Sunday, August 30, 2015

Teaching Adults How to Leave a Written Legacy

About ten years ago when I began seriously teaching mature adults to write their life stories, I had been invited to a program called EAGLE held at Nacoochee Methodist Church in Sautee-Nacoochee, Georgia. Every Thursday classes in painting, fly-tying, chair caning, photography and other crafts are taught by volunteer instructors. My friends, Twila and Harvey asked if I’d like to teach a writing class for EAGLE.  It is nearly an hour’s drive over the mountains to reach the church where the members and the community have created an excellent program for retired adults and others who are free to attend day-classes.

A similar program has flourished at the Union County Methodist Church in Blairsville, GA where I have  attended as a student and as a teacher. This program is called OASIS. All those letters stand for words, but they all mean come and pay a small fee to take a one or two hour class, have lunch with friends, and enjoy an enlightening program after lunchI don’t know who starts these kinds of opportunities in their communities, but I think this is one of the best ways churches can serve people.

My first class at the Nacoochee Church surprised me with the large number of students. Most of them were willing to work on writing at home and share it with us the next week. We spent our time on quality of the content, getting thoughts on paper, because none of them had done any writing of this sort. My purpose was to help them write their true stories so that family would want to read them. I asked them to write as if they were writing fiction, a short story or a small book. We discussed what kept them reading a novel or short story. The stories were simple with a beginning, middle and end. They caught on quickly to use active verbs and descriptive verbs to provide the reader an image.

After eight weeks of classes, several of the students were excited to read at the closing ceremony. I was proud when several in the audience came to me and said they wanted to sign up for the next writing class.

Moving on to teach closer to home

When gasoline prices rose up and up, I could not continue to drive so far and looked to teach closer to home. Nancy Simpson, resident writer at the John C. Campbell Folk School at the time, asked me to substitute for a writer who could not teach her scheduled weekend class at JCCFS. I was thrilled. After fifteen years of taking writing classes at this wonderful legendary place, I was going to teach there.

That weekend class led to week-long classes nearly every year for six years. Many of my students there have become dear friends whom I see and stay in contact with wherever they live in this country. They know they can ask me for advice, or ask me to connect them with writers or editors who can help them. They share their successes with me and I joy in their excitement.

Now I teach once a week at Tri-County Community College in Cherokee County about twenty miles from my home. I will begin a new course on Tuesday, September 1, at six o’clock in the evening. I teach two-hour classes and the courses last for four weeks. 
Ginny and Nadine were students in my first class at Tri-County College in 2008. Now we are great friends.

Again, these are beginning writers who are not looking to write a bestseller, but who want to write a lasting legacy for their families. My goal is to help them make their writing entertaining as well as informative. No one wants to waste time writing work that no one finds interesting.

I encourage my students to tell the most interesting stories about their lives, not lay out the daily facts of where they lived, attended school, and games they played. The writer must include the facts within a narrative that moves along and holds the reader's interest.

I look forward to next week when we begin a new class with some seasoned writers from earlier classes and new people who will begin telling their unique stories for future generations.

Behind Orchard House at Folk School

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Joan L. Cannon - Poem



I am fortunate to have made a friend some years ago when I first put up the NCWN-West blog, www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com  A wonderful writer and interesting woman contacted me. She lived in Morganton, NC near where I vacationed a while ago. I could tell she felt isolated living in a retirement community not knowing many writers. She asked if she could join NCWN-West. I think she was already a member of the North Carolina Writer's Network. I had to tell her she did not live in one of the NC counties that made up the region included in the NCWN-West Program. But I put her name on my Email list and sent her the same information I sent to those who lived in the nine counties SW of Asheville. 
Over the years Joan and I have become friends although we have never met face to face. Not too long after my husband passed away, Joan lost her beloved. Now she has moved back up north to be near her children. 

Recently someone asked Joan if she missed North Carolina. She wrote this poem in response and shared it with me. It is published here with her permission.

NORTH CAROLINA
by Joan Cannon

If I wrote a poem about a place I miss
I fear it would lead to empty rooms
whose doors are closed and to qualms
about what a reader might see behind them.

What might I?

