Sunday, May 28, 2017

Doing What I Need to Do


Judy at her May 21 book party holding two new books, Political Peaches and Grace: A China Diary, 1910-16. 
Photo by Johnsie Tipton.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 14 May 28, 2017

The peas are nearly finished. I pick
beet leaves, half-grown lettuce,
two firm bright green peppers, fronds
of lemon balm and peppermint for
tea. The hens gave me seven eggs. 
Sun again after so much rain brings
out tiny bumps that will be figs by
August. I hack at poison ivy, pull
handfuls of bamboo grass, mow
the backyard where Wag’s vole
holes outdo the grass. Dale comes
to change my flat tire, puts on
the spare. I drive thirty miles for
the flat to be repaired. Harold mows
more of my yard than I had managed
and leaves before I can thank him. 
Birthday wishes come by mail,
e-mail, and phone. The waves I
make in the wider world are scarcely
noticed, but I fall asleep reassured
that I’m doing what I need to do.
My less reliable memory is good
enough. Everything I do counts
in the long tabulation of the 
centuries. “Be of good cheer,”

sounds in my ears. Sun reigns.

***
More book party photos by Johnsie Tipton on May 21.

***

Judy having signed a copy of Grace for Dean Tipton.

***

Behind the book cases, left to right: Dean Tipton, Carol Hay, Judy, and Linda King. On the couch: Skip Baker. Drawings by grandchildren some years ago. The bird flying, a gift from my Russian friend Mikhail in 1992.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sometimes the Gods Offer A Miracle


Those Eternally Linked Lives 13  May 21, 2017

My phalaenopsis orchid has twenty blooms,
each a revelation. All the green-white
lanterns have become exuberant faces,
winged like butterflies. Outside the window
green sweetgum stars flutter, then dance
when the wind picks up. Sometimes the
gods offer a miracle so easy to turn down.
It could never work. It isn’t enough. We
did wish for more, yet to connect as we 
did kept us safe and happy. If sometimes
sad, yet out of despair. We were too busy
flinging ourselves those impossible 
distances to grieve at what wasn’t possible,
given who we were and what we valued:
truth and faithfulness, joy in helping others
see what we saw. Since you died, there
are new shadows. A great darkness hovers:
cruel, making hatred seem normal, claiming
evil is good and good is evil. The human
spirit has been here before. We know how
to die if we have to. Meantime we keep
singing our hymn to liberty, justice, and
mutual love.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Such Perfect Love


First Snow by Nikolai Smirnov. Village Farm in Russian provinces

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 12  May 14, 2017

How could I forget those days we spent
in my village when you came for two
weeks to North Carolina? We didn’t
sleep together yet our spirits fused.
Your warm hands caressed my neck
when I was driving. You’d take me 
to a large oak, take off your shoe, and
put your foot over mine while we prayed
to the spirit in the tree and over all.
Sometimes you were angry, or I was, 
but you’d say we had to talk, and we
would. Such perfect love left us raw
when anger flared. We’d lose Paradise
and then re-find it. We tried to part,
but couldn’t do it. So we carried each
other’s souls the rest of our lives. 
Your wife and son ministered to your 
failing human body. You wrote one
letter after I sent you my love poem
This River. You were glad our story
was being told. Your wife forgives me.
So do her sons. Somehow I added
richness to your life as you added grace 
to mine. The mystery of such love is
never fully understood, but it stays.
I will never forget those hours and
days when our souls were simply one.

They still are.



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring Resurges


Spring garden a few years ago. Beets and onions.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 11 May 7, 2017

Slapped down by a Cold Front, Spring
resurges; yellow green of new leaves; 
purple-veined beet greens, lettuce leaves
crowded close. I pick my salad. The figs 
undeterred. A few dead branches from
recent years’ hard freezes don’t discourage
them. Forsythia is resurrected; the
hydrangea’s third crop of leaves is
still alive. I’ve made room for the
new iris bulbs. Bird song is early
because they’re nesting, feeding young.
No time for love tunes. A freshening
wind as the sun pulls the earth back 
to warmer soil, more blooms, and
swelling pea ponds. All is steady,
safe, worries laid to rest. The dog
and I slept well. The sleep budget is
balanced. Evil men are doing harm,
but we will stop them, one at a time.
When you have justice on your side,
sooner or later you win, and if need

be, you win again and again.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

That Precipice of Ecstatic Joy

Drawing of crane on roof by Mikhail Bazankov for Beaver Soul.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 10 April 30, 2017

Once you were alive and acting silly. 
2001 when this photo was made
in the garden of Sveta’s father who
was dressed as a scarecrow. Marja-Sisko,
dear Finnish friend, on the other side of
our host, smiling. Behind us a lively
garden, some rows under row cover.
I was happy and stood close to you.
Sixteen years ago. We’d loved each
other eleven years, and sometimes
tried not to. It never worked. We each
played our parts. We had produced
our Earth and Soul anthology of North
Carolina poetry in English and Russian.
Copies went all over the Kostroma
Region to schools and libraries. Our
love was like that: almost all for
other people. For us a few moments 
here and there of standing on that
precipice of ecstatic joy, clothed 
in a single communion, words being
unnecessary. It began when we had
no words, two writers with no shared
speech. I learned Russian. Yet you 
told me your love so many other
ways: gestures, laughter, funny faces,
silly songs, anger, drawings in that
very book we engineered together.
A man and woman stand before a 
mountain they wish to climb and
leave their world behind, eat greens
and berries. It didn’t matter. Arm in
arm, free. The walk we never took

but never forgot we wanted to.

