Sunday, September 27, 2015

I Can Do Everything Needful

Judy holding Credo Climate Hero sign because our coal ash group, Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump, received a $500 grant from Credo, which we will use to involve more people in our community as we put up more signs against coal ash.  The photo is by Robin Beane.  Thanks to Susan Alexander for grant writing.

We also brought the community together on September 18 for an amazing "plate sale" of a fried fish dinner, with so many people bringing food, helping serve, giving donations.  Duke Energy may have power of a certain kind, but we have love for and trust in each other.  It may take awhile, but we will overcome.  

Here's a poem I wrote last summer when I was discouraged.  I had to believe that we would succeed and that the zinnias I was planting would rise and bloom.  They did, my best zinnias ever!


THE OMENS ARRIVE XVI.  June 28, 2015

It comes to me now that I can do
everything needful.  I must not
doubt myself.  My life here has
its purpose.  This coal ash threat
scares me, which means I have to
dig deeper, prepare myself for war.
Such wars are mainly of the spirit
which is my strength.  If anyone
knows how to find her courage, 
I do.  Like Cassandra I read the
omens, but unlike that ancient
one who saw truth ahead of time,
I won’t die.  I’ll live and escape
harm as long as I listen to my
heart.  So few people do, and what
age needs to more than ours?  After
weeks of searing heat which rain
failed to relieve, storms baptized
us with buckets of cooling water.
The created order let go its battle
to breathe.  The outside world was
home again to fruit trees, grapevines,
that optimist the cardinal, my hens
who lived for weeks in shade, to the
lizards skimming over the brick 
walls of my home, to bees now back
to the business of pollinating.  Both
vegetables and weeds drink deeply,
and the new flower seeds will dare
to open root and stem and push
toward the light they never ceased
to believe was there.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Interview with Nova Scheller, Author of Avonelle's Gift

Interview with Nova Scheller, Author of Avonelle’s Gift.

Information about the book:

“I wear a locket filled with my grandmother’s bones.” So begins Avonelle’s Gift.

Can a descendant reach back into her family’s stories and recover relatives who have been lost, forgotten, rejected, or excluded? What can she discover and retrieve as she breaks through
negative judgments about her family’s past? Avonelle’s Gift vividly captures the history of a family over four generations, beginning with the love affair of two teenagers in 1900. A pregnant girl marries to save her family’s name during the years when childbirth and infancy are fraught with danger and mothers and babies could die. This book tells of two motherless children and how each 
affected the other. By blending available facts with both her historical research and her imagination, the author has filled in the
missing pieces of a tale that deserves to be told. As she focuses on bringing out what is emotionally true, she expresses the depth and complexity she finds in her family over several generations.

Avonelle’s Gift tells of early deaths, lost loves, lost families, unbridled ambition, political corruption, social ostracism, and redemption at a time when people could begin anew and rebuild
their lives for the better. Like so many family stories with villains, victims, and heroes, it tells of courage, determination, and the capacity for human hearts to change.

Title information
Title: Avonelle’s Gift
Author: Nova Scheller
Dimensions: 6” x 9”
Page count: 306 pp
Publisher: Amma’s BREATH
ISBN: 978-1-4951-6810-9

Paperback Price: $19.95 Available on; 
E-book on Kindle and other e-book sites. $5.99

1-- When did you begin writing? 

I wrote a lot in my work life and was published scientifically while I researched at UNC-CH. When I moved to working in big Pharma, I taught technical writing to company employees and edited/reorganized other scientists' reports. Finally, before I stopped working, I was writing Validation documents and finally investigation reports. In all these years I never wrote creatively and for popular publication. Writing this book, five years after I left the corporate world, has been a new phase in my life, intellectually and creatively.

2-- When and why did you begin writing this book?

My mother's stories about her Medling family framed so much of who I felt I was as a child. I always felt I was more of a Medling than a Scheller, my father's family. Part of that might have been because my mother was the one who told me about my father's family. My mother's intensity and our complicated mother-daughter relationship was also a factor. Before she died, she requested her ashes be mingled with my grandmother's and scattered. Once in possession of Ethel's ashes, I began a multi-year journey that connected the three of us.

