Friday, January 31, 2014

Photo of the Day: Saying Au Revoir to Us All

Evan's family should be on the plane for Philadelphia now and it's on to Madrid and by car to Cordoba tomorrow. I said my goodbyes outside the terminal and jumped in the truck before the tears came. Hard day. But I know they'll be happy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Photos: One More Afternoon for Mads and Pampa

In the hot tub at Greenridge Recreation Center this afternoon.
Mads and guitar teacher Cheryl Lunsford.
Maddie picks out a tune.
Maddie on the bungee jump at Valley View Mall.
"My stomach hurts ..."
My favorite kid, Madeline, and I had one final afternoon together today and we packed it full. She leaves tomorrow for Madrid and Cordoba, but today was ours.

We exercised, ate breakfast and joined her other grandpa and dad for lunch (see previous post), then went to her last guitar lesson in Roanoke, bungee jumped at Valley View Mall (she lasted about 30 seconds before her tummy rumbled and she wanted down), then we hit the pool one final time. For the past two years, the two of us have spent a lot of time poolside and that was a fitting end to the day and this phase of our lives.

I don't know when or if we'll ever live in the same city again, but I know this one is precious to me in a way nobody has ever been. I love my girl and I'm going to miss her.

Throwback Thursday: You Mowed WHAT?

That's me on a summer Saturday in 1962 mowing the football field I would play on in the fall, making a little extra money. The mower was bigger, stronger and faster than I and, as you can see by the wavy lines on the field, it had a mind of its own.

Today's Photo: Maddie's 'All My Men' Lunch

Maddie, me, Evan and Wayne at Nawab.
This was Madeline's final shot at lunch in the U.S. with her favorite men for the next few years. She, my son, Evan, and her granddad Wayne Dickerson settled into a booth at Nawab for the ritual.

Mads insisted on Nawab, mostly because she, Evan and I ate there a little while back and she had fond memories of it. It wasn't about the food, I discovered, as she settled in with a serving of rice, a small salad and some pita bread. That was it until she had a small bowl of tapioca.

Anyhow, it was lovely. I'll miss these moments when she flies out tomorrow for Europe.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Goodbye Song from Madeline Smith to You

Maddie and me full of dinner tonight.
Maddie, who plays the guitar and writes her own songs, wrote the following goodbye (to the tune of "Handsome Molly") in order to say au revoir to her friends in the Roanoke Valley as she embarks on her adventure in Spain Friday for the next few years:

Going Away to Spain

I'll fly far aw-ay
To a land called Spain
I'll play this old guitar there
Without a worry or care

They'll all be speaking Spanish
And the food I'll try a new dish
And all my family and friends here
I'll write how much they're missed

Photo of the Day, Too: One Last Time with Maddie

Madeline are having One More Dinner at Pampa's House Before Spain tonight and the menu includes pot roast with kale/carrots/bok choy/leek stirfry. We're getting our veggies.

Madeline and her family fly out Friday for Spain for three years or so, so tonight is special. Tomorrow Madeline is host for the lunch "All My Men," featuring her two grandfathers and her dad at Nawab downtown in Roanoke. She likes Indian.

Today's Photo: Resting During Keith Finch's Class

I overlooked this photo of Keith Finch's class at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference Saturday. That's Keith's wife reclining at the left. She had just returned from a trip to Japan (she's Japanese) and was worn out. Keith said she was going to have to pretty much turn around and head back to Japan pretty quickly, so she was taking advantage of some down time and giving me a photo op.

Roanoke County Government Hangs by a Thin Thread

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Roanoke County's board of supervisors is one vote away from being overtaken by the most extreme of the nutjobs. That was on display last night when vote after vote went 3-2 when the measures were simple, clear and screamed for unanimity--especially the one about funding an environmental initiative ($1,200 a year) that is of great benefit to the county.

Butch Church, a radical, arrogant, self-important holdover and Al Bedrosian, whose credibility exists only with Bible-thumping crazies, are the minority, as we expected. They seem to believe that the United Nations is trying to take over county government ... which might not be a bad idea if that is the alternative to them.

We'll have to wait and see if the majority of three (Joe McNamara, Jason Peters and Charlotte Moore) holds steady in the future. Bedrosian and Church will look for every opportunity to disrupt good government and I'm hoping they not only don't get that opportunity, but the sensible members of the board allow them to show their asses in public time after time--as they did last night.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte Swims Upstream with Ducks

I don't know enough about "Duck Dynasty" to make an informed statement about it as a television show, but I know that whatever these guys represent, it draws a lot of ridicule from many, many caring Americans. So what's Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke doing posing in a photo of one of the Ducks and some Stepford-looking woman whom I don't know last night after the president's State of the Union Address.

