Sunday, December 25, 2016



Judy at a reading in Goldsboro in 2015,
taken by Mary Susan Heath

***
Full Bloom 22  December 25, Christmas Day, 2016

Full bloom is sometimes heavy.
You can't go back. You've become
the person you wanted to be, but
not everyone likes it. You have
authority now as well as confidence,
and you're not hiding your light
under a bushel, but there are rebels,
critics, and scoffers. Even friends
can be jealous.
--- Full Bloom 4

***
 Over the door in Dante's Hell is written
"Abandon Hope, all ye who enter here."
Hope carries us forward when we feel
blind. It's obvious in plants. What gives
us hope? That second sight sees the
hidden yearnings, past the fear that
won't deter the seed. All we have to do
is let it rise, enjoy its blooming, dine
on its secret fruit.
---- Full Bloom 5

***
I might fail, but given who I am,
it's unlikely. I accomplish miracles
by moving one step at a time, one
task at a time,one day at a time,
and by trusting that fabric of 
connection I feel to all the people
around me and all the wisdom
stored in my depths.
----  Full Bloom 8

My life will be what I asked for.
I  may suffer, and I will lose strength,
wits, and power, but the Spirit of Love 
that lives  in me will live on, now and
afterwards.
----Full Bloom 18

----
Do we ever know what our life means
before it's over? I do. Not completely,
but I see where I've been and where
I'm headed. There are others also--lights
in whatever darkness falls. I'm one, but
each light-carrier, or, say, catalyst, is 
a gift the universe gave to humankind 
to guide its feet, as much as any Star
of Bethlehem. It's simple enough. We
listen. We see inside other hearts,
notice gestures of welcome, eyes that
speak of gratitude, recognize fear in
the body's stiffness, hear trust in the
whispered words "We won't go back."
We witness enemies transforming
themselves into friends; a few simple
words of welcome become a magic
wand. We are not alone though we
may be the only one within our four
walls. We are so small, one among
so many. The grand power of the Universe
accompanies us wherever we go, or 
to whomever we speak. If this is true,
you will recognize it  and be changed.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

WE MUST SUMMON COURAGE

My grandmother Grace Roys, Nanking, 1911

Full Bloom  21

This book is my tribute to my grandparents, 
a gift my maturity and sanity can give. I'll 
find the answers, and then my feet will return 
me into the light, with Grace, redeemed, beside me.
Full Bloom 10.

I did what felt impossible. I agonized:
so many computer tricks I could not do.
Yet I had a publisher. I could  not refuse. I 
must learn and seek help. I learned. Help 
came. Other women wanted to read this story 
of my grandmother Grace--gifted, lively, 
funny, and fragile. Even in doing this work 
of manuscript preparation, I proved I was
tough. I worked through my panic, gave
myself courage. I learned beyond what I
had believed myself able to learn. All the
pieces are in place but one. I long to
receive it, but someone else must provide
for this one piece, this last gift. Now come
two warm days into our winter life, with
more Arctic blasts to follow. We live
in perilous times; more storms, more
pollution, more hatred, more power
plays. It's tempting to turn away, throw 
up  our hands, say we're too busy, too old,
too scared. That way lie nightmares.
To turn those fearful ones around, we
must summon courage. It begins in terror,
inches slowly forward. We do the easy things 
first; ask help; move through one more
nightmare. People begin to follow, summon
their own strength and resilience, learn that
acting silences terror. There was once a
woman who danced on the way to the gas
chamber. We remember her. Here we may 
come to that last brave act. How many 
of us will dance? If we all dance, no one
will die. Dancing is more contagious than
submission to what we know is wrong.
Human beings know how to love. Isn't it
time we obeyed our inside law to love
our neighbors as ourselves?



Sunday, December 11, 2016

We Shall Overcome

A wise man said that we are in the midst
of a cultural revolution.  Once only white
men with property could vote. Then slaves
were freed, but there were poll taxes and many
ways their votes were suppressed. Women won
the vote nearly a hundred years ago, then those
with darker skin, then eighteen-year-olds. Some
old white men got scared When we with the
vote put a black man in the White House, they
got angry, and set out to take rights away
from all of us. So now they mimic the Nazis,
going after blacks, gays, women, even clean
air and water in a frenzy of freeing polluters
from restraint. It doesn't occur to them that 
they'll kill off their descendants. Meantime 
we are not idle. We who hold the majority of
the votes now are re-grouping, re-assessing,
teaching democracy. Remember our pledge?
"With liberty and justice for all"? We renew
our promises, take our stands, work quietly.
We are a democracy, not a Fascist state. We
form a circle, holding hands, standing firm.
We shall not be moved. Skin color shall not
separate us, nor sexual orientation. We know 
He or She has the whole world in Its hands.
We may suffer, but so have those who came
before us when they fought for freedom of
speech, freedom from having our homes
invaded, our lives discounted. We were raised
to believe in our human rights to life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. Hold tight. 
Don't ever let go. We shall overcome.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

