Wednesday, April 29, 2009



When I was a young girl, I went to church every Sunday with my grandmother, Ella Belle. We always sat on the piano side, five rows up from the front. I loved listening to Granny sing the old time hymns and I would try and imitate her, even when I was too young to read the lyrics. But Granny didn’t show her religion only at church on Sunday – she worshipped God every day no matter where she was. I was in Granny’s gardens I learned a valuable life lesson:

You don’t have to be in a church to feel spiritual.
Spirituality is a feeling – your special relationship with God because He is with us every minute of every day – not just on Sundays from 11 o’clock until noon.

(Advanced writers' workshop - jump start)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009



I believe in unconditional love - for a child, a spouse, even a wayward niece like mine.

I believe there is something after death - but I'm not sure if it's heaven or hell, maybe a combination of both.

I believe in one great creator - but who really knows if it's God or Goddess or Ali or Who?

I believe in happiness - even though sometimes it may be very far from my life; I do have happy moments to look back on.

I believe in romantic love - the kind I feel for my hubby; it may not always be sizzling hot, but it is comfortable and just for us.

I believe in time because I see it marching across my face, I see it in my collection of daily journels, I see it in the progression of my children.

I believe in the constant seasons - though changing as they may; from fall to winter, spring to summer, they always come back again.

I believe in the moon to guide my lonely nights - the same continual glow and company my ancestors did enjoy.

I believe in the stars above for they have forseen the way - long before the lowly race of humans was a twinkle in someone's eye.

I believe in the sun who keeps us all alive - providing warmth and growing energy, the sun will see us through.

I believe ...

I really believe ...

Advanced Writer 2nd Week Challenge

Last night's first meeting of the Advanced Writer Workshop went smoothly with 7 people attending.

After introductions and greetings, Tony went over the objectives for the class:

1.) Refining our writing skills and looking at publication possibilities.

2.) Working on the process of revision.

3.) Listening to, learning from and talking with seasoned writers who have had work published.

4.) Discussing goals, ideas and inspirations.

Last night's "Jump Start" exercise will turn into the assignment for next week. We were asked to write a complete story with at least two characters and a point or moral in 150 words are less. This was our jumping off point and was to help us hone in on our characters and moral.

Over the week we are to work on this story and bring it back next week as a complete revision not exceeding 150 words.

Good luck to everyone and we'll see you next week!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Barnyard Goddess and Flying Monkeys

Continuing on with the theme I started on Friday, the Kentucky Writers’ Celebration spilled over into the weekend. It has definitely been a busy weekend for Kentucky writers.

On Saturday a few people from my writing group attended the celebration at Penn’s Store in Gravel Switch. Penn's Store is the oldest country store in America being run continuously by the same family. This is the same store that is famous for the Great Outhouse Blowout in the fall.

Although I have been a writer most of my life, I am still terrified to read in public. I have been pushing myself more and more because everyone says it will get easier – let me tell you, it doesn’t get easier! This weekend I was in good company, because two of my friends are as scared of public readings as I am, but my friend Tammy found a coping mechanism to help her.

Enter the Barnyard Goddess, stage left …

Tammy thought dressing as someone other than herself would help her get through her readings and she was absolutely right! Dressed in her blue jean overalls complete with gold glitter sprayed boots and a barnyard tiara, Tammy did a wonderful job of reading her great story “Ponies on the Patio” and two poems. She won the crowd over instantly and we were all so proud of her! To check out some of Tammy's writing, see her bi-monthly column in the Advocate Messenger - Hillybilly Zen.

Of course, the funniest thing of the whole day was when the “tornado” blew through the holler. The emcee of the event was Herschel, also a member of our writing group, and although he had been talking to the crowd all day, he waited to read his poems with our group. There had been a gentle breeze all afternoon, but just as Herschel stepped up on the stage to begin his reading, the wind started to blow like there was no tomorrow! I swear I saw an old woman on a bike with a little dog in a basket and I told someone, “If we see flying monkeys, I’m outta here!” The wind blew the microphones over, as well as the big umbrella shading the speakers.

And then the wind calmed back down just like nothing had ever happened. I know it wasn’t Herschel’s reading because this man has such a great voice – hell, I could listen to him reading the phone book and be enthralled!

