Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Blanche Joliff Howard, of Ocracoke Island, was one of the loveliest folks I have ever met. Blanche died this week after a long life of stories and hard work!
I spent lots of time with Blanche and recorded her stories as often as she would let me. Here is one of my favorites! Enjoy.
Thank you for everything, Blanche, you will be missed by so many.
|We read on the stage at the Brokaw on the last day!!|
This past April was once again Poetry on the Square in my hometown of Angola. This was my third year to share my love of poetry every day.
At 3:30 every day my alarm went off and I hopped onto my bike (except for the days it snowed!!!) and headed off to my downtown to read poetry in front of the beautiful Brokaw Movie House. Some days I had full crowds, other days just a few wandering folks came by to listen!
I showcased a different poet each day by giving a brief history and then sharing a few of their most popular pieces. The poets ranged from Sylvia Plath to Sam Hamill. Each day I opened it up to others to read their favorites also.
By the middle of April, I often wondered "what was I thinking?" But then the month ends, and I have loved it, and others have loved it, and reading poetry on the square every day is a pretty good thing...especially for a small town.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Here is my Earth Day column which was first published on April 22 in the KPC Newspapers. Enjoy, and as my friend, John says, we don't have any where else to go?
Paper straws, anyone?
|My spring garden blooming today! Ahhh....finally!|
I spent my first Earth Day celebration sitting in the warm sun at Maple Wood Nature Center. My children were small and they ran around in the sunshine participating in all the activities. I was invited to share my love of stories, books, and poetry (nothing ever changes!). I sat out on a sun-kissed bench and read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Scott Beam reminded me of that when we chatted at maple syrup days last month. It is always lovely to be reminded of such sweet events.
Earth Day has become such an important part of my life…and yours. Out on the farm, when we were young hippies with visions to live completely off the land (and we were very successful for a while!), it was easy to be green without even trying. There was no garbage pick-up, and it did not matter as we had none. We made everything by hand including yogurt, mittens, sorghum molasses, and just about anything that came off the land. My children never knew the word “green” as we simply lived it.
Moving to town was an adjustment for me, but in a good way. I had to decide how to live the way I was accustomed. It was easier than I thought and the silver lining was the community that seemed to be waiting for me. Perhaps the love of community replaced milking cows, herding sheep or chasing the geese out of my garden.
Last year at Earth Fest I put together a list of ideas, “Inside my Garden Gate” which is the mantra by which I live. I thought I would pass on a few to you as we celebrate this day. I do have a small yard as my barn/garage takes up quite a bit of space, but nonetheless, I use it to the very best! Inside my garden gate you will find my herb garden, raspberry patch, kitchen garden, rain barrel, clotheslines, compost bin (two of them), and a fire ring for those lazy summer nights we just don’t want to end. All of this is enclosed in the white picket fence, which you hear me speak of often that needs painting. Anyone? Just thought I would check.
I also keep a note (taped to my kitchen cupboard) about how to recycle and how to compost. I love my guests learning about these two subjects just by visiting me. Often they will comment on how they also need to do this. Uh, yes, they do!
I love knowing I can participate in “green” even in town. There are so many ways to pass the word! On Wednesday Amy Oberlin, Brandy DePriest, Luke Martin and I had lunch at Auntie V’s. She brought our drinks and then put four straws on the table. All of us spoke up quickly, “Oh, we are not doing straws anymore.” She looked at us and then said on her next order of straws she would order paper. Mission accomplished…at least in one establishment. Who will be next? Easy as pie. It may seem like a small part in the world of going “green,” but actually according to the “GetGreenNow” website, there are 500 million plastic straws used in the United States every day. That is enough to circle the Earth 2.5 times. It also takes 200 years for a plastic straw to decompose. Hooray for Auntie V’s! Why not start a movement here in our town, or in your town!
Today the Earth Fest celebration will take place at Briali’s Winery. The day is beautiful, the morning sun is warm, and you will see friends and neighbors strolling by booths, listening to talks on the environment or music, and be part of this big event across our world. Come on out and join us, and take the time to say hello!
Sometimes at night I sit outside on my stoop and just listen to the sound of the world…peepers, birds singing themselves to sleep, and yes, the neighbor children reluctantly going inside after the day is over. This week the moon is young and is dancing with Venus…free for the taking, or the looking I should say.
It is peaceful and calm, and even though I cannot solve the problems of the world, I can compost and recycle. I can hang out laundry and water plants with fresh rainwater, and yes, perhaps it isn’t much, but maybe one little town can learn to go without plastic straws.
It is a start. I’m in.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Here is the link to my column that first appeared in the KPC news two weeks ago. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!!
There was a lot of news this week, but I decided the firefly or the lightning bug deserved my attention. In February the “Say’s Firefly” was designated as our state insect. It came as a surprise to me as it probably did to you. First, I did not know other states had designated insects. (We were only one of three who did not!) This is mostly due to a young lady at Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette. When Kayla Xu was in second grade, she and her classmates became aware of the fact we did not have a state insect. (How did they know and I did not?)
These young people set out to do something about it (kind of fits in with the news of this week, don’t you think?) and they did it! Kayla is now in fifth grade and there is a lovely photo of her with the Governor at the state house. I tried to call her directly to get a quote, but she was on spring break so the phone call will have to wait!
Fireflies or lightning bugs have been blinking their way into summer fields and gardens in Indiana for as long as I can remember. Oh, the joy of summer to run barefoot through the gardens and capture them in our hands. Of course, the next sequenced event was to put them in jars and place the magic next to our beds as a night light. I guess it was my parents who set the fireflies free, watching them fly off into the distance in the star- studded nights. I did that for my children and my little grandchildren who were from Phoenix. Each summer Holly and Brianna spend time with me in my Indiana garden. There are no fireflies in Phoenix so they are very charmed by them. They, too, run barefoot through my gardens catching them and putting them in jars. When they are tucked into bed, I quietly gather the jars and watch the fireflies take flight.