An age of miracles

Full Bloom 19  December 4,  2016

Focus on keeping your petals open 
to passing butterflies and honeybees.
Your immortality is already promised.
--- Full Bloom 4

The work on the new  book about my Grandmother Grace
has been all-consuming these months. It set off panic to
which I'm rarely subject. When I called, help came.
Now I see the end point coming. In ten days I can send
it to the publisher. Once more I stayed the course.
Anne says courage means you were vulnerable. I
learned to do what baffled me. Awake at 3 a.m.,
I wrote to re-find my courage. I even pulled the staff
of  the big New York and London publishers into
helping me. As I struggled for footing in a strange 
formatting world, and then my computer died, 
angels began to appear. Three knocked at my door. 
Doug came to set up a temporary computer so my 
book work could continue. My student Shirley,
gone a year for back surgery, stopped by, her hands 
full of egg boxes, soup, and honey. My neighbor Kevin, 
working with others next door to cut down trees and 
undergrowth, comes to show me how they cleared 
my land,too, and they want to do more, even cut 
firewood. Gratitude is inadequate to express what I feel.
I've lived within a gift-giving universe a long time, 
but now I'm in an age of miracles. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We will fight if harm threatens

Full Bloom 17, November 20, 2016

There's color in the treetops now,
though fading.  Arctic air reminds
me that winter won't be denied us
who live in the temperate zones. I
walk the dog early to let her continue
her winter nap. There are wings in
and out of the feeder.  I mix sponge
for bread, light the fire I laid a week
ago. Sun was stronger then, and its
heat against the storm door warmed
me. The dog curls tight, hides her
nose; the hens, oblivious of cold,
rush into the orchard. Bach's music
lulls me to sleep. I have climbed
that sharp curve the publisher of
Grace gave me.  Voices comfort me.
My daughter wants me to come for
Thanksgiving dinner and bring
pumpkin pie. Women in my 
community agree: we will fight 
if harm threatens.  We won't be pushed
back to the fifties and its many
discriminations. We remember "with
liberty and justice for all." Never
perfectly  kept, but not denied either.
Our enemies will learn humility
at our hands or at Someone Else's. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Gene Dillard, Mosaic Artist 2016


My friend Gene Dillard, once in my poetry classes, began working in mosaic art a few years back, and having covered his garage walls, he began on the inside of his house, and now is working on the outside.  These mosaics take about a year to complete a side, and mean piecing tiny pieces of tile or glass patiently hour after hour. He finds it a way to meditate.  What do you think?  Back in 2004, he spent a year in Honduras with the Peace Corps, building things--water systems as I remember--and writing poems in his spare time.  I've added in a few poems.  Aren't these beautiful?  Judy Hogan

***


The right side of the front of the house.

***
After only one week,
routine is sneaking
up the valley
like a cloud band,
seducing my mind.
Too soon I forget
how the new Honduran culture
embraced my heart
in its strong Latin hands,
then tore it open,
exposing me to new houses,
foods, cobblestone calles.
Everything attained a new height.
For a brief time
I had slipped

my cultural bondage.


***

Driveway side of house, recently completed, with sun on its mirrors.

***

Inside of Gene's house, with ceiling, doorways in mosaic.

***

           BANANAS

I saw his bent frame
walking toward the Mercado,
across his shoulders
a large pole with
huge bunches of bananas
hanging from each side.
Images rippled 
through my mind 
like corrugated sheet metal
used for roofing
in the third world
I thought he was a troubadour
carrying many fascinating
odes encased with
a protective outer skin,
waiting for a chance
to recite.

***

Front of garage was his first wall mosaic, but he has also done the side you see to the left.

***


Here is the new tree, with mosaic leaves, house behind it.

***
                        CEIBA TREES

In the silence of Copan Ruins
the wind blows
through the Ceiba trees,
a symbol for the Mayans
of the ever present
spiritual world.
I am reminded
 by the moaning wind,
as I view the deserted temples
that I am alone.
My loneliness forms itself into
dew droplets on the Ceiba leaves,
drips on to the stone reliefs
that make up this city.
***

Don't forget the chimney, and see if you can find Gene up there!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Making Grace Immortal


Margaret Roys Stevenson, my mother at age three on their cottage steps in Kuling, the resort for missionaries in China, 1915.

