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Archive for March, 2010

This happens to me almost every month — I have to stop and think about how many days there are.

Some months I know by heart. January has 31, February 28, October has 31, December 31. But those months in between — March, April, May, June, July, August, September, November — I honestly don’t know.

I use the fist method (aka the knuckle method). It sounds crude, and it is. I form my hand into a fist then act like I’m about to do a fist bump with a friend. As I’m looking at the fist from the top, I use the knuckles and valleys that my fist makes to count the months.

Knuckles stand for 31 days, valleys for 30 (except in the case of February, which is 28).


fist with months
Counting Months on your Fist, iPhone photo of ybonesy’s fist,
March 30, 2010, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



So, using the fist method we learn:

  • First knuckle hump is January — 31 days
  • Valley is February — 28 days
  • Knuckle is March — 31
  • Valley is April — 30
  • Knuckle is May — 31
  • Valley is June — 30
  • Knuckle is July — 31


At this point we run out of fist, so we start over:

  • First knuckle is August — 31 (this is when we remember that July and August both have 31 days)
  • Valley is September — 30
  • Knuckle is October — 31
  • Valley is November — 30
  • Knuckle is December — 31



If like me you were trying to remember if March has 30 days or 31, now you know. And you’ve learned an easy method to always be able to figure out how many days there are in a given month.

I know, I am a font of helpful information.

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Meet The Cherimoya, Golden Valley, Minnesota, March 2010, all photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


For me, grocery shopping will forever be a chore. Instead of rolling down the aisles with a wire cart, you might find me snooping around the deli section or hiding over by the Redbox machine. Last week was different. An ordinary trip to our local, and newly remodeled, Byerly’s (which opened in 1968 as the largest supermarket in Minnesota) sent me running to the fruit and veggie aisle. Waves of sea, grass, and olive greens chased the crimson, rufous, and cherry reds that lined the shelves in a visual feast. I admit, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. Especially, exotic fruits and vegetables. But then, exotic depends on your point of view.

When Liz plucked this armadillo shelled brown fruit off the shelf and pointed to its scale-like skin, I had to know more. Standing right there, next to the bananas and golden grape tomatoes, she Googled cherimoya on her BlackBerry. Names like soursop, custard apple, and strangealiendeathfruit popped up, along with a quote from Mark Twain describing the cherimoya as deliciousness itself. What? A literary fruit? I was hooked.

The cherimoya is believed to be indigenous to the inter-Andean valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. Its cultivation spread in ancient times to Chile and Brazil. And though some think the cherimoya comes from Peru, others insist that the fruit was unknown in that region until seeds were sent by P. Bernabe Cobo from Guatemala in 1629, and that representations of the cherimoya on ancient Peruvian pottery are actually images of the soursop.

Wherever its origins, the cherimoya is the fruit that spread round the world. It is commonly grown and naturalized in temperate areas of Costa Rica and other countries of Central America. In 1757, it was carried to Spain where it remained a dooryard tree until the 1940’s and 50’s when it gained importance in the Province of Granada as a replacement for orange trees that succumbed to disease.

In 1785, the cherimoya traveled to Jamaica, then Haiti, and in 1790 to Hawaii by way of Don Francisco de Paulo Marin. The first planting in Italy was in 1797 where it became a favored crop in the Province of Reggio Calabria, before making its way to Madeira in 1897, then the Canary Islands, Algiers, Egypt, Libya, and Somalia.

The  U.S. was a late bloomer. Seeds from Mexico were planted in California in 1871. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture imported cherimoya seeds from Madeira in 1907. Though the trees have not done well in Florida, California had 9,000 trees in 1936, many of them killed by a 1937 freeze. Several small commercial orchards were established in the 1940’s, and, at present, there may be less than 100 acres in the milder parts of San Diego County, making this a rare fruit in this country.


The Wave, The Tomatillo, My Favorite Byerly’s, Golden Grape Tomatoes, Visual Feast, Golden Valley, Minnesota, March 2010, all photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Strange fruit. Because we didn’t know enough about the cherimoya to know if it was ripe or not, I still haven’t tasted one. Now I know that a ripe cherimoya will usually be dark green (though this is dependent on the variety), have a loosening stem, and give to the touch in much the same way as an avocado. The flavor is described as a mixture of mango, papaya, bananas and coconut. And the inside ranges in color from light green, to off white, to pink.