My friend and writer extraordinaire, Helen Frost, wrote a book in collaboration with artist, Rick Lieder, on the beauty of fireflies. I attended a lecture given by the two of them in Fort Wayne as they talked about their book, “Among a Thousand Fireflies.” Rick shared photos and with each one I was more in awe than the previous photo. Helen’s lyrical poetry fuses with the illustrations beautifully. I once asked Rick about his work. He said, “I always loved insects as a kid. As a grown-up, it gives me a great chance to sit on the ground and watch bugs and fireflies with my camera.”
All this beauty comes with a 170-page document of regulations. (Kayla, did you expect all of that?) I hope to read this before my girls visit! We will use the appropriate size glass jars, keep only a few, and release them. Of course, this only applies to the Say’s Firefly. I understand there are 2,000 varieties, which will not be under the new guidelines. However, I think to avoid any prosecution, we will follow the rules for all fireflies.
My grandchildren will visit. We will catch and release fireflies in the warm summer air as we run barefoot in the grass. At night, I will read to them from Helen’s book. And, when they are sound asleep, I will tiptoe around their room and carry our beloved fireflies out to the dark gardens. Lovely.
Kayla, thank you for spear heading this movement. I hope, as you grow older you will keep up your enthusiasm for making our world a better place. There is much to do, and we are counting on you.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Be strong by being yourself, will you?: Some weeks just fall into place with stories and events and a theme emerges for my own life, and maybe for yours. I do not plan these themes, but I do recognize the power of it when it appears.
Here is the link to this week's column. I loved writing it and hope you enjoy it!
Just click on the above link and it will take you right to the KPC site.
As always, thank you for reading and thanks to my editor, Mike!
P.S. I have had the flu/cold for about eight weeks and realize I am way behind in posting on my blog site and my columns. I hope to correct that soon.
Hope you are all well!!
Again, thank you for reading!
Monday, January 22, 2018
Please join me Wednesday evening at the
Caleo Cafe as we celebrate the birthday of Robert Burns.
The tea if from 4-6. Tea and scones will be provided
and soup and desserts will be available for purchase.
If you have a favorite Burns poem, please bring
it along to the celebration!
Friday, December 22, 2017
This story popped up in my dropbox this morning, and I thought you would enjoy reading it...Winter on Ocracoke. Of all the times I spent there, I truly loved winter the most. As always, thank you for reading.
It is winter on Ocracoke. It is my first winter on Ocracoke, and I really didn’t know what to expect. The shops are closed. The tourists are gone. There are no ghost walks or shows in the theatre.
The truth is, it is perfectly lovely. Somehow the rhythm of the seasons seems balanced here. Of course there is no snow, but the wind sweeping in from the Atlantic is chilly enough for me to wear my winter coat and gloves when walking the winter beach.
“What is it like in the winter?” is the question most tourists ask during the summer months. I always gave an answer, but it was not from my own heart. Now I know. Sit back, watch the snow fall (I do miss that as you know), pour an extra cup of coffee and let your mind wander onto a small island accessible only by ferry during the dark months of the year.
The ferries from the mainland, known as Swan Quarter and Cedar Island, only run twice a day; 10:00 in the morning and 4:30 in the afternoon. You can’t be late or you run the risk of reading and/or sleeping in your car. The 2 ½ hour ferry ride travels through the Pamlico Sound. Taking the late ferry, you travel in darkness with Orion to guide the way as well as the green and red buoys strategically placed so that there is no chance of being set adrift out into the sea.
Arriving on Ocracoke in winter is magical. The lanes and streets are quiet and dark as they are void of tourists. Shops are closed. Just a handful of restaurants and ‘motels’ stay afloat as a few duck and geese hunters travel here for their winter catch.
It sounds a bit like a ghost town, but far from it. There are still 800 folks living here with children attending school. The big difference from summer is that you know everyone now. The sound of carpenters fill the air repairing structures, shop keepers are doing inventory, writers of song and verse are working in their studios, and the normal jobs of a community continue on through the winter months.
I find myself in a wonderful pattern of life waking with the rising sun. My first thought was to get to the beach every morning to watch the sun come up as I do in the summer months. The truth is, it is chilly here. The Ocockers say it is cold, but I know better.
Coffee and a fire on the hearth greet me before I head out to the Mad Mag Studio to work in the morning. The trees of cedars, yaupons, and live oaks are still covered with leaves. The pattern of trees and sun dance upon the old floor in this ‘once upon a time washhouse’.
By early afternoon it is time for the beach walk. I head out the cottage door with my camera slung across my back. I am often greeted by dancing dolphins and seagulls. Once in a while I come across another walker, but it is rare. It is as if the beach belongs to me…there is just sand and sea. This pristine Cape Hatteras National Seashore beach is a protected sanctuary with picture book beauty.
There is always a trip to the Community Store as shopping is done daily here. I take my list, but change the menu once I am in the store as I can only cook what is available on the shelves. There is also the daily trip to the post office to get the mail, read the bulletin board and hang out with friends.
Evenings are for social activities…potluck dinners, listening to our local jazz band at one of the two restaurants open, watching movies with friends or just staying home reading by the fire. There are ball games as well, although the times are early as the visiting and traveling teams must commute by ferry. Sometimes the games are canceled because of high waves or wind.
There are meetings and book clubs as well. This past week there was a community meeting over ferry tolls and most families had at least one member in attendance.
The sense of friendship and community is validated in the winter as we chat over tea, over books, over each other’s cooking.
As much as I miss family and friends in the Midwest, these dark winter months have embraced me on my island by the sea.