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On the Erie Canal

Even if you don’t want to comment on a piece, please leave a comment in my guest book with a first name and location. 


Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 11:58 am  Comments (1)  

Charlotte Writer’s Club

The last meeting of the CWC for the 2011-2012 season was held on Tuesday, May 15th at the Queens University Sports Complex on Tyvola Road.  Congratulations to David Radavich and the other officers for a great year.  The programs were outstanding and the new meeting venue is outta site.

The speaker for May was Valerie Nieman, novelist and poet living in Greensboro, NC.
Nieman has received a variety of literary awards, including two Elizabeth Simpson Smith awards in fiction and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry. She is also a teacher and an excellent program speaker.    Two things that I came away with were, write where you are and don’t be afraid to make a place or a structure a character in your novel (think House of Seven Gables). She read passages from her latest novel “Blood Clay” set in rural NC tobacco country.  I bought the book and found it to be a page turner.

Published in: on May 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – The Way of Lao-tzu – Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC)

My journey to resume blogging begins with a few keystrokes.  It has been almost two years since my last post. I don’t tweet and I find the cyber-bytes on facebook do not nourish my writer’s psyche.  I am the prodigal son returning to my blog and begging my gentle readers (both of you) for forgiveness.

I plan to blog about writing, reading, travel, and train hosting.  Occasionally I may venture into commentary on social, political and environmental issues.  I welcome your feedback, at least I think I will.


Published in: on May 23, 2012 at 11:32 am  Comments (2)  

Riding the Rails

Although my BW objects to the term, I crossed another item off my bucket list. We rode the Amtrak Carolinian from Charlotte to Raleigh and back again.  We have long-time friends that live in Raleigh and so we combined the train ride with a chance to visit with them and have lunch together.

The Carolinian departs Charlotte at 7:30 am so we wanted to be at the station by 7:00. When we got there, the parking lot was overflowing and the line was coming out the door.  Then we realized that this was the 4th of July weekend and there were a lot of folks going other places.  We were told that the train was oversold and they had added an extra car. Fortunately we had purchased business class tickets online and all we had to do was slide the printed bar code under the reader at the kiosk and our tickets were printed out. 

As we boarded the train we were greeted courteously by the train crew and directed to our seats. The seats were comfortable and featured reclining backs, footrests and pull-down trays.  The conductor came by and offered us complimentary beverages and a newspaper.  Next came the pillows.  This was a first-class operation.

We passed through Kannapolis, Salisbury, High Point, Greensboro, Burlington, Durham and Cary.   It was sad to see the abandoned factory buildings and warehouses along the way, reminders of the rich NC  heritage of furniture, textiles and tobacco.  It was however encouraging to see what Kannapolis had done, building the North Carolina Research Center on the site of the old Cannon Mills.

We arrived in Raleigh just before noon and had a very pleasant visit with our friends which included an insiders tour of the NC state senate chamber and a canopy shaded rooftop lunch.  An after lunch tour of the reviving historic Oakwood area with it’s Victorian homes is also worthy of note. 

We boarded the return train around 6:00 pm.  There is a snack car on board with sandwiches, etc.  Since we had a late, languishing lunch, we were content to share a turkey on wheat and more free coffee.

We had the opportunity to talk with several of the NC train hosts during the trip.  This is a volunteer group sponsored by the NCDOT rail division.

I had read of this service in Our State magazine.  They are ambassadors, representing the state to both residents and people passing through.  The bottom line is that I have applied to be a host and am awaiting acceptance and training.  Maybe I’ll see you on the rails in the future.

We got back in Charlotte around 9:30, resolving to ride the train again.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 11:05 am  Comments (2)  
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Ramblin’ on the River

Taking a breather

This week, the BW and I visited the newly opened Riverfront trail in Rock Hill, SC.  The trail is the first phase of Riverwalk, a planned 1000 acre residential and commercial community along the Catawba River on the site of the former Celanese “Celriver” plant.  I was particularly interested in seeing what had been done, as I had worked as an engineering contractor at the site.

The trail head is accessed from Dunkin’s Ferry Road just south of  where US Hwy 21 crosses the river.  The 30 spot parking lot is in the shadow of the now abandoned river water pump house.  A reminder of the days when Celanese was a major employer in Rock Hill. 

The 2.8 mile paved trail affords views of the many shoals along this part of the river.  Benches and chairs carved from tree stumps are conveniently placed along the trail proving a place for resting and meditation. Walking, running, biking and roller blading are allowed — it didn’t say anything about skateboards.    There is also river access for canoes and kayaks.  Interestingly enough, fishing is not allowed.

The trail is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm in the summer.  The trail is part of the Carolina Thread Network, an ambitious project to connect the communities of the Carolina piedmont via walking trails.

We definitely plan to go again.

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 9:19 am  Comments (1)  
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The Blessing

This is a poem I wrote for a poetry class in 2007


after Genesis 14:1-20

Blessed be Abram by the High God

Creator of heaven and earth

And blessed be the High God

Who handed your enemies over to you

                                 Genesis 14: 19,20


The King of Elam, with warrior band,

pursued the rebels down the land.

The Vale of Siddom, the battle site,

there – Kedorlayoman showed his might.

The tar pits snared them, they were caught,

taken hostage was Abram’s Lot.

The Sodomites and all their treasure

soon gave the king – much pleasure.

When Abram heard that Lot was taken,

he vowed to leave him not forsaken.