***
Geese flying by Mikhail Bazankov for Beaver Soul

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Grace and Gracie


Grace Roys with one-year old Gracie, 1916. Nanking, China

Those Eternally Linked Lives 9 April 23, 2017

Could Grace be eternally linked, too?
I think so. Not on purpose. I didn’t know
her when I was six and she was fifty-five. 
She was home, not hospitalized then, 
but whimsical and hard for Mother, 
who was probably hard for her, and I
must have reminded her of her lost
child, Gracie, who died when she was
eight. There are the loves given to us
all unknowing, not planned, but something
deeper and kinder is at work, though
at age six it didn’t feel kind. It felt scary.
Grace defied Mother and took Margie
and me to get our hair cut and permed.
Later she brought bunnies for Easter.
They lived outside and regularly
escaped into the local Victory gardens.
Mother had to chase them and bring
them back. For some reason I can’t 
fathom, my deep mind took in the two
Graces--maybe because they were models
that fitted--even though one was crazy
and the other one, dead. I had that same
sensitivity that makes an artist, which
Proust called les grands nerveux, or
neurotic. Too finely tuned not to care,
not to speak. I was sick but didn’t die.
I was impulsive and bold, but didn’t 
go crazy, and only mildly neurotic.
Now I know why I must keep Grace
in my life. She was the artist who failed,
who had too much guilt and fear to fight
the rigidities in the world around her.
But I can lay my fears to rest. I’ve been
bold and openly loved whom I loved,
and now am speaking every truth I
see, and I know I’m sane. Furthermore
people listen. The orchid in my window
gives me a new bloom every day, and

my mind’s depths offer revelations.

***

Christmas 1944, Left to right: Mother (Margaret), Grace, Mrs. Mary Shannon, Judy (age 6), Esther Beth Shannon Rogers, Margaret Elaine (Margie), on side porch of my Roys grandparents' home in Norman, Oklahoma.

See blog for April 16 (above) to order Grace: A China Diary, 1910-16.
Update on sales info. It's available now both in paperback ($26) and in e-book (Kindle for $9.99) on Amazon. Also on Amazon UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, India, Japan, Italy and Mexico. You can buy at www.wipfandstock.com, too
For a signed copy from Judy Hogan, send $30 to Hogan, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559-0253. judyhogan@mindspring.com for more info.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Grace: A China Diary, 1910-16 is published


Those Eternally Linked Lives 8 April 16, 2017

On the occasion of the publishing of Grace: A China Diary, 
1910-16 on April 12, 2017

Last night the first orchid bloomed, and
outside green was winning again: trees, 
grass, fruit trees, seedlings, and healthy 
weeds. Everything reborn, and I rise from
dreams that took me somewhere else until
I forgot this world, today, and how Easter
brings blooms. I have a good life, my own. 
I took risks over and over. Wherever I 
went, I found people to love, and now 
I’m rich in friends. My writings are coming 
into print, and my friends are buying 
my books. I wanted to understand 
Grandmother Grace’s life, and now I do. 
My friends want to understand, too. Grace’s 
sorrow took her mind away and others 
inherited fear, fear of losing their minds. 
I had fear, too, but I stayed my course, 
kept up my courage, trusted my deep Self. 
My wish and my kindness opened doors 
others found locked and barred. I’ve 
brought Grace and Harvey back to life,
not without pain and fear, but we’re
assuaged now. My health holds. When
dreams take me away from myself, I
always return. I’m okay, now and 
forever, and so is Grace.

***

The mothers' group (ISC) who started the Hillcrest School in Nanking for foreign children. Grace holding baby Margaret, my mother, is second  from left. 1913.

***

GRACE: A China Diary, 1910-6 edited and annotated by Judy Hogan. 
Authors: Grace and Harvey Roys. Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon. 
ISBN: 978-1-5326-0939-8. Paperback: $26.

–BACK COVER QUOTES

“This thoroughly annotated five-year diary, including contemporary accounts of the retreat colony Kuling and schools in Nanking, provides rich and illuminating primary documentation toward understanding the daily personal, family, social and professional lives of American educators and missionaries in early 20th century China, the native culture in which they devoted themselves, and their influence on subsequent generations. A graceful window on the lives of Westerners and Chinese alike.” J. Samuel Hammond, Duke University.

“Grace, a rich portrait of missionary life in early 20th century China, is told through diary entries, photos, narratives, and an epilogue by Judy Hogan, editor and annotator of her grandmother’s diary. Most poignant for me, as a former missionary child, is Hogan’s appreciation of Grace’s difficult transition from the China where she spent her first 32 years to the United States where her mental illness took flight.”–Nancy Henderson-James, author of Home Abroad: An American Girl in Africa

Orders to: Judy Hogan, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559. $30, includes tax and postage.

