Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

November 12, 2011

nine lives + counting

My boy, Salvador is over 18 years old, and you know that is about 130 in dog years. And he has what seems to be dog alzheimers, which leaves him disoriented much of the time, and lost some of the time. He has been getting lost even when he is just outside around our house. He lost his way two days ago. We looked everywhere. There are lots of trails leading from our home, and I just couldn’t find him anywhere. I thought he had possibly just gone off into the woods to die. But today we got a call from the best neighbors on earth, and they found him wandering down by their creek. Yay! He is cold, shaky and tired, but safe, now.

Salvador was my roommate’s dog originally, back in Maine. Part rottweiler, his first family gave him up. They had called him Rocky. He loved to chase rocks, and could always find the exact one you threw. I had only my dog Ace back then, and Maybe the cat. But as soon as I met Sal he was the perfect companion, and when she was going to Mexico for a year, I said I would take him. He always reminded me of Gene Kelly. So agile, strong yet graceful. Such a long time ago. Ace and Maybe are both gone now. Salvador’s had a few close calls over the years, and I’ve really thought we was a goner a few times. He is my constant buddy. So happy he is home.

“Yes’m old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of. -Sarah Orne Jewett

In the beautiful word department, did you know a flock of starlings is called a murmuration? I love this video so much, I could watch it a thousand times. Found it over on mysticvixen.

For more, get lost on islands and rivers.

Terri Windling has started a series of posts about some of the women who’ve inspired her, and she began with my favorite poet Emily Dickinson, and introduced me to a stunning painter, Jeanie Tomanek.

Tomanek says, “Literature, folktales and myths often inspire my exploration of the feminine archetype. My figures often bear the scars and imperfections, that, to me, characterize the struggle to become.”

Also found at Terri Windling‘s Drawing Board, a wonderful discussion of gypsies, by Rima Staines in Atching Tan (meaning stopping place, orig., the place where the fire is lit).

November 1, 2011

where I am

Some years ago I worked as a photographer for resorts and magazines in New England. It was my, ahem, job, really, to capture that perfect peak moment of fall, when fall is at it’s most glorious. The big moment. Little did I imagine that West Virginia’s fall finery would even shame New England. The New River Gorge is simply a breathtaking spectacle of gold, orange, red. I still sort of have this weird pressure in fall, and can’t help myself but watch and wait for, and sometimes document, fall’s big show. Green to gold, orange, red, rust and brown. This year however, I was otherwise occupied during fall’s peak, helping family up north. Plus, we had moved in August, and partially due to some of those family needs, just hadn’t really had a chance for much of anything, much less to really settle in to our enchanting little house in the woods.

But I’m home now, and autumn is now much closer to winter. The path I walk outside the door into the forest has a thick, moist layer of leaves, twigs, running cedar, moss. Cold rains fall, and one morning even snow.


The colors are closer to each other, deeper and older. I like how things are growing on and out of other things. It won’t be long before the

leaves are all fallen and the view really opens up. I look forward to really seeing the bones of this place I am in now. I like it better than before when perhaps I looked at the finery, more than the anatomy.










I think it’s odd that we associate spring with creativity. To me, late fall and early winter is where the real juice lies. When all the year’s events filter through us like mulch. When the old trees break apart and feed the new ones.  Do we lose something when we look for answers rather than observe the questions? Even worse when we know what the answer will be? Isn’t the mystery itself pretty wonderful? Right now, give me a dry creek bed, a mossy throne and a few curious companions and I’m happy. Truly.

I’m listening to Lisa Hannigan

Reading Alice Hoffman’s beautiful The Dovekeepers

So moved by author Mona Simpson’s story of her brother, Steve Jobs at his funeral, for a life well-lived (and loved).

(sorry I can’t seem to get the formatting right on this post.)

October 7, 2011

farewell innovation man

July 4, 2011

the a word

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June 27, 2011

fee fi fo fum

I spend lots of time in the ancient past. In Crete, and the Basque region, and Egypt. The novel I am writing has a modern element and an ancient element, and so I am always looking for clear ways to understand how we got to where we are.
I love this piece by Buckminster Fuller about how the games of giants first began to how they turned into the corporations of today. He invented the word GRUNCH for the invisable, legal-contrivance army of giants, which stands for GROSS UNIVERSE CASH HEIST.

