Writing in Asheville April 28, 2014

Elizabeth Luytens, who edits The Great Smokies Review, had asked me to write a little column, and I wrote on the technique of juxtapostion, inspired by a question from Mike Ross, one of my students. Great Smokies Review ( www.thegreatsmokiesreview.org ). Follow down the column on the left to find the Archives and look for Spring 2014: Craft Session. read more

Contentment November 19, 2013

I can't believe it's been such a long time since I wrote in my blog!  I probably transferred all the energy I spent on these kinds of entries into a series of poems I began writing during the summer of 2013.  I have a whole series of poems based on living in our cabin in Black Mountain, and the people who live in this area.  What's happened?  My husband killed his first copperhead, this action taken by a guy who, as a kid, lived in the projects in Queens, and later, in Miami Beach!  I love livlng here, love teaching in this area, which is full of wonderful people, with a strong interest in the intangibles.  Lucky Life, as Gerry Stern would say. read more

Up On the Mountain April 3, 2013

I steal time up on the mountain, and these are my favorite days.  I love my life here in Black Mountain, and there was the day I stole into the Cupcake shop, where I was greeted, with a "Hey Cupcake," and I love walking into the Ace hardware in Swannanoa, and being told "We match," because I'm wearing my camo overalls, but it's the quiet days, when I'm up here alone on the mountain, that are my favorites.  I love the blend of my life, that I can teach jazz poetry, or poetry workshops, or write for a fabulous local magazine.  I scramble, because I have become a "freelancer," but nothing can detract from what it's like to walk up the logging trail, checking on the shallow trenches I maintain for water run-off and following the border of our property uphill.  It is so steep that I wear gloves and carry a walking stick, and now that's the bears are up and about, carry my bear spray.  I'm pushing through the newly greening brambles, and the cushion of leaves that ..... read more

Rolling Rocks November 18, 2012

Who would have thought that one of my favorite activities would be rolling big rocks down a mountainside?  Over the course of the summer, we had work done to our gravel and dirt driveway.  There is a trench which runs alongside, and when it rains heavily, gravel leaks into the trench and in a tumult of water and gravel, runs downhill.  I've solved this by digging the trench out whenever downpours sluice in any torrential fashion, by making little barricades or swales, crosswise, and intermittently, and by lining the trench on the driveway side with stones I've rolled down the hillside.  The rocks themselves shine and glint with mica, and some of them are ruddy colored, from the red clay.  I love the mossy ones.  I've done the same thing up along the logging track, that runs east along the side of the mountain to the edge of our property.  Having spent 15 years in South Philly, where my "property," was the size of 3 picnic tables, fenced-in, ..... read more

Blue-Tailed Skink May 17, 2012

Today I saw a lizard with a blue tail.  They are small and live between the slats of wood around the cabin.  Its tail was a shockingly iridescent blue.  Evidently, they can shed the tail at will, and their predators will watch the tail and the skink can escape.  They regrow the tail.  And as I was pulling down the driveway I saw the spread black and white wings of a pileated woodpecker.  The edges of the wings are black, when they are open, with cream centers, very like a butterfly marking.  And of course they sport their red cockade.  I have to say, it's all quite thrilling! read more

Taming the Landscape May 16, 2012

Some days I really love to just stay on the mountain. Because it is so shady, I can even stay out of the sun most of the time. This morning I lopped off much of the azalea bushes at the edge of the driveway, which form a barrier between the side of the cabin and the view of the grapevine and peach tree which is along the road very close to the cabin. I'm anticipating the bears coming when the peach tree is ripe, so I want to be able to see the bears and not surprise them. Definitely don't want to come up on them and corner them on my way in or out.  I used my weed rake, the blade that is held parallel to the ground and swung like a golf club, and I took down the bank of weeds under and around the peach tree, and the weeds in the center of the logging track. The grape vine, which is quite large and strung along wires between 2 heavy posts, with two vines, one beside each post, is naturally reaching up towards the light and had infused itself into the peach tree. So I pulled ..... read more

Medieval World May 14, 2012

This last Saturday morning I stopped at the tail end of the tailgate market behind the Baptist Church in Black Mountain, which is about 10 minutes from where we live.  It was like being at a Medieval Fair.  I talked with a beekeeper husband and wife team from Swannanoa, who had me taste their spun cinnamon honey.  They made beeswax candles by pouring the wax into molds, including these tiny little yellow labs.  I love beeswax candles because they smell of honey.  There was a woman who made her own cosmetics, signs for rabbit and eggs for sale, a huge pot of leeks.  From another stand I bought a head of lettuce and some white small turnips, assured by the farmer that they were sweet and I could put them raw into salad.  I tasted homemade cow cheese, redolent with really strong flavor.  There was a woman dutifully putting away a lot of cookies, and I bought some yeasty whole wheat bread from her, which I tore apart and had with soup for ..... read more

Wonderful Black Mountain Day May 14, 2012

I went out last Thursday to do errands and had one of those wonderful Black Mountain days.  I stopped by the gardening shop along 70, very old-fashioned and charming with a hand painted sign.  I bought mulch, but also a group of perennials, and the women there ---both of them very strong and brown, helped me when I told them I needed plants that could handle sun and clay soil with cinders in it.  I came home with crocosmia, long iris-like fronds with a row of red flowers along a stem later in summer, and yellow tickseed and cinnamon basil. Then I had lunch at the new sandwich and soup shop on Cherry Street, under a row of wonderful shade trees at an outside black iron table.  I walked up to the Kitchen store and bought a mandolin for shaving vegetables. Then I crossed over to the hardware store, which occupies three huge rooms, with old wood floors.  I wanted something to cut long grass and weeds.  I bought a metal blade on a handle.  ..... read more

First Fire February 14, 2012

This last weekend I built my first fires in our big local-stone fireplace.  In fact, over the ridge of the mountain we live on, one can see the cliffs of the Grovestone Quarry's 1,000 acres, and hear the machinery.  Luckily, under the lea of the ridge, on the South side, we don't hear much except the neighbor's chocolate and vanila labs barking.  I had already gathered in various sizes of kindling and wood cut up higher on the mountain by another neighbor, and had them stacked in baskets on the ledge of the fireplace for the last 2 months.  But it was cold enough this weekend, 18 at night, that a fire seemed in order.  Asheville generally has a pretty mild climate and most of us do not have garages.  I hadn't set a fire in years.  It amazed me how I brought it up, feeding it ever bigger kindling and logs, to that stage where it is ripping in waves right up the chimney and there are scintillant and breathing poppy colored coals beneath the grill ..... read more

Book Recommendation January 25, 2012

One of the books I read last fall and liked was Immersion , a book of poems by Michele Wolf, whom I met many years ago when I lived in Philadelphia.  It's a compelling series of poems on adult life!  To read my review click READ MORE two lines down in BLUE and scroll down to the 4th review: www.bigcitylit.com/bigcitylit.php?inc=fall2011/reviews read more

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