Other places to buy Grace: 
The publisher via their website by April 22: www.wipfandstock.com
Amazon; in two-four weeks, by May 10, 2017
Ingram: in four weeks, May 10, 2017
Kindle: 3-6 months from April 12. ISBN: 978-1-5326-0940-4

The hardback will also be available at some point: ISBN: 978-1-5326-0941-1

***

The Roys children in 1917 Dick, Gracie, and Margaret, Nanking, China

Sunday, April 9, 2017

No More Coal Ash in Moncure


Judy Hogan and Sheila Crump following Gospel Sing at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, January 2016.

***
It is with great joy that I write that our two local groups, Chatham Citizens Against Coal Dump(CCACAD), and EnvironmentaLEE (E-LEE) have won our court case against the dumping of coal ash in our Moncure community, in Brickhaven as of March 31,2017. Judge Fox of the Superior Court in Chatham ruled in our favor. Here’s the gist from his opinion:

From the last page – the DECISION:
1. WHEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED THAT:
1. The Final Decision is AFFIRMED as it relates to the use of the areas already mined or otherwise excavated in the two coal ash disposal sites (Brickhaven and Colon Road), and
2. The Final Decision is REVERSED as to areas not already mined or otherwise excavated, and the two mine reclamation permits were issued improperly by the Respondents and are hereby REVOKED. 

***



John Wagner and Judy following Gospel Sing, January 2016, holding gift tray made by Dean Tipton.
***

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, our parent group, backed us all the way. Their employee, Therese Vick, who has been helpful from the beginning in December 2014, has issued a press release. Here is part of it.

Judy Hogan, president of Chatham Citizens Against coal Ash Dump said that Judge Fox’s decision “gives me great pleasure in so many ways. We watched our comments at open hearings being ignored, the permits to do this being given rapidly, and the trucks running, then the trains, but we kept saying to our skeptics; “It’s not a done deal!”  E-LEE co-chair Marsha Ligon echoed Hogan. “Good things come to those who wait; we are thrilled that Judge Carl Fox ruled in our favor agreeing that the plans for future use of the Colon and Brickhaven clay pits cannot be entirely considered an act of reclamation.”
BREDL organizer Therese Vick stressed that “not one more shovel of dirt should be moved at either site. The DEQ improperly issued the mining reclamation permits, and they knew it. ...The DEQ is under new leadership. It is time for Secretary Michael Regan to right his injustice, and stop trying to defend the indefensible.”
***

Our CCACAD meeting Friday night, April 7, at the Liberty Chapel annex building in Moncure, celebrating our victory. Photo taken by Donna Strickland.
***
Judy’s poem this Sunday morning, April 9:

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 7 April 9, 2017
For Judge Carl Fox

You were told to hang on, and you did.
It took patience and a great faith to
sustain hope that a huge, rich public
utility company could be defeated by 
a handful of determined citizens. You
worried for their health. Too many were 
already sick and getting sicker from
coal ash toxins in the air. Wells were
poisoned. Risks were taken with
drinking water. All around us the
skeptics were immovable. “It’s a done
deal.” We were considered controversial
for demanding justice. Then a wise and
thoughtful judge told the truth. Dumping
coal ash was wrong; you have to stop.
No more trucks and trains, cutting trees
and digging holes. Your permits are
revoked.  I was stunned yet I saw for
the first time since this plan emerged:
truth and justice alive at last in a
court of law. The constitution remembered.
“Liberty and justice for all.” We hugged
and told stories Ten of us who’d been
faithful, but many more helped, prayed,
gave us space to meet, to sing, sent
money for our lawyer. This small group
of concerned and committed citizens
did change a wrong to a right. We’re
alert now. Best if the huge, rich, public
utility company sets aside its tricks 
and begins to consider justice for its 
customers and truth from its employees.

It’s not too late.

***


Judy with sign made by Martha Girolami March 2015.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Carolyn Mulford: Interview re Show Me the Sinister Snowman


Show Me the Sinister Snowman, by Carolyn Mulford, Cave Hollow Press, March 2017, 290 pp.; trade paperback, $14.95; Kindle, $3.99; ISBN: 978-0-9713497-9-7; Library of Congress Control Number: 2016960483; paperback edition available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, cavehollowpress.com, and Ingram.

Carolyn, you had a long career as a magazine editor and freelancer. When and why did you decide to switch to writing mysteries?

I wanted to write fiction from the time I learned to read, but journalism offered a much better way to make a living. Besides, I enjoy coming up with ideas, researching them, analyzing information, and finding the right words and structure to share that information. Don’t let anyone tell you writing good nonfiction doesn’t require creativity.

When a new generation of women mystery writers gained attention in the 1980s, I became a serious mystery reader for the first time. Early in the 21st century, I decided that what I wanted to do most was write mysteries, novels that focus on how everyday people deal with crisis, stimulate and entertain intelligent readers, and assure justice wins. I came up with an idea for a series, took courses on writing mysteries, and became part of a critique group. I was committed. 

By the way, my sleuths often use reporters’ techniques in their investigations.

Explain the basic idea for the series, including the ongoing characters and the setting. Have you stuck to that idea through your new fifth book?