Outsize and distant whale backs of blue and purple and grey
that show the hand of majesty and time and decay
—make outsize demands on the viewer’s humility,
they clutch the throat and pull a smile as much as a sigh.
It’s good for the soul to feel so small.

We used to drive to feel the surge of exotic grandeur
that brought a peculiar joy—the kind that makes one sad
...save for the fact that it was there we found a fresh era
with energy to thrill to what was new to us,
that thrust discoveries at us once again.

Horizons so immense beckon with merciless guile
as if we might somehow make them ours—
we who knew the other end of such a monster
from its tail of almost human scale.
The Blue Ridge perhaps dwindles into the Berkshires
 I now find gently enfolding. Do I miss those views?

A little.

In that place, the last of our matchless road
was ended. We’d had what should have been time enough—
not unlike the months of over half a century before—
like a delayed honeymoon at the end instead of the beginning.

Yes, I’d go there again...
only if I were in the right company.


Joan L. Cannon

Joan L. Cannon is a retired teacher, retail manager and author of two novels in paperback Settling and Maiden Run , a collection of short stories called Peripheral Vision, and her latest, a collection of poetry, My Mind Is Made of Crumbs, all available from Amazon and on order from independent booksellers.


Monday, August 24, 2015

My Home Town in pictures




Although many things have changed in my hometown, Albany, Georgia, since I lived there, Betty Rehberg has photographed some of what has not changed and what is beautiful. 

I grew up on a farm where every morning brought sights and sounds of nature. Beside our house was a giant old Oak tree and in the backyard was a China-berry tree under which we played and in which I climbed. Behind the barn grew a pecan tree that covered the ground each fall with nuts. Squirrels and birds of all kinds lived in the trees. 

The livestock never hurt for water. Three ponds provided cool places for the cows to wade out and drink. The small lakes were surrounded by trees that drooped limbs over the banks when I was a kid. Many of those trees were May Haw trees that provided little tart red berries we gathered for Mother to make jelly. 

In the video you will see the bridge where my school bus crossed the Flint River on the way to the school I attended. We could see the train trestle from the bridge. 

Also in the video are pictures of the waterfront where, after I left, a lovely area was built so that visitors can walk and sit to enjoy that powerful river. She shows us thee statue of Ray Charles and his piano. You see, Ray Charles was born in Albany one night when his mother was passing through town. I doubt he ever spent a day there until he came back as a man and sang at our Civic Center. 

We had several famous people who did live in Albany. Ray Stevens, the singer, went to Albany High School when I was there. A famous baseball player, Ray Knight, lives in my hometown and his wife, a famous golfer lived there also. 

In this video, I saw the old State Theater where my brother, Hal, was supposed to pick up his two little sisters after his date one night. But Hal dropped us off and forgot about us. When he got home late that night without us, Mother sent him back to town. The manager had come out and found us huddled together, sitting on the curb. We told him we were waiting for our brother to pick us up. So, he turned off the lights and went home. Hal found us there in the dim glow of a street light in front of the movie house. I don't think Mother ever trusted Hal to bring home the babies after that night. 

I saw pictures of Lake Worth where Barry took me on a boat ride on our first date. I'll never forget the moss covered trees and the quiet water with sounds of frogs calling out as dusk fell. 

The music in the video is perfect -- all about home. I don't plan to live in Albany again. I love it here in the mountains, but this glimpse of my hometown brought tears to my eyes. When I go down there again, I will look at it with different eyes. I will look for the beauty, the history and the good memories. 


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sugar Top - a fine place to spend a few days

Friday afternoon, view from our condo at SugarTop


Today, August 19, is  our last vacation day before we leave for home. Gay and I have had the most wonderful relaxing week at Sugar Top Resort on the tip top of a mountain ridge in the High Country of North Carolina. Although we have had much rain, we didn't care. We read, rested and watched some TV. We also visited with friends who have a large mountain house near Boone, NC.

I didn't realize how much I needed to get away until I had been here a day. Our condo is rented by owner and he fulfilled my request for a place cleaned with only vinegar and water and no use of air fresheners. I didn't think to bring my own linens, so I had to go out and buy sheets, towel and wash cloth. The linens that were on my bed had been washed and dried with scented detergent and dryer sheets.

