters the same age, and while there is only one Gratz child and two Woodrings, both of the writers were primary caregivers and home-schooled. WHAT!?! And they have published books?

This is where I play my "but I have twins too" card.

But I came away from that with the sense that what they had (that I was missing -- besides a published book) were editors & agents--folks who gave them deadlines to meet. I needed deadlines and someone to be accountable to.

So, I struck up a conversation with the guy who had an office right next to my writing office. The guy happened to be Andrew Gall, artistic director of the Parkway Playhouse. Writing a play is something I'd never done, but it seemed like an interesting experiment: how do you write ONLY DIALOG to reveal character and action? This was, perhaps, how I was going to create artificial deadlines and get myself an editor.

"I was thinking..." I ventured hesitantly into the conversation, "that if I wrote a one-act play, could you maybe read it and tell me what you think? If you have time." After all, he does run a theater company, direct plays, teach at the community college and have young children.

His reply was prompt: "Don't mess around writing a one-act play. Write a whole play."

What?! I began pulling excuses from any and everywhere. "But I've never written a play before!" I declared.

"Here," he said fishing through his bookshelf and pulling out a copy of Blake Snyder's Save the Cat. "I use this when I teach. It'll tell you everything you need to know and help you figure out the pacing."

"But I don't even know what to write about!" I continued. You would think that I hadn't started this conversation and asked for this very thing.

"I do," he returned. "You know this whole 'Battle of Burnsville' thing the reenactors do every April? I think it was really a bunch of women stealing sugar. Look that up."

I did and he was wrong. They actually stole wheat. But the sparse history of the event sparked my imagination.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trouble & Goals Reached

So, the day after I decide to get back to regular posts, Blogger is down. Ha!

This weekend I completed several goals by running the BFF 5K. The first goal it met was last year's New Year's resolution to run 2 5Ks in the course of a year. So, even though it's only 1/2 way through the year, I've run two. The first was the Shamrock 5K when I finished with a time of 29:50 meeting my usual goal of "under 30." This time, however, since I was running another race on the heels of the Shamrock, I decided that (barring injury or terrible weather) I should try to get closer to 29 than 30. Which I did! 29:14.

The bummer was that I got passed by someone in my age group right at the very end. Otherwise I would have finished first in my age-group. But no. She beat me by 2 seconds, and I'll tell you, I did not have it in me to sprint with her to the finish line. I probably could have, but I was not going to puke at the end. My kids, my husband, my pastor and one of my best friends were all there and I was not, NOT, going to create that lasting memory for everyone.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wow. Since February?

Guess I'd better break the ice. I just kept putting it off... but I think now I'll make the goal to post something, even tiny, every day for a week.

The big news at our property has to do with our hen who sat on 7 eggs and hatched 7 chicks that are all still alive a week and half later! There are four which we believe will be colored like the mama, two pale yellow ones and one little penguin. In an effort to break our own hearts, we have already begun naming them (Cleopatra, Penguino, Miss Mini...). We can't seem to help it. Maybe it's the poet in me that wants to name things, and then, once they're named, I feel more deeply about them. It's dangerous. And wonderful. I can spend so much time watching them peep about, running their tiny beaks through their new feathers, tipping their heads up to let water fall down their little throats, imitating their mother by scratching their feet across the ground before pecking at a bit of food, flapping their stubs of wings to help them regain their balance or jump up on a fallen log...
They're probably all roosters.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Latest Publication-- A Peace Poem/Prayer

My latest poem "Create Peace" is actually a prayer and you can find it here at the Mennonite Church's Peace and Justice Support Network website. There are other wonderful prayers (and resources) for those interested in praying and acting for peace.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How *The Help* Helped

After reading The Help by Katherine Stockett, I was motivated to do some unusual things around the house. First, I polished my silver. I pulled the putty from the laundry room closet, along with an old t-shirt and headed to my jewelry box. No, I don't own any real silver vases or silverware or any "real" niceties, but I have several pair of tarnished earrings and a few necklaces and pendants. So I stood there, daubing and rubbing, watching the shine emerge and the black accumulate on the rag. It's tedious work, but I like the tangible, aesthetically pleasing results. Much more satisfying than laundry for me.

Second, I scrubbed the floors in my bedroom and dining room on my hands and knees. Good Heavens the crazed things I do because of literature.

See, I really dislike cleaning. Enough so that I have "help" come in to do the cleaning. Often this embarrasses me. But I really don't like it, though I like living in a (relatively) clean house. Once, though, a writer friend absolved me of my guilt saying that not everyone can write... so if I can, leave the cleaning to someone who finds satisfaction in it. Indeed, Skeeter didn't do much cleaning in her life. I found, reading the book, that I identified with many of the characters: the woman with the little kids who pays for help so that she can "volunteer" elsewhere; Skeeter, who wants to be a writer and write something important; and sometimes even Aibileen, who listens to children and tries to fill their heads so full of good thoughts it will carry them into a good adulthood.