We made it through the rest of the day – and yes, I did get up and read, although I read two poems instead of the longer story I had planned. I didn’t want to take any chances on the wind blowing me to Oz.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Meadow Soul


His eyes were watching - looking at everything in the tiny meadow. Silent whispers gently blow on the cool morning air as mist rose from the dew-kissed ground. Another beautiful day is dawning and the forest creatures are starting to stir, inching out of burrows and holes and brambles looking for an early morning meal.

"Good morning my pretties; another gorgeous day is upon you," whispered the old soul as he looked at his creations.

The pond water rippled with fish stirred waves and dragonfly kisses. Momma birds chirped merrily as they waited for Papa birds to bring the fat red worms to the masses in the nest.

A doe inched out from the forest with a trembly legged fawn close in step, crunching the fresh meadow grass. Rabbits were hopping with tentative hops and stopping to much on dainty pink clover blossoms. A small red fox with his bushy tail straight in the air, pauses to drink from the crystal clear pond.

"This is good," sighed the soul, deep in contemplation of the bounty of nature's beauty.

The sun begins to break the horizon, sending multi-colored sunbursts through the clouds and fog. For one brief moment the tiny meadow and pond are a kaleidoscope of dancing colors.

Then the mist seeps away and the fog begins to lift. The soul again looks on the peacefulness of the surroundings.

"This is good," he whispers one last time before ascending away with the fog.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Advanced Writers Class

Just a reminder to all members of The Mercer Community of Writers, or anyone else interested in writing - tonight is the first class of Tony Sexton's new Advanced Writers Workshop, 6 pm at the Mercer Public Library Meeting Room.

This class will meet each Tuesday from 6 - 8 pm and are free and open to the public.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers

April Showers Bring May Flowers
By Bobbi Rightmyer

May flowers are now pushing up through the moist soil,
Spurred on by generous April rains and the beginning of summer sun,
Delighting the sight and other senses
Capturing a gardener's imagination.

Peonies are the elders, hold-overs from gardens gone by,
Straight red stems lead to the formation of glossy green leaves,
Large sugar ants invade the tightly curled buds
Offering pollination that ends with a cornucopia of colors and textures.

Daylilies wave daintily with the sun-drenched breeze,
Blossoms of yellow, orange, red and pink high above blades of beautiful green foliage.
Although the flowers only bloom for a day,
They offer a dash of color as well as tasty additions to salads.

Iris come in many sizes, textures and shapes.
Repeat bloomers, ruffled edges, Siberian and miniatures ones, not to mention those with encrusted beards.
Practically growing above the ground, this faithful perennial is a staple in many home gardens,
And Iris' make the perfect "pass along plant" to share with family and friends.

Dandelions always receive a bad rap from people who see them as weeds,
But I know the truth of their nutritional value and every day uses.
The leaves contain many good vitamins and make the perfect addition to summer salads,
And the buds can be brewed into tasty oils and vinegars and fermented into dandelion wine.

Although not a flower, there is one May occupant that rows in rampant abundance,
The vivid green grasses supplying the backdrop for all the colorful posies.
From thick lush lawns to ornamental focal points,
It would not be May without this hardworking carpet of green.

Some tulips are still blooming tho` most are now passed peak,
And daffodil leaves are still standing tall, preparing the nourishment for the underground bulbs.
Apple and pear blossoms have all blown away, setting the stage for the fruit to come.
But the snowball bush is preparing to shine as the branches are laden with fluffy while balls.

May flowers give us Mother Nature's finest show,
Sparking the desire to work outdoors.
Planning and plotting to decide what to plant
To add variety for a more beautiful display next year.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry Slam

Thursday night, April 17th, Mercer County Senior High School hosted a Poetry/Prose Coffee House in honor of National Poetry Month and Kentucky Writer's Day. The 2nd annual "Poetry Slam" was a great stage for accomplished writers and budding poets.

The Poetry Slam was organized by Betty Dean and Roni Gilpin.

The first person to read was Mercer County's very own celebrity author, Charles Semones. Charles read 3 poems: "Lethargy," "Wildflowers" and "Caine's Landing."

Tony Sexton is the leader of the Mercer County Community of Writers - Nomadic Ink - and he also conducts writing workshops throughout the year. Tony read "The Shoeshine Man" and "For the Students."

Earl Dean read an excerpt from his upcoming novella, "A Tailor Maiden's Secret." Watch this blog for updates on the publication of this young adult novella.

Taylor Griggs, MCSH, read an original poem.

William Crawford, MCSH, recited "Annabel Lee" - by Edgar Allan Poe - and read two original poems: "Lifeless Living" and "Love and Roses."

