Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Love My Corolla

     Over the holidays, my family suggested that I think about trading in my 15 year old Corolla with 212,000 miles on it.  So, my brother and I went over to this place called Auction Direct and I test drove a 2012 Yaris.  I enjoyed the ride except for not being able to stretch my leg out.  On the driver's side, there is an airbag compartment placed near the knee.  In addition to making for an uncomfortable fit, imagine the damage to your knee if the airbag deployed.

    I liked the set up of Auction Direct.  I had an appointment to speak with someone, Matt.  He was low key, likable, and knowledgeable.  I enjoyed the organization of the place -- no music playing so you can think about decisions, no noisy salesmen.  Clean, airy place.  The salesmen supposedly don't get commisions and you pay the advertised price, no haggling.  Auction Direct offered an enjoyable experience and there is no pressure to buy.

     My next stop was a Toyota dealership.  Different story that left me feeling annoyed, stressed, and irritated, same with the Nissan dealership.  But I did love the Versa.  Plenty of leg room; great looking car.

    Next I thought I'd try out a Spark.  But after reading reviews about engines blowing after 2 years, that one was out.

     So, I decided to give my Toyota a facelift.  She needs a paint job, and a good cleaning.  Took her to Maaco and the owner/mechanic there talked about how well made the Corollas were and how they had been known for getting 400,000 miles.  I started to fall in love all over again with her.  She has served me well, starts every time, and has never broken down.  Plus, she is fun to drive, comfy, and roomy.

     Turns out the Corolla has been the best selling car in the world since 1974 and is considered by Edmunds as one of the best cars of all time.  So, no immediate plans to part with her yet.  My next car purchase will probably be a Corolla, or maybe a Versa.  Since 1966, Corolla is still here!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My First Alaskan Christmas With My Son

32 years ago, I celebrated my first Christmas with my three month old son. The divorce with his father would be final at the end of the month and I had doubts about my ability to raise a son alone. Childbirth and divorce, all in the same year! I'd agonized about what I'd done wrong for everything to end like this, and for a while even made attempts to try to make things right Then a friend came by and encouraged me. She told me that help was available and reassured me that everything would be ok. She was a public health nurse making a home visit to a baby who had been at risk at birth, but was on his way to becoming thriving and active. I realized there were worse things than raising a child as a single parent and put my heart and soul into being a good mom. We were living in a coastal town in Alaska then, and the outpouring of warmth and encouragement has stayed in my mind ever since. That Christmas, my baby and I watched a boat parade from our living room, and had an open house for all my friends at which there was laughter, good food, fellowship, and yes, Christmas lights! When we visited friends on Christoff Island and opened presents I realized that I could make it as long as I had the support of friends.
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Closing in On Christmas

     I've been reading The Polar Express around town, two schools so far, the Global Scholars Academy and Forest View.  It's great to share the classic story with a new generation.

(review clip)  "This book opens the possibility that Santa Claus -- as presented to most of us -- may not physically exist. It does this in a way that will allow children and their parents to ease into that question, a graceful move from the belief in a living St. Nick, to a belief in the spirit of Christmas."    Courtesy of Amazon

     I first read the tale to my son when we was about two.  We were in Alaska then.  Since I've moved I've lost the book, and the silver bell that came with it so I had to buy another copy.  Happy to have this classic back in the house!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Russian Ballet Springs to Life

     For the past 21 years, the Triangle Youth Ballet in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has staged the Nutcracker.   With its own orchestra and original choreography customized for the young cast of dancers between the ages of 8 and 18, the 123 year old ballet takes on a whole new life.

     I watched two performances this past week-end, both held at the majestic Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina.   Opened in 1926, this meticulously renovated venue in the Beaux Arts style, offers a spectacular setting for a ballet as magnificent  as the Nutcracker.

     There was a palpable excitement as I approached the brightly lit entrance to the Carolina.  Visitors lingered in the walkway and lobby for this "opening night."  (Chapel Hill High School was the setting for last week's performance, but dancing in the venerated Carolina must bring a special thrill to the cast and their families.)

