James and Vivian Leva at Monkey House in Blacksburg Sunday December 7 3:00 PM

Food and socializing starts at 3:00 pm at The Monkey House.  Concert at 3:30.  All money goes to James and Vivian Leva ($10-15 suggested.)

If you want a ticket contact Jim and Robyn or leave a note on fb.


Claudia Emerson

Scott Elmquist's photo of Claudia Emerson accompanied Peter Galuszka's February 11, 2014 story, The Power of Place, in Richmond's Style Weekly.


I was a great fan of poet Claudia Emerson ever since I started readying her body of work when she won the Pulitzer in 2006.  She was kind about letting me reprint her poems here and then I got to hear her read her poems at the 2008 Virginia Festival of the Book.  She returned in 2011, but I didn't make it that year.

So, I was sad to learn of her death today via facebook from her fellow UNC-G alumni Kathryn Stripling Byer.

I wrote about Claudia Emerson back in 2006 when she won the Pulitzer and created a Wikipedia article that I spent four hours today (starting at 3:22 p.m) restoring and updating.  (Someone saw fit to delete a bunch in September 2011, rather than take the time to update broken links.)  Which is unfortunate, because I DIDN'T get to add these links to new pieces or catch up on reading her new poems.  But there will be time for that.

Emerson had joined the VCU faculty in 2013 and there's an interview from the Spring 2014 issue of Poictesme by Hannah Morgan with an illustration by Megan Goldfarb, in addition to the one above by Peter Galuszka.   And then there's the  interview by Sarah Kennedy from the Winter 2006 of Shenandoah, reprinted on Poetry Daily.


#GivingTuesday: SAMPLER (Southern Appalachian Media Project for Literacy on Environmental Renewal)

Photo quilt I design from individual photos on SAMPLER entries 


What's Giving Tuesday?

Black Friday,
Cyber Monday...

After two days of shopping, December 2nd is a day to give back. It's #GivingTuesday.

In 2012, 92Y joined with the United Nations Foundation (“UNF”) to create an annual global day of giving that helps raise funds and awareness for important causes everywhere.

How can you help SAMPLER?

You can donate on Razoo and/or help spread the word....

Here's a post on facebook
Here's the tweet...

Our projecthe audience for of this project will be regional and national consumers of legacy, online and social media. The users will be citizens in South Central Appalachia and journalists. Our challenge is that our region is covered only occasionally by the national media, often when there is a mining disaster or a release of poverty statistics. The authors of this coverage often lack a feet-on-the-ground understanding of the complexity of local issues. Regional papers that provide balanced coverage tend to cover one state, although the problems are endemic. Citizens often don’t understand the difference between public relations, spin and good journalism.

We believe our crowd source approach to good journalism will build skills needed for users to raise awareness of the issues facing our region and provide citizens citizens with the information they need to meaningfully evaluate those issues and participate in the civic arena.

Our partners

We are partnering with the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF) to build an alliance of journalists and citizens working to strengthen in-depth reporting on a sustainable transition from coal's mono-economy in Southern Central Appalachia (West Virginia and the areas affected by coal mining in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.) We especially plan to cover the practice of mountaintop removal. Other topics include the proposed introduction to the region of other extractive carbon-based energy industries (fracking and natural gas pipelines) with an analysis of their their possible effects on climate, water, land and/or air quality.   On November 1, we submitted an application to the Knight Foundation's Prototype Fund to help develop the project.  OVEC serves fiscal sponsor and is accepting our crowd-sourced donations until we achieve own non-profit status.

Here's how I described the project to Knight:

SAMPLER will use a website, twitter, facebook and other social media to provide content to national media and teach citizens to critique our coverage and that of others.

We take our definition of reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. Our goal is to help citizens gain the skills to create and publish stories, photos and videos of their communities and to help journalists cover topics they could not address as meaningfully alone. Our users will gain knowledge that they need for meaningful civic engagement to improve quality of life through a transition from poverty and environmental degradation to environmental justice and sustainable development.