Two strands of my life came together as I was searching for an idea big enough for a series. One strand sprang from the outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame, endangering her and even casual friends and ending her career. I related to the situation. While working in Vienna, Austria, during the Cold War, I’d discovered that a good friend led an operative’s dangerous double life. The other strand grew from interacting with high school classmates at reunions and planning to move back to my home state, Missouri. 

I wove these strands together to create the economically depressed town of Laycock and three ongoing characters: Phoenix Smith, a wounded former CIA covert operative; Annalynn Carr Keyser, a just-widowed civic leader; and Connie Diamante, a struggling singer/music teacher. These three women grew up together, lived very different lives for more than 30 years, and reunite in their hometown as each faces a major life crisis. 

In the first book, Show Me the Murder, Phoenix reluctantly agrees to help Annalynn find out the truth about her husband’s violent death. Conventional law-and-order Annalynn wangles a temporary appointment as sheriff to get access to the evidence and police resources. Armed and dangerous, Phoenix disregards laws and applies her tradecraft to a parallel investigation. Connie insists on using her theatrical talent to assist them. The three form a good crime-fighting team because of their varied skills, conflicting attitudes, and common goals.

Phoenix rescues and adopts another valuable team member, a Belgian Malinois and K-9 dropout named Achilles.

The old friends and their relationships change slightly from book to book as they continue to investigate murders and rebuild their lives. By the fifth book, Show Me the Sinister Snowman, Annalynn has completed her term as sheriff. Each woman is moving on with her life, but they continue to answer requests to help individuals and the police with unusual cases.

I’m puzzled by the mixture of cynicism and compassion in Phoenix Smith, the former covert operative.  What prompted you to give her these contrasting characteristics?

Exploring the inner life of this daring, action-addicted woman fascinates me. (I’m more an observer than a doer.) Returning to her insular hometown after spending many years in Europe forces her to deal with her internal conflicts as well as with her differences with old friends. 

Phoenix grew up in a financially strapped but loving family that stressed personal loyalty and community service. She joined the CIA after her cheating husband shook her assumptions about people. For years she led two lives, with her work as an expert on Eastern European economies as a cover for her CIA assignments. Her dual career required great intelligence, courage, energy, and self-confidence. And it complicated her relationships. Survival required her to deceive friends, colleagues, and sources. 

As a covert operative, she saw greed, incompetence, and treason much more often than idealism. She dealt with scum and accepted that the ends justify the means. Coming home, she regards almost everyone except Annalynn, her lifelong friend, with distrust and skepticism, but compassion kicks in as Phoenix sees innocent individuals being hurt. These include a woman enduring elder abuse in Show Me the Gold, a little girl whose mother is imprisoned in Show Me the Ashes, and a teenager fleeing a violent husband in Show Me the Sinister Snowman. 

I love the dog, Achilles, and how he and Phoenix relate to and rely on each other. Have other readers responded the same way?

Yes, many readers tell me how much they like Achilles. He functions not only as a pet but as a comforter and sidekick. He brings out her softer side, and she encourages him to use his skills. He becomes secure enough to dispute her judgment. For example, he pulls her back when she’s rushing into danger, and he barks his disapproval when she’s impatient with her friends.

Tell us about the road to publication for this series.

I sold the first book after pitching it to a Five Star editor at Killer Nashville in 2011. The first and second books, Show Me the Murder and Show Me the Deadly Deer, came out at the beginning and end of 2013 in hardback and e-book. Five Star released the third book, Show Me the Gold, in December 2015. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery has published paperback editions of all three.
Then came a bump in the road. Five Star delayed the publication of all its mysteries in late 2015 and then announced it was phasing out its mystery line. (That kind of thing happens much more often than readers realize.) Show Me the Ashes didn’t come out until March 2016, by which time I was looking for a publisher for Show Me the Sinister Snowman. Cave Hollow Press released that book March 31 as a trade paperback and an e-book.

What other books have you published?

Before I switched to fiction, I wrote five nonfiction books (all out of print), including a travel book, a biography, and a how-to book on financial fitness for teens. 

My first published novel, a YA historical called The Feedsack Dress, came out almost 10 years ago. Last year marked the publication of another YA historical, Thunder Beneath My Feet. It takes place during the devastating New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. Many people outside the states most afflicted (Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana) don’t know about the quakes, but online reports show tremors still occur almost daily.

What are you writing now?

I’m rewriting the first book of a series with a less lethal protagonist than my ex-spy. I may write some short stories featuring Phoenix and Achilles. 

Former CIA operative Phoenix Smith must play detective again when her K-9 dropout sniffs out a murder weapon at the scene of a congressman’s “accidental” death. Who tried to hide a homicide? She suspects either a corrupt political insider or an enraged abusive husband. Determined to prevent more murders. Phoenix goes with her friend Annalynn, an aspiring candidate, to a political gathering at the late congressman’s isolated antebellum mansion. A blizzard traps them there with three suspects dissembling inside and the sinister snowman lurking outside.



Carolyn Mulford set out to be a writer shortly after becoming a reader in a one-room school in Missouri. She postponed her writing career to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia. That experience fostered a fascination with other cultures that led her to work as a nonfiction writer and editor on four continents. She moved from nonfiction to fiction and from Washington, D.C., to Columbia, Missouri, in 2007, the year her first published novel, The Feedsack Dress, came out. Show Me the Sinister Snowman is her seventh novel and twelfth book. To read the first chapters of her novels, go to http://carolynmulford.com.

