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David, Henry, Me and Patty - our El Salvador peeps now here in NC!

Philip Gerard, my first mentor in the Goucher MFA program, at On the Same Page Literary Festival this September. Hail to all the Gophers out there!



This, and the photos below, are in Jerusalem on our trip there in March. It was so incredibly good we're going back later this summer and working on an archaeological dig with UNC Charlotte with the same folks from the March trip.



















The whirlwind summer of 2015…so far...

So Crazy Good

June 23, 2015

Tags: McFarland, New River, Scot Pope, Julie Townsend, anthology, Jerusalem, Israel, archaeology

I'm madly packing. I actually enjoy doing it - yes, it is crazy. But it's a challenge and an art, to assemble, anticipate, craft, wash, fold… I am getting really good at it, to tell you the truth.

It has been a whirlwind around here. We started out with a big dinner part -- a fundraising Feast for the Arts -- here at our house, then moved right on to the big book launch party, a rained out festival, then a special poetry reading and Wordkeepers, and a salon and performance for Henry and Scot. That's all in the last 10 days. Seriously?

Tomorrow my sister gets here -- she's minding my house and taking care of the kitties while we're gone to Jerusalem to participate in the Mt. Zion Dig again this year. In a weird way, the dig will be a kind of break in the action. As soon as we return, it all starts up again with book events, then a writing workshop (for which I have MUCH preparation to do) and then the Literary Festival… I think I'll have to rest for the holidays!

All of it. Every crazed minute, is good stuff, though. Stuff for which I am honored and privileged to have a part. Good thing I decided to go ahead and chop my hair and let the gray shine because no way would I have any time to deal with the!-

Coming Down to It...

April 26, 2015

Tags: new river, book, reflections, poetry, essay, short story, Julie Townsend, Scot Pope, McFarland

Well, Julie, Scot and I went through every word of the new book. I read out loud and Julie or Scot sat there with a red pen and the print-out of the final copy from the publisher.

It's really going to happen.

I delivered all our marked pages to McFarland Publishers in Jefferson and then rolled down the windows in the car, turned up the radio (there was some early Fleetwood Mac playing), and cruised the few miles home with a satisfying grin on my face.

Now comes the cat wrangling. Our plan for selling this puppy includes as many readings/signings as we can line up in all three states that the New River flows through, and with as many of the authors as we can schedule. We've got such a wonderful group of contributors, I know they are going to have lots of suggestions, and hopefully, they'll help out with some of the leg work involved in setting this kind of stuff up.

Let the games begin. It's going to be a busy summer.

Back From El Salvador

February 2, 2015

Tags: Habitat for Humanity Charlotte, work, friends, service, El Salvador, Santa Ana, Ataca

I'm back early this morning from my Habitat Charlotte trip to El Salvador. This annual "attitude adjustment" trip is always so rewarding, such a pleasure, and lots of hard work. I spent many months preparing at the gym, knowing as I do, that being in the best shape possible always makes for a better trip. I was, if I do say so myself, quite studly this year and suffered no injuries, didn't fall down on the site, and with the help of a little Advil P.M., not even sore during the week of hard work. For mi compadres, I wrote this poem, which came to me as I was going to sleep on our last night in the country.

And Then

And then they started to leave.
At first just a couple
Who don't enjoy the beach.

And then we all pack up
Our fabulously dirty clothes
Crusted with the week's sweat and work

And then we have our last hugs
And disperse throughout the airport
To our respective gates and cities.

And then we fly away home to our loved ones
Dreaming of next year,
Leaving behind those we love, too.

The Pre-Order link is above right - click it!

January 4, 2015

Tags: Order your Reflections on the New River now!

Well, it's scheduled for spring/summer 2015. What that means in terms of an actual date, we just don't yet know, but we'll keep you posted.

I expect we will set up a book webpage when we get a publication date, and, I'll be getting back to all of my writing and reading friends about setting up readings and signings all along the New River.

Stay tuned - and go on and order one!

IT'S HERE!!! We have a title and a cover!!!!

December 5, 2014

Tags: New River, writer, editor, essays, stories, poetry

Look what appeared in my email this afternoon. The book cover and the title! In the next couple of weeks I'll be able to post a link to the publisher's catalogue for pre-orders, too. It's all feeling real now.

