Maybe it does run in the blood

I heard it twice, miles apart: “I have retailing in my blood.”

Both headed family businesses – one, a supermarket chain, the other a small-town restaurant.

The grocer worked with three of his brothers and a brother-in-law, though another brother instead became a respected physician.

The restaurateur worked alongside his only brother and their wives.

Both enterprises were founded by their fathers.

It’s a lot like the family enterprise in my novel, founded a few generations earlier.

Do you know anyone like that?

~*~

My novel is available at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook distributors and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

Within a daughter’s own living Greek drama

High hippie by degrees – nobody fully fit the stereotype

By the end of ’68, the counterculture phenomenon was metastasizing from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury and nearby Berkeley into pockets across most of the country and even Europe. As August of ’69 proved, it was sufficiently established in the East to draw together the unanticipated throng at Woodstock.

Much of the transplanted activity existed at the fringes of college campuses, as I experienced in Bloomington, Indiana, and later Binghamton, New York. For me, growing up in Ohio, I would have rather attended hip, beat Antioch in Yellow Springs, but the finances were way out of our consideration. So a state school was my destination, and at the time, Indiana as an out-of-state student was nearly as reasonable as in-state for me in Ohio. And a bit later, to my surprise, how yesterday Antioch began to appear once I was near the East Coast.

The searing experiences shape what I describe in Daffodil Uprising and then Pit-a-Pat High Jinks. And as I continue to repeat, hippies came in all varieties – and still do. There was no standard-issue, card-carrying member, but each was one to some degree or another. Nobody completely fit the hippie image.

As someone who became addicted at the onset of adolescence to classical, opera, and folk music, I was already passionate about an alternative to commercial entertainment, which was what rock at the time really was. I was one who lamented deeply when Bob Dylan went electric. Sold out, so it seemed. I had the long hair and blue jeans and bell bottoms. I was against the war, tried a few hallucinations, loved sex when I could get it, which wasn’t often.

And then I encountered yoga, which led me to give up meat, alcohol and drugs, and sex for the life I detail in Yoga Bootcamp – and yet, curiously, this was when I felt the most hippie in all of my awareness.

Shooting hot and cold

Over the past year I’ve been playing with the auto settings on my camera. My aesthetic would normally be to go as natural as possible, but there are many times the result simply looks too flat for my taste, even after I sharpen the image or otherwise tweak it afterward. (In the early years of this blog, I didn’t even do that much. Rarely did I even crop the pic except in the camera as I was shooting.)

As I focused on New England foliage last fall, though, I was really struck by how much the supposedly natural settings differed from what I felt I was seeing. The vibrant colors seemed to turn cold by the time I viewed them on my laptop.

On the other hand, the “magic” setting often ran too hot, occasionally even turning lurid. Sometimes the image simply blew out in a burst of red.

Admittedly, often the foliage does appear subdued, but that’s not what we’re looking for. We want that “oh, wow,” to kick in. That brings up the matter of light, which can pop the leaves from so-so to absolutely glorious in a flash — not that the camera always captures that.

What I’m concluding is that cameras have a mind of their own, and sometimes you just have to respect that. Here are two shots from Dover’s Community Trail. Which do you prefer?

Hot …
… and cold.

 

 

Best hippie towns in Midwest

The vibe lives on. Here are some hot spots in the American heartland:

  1. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  2. Bloomington, Indiana
  3. Decorah, Iowa
  4. Duluth, Minnesota
  5. Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  6. Lawrence, Kansas
  7. Lincoln, Nebraska
  8. Madison, Wisconsin
  9. Makanda, Illinois
  10. Yellow Springs, Ohio

(Disclaimer: I’m relying largely on Thrillist and have been to slightly fewer than half of these.)

~*~

Looking across the country, we’d add Athens. Georgia; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, natch; Port Townsend, Washington; Cambridge and Northampton, Massachusetts; and Burlington, up in Vermont. Again, half of these are by reputation, not direct experience.

What other towns should be noted, anywhere in the world?

Keeping track of a big cast

A multi-generational family tale like the one in my novel What’s Left can lead to a lot of characters, and keeping them all straight can be a problem.

My plot line takes a few twists that minimize their numbers, but when you get four generations over time, it’s bound to create a challenge, no matter how hard you try. Sometimes it helps to stick with somebody who knows everybody, when you’re circulating through the crowd.

When reading a big book, do you have tricks for keeping track of the individuals? Anything you’d like to share?

~*~

Just listen to the melody.

Yes, variables of place

A major influence on my work has been an awareness of the variables of place. When I lived in the ashram, my yoga teacher returned from her first trip to India and described with wonder her sensation that each locale there felt different – to the extent that each village or region had its own god or gods to embody its distinct character or, as she put it, vibration.

Fifty years later, having lived and worked in eight states, I can say that’s true in America, too, even though we’ve muddied much of the indigenous awareness. I’m especially convinced that people in deeply prayerful states do somehow leave an imprint on a place.

That sensation has unexpectedly led me to Quaker meetinghouses and burial grounds or arisen in the midst of conversation in old houses of worship.

How have you felt special locales?

Construction report

behind plaster we rip from the kitchen crumbling accounts of protracted death Floyd Collins 15 days 1925 age 36 Sand Cave Crystal Cave Kentucky as published in Boston, accounting inescapably cold mud and implacable rock when my own parents were first walking, yet this story my mother related as if she were on the carnival rides of its macabre vigil but now we find nothing holding this roof to the walls so much callous indifference riding on the blind arrogance a foolish turn, perchance, or just dumb luck when it comes to catastrophe of course, I remember living on the roof of a cavern down in muddy Indiana