***
Full Bloom 7 September 11, 2016

Summer wanes at long last.
I will be eighty next spring.
September lets in cooler air.
The hill I climb is steep.  A gift
to publish Grace’s diary after
years of digging out its secrets.
In some way I fulfill her and
give away all she lost.  Then,
after these eighty days of work,
I can turn back to my life story
and my Russian love.  Now 
Grace comes first–impulsive,
elusive, funny, unpredictable,
and ultimately unreliable for
her children and her husband.
So, confined, declared insane, 
operated on as a means of control:
shock treatment, hysterectomy.
Yet she still loved to play the piano
and laugh.  As she lay dying of
cancer, Mother reported that she
was sane. She took her a rabbit, 
offered a ride wherever she would 
like to go.  Grace chose the mental
hospital to see her friends.  She had 
loved China; Norman, Oklahoma 
was never home.  When Gracie
died, she was inconsolable and 
ran away, looking for a stricter
faith, a strait-jacket that would
hold her together, and then was 
found wandering along a railroad 
track. My grandfather never tried 
to stop her, so the looney bin was 
where she lived too many years.  
She was sixty-four when she died 
and left fear behind for other people:
my mother, her brothers, and their
children.  Now I give her early,
happy life away to others.  The gift
she had was too heavy for her, too
hard to balance.  Now I carry it,
must let it lie lightly on my shoulders,
not heavy on my heart.  I’m stronger,
wiser, and people have helped me, will 

still help me make Grace immortal, too.

***

Christmas 1913, on the steps of their Nanking home:  left to right, Grace, Jeanie, her younger sister, holding Margaret, Charlie, Grace's younger brother, and Samuel Isett Woodbridge, her father.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Who Was My Grandmother Grace?



Grace Roys, holding Richard, with Margaret, my mother, beside her, 1914, Nanking, China

***

Full Bloom 6 September 4, 2016

[Written two days after I learned my book about Grace and Harvey Roys, my maternal grandparents would be published by Wipf and Stock of Eugene, Oregon]

Another turn in my life’s path.
Many threads are knotted.  Who
knew this was possible?  It began
with a question: Who was my 
Grandmother Grace?  She shaped
my childhood.  Her mental illness
frightened Mother, and we knew
we should take care not to be 
too smart, too high-strung, too
interested in sex, too artistic.
Yet we were all that and normal.
Grace was sometimes normal, 
then lost her balance when her
eight-year-old daughter died and
never completely recovered. 
Mother never got over her fear.  
I explored, learned of Grace’s
beauty, her mischief, her will
to have her way, her going to
the sick Chinese in the night,
her love of her babies, her music,
her fluent Chinese and many 
friends, her breaking her marriage
vows and running away.  She 
dreamt she was in Heaven with 
Gracie.  She brought us rabbits at
Easter, and got our hair cut without
asking permission.  Gladiolas and 
cats were her passion.  She tried
to be good, but she jumped her
fences too often. I inherited her 
gift, lost in her; in me, full bloom.

***

Grace and Harvey Roys in Kuling, China, probably 1912.




Sunday, October 30, 2016

Time Is Limited For All of Us



Full Bloom 13 October 23, 2016

For My Thursday Class Students Fall 2016

Two hundred years ago it was an acorn
like the thousands that fell on my roof this
year. 1816 or so. Jane Austen was alive
but not for much longer.  Here dwelt early
land grant men with their slaves.  My house
was built on the foundation of a slave-owner’s
house, and around it oaks.  They bring shelter,
shade, help with air pollution, beauty. I love
their sheer strength. To look long at a large
oak, tall and wide-spreading, is to take in
its power and peacefulness. When I moved
here, there were five: three in front, one
on each side. In eighteen years one in front
died and cast down all its limbs. Now
the largest, the Champion Black Oak is 
casting limbs, and the hurricane took
a large number.  They have hung over
my roof.  As neighbors we are close, 
so this oak belonged to Robert and Emma 
when it was named champion. Now it’s 
Chloe’s, but I’m the one who loved it. 
Robert promised not to cut it down. 
Then he died, and Chloe came.  I told her
yesterday that it had died and bigger limbs
might fall.  I was at risk more than she,
but it could hit the power line between
our homes and start a fire. I called our 
electric company. They sent a truck to
have a look. Shawn came to clear the
branches off the roof, found a hole where
a sharp limb had punctured the shingles, 
fixed it. I said he could wait, but he did
it the same afternoon.  Its grand beauty
is going fast. No green leaves this year.
A limb span still extending wide with roots
under both our homes. That full bloom has
ended, and we must expect its decay. Helen
started me worrying, but I didn’t want 
to act yet. Too many other urgencies.
Then came Hurricane Matthew.  Limbs
pounded down above my head. Time is
limited for us all.  I still teach, write,
publish, garden, care for hens, my dog,
other people, and fight coal ash dumping.
I do forget things, make more mistakes,
get lost more often in unfamiliar places.
I know my leaves will fall, then my limbs.
A deadline can be scary, even if you don’t
know when it is.  For now my colors are
lively.  Memories return. I check myself 
in case of errors, let other people help me,
and they do. Why I don’t know. Sometimes
I don’t even ask.  Let me leave behind a 
memory of wide-spreading branches,
shading leaves, home-anchoring roots,
and a vitality that stays in other peoples’
minds long after I’m gone.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Those Subtle Harmonies