With a small band of well trained men,

he trailed the victors back to Dan.

Lot was rescued, bounty claimed,

Abram’s prowness now was famed.

Melchizadek, a King of old,

came out to meet the warriors bold.

With tribute of wine and bread,

he placed a blessing on Abram’s head.

Granting the king a tithe of his plunder,

Abram knelt – and wept in wonder

Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 6:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Blue Ridge Community College Bookfest

My BW and I have just returned (well actually it was Saturday evening) from the Blue Ridge Community College Bookfest in Flat Rock, NC.  It was a wonderful experience, far surpassing any expectation that we had.

It was both a “fest” for readers and an opportunity for writers and wannabe writes to network and attend workshops.  On Friday I attended a session lead by Maggie Bishop entitled Write Now! and then a second session with BRCC instructor Jennifer Parrack-Rogers and Katie Winkler on Connecting the Reading Heart and the Writing Mind.  Friday evening found me at a mixer and reception for the authors and then a very sobering evening session with Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with the story of Picking Cotton, a case of rape conviction based on mistaken identity.  Saturday started off with a keynote conversation with Terry Kay.  Wonderful.  There were a number of Saturday sessions in parallel tracks that I could have taken but I chose the “Writer Only”.  As we moved through the day, each 45 minute session dealt with another aspect of writing and the business of writing. 

In addition to the educational sessions, there was an opportunity to meet and talk with over eighty authors in the large auditorium.  Malaprop’s bookstore was also there to sell  the author’s books.  This was a great chance for me to meet potential speakers for our writer’s club.

By the time 4:00 rolled around, We were bushed, We got in the Highlander and headed down the mountain.  Glad we went and planning go back next year.

Published in: on June 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm  Comments (3)  
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Bruegger’s Bagels – Cotswold

January 26, 2009

I am sitting in Bruegger’s Bagel in Cotswold because Julia’s, my usual haunt was slam full.  I guess the word is out.  Julia’s now promotes itself as a used bookstore with a cafe rather than a coffee house with a selection of used books.  It’s getting noisy in here.  I should have brought my Ipod.

Today is a bright blue day in Charlotte.  Yesterday could only be described as blustery.  A sad freak accident occured when a tree toppled across a road, hitting a moving car, crushing the car and killing the woman driver.  You just never know.

Tonight is the January meeting of my critique group.  We haven’t met since early December and I am eager to see my writing buddies again. 

Last week I spent 3 days working at my church packing boxes of peanut butter, canned food and bottled water.  It was loaded on pallets and trucked to Norfolk, VA where it was loaded onto a Navy ship and shipped to Haiti.  We sent 44,000 pounds of food and collected $25,000 to buy medical supplies and tents.  I wonder where it is today?  I don’t want to see another jar of peanut butter for a few days.

Our pastor’s wife was in port-au-prince when the earth quake struck.  She was safe and is back in Charlotte now but she has a very powerful story to tell.

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Vanilla Flavored Yoga

As I was taking the artificial Christmas tree apart and trying to stuff back it into the storage box, I put, what my dad used to call, a “crick in the back”.  Now I am suffering pains originating in my lower back and radiating out to each and every extremity.  It’s been several days now and I have been trying to tough it out.  Expecting, or hoping, that it will resolve itself.  Hot showers (as opposed to cold), Tylenol, and lots of watching television lying horizontal on the couch have made life tolerable but I am keenly aware that I have neglected this temple they call a body and am seriously in need of what is euphemistically called “toning up”.  My BW (thats beautiful wife) tells me that I need to do yoga.  That will not only limber me up but will give me inner peace at the same time.  Yesterday, grasping at any straw, I went to the local bookstore (not one of the big guys) and found a book entitled “Yoga for Beginners” by Mark Ansari and Liz Lark.  That’s just what I needed!  No sense going to an expensive chiropractor, I can do this myself. 

The book appears to be well organized and even feature a handy easel-like back that allows the book to stand up while I am trying to emulate the positions.

So far I have mastered the “Corpse Pose”.  The picture does sort of look like something from “Law and Order”.  To do the corpse pose, one lies on ones back and spread your legs and arms out.  Sort of like making a snow angel but without moving your arms or legs.  You do the corpse pose for five minutes before and after the exercises.  I can do this.  The next move I tried is a warmup.  Lie on the mat with feet stretch out and arms lying paralled to the body.  The you attempt to flatten your spine by rotating the tailbone upward.  Hold that pose for five minutes.  It feels OK.   

More exercises tommorow.

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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ed2go Writing Courses

The fact that Annie has been admitted to Naropa University for MFA studies inspired me to sign up for an online writing course. The online courses are given by but through South Piedmont Community College (SPCC).

Several years ago I took two of these courses, Travel Writing and The Craft of Magazine Writing with Eva Shaw through Central Piedmont.  I thought that they were great and was considering taking one of them again when I discovered some of the other offerings.  I was excited to find two offerings around fiction and novel writing so I signed up for Write Fiction Like a Pro with Steve Alcorn with the session beginning December 9th.  The class consists of two lessons a week for six weeks.  Once a given lesson is posted, you have two weeks to finish the assignment.  The classes are interactive in that the other students as well as the instructor get to review and critique your work.  I think that the $79 fee (paid to SPCC) is extremely reasonable for what you get.  I still have all of my syllabus and notes from the previous courses.

Wouldn’t it be a blast if some of the critique group were in this same session?

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 9:14 am  Comments (8)