Buy Links
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XNLZ14X/r
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/show-me-the-sinister-snowman-carolyn-mulford/1125943429?ean=9780971349797

News Flash: Five Star put her first four e-books on Overdrive. You can download them.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Rushes In


Young beets and onions a few years ago.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 5 March 26, 2017

Spring, once it’s official, rushes in,
heedless, yearning again toward green,
blooms, seeds. I can never keep up.
I turn eighty in two months when
these seeds will offer me peas, beets,
onions, lettuce. I didn’t used to count
days, but now I do. Each day is a gift
we can’t give back, can’t save, can
only live as if it were our last. It
might be. Keep the heart beating
by using it and all my other muscles,
tendons, organs, nerves, bones. The 
body is wedded to the soul. Keep
the soul happy, and the body will
flourish, hold off death, warm us
after a walk, sleep hard; and once
awake, find us plenty of puzzles to
solve and conflicts to agonize over. 
Each time we penetrate fear, come 
through those annoying, pesky doubts,
we re-find our balance, see light ahead,
not so terribly far off.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Heavy Gate That Was Between Us


Russian peasant farm, "First Snow," by Nikolai Smirnov

BEAVER SOUL 15  July 8, 1992.  Komarovo, Russia

I sleep in a Russian field.  A magpie
and a cricket sing my lullaby.
Walking here, I saw campion and scabious.
A bumblebee visits the meadow sweet.
After these months of readying myself,
July is mine.  Russia is mine.  Nothing
can take my peacefulness away.  Even sun!
At Komarovo!  Where there is little sun.
It is not the Bay of Finland which
draws me, but this meadow a-buzz
with insects, steaming itself dry so
slowly that no mist rises.  Perhaps 
only the tall, lyrical birches give it
away: I’m in Russia, not Wales,
not North Carolina.  The magpie
could be mistaken for a mockingbird;
the wildflowers could be picked in
Wales.  Blackberry vines would look
the same wherever they were.  But
I’m here.  Because I wanted to be
here.  Because the door opened once
and only I passed through.  Now I
learn the secret life of the beaver
in a new way.  The vulnerable white
bark of the birches opens in me a new
softness; the grasses tremble around
me with an unfamiliar tenderness.
My soul comes to rest.  The meadow welcomes
me now because the people here
have tugged the heavy gate that 
was between us open.  It is as if
we were all seated in this sunny
meadow.  Our fears have retreated
like cowardly, humbled animals
to the shadows around us.  We 
drink nectar.  We find all the 
words we want.  And our eyes
say the rest.  Our language is
the only human one; our tongues
taste ambrosia.  A kind, pale
light is with us, day and night.
We are never alone.  The jasmine
and wild roses rejoice with us.
The rain laughs and disappears.
Our quiet voices climb the
white sky and, when we awaken,
the white light beckons us

to morning communion.

I wrote this poem nearly 25 years ago, while staying at a Writers House of Creativity, Komarovo, near St. Petersburg in Russia. It's in my book Beaver Soul, published in Russia in 1997, and here in 2013 by Finishing Line Press.  A signed copy: $12, with tax and shipping $15, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gospel Sing Benefit-Judy's Speech

 First Coal Ash Train to Brickhaven pit January 2016

Gospel Sing-Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, 
Mar 12, 2017, Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

I want to thank everyone–the Mt. Olive congregation, and especially, Pastor Headen and Cathy Smith, for arranging this event and welcoming us into their church, also the two choirs from Liberty Chapel and Ward Memorial churches, and all our visitors. We began fighting the dumping of 12 million tons of coal ash in our community in late 2014, and have been to court to challenge the Department of Environmental Quality’s permits to do this. We’ve attended hearings, held protests, written letters, and held fund–raising events to pay our wonderful lawyer, John Runkle. The money donated today goes to Mr. Runkle. In our fight have also been EnvironmentaLee and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League of which both our groups are 501-C-3 chapters, so donations are tax-deductible.

I’ve lived in Moncure eighteen years and decided when I came, that I would work to stop the pollution threatened then: a low-level nuclear dump. The pollution attempts have been constant, but we have in time won them all. This one has been especially hard, but we are working hard. What I want to talk about is our community, and what a blessing it is.

I knew no one when I moved here in late 1998, and now I count many here my friends and good neighbors, and fellow fighters for justice. People here have helped me with yard work, firewood, rides to the doctor or to get my car. People I didn’t know have introduced themselves in the post office. My life is rich because I have so many caring and generous neighbors. I’m very glad that Moncure is my home and that I’m part of this community, and I want to tell you: The coal ash dumping is not a done deal. When people say that, it sends out a message of despair. We have hope of winning this fight. Hope is harder than despair, but we can do it. Duke Energy is big, rich, and powerful, but we have the power of love, hope, and strong spirits. I challenge all of us to join those who are already fighting, to say, with them, “This is not a done deal. We are going to stop this dumping which brings harm: illness and death to us. We will not give up. Together we can stop this insult to our lives, our families, and our children.”