My Phalaenopsis Orchid when she was young, May 1915

Can Flowers Change Your Life? XXIV.  June 5, 2016

The big orchid is shutting down,
its blooms losing one or two every day.
So frail, petals like onion skin, only
thinner, more fragile.  Our lives, too,
go so quickly.  It may take years 
to reach full bloom, and then that
passes, slowly, yes, but our bodies, too,
ultimately are frail.  We need our habit
of courage, our commitment to live
without complaint, do all that we can do,
remind ourselves we know how 
to work with human conflict and anger.
Discord is natural, but we all long for
those subtle harmonies which follow
when we lay down weapons and
dis-cover one another.  I can’t make
that happen, but I can love those
who let me, and welcome eager
questions and let others speak their
truth.  The mystery that follows 
has us all rejoicing, awed, committed,
and deeply reassured.  We know now
that we can win.  We’re at peace
and ready to fight evil wherever
it dares show its face.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review of Nuclear Apples? by Mary MacDowell


Nuclear Apples? The Third Penny Weaver Mystery.  Judy Hogan.  Hoganvillaea Books, Moncure.  ISBN-13:978-1530404506.  $15, paperback; $2.99 e-book (Kindle), 223 pages. 

By Mary MacDowell

I just finished the last page of Nuclear Apples?  Shucks, I don’t want to stop reading about these folks.

I have intimate knowledge of Chatham, Wake and Orange counties and how their activist citizens (including Hogan) and county officials tried to intervene to stop the Harris nuclear power plant from importing highly irradiated fuel rods from other plants, the threat that activated the local characters at the center of this mystery.  The book accurately describes the risks of doubling the crowded pools radioactive contents and the safer option of dry cask storage and also how politics at the county, state and federal level often allows unsafe conditions at the plants to continue.

In the mystery the local professor of nuclear engineering at the state university who leads the activists explains the facts: to crowd the radioactive rods into pools where they would risk a loss of water would lead to overheating the rods’ shielding.  This, then would cause a catastrophic fire releasing radioactive steam that could render a large area including Chatham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh & Durham uninhabitable for hundreds of years.  I have been told by a nuclear engineer that all it would take is a very small plane the size of a Cessna crashing into the pool building to breach the pools and cause such a fire.  Other causal or contributing factors include malfunction in the reactor or the interconnected water cooling systems, a fire elsewhere in the plant, or radiation from a severe reactor accident that precludes the ongoing provision of cooling water to the pools because it becomes unsafe for personnel to be where the controls are.

This is a real danger that exists at most of the 99 nuclear plants in the US, so it is excellent that Hogan has used this as the central issue in her book. But the book is also a delightful story of real characters with absorbing relationships and growth. They range from love between her Welsh detective husband and Penny, negotiations with teens wanting to date, two & five-year-olds whose mom is in hospital from being beaten by county cops at the sit-in to get the plant to stop the pool plan, a lesbian couple, an elderly black couple caught in the middle, plant workers being given radioactive drinking fountains and worried about plant safety while the supervisors cut corners.  Through it all the people come together to cook and eat to strengthen themselves for planning and working together to challenge this powerful company and its political and legal supporters.  And that makes a fascinating tale of what it takes to really support each other in each crisis.

***

Mary MacDowell worked for Chatham County for 10 years as research coordinator for monitoring and providing expert witnesses to prevent an unsafe multi-state low-level radioactive waste disposal site next to the Harris Nuclear Plant from being licensed by North Carolina government. This effort, with tremendous help of local citizens and allied environmental groups, was successful. The subsequent efforts to make Carolina Power and Light (now Duke Energy) take the safer course of storing their plants’ nuclear fuel rods in dry casks has not been successful yet, but this mystery should help spread the word.

***

Beginning November 1 and through November 30 on Goodreads.com I'm offering five free books in a drawing of Formaldehyde, Rooster, the fourth Penny Weaver Mystery, in which the community group fights against bad air pollution.  It's due out December 1.  Don't miss it!

Nuclear Apples? is available at The Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro, at Paperbacks Plus in Siler City, and at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Why me? Why now?


My fig trees, August 2011 after Hurricane Irene.  Today we have wind and rain from Hurricane Matthew.  While I still have electricity, I'm posting my blog a day early.  I sustained fig tree damage for several years.  They're not back to this fruitfulness yet.

***
Can Flowers Change Your Life? XXIII.  May 29, 2016

Rain again.  This late spring we have
our share and more.  Slow drizzle on
wet green leaves. Carrots, onions, leeks, 
beets, peas, and now tomato and pepper
plants have their thirst quenched. Days
of hot sun disappeared for more of this 
rain that makes roots stretch and turn,
and lifts up new leaves and pea vine
tentacles to wrap themselves around
the old sign holders and new strings.
The coal ash and my new books pull
me out of my solitary life.  I speak,
and they listen intently.  Then they
give me gifts, buy my books, offer
me berries, send birthday greetings.
Why me?  Why now? I do know the
answer–so simple.  I have become
fully myself, and I easily reveal who
I am, not boasting, not standing on
ceremony, simply being who I was
meant to be, which took a lifetime
to find and then I wasn’t aware of
where I stood, on the mountain,
taking in all those people whom I 
could see in the valley, all looking
up with hope in their eyes and hearts,
seeking from me the faith I have
and scarcely recognize.  Yet it
accompanies me every day and
reassures me every night.