(Don’t you love the second paragraph when his friend said, “You go around explaining in simple terms that which people have not been comprehending, when the first law of success is, ‘Never make things simple when you can make them complicated.'”

Heads or Tails We Win, Buckminster Fuller
Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys—legally enacted game-playing—agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members. How can little humans successfully cope with this greatest of all history’s invisible Grunch of nonhuman Giants? First of all, we humans must comprehend the giants’ games and game-playing equipment, rules and scoring systems. But before we can comprehend their game-playing, we must study the history and development of giants themselves.

One of my many-years-ago friends, long since deceased, was a giant, a member of the Morgan family. He said to me: “Bucky, I am very fond of you, so I am sorry to have to tell you that you will never be a success. You go around explaining in simple terms that which people have not been comprehending, when the first law of success is, ‘Never make things simple when you can make them complicated.'”

So, despite his well-meaning advice, here I go explaining giants.

In addition to the B.C. David and Goliath theme, we have the A.D. 800 story of Roland (Childe Roland), legendary son of Charlemagne’s sister Gilles. There are many poetical chronicles of young Roland’s enfances (a very young person’s heroic exploits), such as vanquishing giants—one named Ferragus and another Eaumont. From the eighth to the seventeenth century,
many variations of the story occur, published in Latin, Italian, French, and English.

Much esteemed in Italy, Roland was known there as “Orlando Furioso”—the order of the name’s first two letters is reversed from ro to or—as immortalized in the A.D. 1502 poem by Ludovico Ariosto.

The first comprehensive chronicling of Roland was written in Latin by Turpin, Archbishop of Reims, before A.D. 800. Roland (or Orlando) is mentioned by Dante in his Paradiso and is the subject of songs sung at the Battle of Hastings in the Chanson de Roland (c. A.D. 1100). Shakespeare
mentions him in King Lear.

With the advent of radio and television, the children’s Mother Goose-type storybooks of yesterday have been progressively abandoned. Few people today are familiar with the thousand-year-old story of the roaring of the giant as Roland approached his tower:
“Fee-fie-fo-fum/ I smell the blood of an Englishman/
Be he alive/ Or be he dead/ I’ll grind his bones/ To make my bread.”

Supreme horse-mounted monarchs in the days of Roland could and did award vast hunting and farming lands to their horse-mounted blood kin and military henchmen, who together hunted their lands and had them cultivated by on-foot, tithe-paying tenant farmers.

In ancient North China a new kind of giant had developed long, long before Roland’s time a three-component-parts giant, i.e., the little man, with a club, mounted on a horse—who could and did overwhelm the big, onfoot, tribe-leading shepherd. This new composite giant, the horse-mounted bully, could divert to his sole advantage as much as he wanted of the life-support
productivity of the on-foot peasantry.(Pa ys = land; ped = foot = ped ant = pa ys antry = peasantry = combination of on the land and on foot = pa y of lands = pa of patriot = pa of pagans = patois = po-gan, pa-gan peasantry.)

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June 16, 2011

the power of story

this one has a major cliffhanger…
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June 4, 2011

the last mountain

A chilling look at the reality and fallout of mountaintop removal. People like Maria Gunnoe and Ed Wiley are heroes.This is about all of us, not just West Virginians and Kentuckians.It is about making decisions to use less coal. Period.
“We live in a very intelligent country that has the ability to create energy without blowin’ up mountains.”
The film will be shown for free next Thursday in Charleston, WV at the WVSU Capitol Center at 6:30. No showings so far scheduled for Asheville, but they are adding new events every day.