     A large table filled with nutcrackers of all shapes was set up in the lobby; nearby a beautifully costumed volunteer gave directional assistance and greeted visitors.  Turns out she was the wife of the orchestra conductor.  And speaking of orchestras, the Triangle Youth Ballet is indeed fortunate to have its own orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Virtuosi, conducted by Andrew McAfee.            

     Watching the performance from backstage gave me a unique opportunity to talk with the dancers.  Among my favorites were the Angels, the youngest members of the cast.  One of them, Camilla Carrington, memorized all the dances in case a replacement was needed.  An eight year old, she could be seen in the hallway limbering up or playing games with other angels.

     I interviewed the group, asking them their favorite part about being angels ("the music, "walking in the haze",  "being told we're beautiful!")

     The cast showed remarkable skill and poise on the stage.  Rehearsals start in August and double up as performance time years.   The person behind the magic is ballet school founder and director, Lauren Lorentz de Haas, who has been teaching dance for 35 years.

     This Nutcracker has become a new tradition at our house during the holiday season.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Violence of Silence

   I just read an essay called "Shunned" by Meredith Hall.  She was shunned by her community when she got pregnant at 16.  This was in the 60's.  Her essay was a winner in the Creative Nonfiction contest.

    This essay is startling and bothers me because there seems to be no resolution.  I kept looking for the good in the outcome and couldn't find one.  The writer still seems affected by it.

Monday, November 23, 2015



End of my rope
so I'm letting go
and noticing that 
above, below and all
around me,
there God is.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kings Singers

     I first discovered this group in the 70's and when I spent 9 months in Europe in 1977, picked up their LP, the one with Billy Boy.  That was a wonderful LP enjoyed for a long time, until I switched over the cd's.  Well, the Kings Singers came to Baldwin Auditorium at Duke last night.  And what a show!  I thought about the LP I used to have and wondered whatever became of it.  I think I left all  of my LP's in Blacksburg with an old boyfriend.  Man, he got  the motherland!  James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and those two special ones from England.

It was magical seeing the Kings Singers last night for the first time.  They all came out and signed cd's and programs for the audience.  There were two sisters from Rock Hill who have seen them about 50 times.  They call themselves their "groupies."

I got all six to sign my shirt and they were happy to oblige.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Take me Home (on James Taylor)

He jumped into my arms, oh,
he nearly knocked me over,
take me home with you!
oh, James I can't do that.

Well let's talk to Trudy first
She doesn't let me do anything
Please take me with you please
James, I can't let go.

We didn't see the parents much.
They never seemed to be around.

(RE-WORK) Frozen Tears (RE-WORK)

from Linda Pastas, Something About the Trees

and Kathy Craig, Climbing the Stairs  (READ AT OASIS ON NOV. 15TH, Chapel Hill

form:  Pantoum

I remember the day that my father died
The house was quiet and still
My mother in the living room with the undertaker
Making plans and turning pages

The house was quiet and still
Low voices planned funeral arrangements
My mother in the living room with Mr. Oakley
Asked me to go upstairs.

My father dead?
My child's mind reeled
escaped to National Geographic
My father's gift from the year before.

My child's mind reeled.
I was just fifteen, home from school
Escaping to the Rome Colesium
on the crisp slick page before me

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday Morning Breakfast, New Bern

"I love chocolate milk."   "Me too."  "I'm ready for some turkey sausage."

I see flashing blue lights on his sneakers.   Flashing pink lights on her boots.

"Do you want me to cut up your sausage?"
Four beautiful children just sat down at the table next to me.  Four!
The mother seems to hardly get her voice about a whisper as her children eat quietly.  The three boys, one girl, help each other.  The oldest boy places a napkin on his little brother's lap.  Little brother removes it.

Mom finally gets her own breakfast and sits down to eat.  I will remember this family for a long time.

My Chinese Name

I am feeling a bond with China because of my Chinese neighbors.  I wonder what my name would be in Chinese?

how about Da-Xia Shi?   