****

Zinnias from 2011.  This year's went in late, struggle today with high wind and rain.  A few live with me here.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

An Awkward Journey


My phalenopsis orchid when new, spring 2015. In 2016 it had twenty-four blooms.

***
Can Flowers Change Your Life? XXI. May 15, 2016

How does joy come into it?
I count twenty-one orchid blooms
with three buds to go.  First,
I was too sleepy to write a poem.
Then Jane came.  She left her
glasses in the annex where we
listened to scientists translating
their coal ash research.  Jane’s turn
next week.  She couldn’t find 
the annex, drove right by it, 
finally stopped here to beg my help,
but I wasn’t to bother anyone.  She’s
happy I can be lazy once a week,
step back, and write a poem.  I
gave her one, adding the lines,
“Don’t worry.”  She loves my
poetry.  I told her I’d put her in 
today’s. It’s a calculated risk when 
you  knock on my door on Sunday
morning.  Wag gave a little bark
and went back to bed.  Yesterday,
as scientists explained their work,
and all the justice fighters listened,
I saw hope being born again.  
To hang onto the Spirit of Truth
can be an awkward journey, and
a lonely one.  Hope is harder than
despair, but once that candle is lit,
darkness disappears.

 

Our North Carolina Alliance of Carolinians Together Against Coal Ash, which met yesterday (October 1) here in Moncure at the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church to learn more about coal ash.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Review: Wedding Bell Blues by Ruth Moose


Wedding Bell Blues.  Ruth Moose.  Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press.  Released August 23, 2016. Hard cover $25.99.  ISBN: 9781250067418.

If you like zany characters (several degrees beyond interesting), a story line that verges on farce, and a heroine who doesn’t very often stop to think but has guts and somehow lands on her feet, you’ll enjoy Ruth Moose’s second novel Wedding Bell Blues in her Dixie Dew B&B mystery series.  The narrative drive is constantly side-swiped by humor and the down home language of the Old South.

The setting feels like the 1950s, but then there’s the courthouse fire, which happened in Pittsboro, North Carolina, only a few years ago. Since other Pittsboro landmarks like the S&T Soda Shop are mentioned by their real names, I sense that it’s both 2015 and 1955–some fictional blend of reality and imagination, but then that’s what novels do.

Beth McKenzie moved back to Littleboro in Doing It At the Dixie Dew and opened her B&B, finding help from Ida Plum Duckett in the kitchen, and Scott, the handyman, in restoring the old house enough to go on with.  We still have the New Jersey police chief, Ossie Delgardo, and Verna’s rabbit named Robert Redford.  The focus is on Reba, the woman who lives hand to mouth and feels free to come and go through people’s houses.  She isn’t quite right in the head.  This time Reba has announced she’s getting married. When Beth rides to her rescue to find her sobbing over a body on a picnic bench whom she insists she has killed, we wonder: is it her fiancĂ©, whom she calls God?  His truck, parked nearby, has the logo GOD, General Overnight Delivery.  

Beth gives the man artificial respiration, which she’ll regret several times later, but the MedAlert folks take him to the hospital, siren howling.  The law (Ossie) won’t talk to Beth and doesn’t get coherent answers from Reba except that she keeps saying she killed him, which Ossie gets on tape.  Then he takes Reba to jail. 

The main event in the book is Littleboro’s first Green Bean Festival, supported financially by a rich newcomer, and now Mayor, Honorable Calista Moss.  To raise more money she throws a trashion show.  Participants are to dress up in trash bags, clothes that have been thrown away, recyclables, etc.

When Beth investigates the motel room where Reba had spent the previous night with the man she believes wants to marry her, she finds Reba’s make-shift wedding dress, but not Butch Rigsbee, the theoretical groom, whose wallet and photo were left behind.  He has vanished, but the nearly dead man on the roadside picnic table is not Butch but Reba’s “better man,” and now he’s in ICU at the local hospital.

When you enter the pages of Wedding Bell Blues, you’re in a different universe, i.e., a new fictional world.  The plot moseys along.  Humor lies in wait in nearly every sentence.

Here’s a snippet:

“Festival.  I was so involved with Reba and her God thing and the missing Butch Rigsbee that I’d pushed the whole shindig out of my mind.  Not only did the Green Bean Festival have Scott gainfully employed for odds and ends, but all of Littleboro was buzzing both pros and cons.  Who would come to our little town to celebrate the green bean?  Who cared?  Who even liked the stuff?  We might as well salute something that had more guts and glory, like the black-eyed pea, for gosh sakes.  Or as Ida Plum had said “Creasy greens.  Now they are something special.  Or collards.”