***


Judy with sign, 2016, later vandalized. We fight other ways.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The High Places


Judy's kitchen table in the spring of 2014, daffodil time

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 2 March 5, 2017

You agreed: our story/our history
should be told. I wanted to give you
my heart whole, and I did. I couldn’t
forget the high places where we rested
and were one, each having a wing. You
left the whole story to me. I held back
until now. If we soared, we also lost
ourselves in the tangled skein of anger,
scorn, tears, deadly silence. You could
silence me, whose one great need was
to speak. Since I’m alone now, I’m free
to tell it all: the agony and loss of
paradise, and its rediscovery. We were
fools, yet wiser than everyone around
us, living our lives as if we were one
bird, one fight, with only one home,
and that always together. The love
has outlasted your death. I’m aging
but I’m speaking. Once you would 
have frowned at what I’m telling, 
but now, from your new place of

contemplation, you’re smiling.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Those Eternally Linked Lives


Peach and pear tree blooms 2013 in Judy's orchard.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 1 February 26, 2017

There’s no stopping spring once she stirs
to life all those roots under the soil cover.
Daffodils can weather ice. Peepers can go
back into their mud, but peach blossoms
come only once and kill so easily. Human
love has many changes it can ring. It can 
spring to life and then die when reality
pricks its bubble. We sometimes see
and feel what we want to, and the other
person never stops being strange. Our
souls never fuse. When the real thing
happens, we may fight to get away.
We don’t like feeling helpless or
taken captive by what we’ve seen and
loved. We don’t realize how lucky we
are, when, all unaware, we start a fire
in another person’s hearth. There’s a
deeper wisdom at work, one that 
throws off the conventional trappings
and goes for the knowing depths of 
our souls, when one moment becomes
sufficient to last us a lifetime, no
matter the consequences. We prepare
to pay the costs even before we know
what they are. Only later do we realize
how lucky we are and how that love

sustained us and changed our lives.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Eternally Linked Lives


Full Bloom 30. February 19, 2017

The Full Bloom years resurrect your great love,
which exalted you and made you suffer. Those
memories, hidden, but still alive line the way 
you walk with your always inquisitive dog.
What you see are the young hardwood trees,
their branches February bare, but they hold
your gaze and won’t let go. I was in a farmyard
in rural Russia, with people around me, but
so alone. Segregated and tended like a queen
bee, separate bowl and spoon, not allowed
to help. Everyone worked, but not me. I was
the guest. The man I loved with my whole
heart laughed at me. Then I found a stream
bank I could sit beside and write out my
sadness. To have felt connected in an eternal
way and then left alone was anguish enough,
but then he taunted me. I couldn’t see that he
was hurting, too. He’d never tell, but he did
hear me, made time to talk to me, stopped
laughing. It wasn’t a tie we could break,
though we both tried. Those eternally linked
lives can be hard to live with. Yet we did.
Now the bare twigs, their lines clean, their
sap soon to rise, remind me of what I’ll

never lose, no matter how long I live.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Questionnaire by Wendell Berry


Goff Creek with muddy water, prior to coal ash dumping in Brickhaven, Chatham County, N.C. photo: John Wagner, 2015

Here's a questionnaire for you. One size fits all.

***
QUESTIONNAIRE by Wendell Berry from New Collected Poems, p.375, 2012

1. How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.

2. For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.

3. What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.

4. In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
we could most readily do without.

5. State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security
for which you would kill a child.
Name please the children whom

you would be willing to kill.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Our Life Purpose


Judy's portrait by Anne Shields, part of a group portrait of North Carolina women of letters, 1992, screen shot from my website.

****

Full Bloom 28  February 5, 2017

If aging doesn’t firm up our life purpose
we lose ground rapidly. We’ve been
moseying along, doing our best but not
having to walk into a stiff wind and work
to keep our goals in the front of our minds.
Sleep pulls us in before we know what
has happened. Time sifts so easily between
our fingers. To achieve what we wish to
leave completed behind us means focusing
anew every day on our life purpose, which
is entwined now with our lifetime goals. 
In my earthbound life what have I learned? 
To see people’s goodness and contradictions,
to know most of us are doing the best we can,
that we all fail and stumble more than we
want to. I see where most are blind, but
then it’s also true that I’m seen. What I
give comes back around to sustain me.
We all want to be seen and known for who 
we are, for that core in us that makes us 
different from every other living soul.
In my core I know I’m alone more than
most. I have work only I can do: books
to publish, a justice fight to finish if I
can. I must take care of this community 
which welcomed a stranger and the farm
where I grow my food, the integrity of
purpose I’ve kept these nearly eighty years. 
I can’t afford to die until I’ve finished.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wake-up Calls




Full Bloom 27 January 29, 2017

I heard the peepers. That was not an illusion,
but they’re silent now, back in their muddy
homes, waiting for Arctic blasts to dissipate
and sun to warm the earth again, windless
days to prevail, crocuses to open lavender
petals, daffodils to risk their leaves.
More things scare me now. I wake at 4 a.m.
I must do what I don’t know how to do. My
nights are haunted if I don’t heed those 
wake-up calls. They’re meant to warn, not
destroy. Like a skin of ice on the dog’s
water, they melt when I focus my attention
on what is pushing my panic button. I seek
help. Answers are there somewhere. Once
found, the ice thaws. Then I sleep well
again. My spirit proves resilient, like grass
flattened by a car that rises up again. 
Growing things are bent on life, as I am
aimed at my own success. These disturbing
calls merely insist that I get to work,
whether I want to or not.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Knowing Mikhail Bazankov of Kostroma Russia

This River: An Epic Love Poem came out from Wild Embers Press in 2014. Still available for $14 ($15 plus tax, $18, plus mailing postage from Hogan, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559.
Yesterday I spoke at the Southwest Regional Library on what it had been like to work with Mikhail Bazankov on literary exchanges betweeen the sister cities of Durham, NC and Kostroma, Russia, 1990-2001.