The assumptions we will test if we get the grant:

*Citizens can build skills needed for users to raise awareness of the issues facing our region
*Journalists will use our content to deepen their own content

We will know if the project has worked or not by metrics such as:

*number of participants
*participant evaluations
*consumer evaluations
*number of blog posts
*number of articles on other media
*number of comments websites of other media linking to our posts
*number and variety of supporting organizations

What we've done so far:

*we've use this blog as a prototype to publish photographs (Paul Corbit Brown, Vivian Stockman, Roger May, Antrim Caskey); journalism (Rachel Parsons, Sarah Verkasi, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Ted Boettner, Mary Anne Hitt, Jon Foley)
*Sue Sturgis and Chris Kromm of Institute Southern Studies provides advice, offer to syndicate through Facing South
*Margo Miller of the Appalachian Community Foundation has offered to syndicate content in its regional blog
*established relationships with MIT Center for Civic Media, Looking at Appalachia Project, Cir.ca, Carnival of Journalism
*Darryl Fears, Washington Post environmental reporter wants background information to cover mountaintop removal
*Blacksburg Glade Road Growing syndicates posts on sustainable agriculture, cooking with local ingredients
*New Organizing Institute and Energy Justice Network underwrote social media training
*Newstrust added coal as news archives category
*Alliance for Appalachia provided a travel grant for me to attend the 2012 Knight Media Learning Seminar
*Washington and Lee provided scholarship for its Poverty Journalism Workshop
*developed logo
* provided description to local and regional foundations
*set up google alerts on related news topics
*set up data base on scientific research on mountaintop removal
*Newstrust will share material on how to think like a journalist in evaluating quality of journalism
*started data base of environmental, poverty and political reporters; civic groups


PD James: writing everything while remaining in the genre

Cropped version Murdo Macleod's photo of PD James before an 8/26/06 appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival accompanied  The Guardian's obituary by Stanley Reynolds.

I first published this post at 5:44pm on 11/30,14, as I wanted to get the word out and am in the process of adding to it. (In glancing over the program, I noticed others we have lost who appeared that year, including Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) and Harold Pinter (1930-2008).


From the obituary of PD James by Stanley Reynolds in The Guardian:

...Phyllis [Dorothy] James had not started writing until her 40s, and said she only wrote a whodunnit as practice for a serious novel. Later on, though, she never fretted about being locked into crime writing. She said she could write everything she wanted while remaining in the genre.

What I miss when I don't go online.  While I was celebrating Thanksgiving, PD James died at age 94, having published Death Comes to Pemberley (Jane Austen revisited through a murder mystery) in 2011 "which combined my two great enthusiams in life" (quote from video at the end of this post) and Talking about Detective Fiction in 2009.  Both (and many more) are at the Virginia Tech Library including her 1999 autobiography, A Time to be in Earnest, as well as a DVD of Children of Men, the 2006 film based on her book on the end of the world due to male infertility of the same name published in 1992 (with a first U.S. edition by Knopf in 1993.)

James talks about why she started with and maintained loyal to the detective novel in her Paris Review interview from 1994 by the late Shusha Guppy:
I don’t make a distinction between the so-called serious or literary novel and the crime novel. I suppose one could say mainstream novel. But I didn’t hesitate long before I decided to try to write a detective story, because I so much enjoyed reading them myself. And I thought I could probably do it successfully, and the detective story being a popular genre, it would have a better chance of being accepted for publication. I didn’t want to use the traumatic experiences of my own life in an autobiographical book, which would have been another option for a first attempt. But there were two other reasons. First, I like structured fiction, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like a novel to have narrative drive, pace, resolution, which a detective novel has. Second, I was setting out at last on the path of becoming a writer, which I had longed for all my life, and I thought writing a detective story would be a wonderful apprenticeship for a “serious” novelist, because a detective story is very easy to write badly but difficult to write well. There is so much you have to fit into eighty or ninety-thousand words—not just creating a puzzle, but an atmosphere, a setting, characters . . . Then when the first one worked, I continued, and I came to believe that it is perfectly possible to remain within the constraints and conventions of the genre and be a serious writer, saying something true about men and women and their relationships and the society in which they live.