We don't have a publication date yet, right now they're still saying spring/summer 2015, and we haven't seen a proof yet, but it looks like the price will be $19.95 which is very pleasing -- we wanted to keep it as low as possible.

YAY!

NANO Day 13

November 13, 2014

Tags: national novel writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, fibula, fracture, election night, Ashe County courthouse

OK, so I'm not keep up quite as much as proscribed by NANO rules, but I am working! I figure it's gotta be OK with a broken leg right? That's what I'm going for.

Anyway: Here's some words for you:

My little town, just about 5 miles up the road from the university center, afforded us a comfortable hide out. We contributed civically, served on boards, made nice with everyone really, without ill regard toward those with that “what church do you go to?” state of mind. Hell, we laughed those people off. They were kind of quaint, really, if sometimes annoying, in their persistence in the Jesus way of going about life.
Sure, sometimes I bristled at public meetings where Jesus was invoked in what I regarded as civic, not religious business. I tired of hearing the church bells, frankly. What seemed a delightful, small-town interlude on Sunday mornings, eventually seemed intrusive. Who were these “Christian Soldiers” and what were they moving “onward” to, anyway?
But, those of us academics here in the self-satisfied in town, along with our brethren cloistered up the road in the enclave of academe, we were above it all. Frankly, we didn’t pay enough attention -- beyond being annoyed. While we weren’t looking, beyond our own little snug homes and careers, those Christian soldiers were swiping things off us, and we weren’t just looking the other way, we were paying no attention at all.

NANO DAY 9

November 9, 2014

Tags: national novel writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, fibula, fracture, election night, Ashe County courthouse

Hanging tough, laying low, doing the Christmas movie/writing thing friends. Leg is up, computer is on my lap. So, here are some of my words from Day 9 of National Novel Writing Month:

“I know, James. The truth is, the shriller people got, the more I just wanted them to shut up. It’s not that I didn’t agree, I just didn’t see how getting all riled up was going to make any difference. I still don’t see what we can do about it. In fact, I told Rita this morning…”

“Rita! Holy shit, she must be having a stroke. Did she stand up and start hollering at the President during the meeting?” James was, I’m sure, remembering the tenure “discussion” at the last Faculty Senate meeting. Rita had launched a monumental harangue at that meeting, and she’d been met with silence, even from her own colleagues, who by that time had simply felt ineffectual at best — scared of their own jobs at worst.

“That’s the other news I have, James. Rita wasn’t at the meeting. She was home packing. She’s gone.” I just dropped the bomb. Boom. James just stared at me dumbfounded, pushing the floppy hair off his face, his mouth, literally hanging open.

NANO DAY 8

November 8, 2014

Tags: national novel writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, fibula, fracture, election night, Ashe County courthouse

Day 8 started out poopy. My leg was hurting and there was new swelling in my foot and ankle. I went in to the orthopedic doc's office, instead of waiting for the appointment schedule for the 17th. Of course, I was just paranoid - read too many entries on Web MD. or something. So, I dragged Henry to Boone, even though he is feeling crap with a terrible cold (timing is everything) himself. They x-rayed my leg and confirmed the fracture. The swelling is within the normal range. So, I got a new ace bandage, instructions to take the pain meds as prescribed, ice/heat alternating, lay low, use the walker at least to next week when I can probably switch to a cane, no driving for now… Like I said, poopy.

Anyway, I have done my words today anyway. Just as a kind of "F you" to the fractured-bone universe. Here's a few for you:

“Hey, Ivan, what’s the pup’s name?”

“Good morning, Rita. Hope you slept well and that it’s not too early. We’re early risers — we both always had 8 a.m. classes.”

“Ha, and here I thought you were early risers because you were farmers.”

“The dog is Ole’s, but I like him, too. His name is Doug. After the Douglas Fir tree - it’s one of Ole’s favorites. I told him that was a dumb name for a dog, but now that I’ve lived with him, I have to say, it suits the furry bastard.”

“Come here, Doug, and say hi.” The big standard poodle happily trotted over and enjoyed getting his thick curly head rubbed. Somehow, Doug was the perfect name for the big brown beast.

“God, Ivan, do you have to make this dog wear an orange vest during hunting season? He could completely be mistaken for a deer or a bear.”