Almost half of the electricity produced in the U.S. comes from the burning of coal.
Sixteen pounds of coal is burned each day for every man woman and child in the US.
Thirty-percent of that coal comes from the mountains of Appalachia.
Burning coal is the number one source of greenhouse gases worldwide.
Mountain top removal has destroyed 500 Appalachian Mountains, decimated 1 million acres of forest, and buried 2000 miles of streams.
Massey Energy is responsible for more mountaintop removal mining than any other company in the U.S. [Massey agreed to be purchased by Alpha Natural Resources in mid-2011]
Massey Energy is America’s 3rd largest coal company by revenue, and it controls all the coal mining in Coal River Valley.
Between 2000 and 2006 Massey committed more than 60,000 environmental violations.
There are 312 coal sludge impoundments in Appalachia.
Massey’s 28 impoundments have spilled 24 times in the last decade, contaminating rivers with more than 300 million gallons of sludge; two times the amount released in BP’s Gulf oil disaster.
In the last 30 years the coal industry in West Virginia has increased production by 140% while eliminating more than 40,000 jobs.
The wind industry in the U.S. already operates more than 35,000 turbines, and employs 85,000 people– as many as work in the coal industry.
In the last decade the coal mining industry spent more than $86 million, the railroad industry spent $350 million, and coal burning electric utilities spent more than $1 billion on political campaigns and lobbying.
The health and environmental costs associated with mining, transporting and burning coal, as reported by a new Harvard Medical School study, are estimated to be $345 billion annually – or more than 17¢ per kilowatt hour. These costs are often referred to as “externalities” since they are costs borne by the public which are not reflected in the price of coal-fired electricity.
There are 600 coal-fired power plants across the United States, and over 600 ash ponds across the country, filled with 150 billion gallons of toxic sludge.
Each year emissions from coal-fired power plants contribute to more than 10 million asthma attacks, brain damage in up to 600,000 newborn children, and 43,000 premature deaths.
The EPA has announced that in 48 states, it’s unsafe to eat many freshwater fish due to mercury contamination.
7.9¢ typical cost of electricity from wind per kilowatt hour
6.1¢ typical cost of electricity from coal per kilowatt hour
Per the Harvard Medical School report noted above, the cost of coal electricity goes up by approximately 17¢ per kilowatt hour, totaling 23.1¢ – or nearly three times that of wind – if you include the following costs borne by the public: Air Pollution Illnesses, Mercury Poisoning, Health Damages from Carcinogens, Public Health Cost to Appalachia, Climate Change Impact.
The wind Industry operates more than 35,000 turbines and employs 85,000 people in the U.S. – the same number the coal industry employs. In 2009, enough turbines were built to power 2.4 million homes.
In 1991, the Department of Energy published a “National Wind Resource Inventory” which pointed out that three states – Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas – have enough harnessable wind energy to supply the nation’s electricity needs. However, since the report was based on 1991 wind technologies and turbines are so much more efficient today, we now know that the DOE’s projection was a gross underestimate.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Renewable Portfolio Standard of 20% by 2020 would create: 185,000 new jobs from development, $25.6B in income to farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners and $10.5B in electricity and natural gas savings to consumers by 2020.

May 19, 2011

if a story is a seed…

If a story is a seed, then we are its soil. Just hearing the story allows us to experience it as though we ourselves were the heroine who either falters or wins in the end. If we hear a story about a wolf, then afterward we rove about and know like a wolf for a time. If we hear a story about a dove finding her young at last, then for a time after, something moves behind our own feathered breasts. If it be a story of wresting the sacred pearl from beneath the claw of the ninth dragon, we feel exhausted afterward, and satisfied. In a very real way, we are imprinted with knowing just listening to the tale. -Clarissa Pinkola Estes

May 18, 2011

jr’s street art-can art change the world?

Global street art, yes! JR won this year’s TED prize. Find out how to share the word (image) at the end, or at

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May 2, 2011

i mean to fall to earth

A leaf was riven from a tree,
“I mean to fall to earth,” said he.
The west wind, rising, made him veer.
“Eastward,” said he, “I now shall steer.”

The east wind rose with greater force.
Said he: “’T’were wise to change my course.”

With equal power they contend.
He said: “My judgement I suspend.”

Down died the winds; the leaf, elate,
Cried: “I’ve decided to fall straight.”

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)