Yes, pink — from a tree that originated as a seedling, owned by a California man named Mr. Stevenson. Rumors suggest the pink cherimoya originates from very high elevations in the Andes. I’d like to pick up a cherimoya the next time I’m at Byerly’s. How adventurous are your taste buds? Have you ever tasted the cherimoya, tomatillo, or mangosteen? Tell us about your taste experiences with (what are considered this country) exotic fruits and vegetables.


Resources:

The Cherimoya, Jewel of the Incas – at CloudForest Fruits

Cherimoya - at NewCROP, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

The Fruit Mark Twain & I Both Love – at the Grocery Fiend

Manual of Tropical & Subtropical Fruits: Excluding the Banana, Coconut, Pineapple, Citrus Fruits, Olive & Fig by Wilson Popenoe, Agricultural Explorer – Harvard University Library, published by the Macmillan Company, 1920

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My favorite coffee shop has light and green, is serene. The food is one of the biggest draws, a tortilla breakfast sandwich for $2.99, and it has bacon inside and a poached egg, cheese, lettuce, salsa. The best dish is a red chile tamale with a poached egg on top. I’m not a poached egg fan normally, so I know I love a coffee shop when it’s got me loving poached eggs.

Oasis is a furniture shop, also, an odd combination: coffee and outdoor and indoor furniture. If there were a theme to the furniture it would be serenity. Second time I’ve used that word when talking about Oasis. Several fountains throughout the place, wind chimes, wicker and bamboo chairs and tables, statues. Some statues are giant Buddha heads, another is Saint Francis of Assisi, the guy known for his love of animals. If Jim were a modern-day saint, he’d be St. Francis.

I like the color of the place, dark wood tables and the wind chimes and bird feeders come in all colors of blown glass. I like that my favorite coffee shop gets all manner of people, old, young, single, couples. Here, at the Starbucks where I’m hanging out while Em is getting a Math tutor lesson, 85% of the people who’ve come in don sports outfits, like they’ve just stopped in after a game of tennis or a jog. If this Starbucks were a city, it’d be Boulder—young, fit, and blonde.

I’m a loyal coffee shop consumer, a patron, I suppose. I will go to my favorite coffee shop at least once a week, not as frequently, I realize, as the loyal Starbucks patron. Some people stop in daily, drop that $5 every single day. I’ve seen stats that show how if you invested your coffee habit dollars into a good mutual fund you could within a few years have several thousands of dollars.

I am of that ilk, I’m afraid, the person who rather than fuel a coffee habit every day at my favorite coffee shop will save the money and drink my morning drink at home most days. But I’m still loyal, I still try to do my part to keep a coffee shop solvent. I’ll take my daughters to Oasis most weekends and together we’ll order drinks, breakfast, and if we’re real hungry, a couple of pastries to share. Oasis has the best pastries.

If I lived in Albuquerque, I’d hang out at Java Joe’s, which is across from Robinson Park, that old part of downtown where Mom used to shop at Arden’s. For all I know, Java Joe’s is the old Arden’s. Or there’s that newer shop in LoDo, the lower downtown district, that is so cool, it has a hidden patio that reminds me of being in another country. I’ve only been there once, last summer, and I hope it survived. Just like I hope Oasis survives.

Hard to imagine any of these Mom & Pop places competing with this Starbucks, though, the steady stream of jogging-suit-clad men and women. I swear at least 40 coffee drinks have been sold in the 40 minutes we’ve been here.




–related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP

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My favorite coffee shop is the Blue Moon on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Large windows facing an urban street; back-lit hideaways with less light, more cozy. Then there is my favorite table. I have two of them. The one across from the half moon string of lights over the serving bar. And the one right by the front door, up against the cooler. I would sit with my back to the cold white wall, facing the refrigerator wind that blew through the door a Minnesota winter. A writing group I used to be a part of met at the Blue Moon once a month. We called it the Blue Mooners. It has disbanded now.

Second favorite coffee shop? Diamonds in Northeast on Central Ave. The parking is limited but I like the checkerboard flag, that the owners are women bikers, that I can hide away inside what used to be the building’s bank vault. Are the walls green, yes, I think the walls are mint green with vintage lamps and tables. I don’t know how people make it in the coffee business. It was mentioned in the Writing Topic that people get into it because they love the product. We’ve got Caribou’s corporate headquarters here in Minneapolis. I’ve always tried to support them. Who can compete with Starbuck’s? And Starbuck’s may not even be the best — but they have the longest arms.