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


   Today, there was a panel discussion from at the John Hope Franklin Center.  Duke Students in China presented about their Chinese language immersion program in Beijing.  The experience culminated in a talent show.  The Duke students were a diverse group, representing China, Korea, and Nigeria.

     Interesting to note that the students studied Mandarin Chinese and invested thousands of hours in learning the language.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Do Lexile Scores Pigeon Hole Children?

here's and interesting article that state lexile scores may actually do more harm than good.   the research shows that free choice in reading is the way to go.

Hemingway too easy for 4th graders?  The lexile score for Mr. Popper's Penguins is higher than Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises?  Ridiculous?  You bet!  Do your child a favor and stay away from lexiles.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Be Sure to Verify!

I was thinking about starting a new blog through Blog Press and contacted the company.  Then I read a few poor reviews on the service.  

Lesson:  Be sure to verify and assess!  Check things out before changing what already works.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

5 Good Things

I met John Hope Franklin's son today, John Whittington Franklin, and his wife Debbie.
I got a ride to next week's appointment.
I listened to Gwendolyn Brooks read "We Real Cool."
Had a healthy vegan dinner.
Arranged for a job interview.
Dear Man

You can ask for what you want

this can be helpful in building communication

challenging stuff -- like what you’ve have been through

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My Meeting With Jodee

October 13, 2015

My Meeting With Jodee at the Hummingbird Cafe

Jodee was so interested in how I got to Durham…selling the house, the earthquake, the hurricane. , my first visit to ADF in 1978 at Page Auditorium…my life in Sitka, birth of my son, divorce.  Moving from Tarboro, how I got here to Durham.   Like therapy speaking to her.  I read her my poem about Stewart Singer, Dynamic Possibilities,  The War Inside Your Body about Jesse Z.  She was really encouraging about me send my poems off to Brookline to the contest.  The Amy Lowell prize…such esteemed poets have won that I almost didn’t bother sending in my stuff.  But you never know!  I conveyed to Jodee how much I LOVE ADF.  She was totally cool about me observing classes.  She said the instructors love it!  She contacted Adele Myers and got a DVD for me of “Einstein;’s Happiest Thought.”  I mentioned how it inspired me to go ahead with knee replacements.  Fear of falling…no more.

 How INSPIRING ADF is!!!  Treehouse Around Stonehenge, talking with students from VCU in 2013.  Meeting Twyla Tharp’s assistant.  Oh wonderful!!  I’ve seen a lot of dance companies…It was cool that when Kelsey came down with the DVD by Adele that she had on a shirt of the Alvin Ailey dance company.  I saw them in Richmond in the early 70’s.  Judith Jameson wiping the stage with her skirt.  Unforgettable.

Meeting Stewart Singer, Jesse Zaritt, Stephen Petronio, Adele Myers.  Jodee is amazing.    We talked about Stuart Singer, Stephan, Jesse and Jodee.  From Colorado, small college in NY then NYU.  Charles Rheinhart was her mentor.  Wow.  No wonder she’s good!

When I saw “On Their Bodies” in summer of 2013, I wondered about the genius behind the planning of it. That’s Jodee.  Took me a while to figure it out:  “on their bodies,” i.e. their body of work.   Three older dancers dancing their own dances.  Doug Varone spoke of how he didn’t think he could do it.  But he did, and beautifully!  Stephen Petronio gave me a hug when I told him his work was ground-breaking.

Our time went by quickly.  Joeee’s interested in interviewing me for the ADF newsletter – cool!
 We spoke about how some people in Durham do not even know about the American Dance Festival. Pretty amazing!  I suggested a documentary, or a book, a book that would end up on the NYT bestsellers' list.

One thing that impresses me about dancers is their supportiveness and non-competitiveness.  So sweet.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Music of That Place

The Music of That Place

I woke up that morning to the sounds of humpback whales
breeching, their dorsal fins slapping the waves.  
My usual wake-up  call, so miraculous and playful.

The Great Land had called me, and I obeyed,
just taking my backpack and stayed for
six years,  through childbirth and divorce.  