One can only surmise that Goodlatte is looking to solidify his base with those opposed to the realization of the American Dream, equality for all citizens, clean air and water, a fair share of taxes being paid by the very wealthy, affordable health care for everybody, education for our citizens without crippling debt and a long, long litany items his party opposes. Ducks, I suppose, do that.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger: The Joy of It All

It is important that Pete Seeger was given 94 years to teach us. He didn't change a lot that you can see, just a few hearts and minds here and there, but his words live with us and with our children and their children.

His words of "peace" and "love" and "freedom" came from his heart and settled upon the shoulders of a reluctant, cranky nation that never fully appreciated this deeply evolved old soul.

My guess is that he's among those old souls now, his so ancient that it may not return, even though we need him now more than ever. I'm sad for our loss, happy for a good man who is now truly free to travel the halls and the fileds, plunking his banjo, smiling and singing about the joy of it all.

Thank you Pete Seeger. You lived a life of meaning.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Quick Look at Tonight's Liminal Readings

Kevin Kittredge reads from his novel.
Diana Christopulos reads a poem.
Carole Tarrant and Shanna Flowers read together.
Olchar E. Lindsann emits.
Maurice Ferguson, Darlene Fedele perform a skit.
Amber Herron's skit was a popular--if a bit blue--one.
Mike Allen reads Dwayne Yancey's play-ette.
Allison Cole read nice poetry.
Greg Trafidlo's music is always a highlight.
It was a good-sized crowd that turned out tonight to hear and participate in the monthly Liminal readings at Community High School. The readings ran through the genres: fiction, essay, children's lit and musci, poetry, teen angst, and folk music.
Pot-bellied Editr reads "South Carolina Snow."

These are always popular. The theme tonight was winter weather and only young Ambre Herron, a senior at Community High who admits, "I don't have many hobbies, but I am forcing myself to try new things." She began by telling us she thought she might vomit from fright, then launched into a funny--if risque--routine that was thoroughly entertaining and fresn. Keep at it Ambre.
I read a piece called "South Carolina Snow" from my memoir Burning the Furniture.

Next week (Monday) there will be another Liminal with the theme of "found writing." That means you'll read pieces that started out as one thing, then became another, says Cara Modisett, who comes up with this stuff.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Photo of the Day: Snow Day at Tinker Creek

This was simply irresistible, especially with my newfangled fish-eye lens.

The color and black and white pix of Tinker Creek were taken during a break in the action yesterday at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference at Hollins University.

Tinker Creek, of course, is the title character of Annie Dillard's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Pilgram at Tinker Creek. The black and white here has a Matthew Brady feel. If the tree stump were a dead Confederate solidier, I'll bet I could fool you with it.

Photo Essay: 2014 RRWC in Review

Carrie Brown's class was jammed to the doorways.
The Judy Ayyildez, over-the-glasses pose.
Bums on the park bench: Bill Kovarik, Keith Ferrell (a couple of dandy authors with bad shoes).
Beth Macy talks about her new book.
Sci-fi guy Rod Belcher teaches his class.
Professorial Doug Cumming of W&L.
Sheri Reynolds' class in Babcock (where are the middle school students?).
Sarah Beth Jones never stops laughing.
Bonnie Cranmer, RRWC Co-MVP.
Sheri Reynolds taught her whole class like this.
Attentive in Karen Prior's class.
High-tech note-taking.
Teresa Sakasegawa: low-tech note taking.
Rod belcher ponders ... something or other.
Teacher Cara Modisett had a grand time.
Keith Ferrell points something out.
Lawyer Keith Finch gets serious about protecting writers.
Liz Long chatting up a storm.
Tiffany Trent relaxes.
Alice de Sturler, Karen Chase: teachers to students.
Greg Trafidlo taught how to write music.
13-year-old Kyoko Leaman was the youngest student at RRWC.
Photographer Rob Jones taught his craft. (AS)
Director Dan Smith greets Libby Cumming. (AS)
Rod Belcher's shoes: Rod does sci-fi; who'da thunk it? (AS)
Greg Trafidlo and his band. (AS)
Opening night entertainment: Trafidlo, Brown, Reynolds, Smith, Kelly. (AS)
2014 RRWC symbol: the quill. (AS)
The 2014 Roanoke Regional Writers Conference is in the books now; the director's worn to a fraz; the students seemed to be happy; the teachers enjoyed the delight of focused, interested students; and the region's writing community grew ever closer.

It was, as usual, a complete delight for me as founding director. I get to pull all this together by bringing in old friends, making new ones and introducing them all to each other. It is a true joy and we'll do it again next year, Jan. 30 and 31 at Hollins.

We've already begun piecing together the roster of teachers, hoping to ensure a seventh straight sellout of the conference. If you have any suggestions of local/regional authors you'd like to see in the lineup, let me know.

Above is a look at some of what went on.

(Photos marked AS by Anne Sampson. Others by moi.)