***


Ruth Moose is the 2013 winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition.  She has published three collections of short stories and six collections of poetry.  She was on the Creative Writing faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for fifteen years and received the Chapman Award for teaching.  She lives in Pittsboro, N.C.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Memory and Her Muses Save Me


My phalaenopsis orchids Spring 2015.

Can Flowers Change Your Life? XIX. April 24, 2016

Sometimes I have to wait.  My desire to write
never leaves me, but other calls need answers.
This has been true all my life, but Memory
and her Muses save me.  Like my orchid
plant, She waits.  She can go through
summer, fall, and winter before She stirs
again to blooming.  Sticks become stems
again, and two new ones rise and soon
form tiny pale yellow globes.  Day by day
the globes grow larger, then hang down
their pale, one-eyed blooms.  Air feeds
them; light wakes them.  They ask so
little and give more than I expected, 
not unlike my Muse.  She, too, waits,
but when I read that phrase I wrote
twenty-six years ago: “I must put my
full weight on my writing,” I know I
must still do that.  It’s my promise 
to my own soul.  I’ve made time before.
Even when it seems unlikely, it’s 
always possible.  Yes, I will: choose
wisely, govern my impulses to attend 
to other than my true necessities,
clear space, rest quietly, take in
the world around me, and listen.

***
Drawing of Judy sitting by the Haw River writing poetry, used as cover for Russian translation of Beaver Soul.  
Mikhail Bazankov, artist. 1997.














Sunday, September 11, 2016

Flowers Do Help


Can Flowers Change Your Life? XVIII.  April 17, 2016

Flowers do help.  I had one plant come up
in the oval garden along with the winter’s
crop of weeds and the daffodils.  I couldn’t
tell: weed or flower?  I waited.  Then an iris
bloomed.  The only one of that smaller kind
I had years ago.  It has had several on that
one stalk, a star in weed heaven.  Then my
big orchid with the long name phalaenopsis
began blooms.  Two are open, and a third
starts today.  I moved it from the western
window to my dining table, shifted file
folders to give it place.  The big flat leaves
got too much sun and some turned yellow,
but on four stems it has twenty-one blooms.
A year ago it had twelve on two stems.
I’ve never had such an exotic bloomer in 
my care.  It not only survived, it flourished.
A happy plant.  These days when I feel
the weight of all that I can’t do fast enough,
such surprises feed me.  The cardinal visits
the new feeder, and the seeds disappear
faster.  He sings in sun when I am wrestling
with weeds and their long, stringy roots.
The hens come rushing to wait for the
armfuls of weeds I’m removing so I can
plant onions, leeks, beets, peas, and carrots.
These crops are going into the earth late but
are taking hold.  In the beginning I felt
lucky when anything grew.  So many risks 
plants take. Here am I, risking death every
day–in my mind.  Aging has slowed me 
only a little, yet I have to summon new depths
of personal courage when I put on my gloves
and pick up my shovel.  I forget sometimes
that I’m working alongside the way the
world is made, that Grain of the Universe.  
My hope is to flourish until I die.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Grace: A China Diary 1910-16 Will Be Published


Grace and Harvey Roys, my maternal grandparents, probably 1911 or 1912, Possibly in Kuling, maybe it will be on the cover of the book Grace.

Grace: A China Diary, 1910-1916, is a transcription of the diary my grandparents Grace and Harvey Roys kept in China 1910-1916, with my careful, extensive annotations.  I first became interested in this diary some years ago, because Grace had suffered from bi-polar disease before it was well understood.  My mother’s fear that her daughters would also suffer mental illness hung over my childhood and adolescence.  Twelve years ago I decided to annotate the diary, which I hoped would help me understand Grace better.  

In the meantime I have written and published other books, but at intervals I researched Grace’s life in Nanking.  With the encouragement of Marie, a fellow writer, and Sam Hammond, who recently retired from Duke’s Rubentstein Library staff and is still the University Carillonneur, I did extensive research to follow up on all the people mentioned in the diary as well as on many of the domestic details. I also consulted Emeritus Professor Lawrence Kessler, who published The Jiangyin Mission Station: An American Missionary Community in China:1895-1951 (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1996); he read the manuscript twice and gave me suggestions. My friend by email, Edith Barakat, born to missionaries serving in another part of China, helped me tremendously with the research.  My siblings and cousins have also cheered me on!

In December 1910 Grace and Harvey were married, despite her having had a mental breakdown weeks earlier when her missionary father forbade the marriage.  The diary records their early married life, the births of their first two children, their social life with other missionaries in China, many of whom made major contributions to Nanking life and education: medical doctors and nurses; theology professors; agricultural innovators; founders of universities, hospitals, nursing schools, and schools for young Chinese women and men.  

Grace has been accepted for publication by Wipf and Stock, a religious publisher in Eugene, Oregon.  Actual publication is likely to be in 2017 or even 2018.  This gives me great joy, to bring Grace Roys’s life and suffering to the public.