Kiev is sleeping next to me at almost 1am and I’m writing about coffee shops. She thinks I’m nuts and has left me in the dust with her zzzzz’s. Sometimes she snores her little cat snores. Mr. StripeyPants is more likely to take long, deep breaths. Long deep cat breaths. He does it when he’s frustrated or when I won’t play with him. Cats like three things: exercise (to them it’s play), food, and love. Now that I write the words, those are the same things humans need. Not necessarily in that order.

I’m fond of Tazza in Taos because I’ve got memories there with my writing friends, memories of sitting alone and jotting practices in my wire bound notebook with a fast writing pen. But there’s Taos Cow. I wrote there once, too, after a trip to the D. H. Lawrence Ranch. I have read my writing in coffee shops which, looking back, horrifies me. How in the heck did I stand up there and do that? It was a launching pad of sorts, the kind of thing you do when you’ve got nothing to lose. Maybe I need to get back into it. Coffee shops are forgiving. Also noisy. Writers and poets crammed between fiddle player and ragtime. We stuck it out. It’s important to stick things out.

All of the coffee shops have WI-FI now, which begs the question — how do they make any money? I read an article on how people would camp out in coffee shops for the free WI-FI and not buy any drinks. Or buy only one, then stay for hours chatting with their friends, writing, reading. Taking up tables and space. How do you balance the bohemian slant of a good coffee shop with the real need to make money. They need to make money to stay alive. Just like we do.

When I was a teenager, the coffee shop of choice was Dunkin’ Donuts. There was no Starbucks. No Peets, Caribou, or Java Train. No Diamonds, Urban Bean, or Anodyne. I had a friend who worked at Dunkin’ Donuts one summer. It was 1976. She wore all white (no hairnet but instead one of those creased paper hats) and served me a free cup of coffee when I came in. I’d watch her pluck lemon crèmes off the slanted steel shelves, and place them next to chocolate coconut cake donuts and fry-bogged glazed donut holes. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee smelled good, that old style percolator odor that gets into the nooks and crannies of a place. The price of a cup of coffee in 1970 might have been 10 cents, a quarter. Two bits, four bits, six bits a dollar. For a cup of perked coffee, I’d stand up and holler.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, March 26th, 2010

-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP

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 caffe tazza in taos

Caffe Tazza, sign of this famous little coffee shop in Taos, NM, March 21, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
You know the place. A quiet buzz about it, like the buzz you get when you drink what it sells. Café latte. Cappuccino. Chai. Espresso.

You go there because that’s where you like to go best when you have a free moment to write. The sound of people talking, milk being steamed, the coffee grinder — it’s white noise. Not so loud as to distract yet not so quiet as to hear your voice inside your head.

Unless you live in a truly rural area, your city or town probably has such a spot where people gather, maybe talk politics or business deals or religion. Maybe it’s more diner than coffee shop, but no matter, it’s a place you can depend on for a good cuppa Joe and a little peace of mind.
 
 
 
espressoSome coffee shops are as old and famous as monuments. Heck, they are monuments.

According to the Kona Joe website, coffee houses are part of the foundation of modern financial and shipping centers, not to mention cultural ones.

The New York Stock Exchange started as a coffee house, as did Lloyd’s of London—previously Lloyd’s Coffeehouse. The Baltic Coffeehouse became the London Shipping Exchange, and the Jerusalem Cafe became the East India Company.

 
 

Up until recently the runners at the British Stock Exchange were still called waiters due to fact it too started as a coffee house.

Other cafes evolved into centers for both the arts and sciences. Sir Isaac Newton hung out at the Grecian Coffeehouse. Jonathon Swift and Alexander Pope hung out at Old Slaughter’s Cafe.

The French and American Revolution were fomented in the coffee house. On July 12, 1789, Camille Desmoulins leaped on a table at the cafes of the Palais Royal and urged the mob to take up arms against the French aristocracy.

Due to the fact that much discussion of political intrigue and gossip occurred over a cup of Joe at these famous coffee houses it was only a matter of time before someone started writing these things down.

A man named Richard Steele decided to publish a weekly magazine on the most interesting gossip collected from the coffee houses. Correspondents were sent out to these coffee houses and wrote what they heard as narratives. This collection went on the become “Tatler,” the first modern magazine. London’s second oldest newspaper, “Lloyd’s News,” started as a bulletin board in Lloyd’s Coffeehouse.

 
 
 
 
hai cafe in hoi anThere are famous coffee shops all around the world and a heckuva lot of not-so-famous ones, too.