We opened the doors and windows when we arrived, turned on some fans, and we have been very comfortable. The kitchen is furnished well, but we did little cooking. Mostly breakfasts. Banner Elk, the nearest town has many good restaurants and nearby grocery stores.


Sugar Top sits on a ridge and is considered an eyesore because you can see if from any direction and it breaks up the beauty of the mountains. I would hate for someone to build this huge place on top of a mountain in Clay County where I live. After the resort was being  built, the NC legislature passed a law preventing anyone else building on top of the ridges. But it was too late to  stop the building of Sugar Top.

In spite of all the controversy surrounding the resort in the beginning, I am happy to have found this very reasonable condo on VRBO. We are on the seventh floor with easy access by elevator. No stairs to climb. My bedroom has a  king size bed, private bathroom, flat screen TV and double windows opening to the beautiful long range views. We overlook a ski slope, some smaller rental units and at night the lights from Banner Elk, far down the way, shine like a Christmas village. I can imagine how fantastic it must be when snow covers the ground.

The staff has been nice to deal with, but it would be great to have had someone help bring up our luggage. Gay says we don't need help, and she handles it very well. She and I are so  compatible that sharing a place with her took me  back in time. We shared a bedroom growing up from as far back as I can remember and for a year in college. On some days here we didn't get dressed until late afternoon when we went out to eat. I almost  hate to go home. One afternoon I used the  heated pool for exercise. No one else was there and I loved that experience also.

The past two days have been extremely foggy. At times we can't see the ground from our deck. We are enclosed in a cloud, set off from all the world, like being in a floating apartment high above the earth. The silence is comforting and leads to thinking about all I am so grateful for in my life.

I also thought about my future. I will be cutting back on classes at Writers Circle next year. I plan to only hold three workshops at my studio. I hope that NCWN West will bring in some good instructors to teach in our rural area.

I will be home by the time you read this post. Thanks for reading my blog. I love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Visit our Writers Circle page at City Lights

I am so happy to be affiliated with City Lights Books in Sylva, NC. This is one of the best Independent book stores anywhere. Chris Wilcox and his staff can help you with anything you need and they carry many local authors, meaning North Carolina writers and poets. 

Chris gives me a page on his site for our Writers Circle classes.

Check it out and while you are there, look at the books - real books with pages you can turn and hard covers or soft covers. Look for my poetry book: Now Might as Well be Then, published by Finishing Line Press.  On the sidebar is a place to search for the title.
You can order from Chris just as well as that other big company. 

I was there last Sunday and met my friend, Rebecca, in the bookstore where I had been browsing.
We then went downstairs to the cafe and talked for three hours.

I recently heard that real books are not dead as was predicted. Those of us who love to hold a book in our hands, to mark on the margin of books we keep, to pick up that book many times and read parts of it after we have read it through, spoke loudly and independent book stores are not going to be obsolete after all.

But we need to support them if we want to keep them.
Visit City Lights either online or in person. You will be happy you did.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Everybody Needs a Good Friend

Here it is Sunday again.
The weekend passed so quickly I hardly knew it. One of the best parts of this weekend was a visit with a former student of mine who is now one of my dearest friends. We both agreed we could have talked for many more hours if we had the time even though we don't see each other often.


Those are the friends we cling to in our lives and if we are lucky we never let them go. In my youth, I did not make the effort to hold on to friends, even those I thought about often, and I have some regrets about that. I can't change the past, but I do make a big effort to keep in touch with people I meet now, people who hit a note with me that resonates even when they are not near.

When we are bombarded with all the "bad news" of the world, and we might think that everyone is an enemy, if we are open to meeting others and listening to them, we see a different world. As my friend, Rebecca, and I discussed on Saturday, sometimes people are suspicious of generosity from others. They are skeptical of someone who is kind or giving. They wonder, "What does she want from me?"

I have experienced that reaction from writers when I reached out to them to help them promote their books or write an article about them. I've met some types who were so suspicious they refused my offer. As my personality type is one who doesn't get angry but feels pity for those people, I immediately wonder why they think that way. Could it be that their self-esteem is low and they can't imagine anyone wanting to do something for them without some payback?

Most writers I meet have many of the same issues with themselves as I do. We beat up on ourselves because we are not disciplined enough to write everyday. We don't submit our work. We never think it is ready to send out. We say we don't have time for our passion but will spend our time cleaning house, doing laundry and all the things we hate to do, while avoiding putting ourselves in a chair and picking up a pen or hitting the keyboard. 