Here is the substance of my talk with others representing other sister cities: Arusha, Tanzania, Durham, England, Toyama, Japan, and Kavala, Greece.

***
TALK ON MIKHAIL BAZANKOV. Southwest Regional Library, Durham, Jan 21, 2017

1. Mikhail Bazankov was my friend and partner in arranging exchange visits and other projects between Kostroma region and Durham area writers.

2. I met Mayor Korobov in 1989, when he came to sign the Sister Cities agreement, a 5 minute contact. I gave him a book just pubished, Watering the Roots in a Democracy: A Manual on How to Combine Writing and Literature in the Public Library, and he gave it to Mikhail Bazankov, who wrote to me the next March, and invited me to start writer exchanges “Only with you.”

3. My son and I received invitations for first week of August 1990, went to Europe as planned, then from Finland into Moscow, and they met us at the train, and drove us to Kostroma. He knew no English, and I knew no Russian. We had an interpreter.

4. He wanted me to know about peasant life, and we visited many places that helped me understand it better: the Museum of Wooden Structures in Kostroma, the churches, the estate of the Russian playwright, Ostrovsky. Mikhail's belief was that the village was the best place for the human soul to grow.

5. In 1992 he took me to his wife’s native village, Gorka, in the Mezha District of the Kostroma Region, and I lived that life for 10 days; he also took me into the wild forest, taiga, where he had been born, and the Mezha District administrators got me drunk, though I resisted.

6. We worked well together; he wasn’t used to an equal relationship with a woman, but he adapted; and in U.S. I won the arguments, and in Russia, he did.  We communicated and arranged these visits by phone in my baby Russian, and he spoke as if to a child, simple Russian. I studied Russian from 1991 through the 90s. 

7. He came to the U.S. in May 1992, and I went there in July 1992, first to two writer houses of creativity (retreats) in Moscow and St. Petersburg through the Virginia Center for the Arts, and then I had a month with Mikhail, his wife Katya, and his family. 

8. He won an all-Soviet prize right before we met, with his novel: Memory Has Rights, Too, and then he was appointed the leader (secretary) of the Kostroma Writers Organization, and he wanted to develop local publishing in Kostroma. I had been publishing books here (33 altogether since 1976 as Carolina Wren Press), and that interested him, but we talked about many things. I kept surprising him in our conversations by speaking of things “women didn’t usually talk about.”

9. We had Mayor Korobov’s approval to do four exchanges. In 1993, he brought two other Russian writers from Kostroma: Yuri Lebedev, a professor on 19th Century Russian literature, and the author of many books, and Vyacheslav Shaposhnikov, a priest and writer. I had them here for 5 weeks. We had many programs for them, and we even took them to the beach (Kure, near Wilmington), thanks to Susan Broili.  She also was in Kostroma with me in 1992, for a week or so. A the first breakfast right after we go off the all-night trains she had to do a “vodka toast.”

10. When he came in 1992, he won over everybody, and he was publicized as saying: “Listen to your heart.” At the first party, Betty Hodges’ sister, about 60 years old, hit her head on my mantlepiece, and we were comforting her and bringing her ice. Mikhail sat down beside her and said, “It will stop hurting when you get married.” She loved that and became a fan on the spot.

I drove him to Mississippi, as he was a Faulkner fan, and as we drove down the Natchez Trace Parkway, he said, “If the car breaks down, what do we do?” In Russia, drivers have to be mechanics. I said we’d call AAA, trying to explain that. He said, “There’s not any telephones here.”  True. But we made there and back.

We visited a family whose son I had published, Amon Liner, and we talked about him with his mother and sister, and afterwards Mikhail asked me,”Where was Amon Liner?”  I didn’t know how to say that he was dead, so at the next rest stop, I got out the dictionary.

11. He was very good at reading people. He told me, after he met me, that I had a “kind” aura, and that you could tell mean people even at a distance. He surprised me by his insight and intuitive understanding of some women who tended to be rather quiet. He seemed to see into their souls, one in particular who was living with  a very rich man who was demanding and difficult. She had helped us get to Oxford. We had one speaker on one panel whom even I felt was arrogant and not really helping this discussion of Russian and Southern literature. Privately to me, Mikhail called him a “goat.” How we laughed.

12. I did fall in love with him, but he was married and very loyal to Katya, his family, and to Russia. Still that helped us work together, and it had me writing lots of poetry. He published Beaver Soul in Russian, and I later got it published here by Finishing Line Press. We did exchange publishing, too. I helped with some publishing of poetry in anthologies over there, and then we did an anthology of N.C. poetry, called: Earth and Soul, in both Russian and English, and it was distributed all over the Kostroma Region to libraries and schools.