On that day, the Glacier Princess was taking
Sitkans to Glacier Bay for an overnight stay.
No charge!  My baby is safe on the island with Mimi
and I'm whisked away on a catamaran to Glacier Bay.

This place, so primal yet spectacular
Puffins, eagles, 
mountain goats posing on ledges.
Orca play in our wake.
The passengers are sunning themselves,
soaking up rays to combat the long days
of rain and grey skies.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Friday Noon Writers' Group

     Who--whee!  The Friday Noon Chapel Hill Writers' Group is really something!  It's been going on about 20 years and the moderator is David Manning.  My favorite poem was "Stuff Happens," pointed reference to the callous remark made by Jeb Bush in regard to the Oregon shootings.

     In the group was professor emeritus Conrad Neumann, recently returned from Martha's Vineyard, his home.  He shared a news article about the return of his fishing cap with the group:  

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The War Inside Your Body

The War Inside Your Body

There was something about you
that I noticed in the studio
in the way you spoke to students.
Compassion, yes
you saved one or two.

There is something about your
how your ancestors fled Belerus
after World War II,
Why, the devastation still shows
in your face,
so serious
full of anguish

Transformed by the
image of the strong, powerful
Jewish man,

you dance your Jewishness
in every gesture
every movement
reflecting belonging
and pride.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Yoga in the Moon Glow

Yoga in the Moon Glow

Vinyasa flow

under a full moon

with 100 souls

honoring Mother Earth.

Sweetness and sweat



as we find our potential

in soft summer breeze

barefoot in the courtyard

amongst magnolia trees

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Another God-Smack

Another God Smack

I was just in Harris Teeter in the spice section,
A small boy brushed against me and was admonished by 
his dad,
and I felt a little ticked 
not at him
but at how crowded Aldi had been
and getting my flu shot
at Rite Aid
(and how ridiculous the drug stores are here
in comparison to the ones in Paris
that are entirely holistic)
and at the silly music playing in 
the grocery store.

Not wanting the little boy to
think I was cross with him,
I turned around and saw he had a 
cookie sheet,
and said,
"Oh good, you reminded me to 
get a cookie sheet!"

He was adorable.
I found a cookie sheet to roast vegetables on.
The little boy and his dad moved on down the aisle.
I looked carefully at the father.
He looked like...
the writing instructor at Duke whose 
course i wanted to take.

"Excuse me...
do you teach a writing course at Duke?"
It was him, John Evans,
who introduced me to his son,
Zachary, age 7, fluent in French.
John and I spent a while chatting by the spices.
I told him I had been thinking about taking his course.
Starts soon.

I just mentioned this to someone yesterday,
Abbie.  At the Lakeside Y.

I asked Zachary if he could come over and play
with my cat.  While I write.
John invited me over to bake cookies.
Zac slipped in 4 boxes of Jello even
tho he didn't eat it the last time John made it.

John moved to Durham in 2012.
He partly inspired me to also.
That and ADF
And Duke.

And so I'm here, too!
Two knee replacements and one published
book later.
I'm here.

Thank You.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Brenda Pippin, Where Are You

Brenda Pippin, Where Are You?

Brenda, it was just 16 years ago
But seems like more.

September, 17, 1999
the day of the flood.

You, in the Pender Room of the library
Temporarily homeless
Cots set up
And enough supplies.
I’m wondering what that was like for you.

pissed that you didn’t come to work that day.
Didn’t believe the weather reports,
That you were flooded out.That half the town was under water.
Miss Management,
Typical tyrant,
Refusing to do what’s best for employees,
Opened the library anyway

When everything else was closed.

A causer of hardships.
Where is she now?
Who cares?
I need to hear from you,
To know that you are all right.