We are not bad, lazy, or worthless people, and we need community with other writers to help us see that we all have similar problems. We have our needs that might not be exactly like those of others, but it helps to vent with fellow writers. 

So many of my good friends are students who took my classes in the past 8 years. In my classes we write about ourselves, share our stories and bond in a lasting way. Sometimes we cry or laugh out loud, but that is okay, too.  

Many of my friends are women I met when I took my first writing classes. For twenty years I have shared my sadness, my happiness, my successes and my failures with my fellow writers in my literary community. Some of my friends I've met through affiliation with North Carolina Writers' Network West. They don't live close to me, but we keep in touch. 

One of the highlights of this weekend was hearing the voice of a former student of mine, Staci Bell, as she called to tell me a poem and a flash fiction piece she has been wanting to place were both accepted for publication. One is for an anthology about wolves.

I am as happy for her as I would be if it were my writing that had been accepted. I know that feeling when a stranger reads your work and really likes it. When they like it well enough to publish it in a book or magazine to be read by many people, it feels like seeing your name up on a marquee on Broadway, especially when you have not had that before. 

Friends come in many ways and at any time. You never know how a person can influence your life, can help you through hard times, will need your help one day, and how much you can come to love them. Be generous to others, and they will surprise you with their own caring. 

My friends give to others in whatever way they can. 
My neighbor cooks once a week for a free noonday meal for those who need fellowship and nutrition for their bodies. Another friend, in her eighties, says cooking for others is her ministry. (To minister: to give service, care or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.)

Maybe we can all ask ourselves what is our ministry to others? We don't have to go to church or have a calling from God to minister. 

I saw a little boy on Sunday Morning who lost his mother recently. He gives out tiny little toys to people on the street to see them smile. He just wants to make people smile and not be sad. We never know when the smallest thing can make a difference.(This story reminds me of the Little Drummer Boy)

My friends and other kind people give me hope that this world is much better than the TV news would have us believe
What do you think? Is human kind as bad as what is seen on television?  Do you think our parents thought the world was in deep trouble and feared for their children's future?




Saturday, August 8, 2015

Leave your family a treasure - your life's story

I am always happy to see on my Stats that my blog is read in countries far from where I live. Next to the United States, my largest number of pageviews come from Russia. In fact, all of western Europe shows on my map.

I'd love to hear from real people in those countries and not anonymous Spammers. I used to follow a blog by a woman in Australia. I enjoyed her so much, but she disappeared off the Internet. Another woman in England had a very interesting blog, but I lost her, too.

Lately, I've been so busy that I can hardly keep up my two blogs. Besides this one, I also post on my Writers Circle blog. I write about the classes I teach and the instructors who come to my studio and teach. I spend much time on the computer. I get email from writers who want my help or want to know where they can take classes. Some just want to ask me questions about the craft of writing. Many ask about publishing. My advice for most is this: Learn to write well before you consider publishing. Take classes, workshops with good teachers. Read books on writing and write as often as you can. Invest in your writing - both time and money. 

Two of my aunts back in the '40s
I will be teaching another class beginning September 1 at the local community college. This is a 2 hour, once a week class on writing about your life for your family or for publication. This is the most popular class I teach. I had a call from someone who lives about an hour from me and she wants me to come to her town and teach. I enjoy teaching older people. They have the most wonderful stories about their lives. The older the person, the more unusual stories they have to tell. The stories by people who grew up in the northern part of the country or in the west are fascinating to me because their lives were so different from mine. 

It is never too late to tell your life story. Don't worry where to begin. Just start with something in your life you want to tell about. Don't try to begin at birth and tell every detail. Just tell the most interesting parts of your life. Try to tell your stories in an entertaining way. Picture youself on TV and you and others are acting out the episode you want us to know. Write the story in scenes.

Try it. It is fun. Collect those true stories or personal essays and one day you will have enough to make a book for your family. Although they might not seem to be interested right now, they will one day treasure your words.

Have you written anything to leave your children or grandchildren?