Coffee shops come and go. Coffee shop owners are, I imagine, a lot like bookstore owners. They go into the business because they love the product, and not just the coffee or the book but the whole experience. But independent coffee shops can be as rare as independent bookstores. When you find one, hold on tight. Tell your friends about it, and make sure to frequent it often.

I don’t know about you, but when I get to a new city somewhere, the first place I seek out is a coffee shop. It makes me feel settled. It gives me a place to go, to sit alone quietly and know that even though I’m hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away from everything familiar to me, I am home.
 
 
Do you have a favorite coffee shop, at home or in the cities you visit most? What is your special place like? Think about it. Why do you love it so? Is it a soothing place to be? Is it dingy yet homey? Do you love it for the dependable java or the people who work there and/or go there?

How often do you go and how long do you stay? Where do you sit and what do you do while you’re there? Do you order yours skinny, decaf, double, with foam?

Write about your favorite coffee shop. Hey, go to your favorite coffee shop and then write about it.

My favorite coffee shop. Fifteen minutes. Go.




the oasis that is oasis   buddha in oasis coffee

The oasis that is Oasis, ybonesy’s favorite coffee shop, March
2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



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then…


jumping jack wagon
Jumping Jack Wagon (in June), wagon at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, June 2008, photo © 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





and now…


jumping jack wagon in winter
Jumping Jack Wagon in March, wagon at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, March 21, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





-Related to posts Homing Instinct (in which the photo “Jumping Jack Wagon” first appeared) and Sunrise On Taos Mountain (Reflections On Writing Retreats), which includes a summary of several Taos-related posts on red Ravine.

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By Teri Blair



The Big Read, all photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.





Have you heard of The Big Read?


I found out about it completely by accident. I was perusing the CDs at my library, and saw one entitled The Big Read: An Introduction to My Antonia by Willa Cather. I took it home, and was enraptured by the 25-minute program. Ted Kooser talked about the significance of Cather to Nebraska, Garrison Keillor read excerpts from her book, and Colin Powell talked about the immigrant experience. What was this? The Big Read?


The Big Read began in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts, and is the largest reading program in American history. Their mission is simple: to restore reading to the center of American culture. Communities all over the country can apply for grants to explore one of the 31 Big Read titles. In addition to reading the book, related events are planned to last approximately one month.







When I plugged my zip code into The Big Read’s website, I was happy to find there was an event within an hour of where I live. On a Saturday in February my friends and I jumped in my Subaru and headed east to the small river town of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. As Thornton Wilder was from the Badger State, this community had chosen Our Town and The Bridge of San Luis Rey. We walked into a packed house at the Scenic Riverway Park building. The local organizers of the program spoke, a representative from the National Endowment talked about what is happening with The Big Read across the country, and we heard from Wisconsin author David Rhodes. He read excerpts from his book Driftless, talked about Thornton Wilder’s writing, and led a group discussion about what Wilder accomplished in his work. At the end of the program, we were all given two new books, a CD audio guide (just like the one I had found at the library), bookmarks, and a reader’s guide.


We were invited to join book discussion groups, and to come back for follow-up events. Wisconsin Public Radio will be performing a reader’s theater, and the local community playhouse will present Our Town.


I love to read, but like most readers, I get worried about the future of books and people to enjoy them. A faster and faster world makes a luxurious afternoon with a good book harder to claim. I am happy to support a program that is doing something tangible…something to bring reading back to the people.


To find out more about The Big Read (and to plug in your own zip code) go to:

http://www.neabigread.org.


Thornton Wilder, David Rhodes, From The Big Read Series, all photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.




About Teri Blair: Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis and founder of the Poetry & Meditation Group of which QuoinMonkey fondly and frequently writes. (See Letter From Poet Elizabeth Alexander for the latest post on that group and Teri’s piece titled Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group for a step-by-step on how to start your own.)

Teri has written many posts on red Ravine. Her first guest post, Continue Under All Circumstances, was written on the road during a 2007 trip to Holcomb, Kansas. She journeyed back to Holcomb early this year and wrote a follow-up piece published on red Ravine in March, Back To Holcomb, One Last Time.

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Leprechaun

Leprechaun, Behind the deli counter in an Albuquerque Whole Foods, March 17, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.








There once was a smiling leprechaun
with a golden beard and skin the color of fake lawn.
She worked at Whole Foods in a place called “The Deli”
and when laughed, she jiggled her belly.
She took our order then got her Green on.






HAPPY St. Patty’s Day!