“As a matter of fact…” Ole came into the kitchen, his scruffy graying hair gone haywire and sticking up everywhere, Doug’s got an orange vest he wore last fall.”

NANO DAY 7

November 7, 2014

Tags: national novel writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, fibula, fracture, election night, Ashe County courthouse

It's NANO Day 7 and I'm behind. Not grievously mind you, just a bit.

Here's what happened. After I got my words all done for day 4, I went off to the courthouse here in Ashe County to finish up my duties for the election board. Mainly this consists of hanging around the election office, but it also includes some official stuff like opening all of the mail in absentee ballots we approved and putting them through the machine and signing off on the tally. Then we have to be there to receive the phoned in unofficial results and sign off on that tally and everyone brings in their materials from the precincts and up in one of the courtrooms on the third floor we set up screens to post the voting results as they get called in. I was walking down the stairs from the courtroom to our office on the 2nd floor with our Election Director and, of course, running my mouth, and BOOM I stumbled on the last step and hit the floor.

Those of you reading here that know me will be impressed to know that the only thing I said was, "what the hell" and not anything more colorful. It hurt. I dragged myself over to the bottom step and sat there thinking about it for a few minutes. Neither John or I could figure out quite what I'd done.

So much was going on, so, I slowly limped back into the office. One of the folks helping that night was an EMT, so she checked me out, and got me ice for my leg. We filled out an "incident report" for the county. I confess that I, at one point, did apparently go pretty white as I was sitting there, but it didn't seem like I'd done anything major. I pretty much stayed there in that chair and got through the next couple of hours of official duties.

My husband came in with the ballots and election stuff from the precinct he worked at all day a little after 8 p.m. Since I'm a frequent faller, he didn't bat too much of an eye. I drove myself home. But damn it did hurt.

And it hurt through a sleepless night, too. Early the next morning (Wednesday) amidst listening to and reading about all the un-fun results, I announced that after a shower I would appreciate him taking me to the ER. Which he did. And after and x-ray, I found out I had, in fact, broken my GD leg, no shit.

As broken legs go, it's not a bad one. It's the fibula, on the right side on the outside of my leg. No cast. Orthopedic visit in 10 days. They did want me to get a walker, however. That thing. Oh. It has so many unpleasant associations. I used it Wednesday and Thursday, but today I'm feeling pretty OK without it. I think it's more for when you're taking the Vicodin anyway.

So that, my friends, is the story of how I did not write any NANO words on days 5 and 6. They are a pain med haze. All I really remember is the brownies that Becky brought over yesterday.

However, I am not letting this broken leg thing stop me. I am back in the saddle today, making a serious dent in my word count. I'm not completely caught up, but very much in closing distance, and I'm sure I'll be able to get totally caught up to my per day word count by tomorrow. On that note, here are a few of the words I wrote today:

It was welcoming and cozy warm. As I opened up my pack to get out something to sleep in, I heard the boys continuing their conversation downstairs. The old vent register in my room that opened up to the kitchen provided a direct pipeline to their conversation. I didn’t know whether to quietly listen, or holler down “Hey guys, remember I’m up here and I can hear you…”

Oh, what the hell. I decided to just get ready for bed and not focus on listening, they’d probably soon be off to bed, too.

Then I heard Ole say to Ivan, “What do you honestly think we should do, Ivan?” And that was the end of me trying to be polite and ignore what they were saying.
“Well” Ivan was saying,” I’m just thinking that maybe we should think about moving across the border, too, maybe before winter comes.” I could hear him moving around the kitchen as he was talking, probably finishing cleaning up after dinner.

NANO Day 4

November 4, 2014

Tags: National Novel Writing Month, Sinclair Lewis, Ed Perzel, university president, faculty senate

OK - I got home for long enough this busy election day to do my words! Aren't you proud of me? I sure am. Here's the words for today:

One of the old guys from the Philosophy Department, Henry Tabor I think, stopped short of the door he was about to walk out and hollered up at the President, “And who will choose the three representatives - if we are allowed to ask?”

There was that stupid separated-from-reality smile again from the President. “We haven’t yet ironed out all of the procedures in that regard. We will be sure to get you an official memorandum before the mid-term.”

You know that scene in Animal House where the snotty frat guys are making their presentation to the student government board and the student audience starts barking/sneezing “bullshit?” I swear, some of our faculty actually started doing that. Others were hissing.

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