Monday, August 3, 2015

ENFJ - That's me, faults and all

I took a personality test online.The site is www.16personalities.com
was amazed at the results. It was so accurate that I had to contact my sister, Gay, about it. She took the test and, again, I am amazed at how accurate they described her personality. 
Gay, Dixie, Glenda 


The test proves she and I have different personalities although our family thought we had the same opinions, the same goals, wishes and needs. They even referred to us almost as one person--"Glenda and Gay." But we are two different types. And my real personality didn't bloom until I moved away from my family, to the mountains of North Carolina. 


I am a Protagonist under the Diplomat Category

"ENFJs, (that's me), are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. With a natural confidence that begets influence, ENFJs take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community."

I learned many things about myself, but I will list here the weaknesses of an ENFJ. I recognize them in myself and my friends have said I have all of these. So I am trying to stay aware. The first one, overly idealistic, is difficult for me. I can easily become frustrated when people oppose, what to me, seems a perfect solution or plan for them to accomplish a goal.

Weaknesses

Overly Idealistic – People with the ENFJ personality type can be caught off guard as they find that, through circumstance or nature, or simple misunderstanding, people fight against them and defy the principles they've adopted, however well-intentioned they may be. They are more likely to feel pity for this opposition than anger, and can earn a reputation of naïveté.

Too Selfless – ENFJs can bury themselves in their hopeful promises, feeling others' problems as their own and striving hard to meet their word. If they aren't careful, they can spread themselves too thin, and be left unable to help anyone. (This is the one my friends tell me I need to watch out for)

Too Sensitive – While receptive to criticism, seeing it as a tool for leading a better team, it's easy for ENFJs to take it a little too much to heart. Their sensitivity to others means that ENFJs sometimes feel problems that aren't their own and try to fix things they can't fix, worrying if they are doing enough. (I've always been too sensitive to the pain or troubles of others. I am empathetic. In a competitive game, I would rather lose than see another lose if it upsets him.)

Fluctuating Self-Esteem – ENFJs define their self-esteem by whether they are able to live up to their ideals, and sometimes ask for criticism more out of insecurity than out of confidence, always wondering what they could do better. If they fail to meet a goal or to help someone they said they'd help, their self-confidence will undoubtedly plummet. ( I am told I blame myself for the problems of others. "Everything is not your fault," I was told recently.

Struggle to Make Tough Decisions – If caught between a rock and a hard place, ENFJs can be stricken with paralysis, imagining all the consequences of their actions, especially if those consequences are humanitarian.

Often it is hard to see ourselves as others see us. I found this survey and its results informative and helpful. Have you taken such a test? If not, visit www.16personalities.com and tell us what you discover about yourself?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Her child's pain is over, my friend begins the long journey of grief

I attended a funeral today. The service was for my dear friend's 50 year-old daughter. Although we have been friends for two decades, and I've heard much about her family, I didn't meet her daughter until a few weeks ago.

At the time, she was under Hospice care and living with her mother who was 24/7 caregiver. Although Penny was taking morphine for pain, still she had suggested to her mother that they begin having a friend over for a light meal once a week. I was the first friend invited. Sadly, as it turned out, I was also the last friend to come over for a meal with Penny and her mother.

But I will cherish that evening. The food was good and I always love being in my friend's house, but that night I really enjoyed getting to know Penny, the strongest and most determined person I have met in a long, long time. She had been fighting cancer for seven or eight years, working and raising two children. She also cared for her husband who is disabled until she could do no more. That was when her mother brought her home to live out the time she had left. 

What I learned about Penny that evening is that she had no qualms about talking about her illness and right away she made me comfortable. We discussed what she had been through in a matter of fact way with no emotion from her. She had endured some of the most embarrassing moments and periods of indignities, but she took it well.  She had a wry sense of humor and I am sure she kept the nurses on their toes when she was in the hospital. She had been dealing with this so long that she could tell them what she needed and when she needed it. Her doctor had told her she had a few months to live and she said she told him she would see him next year. That was the kind of attitude Penny had about living. 

She said she had the best Mom in the world and when I asked what growing up with her talented Mother was like, Penny said she was just an ordinary mom, who kept house, took care of the kids and was always there for them. "She didn't get into painting and all the other things she does now until after we were out of the house."