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By Charles Ederer


Should have been in the letter I don’t remember
Where I wrote in cursive script that I was lost
In the trailing wind
An oblique horizon levitating with the sun
Setting on me

I told you about my life then asking
Whether things lost are never found again in daylight
Only in dream and night
I said this was a French ballad sad and strong
With an audience that sings with me

And now I press my hands to these salted floorboards
Thinking of you my English Channel
My Rome 25 years on
But few things are so close
Not tomorrow if all we have is stuffed into bags
Shut to the rest of us

There is a snowflake in this burned-out house in winter
If there is one in you
Drift with us
Over charred postcards and Polaroids
Under kitchen-sink faces
Through rays of diamond summer dust

Near the well where I watch unicorns play
Is a fallen tree on which to imagine
The ride home or some such scheme of war
In haste as the nights of Oostende
Flee tonight again

But the last you will see of me after tomorrow
Is reaching far into space
Footsteps outside this door
That every mile or so leads to my nobody name carved in ice
An arrow of pine needles crudely angled
Toward anywhere but here




Door, photo © 2010 by Charles Ederer. All rights reserved.





Charles is marketing executive who lives in San Francisco with his son, Alexander. About writing, Charles has this to say: It’s surprising to me how long it’s taken to move my writing to a place where I’m finally satisfied, though perhaps my gestation process has more to do with finding my voice than anything else. Having a reason to write is important, but having something to say with a road-proven voice is altogether more challenging, especially if my themes are to be universal.

About two years ago I completed my first official volume of work, titled A Perfect Vessel. In reading it from time to time, I often wonder where I found the grit to complete it the way I did and have it render the intensity I hoped it would.

Poetry to me is an iterative process, part of which is brutal editing. I’ve gotten to the point where I know (usually by the next morning) whether it’s good or not worth anyone’s time. Everything I need to say is contained inside me and it’s not so much a matter of writing well but finding myself through the journey of selection and placement. I’m seeking to be in love with what I’ve written, and if I’m not there yet I work it until it forms into something that speaks true for me and, hopefully, for the reader. It’s similar to the process of painting on canvas, really.

This piece was inspired by red Ravine’s post WRITING TOPIC — DOOR. The door icon speaks for me in my present state of life.

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alien zone in roswell

Alien Zone, a Main Street soda shop in Roswell, NM, November 2008, photo © 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




It’s been over a year since my family took a trip to southern New Mexico, stopping off in that out-of-this-world place known as Roswell. We explored the International UFO Museum & Research Center, which when we were there didn’t seem all that global, well, except for the globes, or rather, discs hanging from the ceiling. We meandered up and down Main Street, which feels an awful lot like your run-of-the-mill small town, well, except for the pair of drunken aliens playing poker in a storefront window.

Roswell has been defined by a single event that happened in the first week of July 1947, an event that came to be known as “The Roswell Incident.” What I like about Roswell is that something happened to it those more than 60 years ago—something truly bizarre and mysterious—and in the absence of closure as to what exactly that something was, the citizens of Roswell, or at least those who keep the mystery alive, have embraced this event and allowed it to take on a life of its own.

There’s something beautiful about the unknown. You can dig all you want into the facts that are available and the eyewitnesses who are alive, but no matter how well you piece together everything that is known, the parts that you can’t fill in remain the most compelling.



flying saucers in roswell

Flying Saucers, painting in the UFO Museum, photo
© 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





Here’s what is known and not known about The Roswell Incident (heavily excerpted from “The Roswell Incident” on the International UFO Museum & Research Center website):

W.W. “Mack” Brazel, a New Mexico rancher, saddled up his horse and rode out with the son of neighbors Floyd and Loretta Proctor, to check on the sheep after a fierce thunderstorm the night before. As they rode along, Brazel began to notice unusual pieces of what seemed to be metal debris, scattered over a large area. Upon further inspection, Brazel saw that a shallow trench, several hundred feet long, had been gouged into the land.

Brazel was struck by the unusual properties of the debris, and after dragging a large piece of it to a shed, he took some of it over to show the Proctors in 1947. Mrs. Proctor moved from the ranch into a home nearer to town, but she remembers Mack showing up with strange material.

The Proctors told Brazel that he might be holding wreckage from a UFO or a government project, and that he should report the incident to the sheriff. A day or two later, Mack drove into Roswell where he reported the incident to Sheriff George Wilcox, who reported it to Intelligence Officer, Major Jesse Marcel of the 509 Bomb Group, and for days thereafter, the debris site was closed while the wreckage was cleared.