(Sixteen years ago last month, a "500 year flood" came to Tarboro, North Carolina and completely flooded the nearby town of Princeville. We were all without water and power for 2 weeks. The library was turned into a temporary shelter, for library employee, Brenda Pippin and her husband. I'm wondering where she is now.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015


BAUHAUS   ---   notes from my class  Oct. -- Nov.  2015


Gesamtkunstwerk    (total work of art)

1. Characterized by cosmopolitan feeling:  free, worldly, sophisticated, well traveled

2.  Avant Garde:  forward thinking, fringe

3.  Bohemian:  "fringe," cigarette smoking and coffee drinking, sexy, edgy

Gropius:  1911, he gets his first commission, in his 20's.  Had an affair with Mahler's wife.  They had an affair in New York while she was nursing Mahler.

MUSIC:   SCHOENBERG -- not a master or student at Bauhaus but his influence was signifcant.  His expressionist paintings are shown beside work by Kandinsky's.

He was also a painter.  Contemporary of Kandinsky.  Kandinsky was also musical.

Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972) taught music at Black Mountain College 1952-1956.

GRAPHIC ARTS:   Herbert Bayer

Gunta Stoltlz   (weaver)     influenced by Kandinsky

Gertrude Arndt   (photographer)

New Designs for the Bauhaus, sure Gropius would not have appreciated it.


Bent chair (Viennese)


Abstractionism -- the return of basic forms and primary colors to remove societal symbolism and realism while reiterating formational inherent emotions.

Kandinsky -- major painter (children's book:  "Sky Blue")

MIES VAN DER ROHE  (this moves me)
Considered one of the pioneers of modern architecture, along with le Corbusier and Gropius.  Called his architecture "skin and bones".   Coined the terms "less is more" and "God is in the details."  Light and space were characteristics of his architecture.

He designed a cantilever chair.

Immigrated to U.S. in 1937.  Designed the          University in Chicago.

The Barcelona Pavilion was built for an exhibition.  Torn down and re-built in 1983.

He designed  the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he taught.  Phillip Johnson was one of his students.

The Farnsworth House was built for his lover.

For more information:

In his teaching, he was known for his criticism, telling students to just "start over."  (Bad teaching).  He himself criticized his teaching.

In 1952, there was a lot of catching up to do because of the war.  A major trend was the rise of suburbia, the baby boom.

"Art and architecture have power."  My favorite:  Rembrandt as a young man -- this was at the Rembrandt exhibit at the NC Museum.  The local government for the Bauhaus forbid the use of upper and lower case letters.

Rosenburg, Minister of Culture for Hitler, was ordered to close the Bauhaus.  In actuality, the Masters closed it.

Mies designed Nazi symbols for the Cultural Exhibit.  Lily put his affairs in order; she was sent to work in a labor camp.

The Green Bridge -- Ferdinand Muller -- at NC Museum of Art

Emil Nolde -- 1,000 of his paintings were taken down; some were burned, some were sold.

Lawn Road Flats:  built in furniture

Skandiam   see Prichards Archives

see the chaise lounge :  "built to relax every part of your body"

Penguin Donkey:  very cool bookcase

1937 - Gropius offered head of Harvard's design school.  His house was built near Walden Pond, in Lincoln, MA, it is referred to as the "Gropius House" and was willed to the Commonwealth of MA by Mrs. Gropius.  It's about ____ miles from Boston.

He was involved in building of a campus in Baghdad, toward the end of his life.

Note the house that he built for the Franks.  12,000.  Curved glass.  In Massachusetts.  Dance floor on the roof.  Near Lincoln, MA.

He also built a resteurant and hotel in Argentina.

St. John's Abbey in Minnesota where he design the chapel and glass.

1958 UNESCO building in Paris.


Van der Rohe built his house.   The McCormick house was one of only 3 houses that van rohe built in the U.S.    It was thought of as being flexible; had cleats so that a wall could be opened.  The house was moved by the Elmhurst Museum.....Eleanor King Hookham was the director ....  the house then incorporated the museum.


Never more than 50 students at a time.  1200 students went through there.  The Oxford Method was used there.  The emphasis was on oral presentation.

Albers was known as being authoritative.  Rachenberg had him as a teacher.