Seeing the struggle Penny had over the past few months and the heart-wrenching pain of a mother watching her child die, has affected me in many ways. How do you do that day after day, month after month? How do you sit with her and do something so mundane as play chess and then put her to bed and  try to make her comfortable with the morphine required to stop the "sawing pain in her legs?" 

How do you have any semblance of a normal life when your child is lying in the next room and any moment could be her last? You don't. But you have to find a way to live with it and continue to take care of her the very best you can. My friend said something I will never forget. She said she had stopped thinking "what can I do?" She stopped thinking of the sadness and pain and turned her mind to appreciating the joy of every moment they had left together. She tried to make each day as good as possible and to let herself think of how good it was to still have her there.

How do you ever rest when all night you wait for her movements that mean she needs more chemicals to block her senses. My dear friend cared for her husband until he passed away, and then her father who was diagnosed with cancer and died soon after with her lying on his bed beside him. Now her child is gone. Today at the funeral, which was such a loving and lovely service, it hit me so hard I could not talk to my grieving friend without breaking down. Within two years she lost three loved ones she had devoted herself to caring for. 

Within four years, I lost my husband and three siblings. All that pain came rushing back to me when I looked at her sad face as she walked down the aisle carrying her daughter's urn cradled in her arms as if it were a baby. Yes, it was her baby girl and the last time she would ever hold her. 

I pray for peace for my friend and all her family. They are loving people who will be there for each other. One day all this pain will lessen and one day she can smile and feel normal again, but it is a long journey and I hope that in some way I can be there and help her along the way

Another post you might want to read. It is the most popular post on this blog.




Festival is a bit of nostalgia for me

We have photos from Festival on the Square where our writers group had a booth recently. Visit here if you want to see the pictures. 


Barry and I started attending the Festival on the Square in 1995 when we first moved to Clay County, NC, the smallest county in the state. Tents are set up all over the courthouse square with as many different kinds of crafts and visual arts as you could imagine. Soon my family members came up on the Festival weekend and we carried folding chairs down to sit in front of the gazebo where local musicians of all ages entertained for two days free to the public.

We fell in love with a family group, the Shook Family. The mother and father sang and played mountain music along with their three boys. Over the decades we watched those boys grow up and eventually the singing family scattered and those boys were raising families of their own. I miss them. Young men singing together brought back memories of my four brothers, The Council Brothers Quartet, a popular group in south Georgia back in the forties and fifties. But that story is for another blog post. 

Most of the groups at the festival sold cassette tapes of their music. We always bought them because we wanted to continue to hear those songs,  those voices, so we played them in our cars. My brothers carried home many cassettes from these mountains. Barry had fallen in love with good blue grass music and I often came home to find him on the deck with fiddle and banjo music flowing through the open doors. 

We also came to love another more eclectic group of musicians and singers, Butternut Creek and Friends, a group from Blairsville, GA. Steve Harvey, English professor at Young Harris College plays guitar, banjo and sometimes, the ukulele. He also lends his soft husky voice to harmonies with Jennifer Cordier who plays autoharp. Her husband plays percussion and flute with the band and when we first met them, a young blond woman was part of the group. She sang the most haunting melodies. We were so disappointed when she left the group, but over the years, Butternut Creek and Friends have evolved and made some changes in personnel but never lost that special sound. You will find samples of their newest albums on their website. 

Now my brothers are gone and we don't gather in front of the gazebo anymore to hear the singers. Our Netwest booth was not too far from where we used to sit, but none of my old favorite groups sang this year. Seems there were fewer people sitting in the shade and listening.

But I was happy to see that my favorite blogger, Tipper Pressley was there with her lovely twins,  the Pressley Girls who have grown up before my eyes. They took center stage while their mom and uncle played guitar and bass behind them. I was touched when Katie spoke of her musical family and how growing up with all the adults coming over to practice their music together inspired the girls to want to play and sing. The girls say when they were put to bed while the grownups played music downstairs, the two of them would lie down on the floor near the door so they could hear the singing. Tipper often came up to find them sound asleep on the floor.

Katie recognized her granddad who was sitting out front on a bench. Pap has not been well for a good while, but he was present to hear his family singing on stage. In the past he would have been up there lending his tenor voice to his son Paul's for some great country music.