On July 8, 1947, the Public Information Office at Roswell AAB issued a press release stating that wreckage from a crashed disk was recovered. Hours later, the press release was rescinded and a new one released stating that the a weather balloon was mistakenly identified as wreckage of a flying saucer.

Meanwhile, back in Roswell, Glenn Dennis, a young mortician working at the Ballard Funeral Home, received some curious calls one afternoon from the morgue at the air field. It seems the Mortuary Officer needed to get a hold of some small hermetically sealed coffins,and wanted information about how to preserve bodies that had been exposed to the elements for a few days, without contaminating the tissue.

Dennis drove out to the base hospital later that evening where he saw large pieces of wreckage with strange engravings on one of the pieces sticking out of the back of a military ambulance. Upon entering the hospital he started to visit with a nurse he knew, when suddenly he was threatened by military police and forced to leave.

The next day, Dennis met with the nurse. She told him about the bodies and drew pictures of them on a prescription pad. Within a few days she was transferred to England, her whereabouts remain unknown.

According to the research of Don Schmitt and Kevin Randle, in their book, A History of UFO Crashes, from which the following account of the Roswell Incident , in part, is based, the military had been watching an unidentified flying object on radar for four days in southern New Mexico. On the night of July 4, 1947, radar indicated that the object was down around thirty to forty miles northwest of Roswell.

Eye witness William Woody, who lived east of Roswell, remembered being outside with his father the night of July 4, 1947, when he saw a brilliant object plunge to the ground. A couple of days later when Woody and his father tried to locate the area of the crash, they were stopped by military personnel, who had cordoned off the area.




dead alien in roswell

Dead Alien, from a movie set, UFO Museum, photo
© 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Once military personnel got into the mix, things began to get muddled. Late one night shortly after the debris was found, a military representative drove off with a load of the stuff and apparently decided to stop by his home and show the family what he had. I can picture that happening. Just imagine how excited you’d be if you were driving around with a spaceship rim and fender in your car. Heck, I’d drop in on my sleeping kids and rouse them out of bed to see the alien goodies.

In 1990, the son of that military officer underwent hypnosis, in which he recalled being awakened by his father and looking at the debris on the kitchen floor. He described the materials, “Purple. Strange. … Different geometric shapes, leaves and circles.” He also said while under hypnosis that his father told him the materials came from a flying saucer. “I ask him what a flying saucer is. I don’t know what a flying saucer is…It’s a ship. [Dad's] excited!”



Roswell 9

The Crash, painting in the UFO Museum, photo
© 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





A press release to the radio and newspapers was picked up by the AP Wire on or around July 7, with these words, “The Army Air Forces here today announced a flying disk had been found.” However, the release was later rescinded.

Evidence of the crash wound deeper into the federal government, until finally it disappeared for good. By July 9 the story was changed. According to the UFO Museum website, “The military tried to convince the news media from that day forward that the object found near Roswell was nothing more than a weather balloon.” Brazel, the rancher who originally found the debris, began acting strange. He changed his version of events to corroborate the cover story, claiming to have found weather observation devices. Several newspapers carried this AP lead: “Reports of flying saucers whizzing through the sky fell off sharply today as the army and the navy began a concentrated campaign to stop the rumors.”



drunken aliens in roswell alien balloons

Drunken Aliens and Happy Aliens in storefront windows on Main
Street, photos © 2008-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





The City of Roswell celebrates its most famous incident every year with a UFO Festival during the first week of July. I think it’s safe to say that not only is this an international event, it may in fact be a galactic one. I suppose some could say that there was no other path than to keep this story alive, or rather, to make it into the past, present, and future of the place. But no matter — weather balloon or flying saucer — by now Roswell has a corner on little green men with pointy ears.





Links about The Roswell Incident

  • Roswell UFO Museum’s The Roswell Incident: for information supporting the story above about what happened in July 1947
  • The Roswell Files: for a different perspective on what happened that week in Roswell

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In honor of Women’s History Month, the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM, in partnership with local arts organizations, artists, writers, and businesses has organized a month-long celebration: Women & Creativity 2010. All over the city, you can attend workshops, exhibits, panels, and many other fun activities. Case in point:




creativity + the artist

Seeds: The Spirit of Women Writers



6 p.m. March 11 at National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 Fourth St. SW, Salon Ortega

A featured event in the Women & Creativity series





Join us for an invigorating evening of readings from women writers featuring poet Kathleen Driskell, whose collection of poems, Seed Across Snow, was on the Poetry Foundation’s best seller list twice in 2009; Lisa Lenard-Cook, author of Dissonance and Coyote Morning, as well as The Mind of Your Story; Carolyn Flynn, award-winning literary fiction and creative nonfiction writer, as well as author of numerous books and editor of the Albuquerque Journal’s SAGE magazine; and yours truly (aka ybonesy, Roma Arellano), writer, artist and co-founder of this wonderful writing and art community blog.

