Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It WASN'T My Imagination!

Mystery solved! Last week I told you that when I looked at the picture above of the door on the building where I meet my classes, I had a sudden and strong feeling that I'd once stood just inside that open door.

I thought I remembered going to a feed store in the river district about forty years ago, but when I showed John the picture and the sign for Ned Wheeler's, he said, no, the place I was thinking about was called Williams.

So, when I met my class last night, I had a good look at a display in the lobby of the building which talked about its history -- and sure enough, the building was the same Williams. I hadn't seen the sign on the other side. (It was too dark to get a picture but I found the one below on the Riverlink website.)

And another memory came back -- I believe that forty some years ago there was a small table and a box containing white paper packets of tobacco seeds just inside the  front door on the left corner of the building below.

What's strange is that I've taught classes in this building before and have been in and out of it over twenty times. And it took that long for the memory to surface.

But, at least, now I know I wasn't imagining things.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Week on the Magic Mountain

Come July 7, I'll be leading a critique workshop at Wildacres -- aka The Magic Mountain. It's a week of learning and having fun with your fellow writers -- all of whom are serious about their work, whether they're new to the game or seasoned veterans. 

Classes meet either morning or afternoons (and there's one day off) to allow for attendees to sit in on other classes, hike, write, or just hang out. At night there are readings, jams, and parties. Plus box wine.

If John C. Campbell (where I'm teaching June 10-16) is summer camp for grownups, Wildacres Writers Workshop is its wild and crazy kid sister. 

Still, lots of good stuff is incubated in the various classes and writers from across the country make the yearly pilgrimage to the mountain to kindle or renew the writing flame. And drink box wine.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, follow THIS LINK for complete information. If you still have questions about the workshop, feel free to ask me in the comments.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Cue the Sexy Music

Star Magnolia, Forsythia, and Black Pussy Willow are putting on a show just now.

Yikes, just realized those could all be strippers. (Hurries to change title...)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Make Way for the Kids

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt 
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows a
And rattle your walls

From Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' 

Many of the high school students protesting Congress's failure to enact meaningful gun control will be old enough to vote in the 2o18 midterm election.

All 435 seats in the in the House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 Senate seat will be up for grabs.

I hope those passionate young people walk out, lie down, march and march and march to express their rage.

And then, oh, then -- I hope they register and VOTE!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Arming Teachers? Really?

It's painful to watch those beholden to the NRA twist and squirm in order to avoid talking gun control. The proposal  to arm teachers ( more gun sales!) is the ultimate in passing the buck
As a former teacher, I can say that this idea truly sucks.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


The building I'm meeting my classes in this semester is in Asheville's Arts District. It was formerly a feed and seed warehouse but it's been converted to artists' studios and the offices of the environmental organization Riverlink.

It has some nice brickwork and, inside, great dark beams and a beautifully worn wooden floor .

As I cropped and edited these pictures and looked at that faded-out, painted-over Purina sign, I suddenly had a kind of memory of standing in that big open door -- back when the place was selling feed and seed.

I'm writing this late Tuesday night and John is asleep or I'd ask him if he remembers going there maybe forty years ago.

Do I have a good memory or just a vivid imagination?

 I'll update this tomorrow with his answer.

John says we might once have visited a Williams  Feed in the same area but he disavows any memory of this place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


I try to make time every Sunday for my little collection of orchids. I sit at the dining table in the morning with the sun pouring in and give each one a dose of water with a little orchid fertilizer. 

I also examine them closely for the insidious scale that I can't seem to get rid of and scrape off each little turtle-backed invader. Occasionally a stink bug will be trying to hide between the petals and I become a ruthless exterminator.

Spending time looking closely at something is like a soothing meditation. 

And the orchids reward me by re-blooming. Two of the small orchids were gifts from Ethan and Justin when I was incarcerated in the nursing home/rehab facility over a year ago and they're on their third bloom cycle. The yellow orchid is one I took to Claui in the hospital when Josie was born (it's spending the winter up here as their house is too chilly) and it's on its second cycle.

Of course, the sunny east-facing window, away from drafts and direct heat is a big factor in the orchid's thriving. As is the routine use of fertilizer (weekly, weakly.)

Still, I like to think it's at least partly due to our quiet and focused time together.

I suspect we would all bloom with similar attention. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Early Morning

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.