The Pressley Girls

The festival holds a good bit of nostalgia for me, so it is best to be working in the writers' booth talking to visitors instead of thinking of what once was.




Thursday, July 16, 2015

Last Tango in Halifax on Netflix has captured my interest

My sister, June, loved to read books set in England and she wanted to visit the UK before she left this earth. She and a couple of my brothers did go on a tour of England and she absolutely adored everything about that country.
I have not been enthusiastic about traveling outside the United States until now when I am not likely to do it because of distance, health issues and lack of funds. But I thoroughly enjoyed the few trips I’ve made to Canada and especially the one to Nova Scotia.

This week I began a trip on Netflix with the Last Tango in Halifax. This Halifax is not in Nova Scotia where I spent a couple of nights. This Halifax is in England. What an interesting series this is about an older widowed couple who found each other for the second time, late in life, fell in love and married in spite of the rather messy lives of their daughters who keep enmeshing the older couple into their relationships and marital problems. This is one of the series you will find on public Television, about the only TV worth watching lately.

I admit I have trouble understanding all the dialogue because of the heavy accents, but I can re-play anything I don’t get the first time. Besides the older couple, both of whom I just love, the landscape of the area is beautiful. I think much of it was shot in Yorkshire in northern England, a place that is very green with rolling hills. 

In the beginning, I thought the setting was Nova Scotia and was confused by the heavy English accents of the characters. Nova Scotia was settled by Irish and Scots for the most part, and the Gaelic accent still hangs on in families, but I learned when I was there on Cape Breton Island the natives are losing that accent and that language. 

These British films on PBS have intrigued me and given me reason to think I might like to travel to England, to see some of this lovely countryside and meet these people who seem much more civil than most of what we see in the United States these days. 

If you have traveled outside the US, what was your favorite place?  If you have not traveled outside the good old USA, what country would you most like to visit?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Let's go to the Festival on the Square

Lake Chatuge and the mountains that surround it.
This coming weekend, we will set up a booth at the Festival on the Square in Hayesville, NC where thousands of people will pass through and see fine crafts and outstanding original art by men and women from all over the south. This festival has grown tremendously since I first attended in 1995. I can't walk around the square where all the tents and booths are set up without taking home something. One year it was raining and I was not feeling well, but I did go to the festival and bought a barbecue plate to take home. 


On several occasions in the past our writing group, the NC Writers' Network West, set up a booth and many local writers and poets brought their books to sign for visitors. I furnish the tent, table and chairs but I can't take all that down town and put it up alone. This year, Joan Gage, poet and blogger and her man, Rob, will do the heavy lifting. Another writer, Deanna Klingel, will help set up and she will be in the booth all weekend. Karen Holmes, outstanding poet from Atlanta will be at the table on Saturday afternoon along with Carole Thompson who wrote a beautiful poetry book, Enough. 

The anthology, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, will be on sale. This book contains stories, poems, essays by authors from all over our region. I am proud to have a story in this book which also contains poetry by two poet laureates and is dedicated to Byron Herbert Reece, a highly regarded mountain poet who lived in the early part of the twentieth century. 

I hope that visitors to the festival will take time to visit the shops and businesses around the square. If you like crafts of all kinds, we have Busy Hands which sells work done by many local crafts people. Be sure to drop in at the local ice cream soda fountain next door to Tiger's Department store. 

I learned today that the CCCRA, a community group that is striving to save and update our historic courthouse, is having a trash to treasures sale right across the street from the square - where the Phillips and Lloyd Bookstore used to be.
I'm taking some of my "stuff" down to be sold.

Molly and Me is a fun place to roam around and look for special items once used but ready for a new home. And don 't forget to drop in at Joe's Coffee House and Wine Shop. They will be open this weekend. Sit outside on the covered porch area or inside with your friends. 

Music rings out from the Gazebo all weekend - cloggers, fiddlers, and one of my favorite groups, The Pressley Girls, will be on hand to sing their mountain harmonies.

Whatever you do, if you come to Hayesville this weekend, 11-12 of July, come by the booth to speak to me and our other writing friends. I'll be there Saturday morning and Sunday. Our Clay County Historical and Arts Council is sponsoring this festival. Many thanks to all the volunteers who work so hard to make this festival a big success every year.