Santa Fe poet laureate and organizer of Women & Creativity, Valerie Martinez, will kick off the evening with an introduction and reading.

The theme of the panel will be the interrelatedness of the arts — other forms of art as inspiration for writing. Admission is free.


If you are in Albuquerque or the surrounding area, please join us!

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By Teri Blair



Clutter Memorial Monument, photo © 2010 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





The town of Holcomb has been on my front burner for years. It began when I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, built momentum when I read In Cold Blood, and culminated with a road trip to Kansas to see the spot on the map that writer Truman Capote made famous. I was pulled into the 1959 story with everyone else—the lonely farmhouse, the two ex-cons who drove through the night to a place they’d never been, the murdered family. Truman’s stellar writing made me want to see it all—the Clutter Farm, the courthouse where the death sentence was pronounced, and the hotel where Truman stayed while he wrote.

The first time I drove the 850 miles I was a just a sightseer, a tourist. It was a one-time thing. I couldn’t have predicted the story would keep going, that months later I would find some long-lost relatives in Holcomb who had known the Clutters, that I would interview some of the same people Capote had, that I would make the long trip through the relentless wind several times.



Windmills of Kansas, grain elevator towering over Garden City
(seven miles from Holcomb and the site of the trial), Chinese elms
leading to the Clutter farmhouse, and the Clutter farmhouse.
Photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.





Fifty years ago Perry Smith and Richard Hickock drove across Kansas on a false tip that there was a rich farmer who had thousands of dollars hidden in a safe. Their botched robbery turned into carnage. The two were captured six weeks later, tried, convicted, and hung at a federal penitentiary. The crime was horrific, but everyone agrees, the story would have faded in time—if not for Capote. Though life would have been forever altered in Finney County, it would have returned to normal.

But it didn’t work that way. Truman wrote his book, it became a best seller, and he was catapulted to the top of the literary world. Then Hollywood got on board with a string of successful movies based on the book. Because of one author, there has been a constant, unending stream of people like me in Holcomb. Curious. Prying. Asking. Looking. Bringing it up. Over and over and over. When I interviewed Duane West a few years ago (the local lawyer who got the murderers convicted), he asked why people like me don’t think of something else to do. He’s been pestered for so many interviews since 1959 that he won’t talk to anyone unless they make a donation to the Boy Scouts of Finney County.




         

                             

Finney County Courthouse and stairs Capote climbed during the trial to
the courtroom. Photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.





In September, Holcomb dedicated a monument to the Clutters. It’s intent is to honor the four people who died: Herb, Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon. They were upstanding, involved members of their community. That’s what the monument focuses on, not what garnished the attention: their brutal deaths described in the book In Cold Blood. It was a solid community step to take the Clutters back from Truman and Hollywood and bring them home to their people.

The last time I was in Kansas, I went to the annual Ground Hog Supper held at the Methodist Church. It was the Clutters’ church, the one where the four-family funeral was held in 1959. I sat in the same Fellowship Hall where the mourners would have eaten their post-burial lunch. The room was packed. Just like in 1959. And the people were the same as then—farmers, insurance salesmen, clerks. I liked them. They reminded me of people I grew up around. And I didn’t want them to be bothered with gawkers like me any longer.



Park sign leading to Clutter Memorial Monument,
photo © 2010 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





Was Truman right or wrong to tell their story? I loved the book and what it did for American writing. But was it worth the price Holcomb had to pay? Though I won’t pass judgment, one thing is clear: a good writer’s work leaves results. When Capote left New York to set up shop in Kansas, he pulled us in. The pull has lasted five decades. His book kept a wound open. And Truman suffered, too. Researching and publishing In Cold Blood punctuated his dramatic descent into alcoholism.

So for me, for this one writer, I’ve decided to set it down. If I go back to Holcomb someday to visit my cousins, I’ll enjoy the Arkansas River that flows through the town, and I’ll buy a Cherry Limeade because I can’t get them where I live. But that’s it. No more questions.

I’ll just let the people be. It’s time.



Wheatlands Hotel, where Truman Capote stayed,
photo © 2010 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.