13. I went back in 1995 to teach American poetry at Kostroma University in the English Dept, and at one point his son Aleksei wanted to get a computer, and his parents were resisting giving him money to do this.  I explained that Aleksei would be able to typeset the books they were publishing, and they got the computer, and it was used to typeset Earth and Soul.  He published 90 other books by Kostroma region writers. For the N.C. poetry anthology, we collected and arranged the poetry here. They translated it and got it produced. I went back in 2001 to celebrate its publication, and again in 2007 to give a paper to a literary conference on spirituality in the work of Anna Akhmatova. I made many dear friends in Russia, most in Kostroma. It was, all in all, the most important experience of my life, and I’ll be getting more writings about those years into print over the next five years. He died last December, 2015, of cancer, and I'll paste his obituary below. I didn’t even know how many books of his own were published, or how many writers there he put into print.  This was a passionate and very organized man. The two together were rare among the Russians I met.

***



The Administration of the City of Kostroma announces, with regret, the passing of Mikhail Fedorovich Bazankov.

December 14, 2015.  12:30 P.M.

Mikhail Fedorovich Bazankov, writer, man of letters, critic, publicist, editor, visual artist, and publisher, has departed from life.  He was a member of the board and secretary of the Writers Union of Russia, President of the board of the Kostroma Region Writers Organization of the Writers Union of Russia, recipient of the D.S. Likhachev Prize, winner of the Cultural Worker Award of the Russian Federation.
Mikhail Fedorovich was born October 5, 1937 in the village of Medvedki in the Mezha District of the Kostroma Region.  He was the author of several dozens of books, many publications in central and regional periodicals.  His novels The Right of Memory and [You Are] Free to Do As You Wish were best-sellers.  Some of his publications were translated into twelve international languages and published abroad.  Mikhail Fedorovich published more than ninety books, two anthologies, and he conducted the annual almanac Kostroma, thus preserving the very best literary tradition.
In 2007, when he turned seventy, he celebrated his Creativity Jubilee: fifty years of literary work.  This writer became the laureate of the all-union literary competition named after Vasili Shukshin with his single books published in one volume Remember The Way and Lofty Interest.  
Under the leadership of Mikhail Fedorovich, the Writers Organization doubled the number of its members and fittingly preserved the literary tradition of our region.  In recent years eight Kostroma writers were accepted into the Union of Russian Writers    He worked actively on programs of cultural exchange of Kostroma with Poland, Finland, and America.  In connection with the visits, he published anthologies.   Twelve of his published works won literary contests with well-known prizes, including the all-union Gold Laureate Medal, and the annual prize for the best work of art in the Volga periodical.    He won first and second prizes in Central Trade Association journals.  His creative contributions to culture were noticed with the M.A. Sholokhov and A.N. Ostrovsky memorial medals, many diplomas, and honors.  This writer is in the Kostroma encyclopedia, the publication Outstanding Russian People, the journal Bibliographies, the book KSU [Kostroma State University] Historical Pages.  He was awarded the regional prize from the administration for the best children’s book The Wonders of A Sieve, the Governor’s prize Recognition; he was the recipient of the Kostroma Regional medal for Work. Valor. Honor. the municipal prize named after D.S. Likhachev.
In 2008 M. F. Bazankov was awarded the right to be called Honorable Citizen of Kostroma.  
The administration of Kostroma expresses profound condolences to the relatives and close friends of M. F. Bazankov who are suffering this heavy loss.

The goodbye service for Mikhail Fedorovich Bazankov will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, from 1-2 P.M. in the Ritual Hall Morgue on Nikitska Street (Official address: House 44, Voikov St.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

How Do Miracles Happen?


Still life by Vera Belikh, my friend in St. Petersburg, Russia

***

Full Bloom 25 January 15, 2017

I’m learning on my own body and 
soul how miracles happen. I can
only do so much and give it my best,
but others keep rushing in to help.
If that’s not God, I don’t know what is.  – Full Bloom 12

Why do partitas soothe in spite of
their sadness? Bach conveys hope
when despair feels normal; order
when loss threatens, beauty after
the hurricane has whipped and torn
all the leaves. –Full Bloom 14

It is perhaps the best
gift we earth-dwellers can give each other
while we live, suffer, and win our way
past terror, doubt, feelings of inadequacy.
Such transformations are sufficiently common
to be recognized but rare enough to feel like
miracles.  As I lose some, if not all, of my
powers, these moments come more often,
and their wings lift me past my fear. – Full Bloom 15

I notice changes. I’m not the same, yet 
the deep I am is still there. The panic 
that corroded my confidence is in
abeyance. I forget, but memories return. 
My mind lulls me to sleep when I want 
to be bolt awake. I reach out to old friends, 
and they are glad. Why did I wait so long? 
My mind imitates the weather, playing 
one trick after another, yet I live, I enjoy 
people, I write and learn new tricks. 
They see an old woman, still lively.
I always did escape harm, crawl through 
hedges that kept everyone else out. 
So many people love me: what have they 
seen? Or did they simply feel seen, known,
valued? Is that my secret, and as I age,
it saves me? I live well, and people 
help me because I see? Am I like 
a Bach partita? Maybe so.