Kesha Bauer, MCSH, read 2 original poems: "Finally You Go" and "Phase Me."

Morgan Strautz, MCSH, read several original poems including "My Life" and "Road Not Taken."

Marian Bauer - Bauer House in Harrodsburg - is a wonderful storyteller and she related the story of "The Raggedy Man."

Christine Rightmyer, MCSH, read an original poem "Symbol of Death."

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I have such WONDERFUL NEWS !!! My sweet baby received her acceptance letter today from the Governor's School of the Arts !!!


Out of over 1,600 applicants from Kentucky students, she was one of 200 to be accepted into the summer Creative Writing Program.

She will be leaving the day after my oldest daughter's wedding, June 21st and will spend 3 weeks at Transy.

To say her Daddy and I are proud is a total understatement. This is something our entire family has been praying about since just before Christmas. To finally have the acceptance letter in hand is pure excitement.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hummingbird

(Photo by Jim Pankey "WildSpirit")


Little hummingbird, you mean the return of spring to me
Hovering daintily over the honeysuckle vine
Dipping and weaving, soaring and floating
Frontwards or backwards you are full of energy I would love to harness
Seeking out nectar to fuel your course
You help to pollinate nature's beautiful world
Seeking out blossoms of red, orange, and bright pink
But many don't know you find nectar incomplete and supplement your ravenous diet with spiders and insects met along the way
Most people think you fly all day
But little hummingbird, I know the truth,
From watching you linger on the branch of a pine tree, or settled quietly in your nest, you spend far more time relaxing than flitting about
So welcome spring, welcome warmth
And welcome my dainty little hummingbird

May Flowers


By Christine Rightmyer

As my head slipped underwater,
All I could see were the lilies.
They call them the symbol of death…
Wouldn’t you agree?

The symbol of everything I wanted.
Wanting to slip away and never come back
The water closed in around me.
Wrapping its cool fingers over my body…

That was all I wanted, except…
You pulled me up before my time was gone.
Your fingers gripped my shoulders, eyes bearing into me.
The lilies were now gone, but you were here to stay.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Next Meeting

The next meeting of Nomadic Ink has been postponed. The next meeting is now scheduled for Friday, April 24th at 6:00 at the Kentucky Heritage Ag Center. Don't forget to post your April assignment her on the blog - May Flowers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry Slam

Mercer County Senior High will be celebrating National Poetry month with a Poetry Slam.

Poetry/Prose Coffee House in honor of National Poetry Month and Kentucky Writer's Day

Thursday, April 16th @ 7:00 in the MCSH cafeteria

The event is free and open to the public

An Evening With the Mountain Keepers

(Edited to add: this piece was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday, April 13, 2009)

After almost backing out due to anxiety (and all those of you with social anxiety know what I mean), my daughter and I attended UK's presentation of "An Evening With the Mountain Keepers." I had really been looking forward to this program, mainly, at first, because of Silas House, but after the program I left with an awareness and passion for the elimination of mountaintop removal.

(Photo by Vivian Stockman - is a picture of Kayford Mountain located 35 miles from Charleston, West Virginia, the State Capitol.)

This program was to bring awareness of the destruction - not only to mountains and property, but to personal lives and families - of coal retrival by mountaintop removal. Growing up in the Bluegrass region, I've read many books, essays and papers on the problems facing Appalachia, but I've always thought of it as a problem for others to worry about. I could not have been more wrong!

Erik Reece was the MC for the evening and he began by reading a brief passage from Lost Mountain, a book showing a year in the vanishing wilderness of radical strip mining the the devastation left in Appalachia. He highlighted ways engaged citizen writers have worked for decades to make disturbing environmental and social justice a forefront to the public eye.

Frank X Walker - founder and editor of Pluck! the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, a magazine whose mission is to continue extolling the Affrilachian aesthetic, “making the invisible visible” - read one of his poems, touching the true heart of Appalachia. Judy Sizemore read her original poem, "The Badlands of Kentucky" and George Ella Lyon (another favorite of mine) and Anne Shelby both read some of their original poetry.

(Photo from The Mountaintop Removal Road Show )

Dave Cooper brought us his Mountaintop Removal Road Show - a slide show highlighting the impacts of mountaintop removal on coalfield residents, communities and the environment, and features traditional Appalachian mountain music and shocking aerial photos of decapitated Appalachian mountains.