****  Look up Erlich and concentration camp design   (Franz Erlich)

NCMODERNIST.ORG    fabulous website on houses designed by famous architects in NC.
NOTE:  see Master's Gallery on this site

Otti Berger -- wonderful weaver and rug designer, influenced by Klee's paintings,

good book:  The Bauhaus Group:  Six Masters of Modernism


Monday, September 28, 2015


     Kidzu is a children's museum in Chapel Hill that really engages kids.  They need someone on their creative team.  I might apply.  

I have some ideas... 
make a baby beluga and learn the song
tissue art a la Eric Carle.  
Paul Bunyen made of veggies and read the folk tale.  
Make cynotypes out of scrap metal.  
Learn about the Bard of Carolina and read some of his poetry.

Center for Documentary Studies

      Very nice meet-up at the Center for Documentary Studies.  April Walton was there, director for continuing education.  Also Judy Van Wyk, who worked for a production company and has her own company now.  She's working on a film about a family from India.

     Sheila Huggins is an attorney and is involved in the Anytown, USA project.

     I talked about the photographs I did of the Francistown Community outside Richmond.

     Durwood (last name?) works at CDS and did a film last year on David Rubinstein.

     Judy is teaching a class next week.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I didn't get my son into the preschool we wanted.

We don't have any free range chickens.

Our time-shares are rented for next week-end.

I have too many job offers.

The water in my tub isn't hot enough.

I couldn't find a parking space.

I haven't had a massage in 3 months.

I have a Diet Coke addiction.

I hate rap music.

My best friend says "like" too often,'

I lost my favorite watch today.

We have jet noise in our neighborhood.

I say "shit" too much.

I had to speak to someone with a foreign accent at Sprint today.

I hate New York accents.

I waste too much time

More white people are dying than being born.

To The Last Eastern Couger

Rapidly killed in the 1800's,
their numbers steadily
declined over the next 2000
years until
the final one was sighted
in Kentucky
last week.

Unseen by the hunter 
was the protective band
around the left paw
which was raised before the shot

as if to say good-bye
a gesture of instinct
now extinct

Friday, September 25, 2015



I stood on the ground where 
he stood,
looking at the same
church that he painted.
 painting in my childish way,
believing I cannot paint.

We came early, on a sunlit morning,
my son and I,

to the same field
where Van Gogh painted.
70 paintings in 70 days.

He only worked for 6 years.

To think had he lived to be 80,
the paintings, painting, paintings!

His headstone a short walk away --
 like walking through
a Van Gogh.
We stop there briefly
to read,
"here lies Vincent Van Gogh."

I hear him say,
"You think you cannot paint,
so by all means,
and that voice will be silenced."

Nasher 919

Diving bell or shell?

A piano 
stripped apart
with bent wood
becomes Nautilus.

Reaching for the deepest ocean
capturing our emotion,

neither Disney nor Dali
could have imagined it,
nor fairy tale, folktale, nor fantasy,

only the creator,
the artist,
here at the Nasher's new exhibit.

"Nautilus" by Jeff Bell, Smithfield, NC

Angry Birds

flying in throughout the day,
 echoes rising and falling 
from muted engines 
on their way

to where?

A business meeting,
a funeral,
a family reunion,
or a doctor's appointment,
heart surgery,

a performance,
where do they all go?

Fly, people, fly,

while we on earth

hear the distant thunder of 

"She Dotted Every i" (c)

"She Dotted Every i"

Bartender, Bartender,
bring me another,
I just got back from
the funeral of my mother.

She had worked at the church
rather later that day,
prepared some meals and
loaded them up,
before getting on her way.

But before she could leave,
a stranger appeared.
"Can you help me?" he said.
"I have no where to live."

She called local shelters,
and while her favorite hymn played,
the stranger proceeded
to brandish his blade.

Once, twice, three times, four,
on the fifth attack my mother
fell to the floor.

A random harsh act
on a woman gentle, kind,
Left the community in shock,
the halls of justice, blind.

"She put action into
her hands and her heart.
She made helping others
an objective, an art."

"Yes, she was the best,"
the supervisor replied.
"She crossed every "t"
and dotted every "i."