One day while having lunch with a friend in 2010, after Mom's death, I was telling her about my mother's stories about her parents and her childhood. She stopped me and said, "You have to write a book about all this.  It deserves to be told." She said this with such certainty, I felt she was right.

During 2011, I made three trips to Missouri, researching the Bootheel area, where so much of the story took place. Each trip revealed more information.  The last one revealed the most as I journeyed from St. Louis to Jefferson City to Lake of the Ozarks where I went to the Osage River and released the remaining ashes of my grandmother.

3-- Tell us about your journey to publication with this book.

Writing and completing the book has been a multifaceted process. 2011, the first year after my mother's death, felt like an unfolding path as I "received" impression after impression of what I needed to do for her and my grandmother. I was very much aware that we had issues that flowed from one generation to the next. Several months after she died, I contacted her half-brother, Scott, to let him know she had passed. Months later he sent me their email correspondence from ten years earlier. It was their ongoing conversation for those three months that helped me see the man my grandfather Medling later became.

That same year, I began studying both shamanism and Family Constellations. Both of these healing modalities come from ancient traditions that all of our ancestors in the distant past would have accessed. The shaman receives information directly through spirit guides, while in a trance state. In Family Constellations, the group present creates an energy state that helps reveal answers sought by an individual in the group, and is called the Knowing Field. Both systems work with ancestral/generational issues or inheritances. 
Before that, two years before my mother died, I began studying Hinduism and the various incarnations of the Divine Mother, or Divine Feminine. Among the indigenous, ancient Vedic traditions, I learned of Pitru Paksha, the annual Honoring of the Ancestors. (This year it will begin on September 27, the Full Moon and go for two weeks, until the New Moon, October 12.). This was when I read Maya Tiwari's observation about standing on our ancestors' shoulders rather than carrying them on our backs. My new awareness, which began in 2007, deepened considerably while studying shamanism and Family Constellations. 

After two years of working with shamanism and Constellations, I got clear guidance that I was to begin writing the book in September 2013. Those earlier years helped me develop a more intuitive and receptive capacity. 

So, in September of 2013 and the winter of 2014, I took your writing class and began writing the first part of the book. You helped me understand how to set a scene and get out of the way of the story. I worked on the book for another year, through the spring of 2015.

4-- Talk about your writing process.

I had a basic diagram of what had happened with my grandparents but very little to go on for my great grandparents. I learned my great grandmother's name when I got my grandmother's death certificate. My mother told me what she knew about Avonelle, that he was her grandfather, whose name she was given. But she never knew where he came from, what happened to him after he saw his daughter that once, or how old her mother was when he found her. 

When going through her papers after she died, I found that information in a letter I had sent her 25 years earlier. She never answered but wrote the answers in red pencil. Then I strung together the few clues I had and pondered what made sense, was possible, and asked those long dead relatives what they wanted me to say. My writing would give them the voice that neither my grandmother, mother or I had ever heard. Since I never had children, I felt that speaking for these ancestors was a responsibility that had been left to me. Instead of my life focus moving out into the future, I sensed my charge was to look backward and help bring balance into my Family Soul. Doing so allowed these ancestors to be seen, felt, acknowledged and honored for living their lives the best they knew how.

Apart from the direct family information, I researched the genealogy I could find in and read extensively about the Bootheel region during the period of its reclamation. I researched some Civil War information for the documented and imagined parents and grandparents of the Dunns, Bakers and Medlings, for historical accuracy. As the story moved forward, I needed to understand what factory work in St. Louis was like in World War I, the effect of the Depression and how the country was changing during World War II. The story ends in San Diego, my childhood home, when I was 13.

5. How did you find the self-publishing process?

Because this was my first book, I used companies and approaches a friend used. It was expensive, but I knew when I was finished that not only was the book well-edited but the layout, proof-reading and book cover were top notch. I believe I can produce my next book less expensively but keep the same quality and polished appearance.