This, though, is the passage that has made the biggest impression on me:
"We all on a party line to God, but you, you setting right in his ear."
This is Minny talking to Aibileen about putting someone on her prayer list, which Aibileen keeps in a little notebook. It made me think about how cool that'd be to sit in God's ear. And after mulling this idea over a while, I figured there's nothing to keep any of us from sitting there except climbing up there with focused prayer. That's what Aibileen did, kept a list and wrote her prayers -- which took her about an hour a night. So, I found a little notebook in my office -- because I dearly love getting little notebooks, though I have no idea what I could possibly write that would fit in a little notebook. It's a tiny bit of a thing, maybe 1.5 x 3" and only 12 sheets of paper. But I filled in a list of names on that first page and it's like Aibileen says on the page before the above quote: "And the next and the next. Cause that's the way prayer do. It's like electricity, it keeps things going." I have already noticed that electric continuation... and have a few new names to add to the list.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Groan.... Running

Once again, the only way I can motivate myself to keep in shape is to sign up for a 5K -- the 5th Annual Asheville Shamrock Run. This time, though, I've actually printed out a calendar with a daily training program. Each day has written on it what I'm supposed to run... Today, thankfully, is a rest day.

Yesterday was not. In fact, I'm impressed I accomplished yesterday's training -- 10 minutes of warm-up, 6x400m at 10 seconds below my goal pace with slow 400s in between. Then an 800 to cool down. Added together, it was just over 4 miles. After my first 400 at a 9 minute mile pace, I decided running was for the birds and started the rhythmic chant "I hate this" in time to my heavy footfalls. I did get it all done, though, and kept the 9 minute pace. I'm hoping all this pays off since I sure don't enjoy the process.
At least it allowed me to devour my Valentine's Day chocolates without the slightest twinge of guilt.

I'd like to finish the race under 30 minutes... and training for a 9 minute mile would put me way under 30 minutes. However, the race's logo makes me suspect that it could be a much hillier course than I run on the treadmill. Ugh. Hills.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Joint Show Coming Soon...

Alicia and I have been talking for some time now about doing a joint project-- poetry and photography--and now we're just waiting for the details to fall together. Namely, we're waiting for my chapbook to arrive from the publisher and her to finish shooting and framing. (The publisher says the printer is running two weeks behind, so that means they should ship at the end of next week!)

Alicia is the photographer who took my portrait for the book cover. I got to know her and her work when we had offices beside each other at the Heritage Center. Her photographs struck me because of how she captured the everyday beauty of people and landscapes. She honors the past of these mountains with the technology of the present and with an eye of someone truly paying attention. (I think there are a lot of similarities between poets and photographers -- images, story, framing, cropping.) I knew I wanted her to "make my picture" for the book. Additionally, she is pure Yancey County: a love for her art, horses, family, outdoors and the mountains.

So I issued her a cautious challenge... would she want to try to photograph what images came to her after reading through my collection of poems, since my poems are about moving to the mountains? She agreed.

Here are a few sneak peeks she shared with me:

Check out more of her work at aliciajophoto.com
And stay tuned for when our joint show will be! I'm excited.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The cat eats the dog food.
The dog eats the cat food.
The chickens will not walk on snow, but will stand outside in sleet.
The school's automated system calls us when we have a full day of school.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Excuses and Resolutions (old and new)

Perhaps it was the seven snow days, one "vacation" and a 3 hour delay in January that has kept me from posting in this new year. (And before that is was the almost-dislocated shoulder and general holiday business & lethargy...) Though I suspect it was the feeling that I should evaluate the year 2010 in regards to the goals I set for myself.

Frankly, I did not do so great.

I did watch less "live" TV... but got addicted to Netflix instant downloads of TV shows I'd missed the first go-round: Farscape, True Blood, and my most recent favorite Firefly. I think it has one of the best TV marriages I've seen in a long time. (See pic to the left... great cast featuring stars from Alias, Chuck, V, Buffy, Castle, The Cape...) Anyway...

My goal of reading 40 books fell somewhat short at 36. Which is still 3 a month. And I'll renew that goal for 2011, having already read Girl Meets God and Tinkerers this January.

My goal of running in two 5Ks also didn't happen. I ran one in the spring, but I never did run one in the fall. In my defense, I was not just sitting on my butt. I still ran and could have run a 5K -- I was back up to that distance... I just didn't work out to enter and run a road-race.

2010 was big in other ways that promise to make 2011 quite the year. My chapbook of poetry was accepted for publication (and should be arriving in the mail any day now!). And my play An Uncivil Union: The Battle of Burnsville was put on the schedule for the Parkway Playhouse's summer run. (June 3 - 11) So, 2011 is going to be a new kind of challenge for me... Instead of stewing about getting my work out there, I will need to figure out how to deal with the opinions of others about my work.

My goals are to approach 2011 with a sense of humility. To remember the challenges and doubt of 2010, and thus approach what comes next with gratitude.

Yes, I want to try to read 40 books again, continue to publish (or at least continue putting my work out there) and maybe instead of running two 5Ks, work on rehabbing my body: weak shoulder, knees (patella femoral pain) and heel (plantar fasciitis). (oooh - how cool is that? a word with a double I... The only other one I knew was "skiing.")

May 2011 be a year of not falling apart and putting myself back together, stronger than before.