About Teri Blair: Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis and founder of the Poetry & Meditation Group of which QuoinMonkey fondly and frequently writes. (See Letter From Poet Elizabeth Alexander for the latest post on that group and Teri’s piece titled Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group for a step-by-step on how to start your own.)

Teri has written many posts on red Ravine, but this current piece is a follow-up and closure of sorts to her first guest post here, Continue Under All Circumstances, which she wrote on the road during a 2007 trip to Holcomb, Kansas.

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Melting, Awash, Brooklyn Park,
Minnesota, March 2010, photo
© 2010 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.






frozen in your tracks —
blue ice on black macadam
melting into Spring






-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 6th, 2010

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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First Thursdays At Casket Arts, poster by Linnea Marie Doyle, © 2009-2010, used by permission of the artist.


Once a month the artists in the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis open their doors to the public. The March date is coming up fast. The Casket Arts Building, which includes the Carriage House, has a rich history (see Casket Arts Photoblog). Not only did it used to be a genuine casket company, it’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in Minneapolis. And in 2006, after over 100 years on 17th Avenue NE, the Northwestern Casket Company moved their business to New Hope and sold the building.

That’s when two visionaries, Jennifer Young and John Kremer, turned vintage real estate into the Casket Arts Building. Together they work hard to maintain the integrity of the original structure, and create a thriving space for artists. I share Studio 318 with Liz and two other artists on what used to be the floor where women sewed and embroidered the inside of the caskets (more at Casket Arts Epilogue). It’s a beautiful space. Please stop by and visit if you are in the area!


_________________________________________


Date: First Thursday of Every Month
Time:
5:00pm – 9:00pm
Street:
681 17th Ave NE
City:
Minneapolis, MN


_________________________________________


If you miss us this Thursday, we are open the First Thursday of Every Month from 5 to 9 pm at 17th and Madison Street NE. And don’t forget about one of the highpoints of the year for the Minneapolis Arts District, ART-A-WHIRL Open Studio and Gallery Tour which takes place May 14th – 16th, 2010 (in 2011, the dates are May 20th – 22nd). It’s a great way to kick off Spring in Minnesota — in community and support of the Arts.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, with gratitude to Linnea for creating and giving us permission to distribute her poster. You can see more of her work at her website.

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He Who Keeps Me Company – 54/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, February 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights
reserved.


It’s March 1st, 2010. Sixty days and nights have passed since I began the BlackBerry 365 Project. Day 54 landed on this shot of Mr. Stripeypants keeping me company on a less than perfect day. I was reading Mary Karr’s memoir, Lit. He was taking a nap beside me, simply being himself. I felt like I really saw him.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a big commitment — taking a new photo each day and posting it in a public forum. I had been exploring taking photographs with the BlackBerry since last October. It was so much fun, I decided to turn it into a practice. That’s when the work began.

Pushing through days when I am under the weather, low energy, or uninspired are the hardest. But once I get the shot posted, I feel like I’ve accomplished a great deal. I know from past practices of writing, mandalas, and haiku, that yearly dedication to a craft can take you a long way. It can also drive you crazy! I thought I’d check in at the 60 day mark and let you know how things are progressing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from the BlackBerry 365 Project:


  • As soon as I make something a practice, resistance kicks in. It’s all Monkey Mind. The trick is to not think too much, to simply keep going. Don’t force the shot, let the image appear.
  • Using the camera phone takes the pressure off to snap the perfect photo. It fits in the palm of my hand. I can have fun with it, photograph and post images I might not let myself publish with my Canon.
  • Themes appear and reappear in the photographs, just like in my writing. I keep coming back to what I love and have passion about.
  • Knowing I have to post a photo at the end of the day changes the way I look at the world. I am awake to all the possibilities. Everything I see is an opportunity.
  • Taking BlackBerry photos reminds me of the old days of 60-second Polaroids. I take snapshots of my day, glean ideas for new projects, visit places I want to go back and shoot with the Canon.



There are many photographers and artists who have embarked on yearly projects of daily images. And writers who have daily practices that keep them going through the lean times. I’d love to hear insights from others who are willing to share their experiences. And I’ll check in again along the way.

Going forward, I’ve decided not to post daily images in the red Ravine comments. But I’ll continue to check in on the original post once or twice a month. If you’d like to continue to follow the yearly practice, I’ll still be posting each day in my BlackBerry 365 set on Flickr. And in the Twitter widget on our sidebar. Just click on BlackBerry 365 to take you to Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Day 60, Monday, March 1st, 2010

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