Public Outcry! - an anti-Mountaintop Removal acoustical artistic collaboration bringing together music, words and images to educate people about this extreme coal mining method - performed several songs.

(Photo by Herschel McKinley)

This group includes: Silas House, Jason Howard, Jessie Lynn Keltner, Kate Larken, George Ella Lyon and Anne Shelby. The name of there group was taken from a phrase by a congressional supporter of mountaintop removal, after killing a "Stream Killer Bill" for several years in a row. To paraphrase what this Congressman said, "This is not an important topic; there is no public outcry."

Something's Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal is a wonderful new educational book by Silas House and Jason Howard, and they both read excerpts from the books, with Silas being the last speaker of the night.

(Photo by Herschel McKinley)

I bought this book before the program started, mainly because of Silas House, but after hearing these men speak, I was moved to tears. I read three chapters before nodding off to sleep last night.

There were several special moments of the night for me: meeting Silas House and Jason Howard (and having them sign my book), meeting Frank X Walker, Anne Shelby, and George Ella Lyon, and having Gurney Norman (KY's new Poet Laureate) sit right in front of me!

But the highlight of the night for me was a man I knew nothing about before last night. Larry Gibson is a West Virginia activist who has been fighting coal and mountaintop removal for the majority of his life.

(Photo by Herschel McKinley)

He has been featured on CNN, Nightline, and People Magazine and he travels all over the United States trying to educate people about the devastation coal removal brings to communities, lives, nature and wildlife. Keeper of the Mountains Foundation was created to help fund Larry's efforts to preserve and foster the values of mountain culture. I could have listened to this man talk all night, he was that powerful. I was moved to laughter and I was moved to tears, but most importantly I was moved to action.

Do you still think the "little people" don't have a voice concerning mountaintop removal? These folk are here to provide otherwise. Call your congressmen and women, call your legislators, call the governors of Appalachia, call President Obama. As a point of reference, since taking office in January 2009, the Obama administration has already launched a crackdown on mountaintop removal by moving to delay or block mining permits damaging Appalachian communities and ecosystems.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

May Flower Memories


It was called Decoration Day when I was growing up. I suppose it was because we took flowers and flags and ribbons to the cemeteries to “decorate” the graves of our families and friends. Now most everyone calls the last weekend in May Memorial Day.

I could always tell when spring was on the way. The red stems and leaves of my grandmother’s peonies would pop up out of the ground looking kind of swiveled at first. Then they would start growing up straight and green, and just before Decoration Day they would be he most beautiful blooms I had ever seen. There were white, pale pink, fuchsia and red ones all ready to be cut and put in the canning jars and vases to take to the cemeteries. Her red multi-bloom roses, bearded iris (Grandmama called them flags), and delicate lilacs were also blooming in May. We would make pretty bouquets with all the different flowers and tie ribbons into bows around the “vases.” Then we gathered cardboard boxes to put them in and newspapers to place around them so they wouldn’t bump together or spill water in the trunks of the cars. When the “Lexington bunch” arrived at Grandmama’s, we would start our caravan through all the local cemeteries, then on to Scott and Owen counties, picking up more members at each place until we all ended up at a beautiful rock church, somewhere around Owen County and have a wonderful picnic. Everyone brought food and soft drinks to share. All the children would run and play and reacquaint with cousins, some of whom we hadn’t seen for a year. Sometimes I long for the days, when all my cousins and aunts and uncles were still alive and happy and running and playing in the grass in the cemeteries. I guess maybe it sounds a little morbid to some people, but the children and adults had a good time and made some good memories.

I don’t know if any of our family still goes to all the cemeteries on Decoration Day. I know I don’t. Sometimes when I am in Lexington, I stop by the cemetery where Grandmama, my aunt, uncle and several other family members are buried. I rarely get to Shelbyville to visit the grave of my baby, but even worse, I pass the cemetery where my daddy is buried twice a day and don’t even stop there. I know the spirits of my loved ones are not really in the graves, but sometimes it might just feel good to be there to reminisce and do a little reflecting on things and old times.

I never see a rose, an iris, or a peony that I don’t think of Grandmama and all the pretty flowers that grew in her yard and were carried to the cemeteries each May. It makes me kind of sad to think back though and realize that so many of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents that we would meet in the cemeteries every year are buried in those same places, and I wonder if anyone ever takes May flowers to decorate their graves. Maybe I will just do that myself this year.

April Assignment: May Flowers
By: Paula Pinkston
April 9, 2009