Archive for July, 2008

Shaker Photo Wednesday

Well, you guys were all so articulate and thought-provoking with your Deep Thoughts Answers that I toyed with the idea of introducing another Deep Topic…  But then I realized, A) didn’t have one and B) I don’t want to set up unrealistic expectations. What if you started coming here all the time expecting me to be all esoteric and literate and whatnot? I mean, I can pull off pretentious on an intermittent basis, but not as a regular diet. Sheesh.


So– back to dog pee stories! (Kidding. Pip the Squeak hasn’t lost his manners directly in front of the doggie door for almost a week. I think he joined a support group of some kind. He is sitting beside me as I write this, all five manly pounds of him, basking in my approval. Now if I could only get him to stop compulsively licking his paws, then he’d be the perfect man. Oh yeah, and he’s already neutered too, so he’s got that going for him.)




  I just realized that I never posted any photos of the last day of Madi’s Nothing-Says-Sweet-Sixteen-Like-A-Road-Trip-With-Your-Mom foray into Kentucky, more specifically our day at Pleasant Hill Shaker Village. So, here’s a few:   Madi standing in front of a reproduction Shaker furniture showroom wearing authentic Shaker garb. If you were like, kind of a hoochie Shaker.


This is where the Shakers held their church services. A very talented African American woman in a Shaker costume explained all about their worship, and sang some of their songs a capella in a big booming voice that rang through the room. Which for some reason freaked Madi out. She kept kicking me with her foot and stage-whispering, “How much longer?” I have no idea what prompted that reaction, Lord knows that child is used to big booming voices. Maybe she thought they were going to ask for volunteers from the audience to start shaking, or something. And you know I would have made her raise her hand. FYI– those benches? Not comfortable.  


They raised all of their own food, and here is their barn and garden. Which totally makes my garden look like a little punk.



Here’s a photo series I like to call, “What Won’t A Shaker Goat Eat?” Answer: Only Madi, everything else is fair game.




  These are interior shots from the buildings. OK, here’s what I don’t get: If they required celibacy from their members, and the men and women lived completely separately, where did they think the new crop of Shakers was going to come from? I guess by conversion, but come on, that whole celibacy/work from sun-up to sundown thing would have been a hard sell. Not to mention their clothing options, which were frankly so butt-ugly that it probably made celibacy a lot easier. Anyway. *shakes head to clear it* They did make some lovely furniture. And shoes.  Their clothing storage room was almost enough to make me convert on the spot. Come on, a closet with a SKYLIGHT? I’m all over that. 



We leave Shaker Village behind with these two parting shots– a lovely lane, and my sweet 16 year old swinging in the rain.  

Welcome to DEEP THOUGHTS, Monday Edition.

Yes dear readers, all that talk about art and Frida and unibrows over the last few days has brought all kinds of primordial ooze DEEP THOUGHTS bubbling to the surface of my psyche. And frankly, any of you with the sense God gave one of those zucchini in my garden that the deer are currently destroying will now leap out of your chair and slowly back away from the computer screen. I feel a quotation coming on!!!

As much as I enjoy writing about the fascinating events of my fascinating life, you know, like, clipping hedges, rotting my brain with bad TV and the bathroom habits of passive-aggressive Yorkies, occasionally I do like to indulge myself in somewhat higher-brow subject matter. Such as gory shark bite photos, for example.

I kid! I kid!

Ennywho, I decided that every once in a while, at random, when you least expect it, I am going to throw you a curve ball in the form of something that actually maybe makes you think. Not enough to get a brain cramp or anything, just more along the lines of a “Hmmm…” type of reaction. And this morning when I was celebrating the fact that I FINALLY finished my column for the next Homecoming Magazine (it’s with Stephen Hill– just love him) by perusing the usual eleventy frillion blogs I read every day, I stumbled upon a great post by an old and dear friend of mine, Crescent Dragonwagon.

Yes, that is really her name. I’ll give you a minute to digest that.

I met Crescent and her late husband Ned when they were running the Dairy Hollow House Inn in Eureka Springs, Ark. Russ and I were spending one of the first of what became our annual Christmas trips there, and we just flat fell in love with both of them. On the surface, we were different in many ways– but in that wonderful way life sometimes has of just plunking a completely unexpected treasure down in your lap, we connected with each other on so many of the really important ones, and she has been in my life at least peripherally ever since. Crescent is an amazing writer. She has a slew of award-winning children’s books, novels and cookbooks to her credit, she teaches writing workshops, travels, lectures, and is one of the best raconteurs and dinner companions you will ever experience in your life.

Almost eight years ago she lost her beloved Ned in a horrific, freak cycling accident, and I had the bittersweet experience of attending his beautiful memorial service in Eureka, where it seemed like the whole town crowded into a ballroom at the top of an old historic hotel to honor him. Crescent, who follows a different spiritual path than my Christian one, nevertheless chose to close the service by playing (loudly) a recording of Russ singing “Somebody’s Coming”– because that was the song that she and Ned had gleefully barefoot-danced to on the front porch of their Moonshine Cottage, on the first day of the last year they shared together.

Several times a year Crescent teaches a writing workshop called “Fearless Writing”, subtitled ‘You can’t drive with the emergency brake on.” Suffice it to say, I have never been fearless enough to take it, though I have been sorely tempted over the years. (But hey– I managed to drag my timid arse out to San Francisco for a blogging conference, so who knows how bold I might turn out to be!) She recently posted on her blog ‘Nothing Is Wasted On The Writer‘ a remarkable piece about (surprise!) writing- well, mostly about writing, but it’s also about insomnia and poetry and yoga class and embracing life. That’s how she writes and that’s how she talks. I love Crescent. Anyway, courtesy of my friend, here is a quotation for you to mull over:

“Here’s the thing, with writing, as with life: we want some kind of a guarantee that what we write will be good before we write it. (I don’t know quite where we get this idea, frankly, since life consistently contradicts it: maybe it’s wishful thinking gone ballistic. )

‘Berryman’ is a poem the poet W.S. Merwin wrote about the experience of studying with his own writing  teacher/mentor, the poet John Berryman. Merwin says:

   I had hardly begun to read

 I asked how can you ever be sure

that what you write is really

any good at all

 and he said you can’t

  you can’t you can never be sure

  you die without knowing

  whether anything you wrote was any good

  if you have to be sure don’t write

When you make fear your partner, you give up having to be sure. In my view, that’s the same thing you have to do when you finally begin to grow up. ” 


I especially love that last part about making fear your ‘partner’ and just getting on with it.


How about you guys? Any thoughts?


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