As to its possible audience, Grace should contribute to understanding what a Protestant missionary’s life was like in the early 1900s in China.  This book should appeal to those interested in missionary and Protestant denomination history, women’s history, and how mental illness was treated in China among the missionaries in the early 20th century.

***

Left to right, Grace, Jeanie, Grace's younger sister, baby Margaret (my mother), Charlie, the youngest brother of Grace, Samuel Isett Woodbridge, Grace's father, on the steps of their Nanking home, late 1913.  Note Charlie's irreverent dirty feet.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

How the Human Mind Manages Its Miracles


My small orchid in early spring, with daffodils a few years ago.

Can Flowers Change Your Life? XV.   March 27, 2016 Easter 

Easter dawns grey with rain.  Our weather
defies prediction, but rain is always welcome
here. New daffodils rise; azaleas open their
white and red.  The world is alive with 
the courage I must summon one more time.
Pink and white apple blossoms join peaches 
and pears.  The big orchid in the window 
sends out buds.  It hardly needs water for 
sustenance but must have light.  I woke 
too early, sleep elusive, my mind locked 
on realities I live with every day.  How 
the human mind manages its miracles 
I don’t know, but mine dies and lives 
again so often I can’t keep track.  Winning 
my slow, determined way through doubts
that assail me at three A.M. may be why 
I’m here. So let go fear.  Doubts and
worries, you’re dismissed.  I’m healing.
My old body summons itself.  
Rest, yes, but give up?  Never.

***


Zinnias in full bloom in October two years ago.  Now they begin.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nuclear Apples? Debuts September 1


Nuclear Apples? The Third Penny Weaver Mystery.

Publisher: Hoganvillaea Books.

Paperback: $15.00 ISBN-13: 978-1530404506 E-book: $2.99.

223 pages

Book description:  

Penny Weaver, a mid-50s unconventional poet/activist takes on a nuclear plant CEO who has political clout.  Against a backdrop of environmental racism Penny Weaver sticks her neck out to free her friend, Riverdell’s community leader and nuclear scientist, who is accused of murder.  Will Penny and her housemates’ dream of an apple orchard be defeated by the cataclysm of nuclear fire?  Two of the plant’s public relations directors who secretly offer information to the community group are shot.  Penny copes with a slit tire, being followed, her room vandalized, and police brutality at a sit-in, but still the real killer eludes her.  Suspects include Penny’s skinhead neighbor, the plant’s CEO, who instigates violence against the demonstrators, and a pro-nuclear power supporter.

Reviews:  

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Judy Hogan was involved in a real-life citizen movement to keep high-level radioactive waste from being shipped from around the Carolinas and stored at a nuclear plant near her home. She has turned that successful struggle into a thrilling whodunit. This book captures the feeling of community and empowerment that came from neighbors banding together for the common good, and it reminds us that the same courage and solidarity are still needed today to guide the conscience of corporations, governments and the media.
--Jim Warren, Executive Director of NC WARN

In this compelling story of community activism set in 1992, Penny Weaver stands firmly with others concerned about the dangerous storage of nuclear waste in close proximity to her neighborhood. Will those who control the nuclear plant stop at nothing to undermine those protesting, including murder?  –K.M. Rockwood, Author of the Jesse Damon mysteries.

Events Scheduled in North Carolina for Nuclear Apples?

September 7, Wednesday, 10-11 a.m., Interview on Sanford Radio station WDSG, 1079. with Hogan and Susan Benning.

September 13, Tuesday noon to 1 p.m., "Lunch and Learn," with Hogan conducting a short workshop on how she published Nuclear Apples?  Lee County Library, 107 Hawkins Ave., Sanford, NC.

Then same library: 6:30-8, Lee County Library, with a dramatized scene from chapter 3 of the novel.  Contact: Susan Benning.

September 22, Thursday, 3-6 PM, at the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market, to sell and sign books.

September 24, Saturday, 1-4 PM, May Memorial Library, Burlington, Local Authors showcase, 342 S. Spring St.

October 2, Sunday, 2 PM.  West Wake County Library, 4000 Louis Stephens Dr., Cary. Local Author Tea. 


October 15, Saturday, 3 P.M. Cumberland County Library, 401 W. Mountain St., Fayetteville. Reading.

***


Photo taken at Malice in May 2015 by Lee Sauer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The People of North Carolina Deserve Better


Photo of an organic farm belonging to the Robersons in Chatham a few years ago.  Wonderful produce, but hard work!

***
This is a letter I wrote in protest of Tom Reeder's article in our local paper Chatham News/Record, that appeared August 4.  My response was printed in the paper August 11. (See Below) Something is terribly wrong with our state government.  Judy Hogan
***
Trust is the Key

I’m responding to an article in the Chatham News/Record on August 4, by Tom Reeder, the Assistant Secretary for the Environment at the N.C. Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Mr. Reeder tells us that Governor McCrory’s administration has “become a national leader ..in addressing the threat of coal ash.” This opens the question of whether the citizens of N.C. trust Mr. Reeder, the McCrory Administration, the DEQ, and the N.C. General Assembly.  The people I talk to don’t.