6. Do you have a work in progress now? Is it part of a series?

I know the family stories are not complete. With the book ending at my grandfather's death, I feel there will be another volume that addresses the family’s impact upon my mother's life and mine. Not all mothers and daughters have difficult relationships, but many do, especially women who choose the helping, healing, nurturing professions. Sharing what has worked for me feels like a valuable contribution to the collective. The decision not to have children allows me to also direct my energy towards both the past and future generations. The rootlessness of this increasingly technological age, the lack of village or communal life, is drawing many of us to think about simpler ways of being and living. We are in a period of realizing that what has been seen as old and irrelevant now seems new, fresh and sane.

I have not started writing yet. I some other ideas, too. Right now I am learning how to market this book.



Nova Scheller was born and raised on the west coast, in Oregon and Southern California respectively. She has lived in central North Carolina since 1980. She received her BS in Biochemistry from NC State and her Masters in Environmental Chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her professional years were spent as a environmental chemistry researcher at UNC and as a corporate adult trainer in the pharmaceutical industry. She was downsized as her employer prepared for a corporate buyout and has been exploring her real life for the last eight years. Avonelle's Gift is her first book.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Like A Plant I Am

Morning glories twining their way onto my back porch.


I admit: I’m like an invasive vine.  Say,
honeysuckle.  It winds its way up chainlink
fences, around tree trunks and limbs,
dead or alive.  I’ve always loved its scent
on a June night, envied the bees their
taste of that honey.  I’ve fought with it,
but it never gives up, always resurges.
With other people I guard my boundaries,
but I turn around and find openings 
in theirs to let me in so I can love them,
heal them.  Looking back, I see how 
like a plant I am.  I never give up.  
Cut me back, and I fling out runners 
and attach myself again when you 
least expect it, when you aren’t
paying attention.  I scarcely know
myself what I’m doing.  Most people
stop at those dividing lines that keep us
separate, in little groups.  I see the lines
but ignore them.  Before I could read 
and write, I was loving people I wasn’t 
supposed to love.  That boy from the 
other side of the tracks brought his 
three-week-old baby sister to show
me.  I ran to tell Mother, and she cut
the baby’s fingernails and let the boy
know–how?–not to come back.  I never
saw him again.  In seventh grade I
loved Wesley, who brought me a fresh
gardenia every day.  If you touched
the petals, they turned brown.  We held
hands and I reveled in his singing voice–
a boy soprano.  He asked me to a dance,
and Mother said no, he was too short.  
She didn’t understand the love I felt
because she’d never trusted herself
that much.  She’d surely have frowned 
on my Russian beloved, but I didn’t tell
her when I borrowed money to go see him.
Now it’s clear how vital I am in my aging,
never giving up, still fighting, still
working, my energy still there to be
tapped and used, still seeing the lovable
in all these people who gather to fight 
against turning our community into a
coal ash dump. The powers that be may
trim me back, but I have roots in my
deepest being that they don’t imagine.  
My vine is persistent, undeterred, and
even partakes of eternal life.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Omens That Comfort Me

Night-blooming cereus against the back wall of my home.



What are my omens this week?  What
signs have I been given to comfort me?
The weeded beets and carrots grow rapidly.
The tomato vines rise, dark green, and begin
their blossoming.  The new orchid opens
its last bud.  Thirteen hens give me
twelve eggs in one day.  When they see
me in the garden or orchard, they
rush to be near me.  Weary and aching
I crawl into bed after vigorous shoveling
and raking of chicken compost, sleep
hard and long, and rise like new.  My
cells still renew themselves while I
sleep so fast and so deeply I don’t
know I’ve gone to sleep until my mind
climbs ashore again.  My aging dog 
and I walk steadily everyday.  My 
ancient truck still runs well.  Friends
write and celebrate my successes.  My
fellow warriors in the coal ash fight
trust me.  I feel weighed down by work,
but I see where I’ve changed the picture,
made space between the rows.  Yes,
more work to do–always!–but I’m able
to do it.  I can’t outwit the natural world
but I can work with Her, grow food
and flowers.  The Muscadine vines 
have infant grape clusters.  Blueberries
and raspberries ripen.  Some fig limbs
are dead, but many more have put forth
leaves.  Other people want me to stay
lively and flourishing.  I will.