The Dan River spill of many tons of coal ash happened early in McCrory’s administration.  Nobody was focused on the toxicity of coal ash before then.  True, the Coal Ash Management Commission (CAMA) was set up, but McCrory took the NC General Assembly to law to get rid of it, and it never operated.  The coal ash dumps that suddenly in late 2014 were planned by Duke Energy for Chatham (Moncure) and Lee (Colon Rd) had no help from CAMA, and the permits went through in record time for Charah to begin moving ash by truck and later by train, in October 2015.  No serious environmental justice study was done by the state or around the fourteen sites where unlined coal ash ponds are leaking into our rivers where millions of people get their drinking water.  Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump (CCACAD) and Environmental Lee began a court challenge of the permits, which is ongoing.

Then this year we learned of the secret meeting in June 2015 of Duke Energy’s CEO, Lynn Good, McCrory, and Van der Vaart, Secretary of DEQ, all with lawyers.  Shortly thereafter Duke Energy’s fine of $100,000,000 for the Dan River spill was suddenly reduced to $7 million, and two of the needed permits were released to Charah.  Meantime coal ash toxins (cancer-causing Hexavalent Chromium and Vanadium) had been found in people’s wells living close to the coal ash ponds, and the state Health Dept. scientists notified 350 families not to drink their well water or use it for cooking.  Apparently Duke didn’t like this.  They did begin providing bottled water to those families, but they have been recently claiming that there’s no proof the coal ash toxins came from the coal ash ponds.  Dr. Avner Vengosh of the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment has proved the toxins have leaked into the groundwater near the wells.  Next step is proving they reach the wells.

Meantime Dr. Ken Rudo, the highly reputable state toxicologist, refused to sign the second batch of letters going out from the state Health Dept, to tell people it was okay to drink their well water. EPA hadn’t yet set a standard though all the health agencies consulted agreed with Rudo that above .07 ppb (parts per billion) posed a health risk.  The new letter stated that 100 ppb was safe.  Did those folks who received these second letters believe them? Dr. Rudo was quiet for awhile, as Tom Reeder and a Mr. Williams pushed drinking this toxic water. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) recently took a deposition from Dr. Rudo, and he told the court under oath that even when the governor and his staff pressured him to sign the “do drink” letters, he refused.  Would you trust Tom Reeder, McCrory, Van de Vaart, or Duke Energy?

Tom Reeder tries to flip the blame off McCrory who, he says, will be “holding Duke accountable for years of mismanagement.”   He says the new 640 law recently passed by the General Assembly will save Duke Energy customers money because the cost of fully excavating all those leaking ponds would have been passed along to customers.  He’s defending the now legal solution of “capping in place” these ponds, which won’t stop their leaking into the rivers. The 630 law says Duke must run water lines to the homes of the “Do drink” letter recipients, but none of them want to keep living on toxic land.  This is quite a tricky game the McCrory administration is playing   The bottom line is that Duke’s carelessness created the problem, and Duke should clean it up and not pass the buck to its customers or dump it on other communities. Then our governor tells the media that Dr. Rudo was lying.  Whom do you believe?  Whom do you trust?  Me, I take Tom Reeder’s words with a boxful of salt.

Judy Hogan, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559.  judyhogan at mindspring.com

Two links to check out: 

http://bredlbetweenthelines2.blogspot.com/2016/04/deqs-weird-science.html

http://abc11.com/news/watch-raw-interview-with-randall-williams/1357855/

***

Judy's desk a few years ago.  No cosmos this year, but zinnias rising, and lots of lantana and sunflowers.



Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Only Answer to Despair


Judy Hogan and Sheila Crump,  two of the leaders of the Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump at the Gospel Sing in Moncure, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, January 2016.  

***

Can Flowers Change Your Life? XI.  February 28, 2016

Every so often I ask myself: how am I doing?
Where am I on this path that now has so
many calls to answer?  I keep walking.  I
hear despair in other voices, some cynical,
others frightened.  I tell them to keep walking.
Believe in justice.  Let your hope outlast
your fears.  Each new task adds time, but
I share them, saying, “If we work, we think
less of our fears.  Without our belief, we
will fail.  Can truth-telling and simplicity
of heart win again?  It’s the only thing
that can.  Without my own call I myself
might stumble.  With it I keep striding 
forward.  I know that others walk with me,
trust me, and that is all I need to know.
My path and keeping to it is the only
answer to despair.  Trust that deeply placed 
call. Will to be myself, and keep walking.


Someone didn't like this sign Martha Girolami made, and vandalized it, but it expresses our Moncure Community's feelings about what Duke Energy, with the cooperation of the state government, is doing to us, shipping by truck and rail 12 millions of coal ash. Winter 2015-16