It's not as if James didn't want to be a writer earlier than at age 40.  As Marilyn Stasio noted 
in the NYT, James was fond of saying [as she did in the Paris Review],
When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall...I  immediately wondered: Did he fall — or was he pushed?
I didn't know that James opposed Scottish independence and marriage equality in the House of Lords until I read a bitter comment in The Guardian.  Evidently, activist Linda Semple has forgiven her for both, if not two of the books I mentioned above. (Semple "spent the 1980s and ’90s working in women’s and LGBTQ organizations, publishing, and journalism. She now works for the Scottish Government, heading up its work on health and social care efficiency.")

I love this send up James gave the BBC (tape), which she describes as being a:

large and unwieldy ship … with a crew that was somewhat discontented and a little mutinous, the ship sinking close to the Plimsoll line and the customers feeling they have paid too much for their journey and not quite sure where they are going or who is the captain.

But even more, this lovely interview with James by Australian journalist Jennifer Byrne which aired on ABC Book Talk on 5/14/2013:


52 Books in 52 Weeks: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs

Robin McCormack's book challenge continues. (Reports are due every Sunday.)

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs, Scribner, 416 pp, Septembe 23, 2014, ISBN 978-1476731902

Novelist Jebb Hobbs, spent over 300 hours of interviews trying to make sense of the murder of his Yales roommate, Robert Peace.  The 30-year-old African-American was an almost straight-A student in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, who also dealt marijuana, not so much for what he could buy himself, as for how he could support his family and friends..

Here is an NPR interview including Hobbs reading from the book and the NYT book review.


Celeriac! (and Butternut Curry)

Photo by Janet for her 2012 recipe for curry.  She has other celeriac recipes here.  I first published this post at 8:07pm on 11/24/14 and updated it for formatting  at 11:20am on 11/26.

The November 24 (and last 2014) farm share from Glade Road Growing is slated to include celeriac, kale, lettuce mix, butternut squash and napa cabbage, oh my! (Sally and Jason will be at the Blacksburg Farmers Market in December on the 6th, 13th and 20th with root veggies, meats, some greens and winter squash. They'll be back there in April and the 2015 farm share sign up will probably open in December.)

Today's recipe features celeriac.  Who can resist something that roasts or pickles so well and tastes yummy raw, something like a cross between celery and parsley. 


By day, Janet is a physician in Toronto, after living for a year in Houston, Texas. By night, she's a food blogger and photographer at The Taste Space and also shares recipes with Kahakai Kitchen.

She made the above curry with pumpkin, but after all, that's just one type of winter squash and this week we'll be getting butternuts. It turns out she adapted her recipe from one by Sarah Breton, who used squash.  Here's my remake of her remake...


Serves 6

1. In a countertop convection or conventional oven (on a cookie sheet), roast veggies for 1/2 hour and let cool enough to prep:

1 large onion
1 carrot
1 lb celeriac
4 garlic cloves
1.5 lb pumpkin or butternut squash

2. While veggies are roasting, cover 1 cup of dried red lentils with water and bring to boil. Cover with lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse well , cover with fresh water plus 1 cup, cover with lid and  back to boil and and let sit.

3. In a separate pot, do the same for 2 cups of raw quinoa.

4. Peel veggies and cut into cubes. Finely chop two T fresh ginger root.

5. Chiffonade kale, keeping stems separate.

6. In the bottom of a steamer pot, combine veggies, ginger, lentils, and the following spices:
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t tumeric
1/4 t dry mustard
1/2 t gound fenugreek seeds
1/4 t ground cinamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground cardomon

7. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium and steam first the stems, and then the leaves of the kale until tender, but bright green.  Add kale to curry.

8. Serve over quinoa (or cooked yellow rice) and garnish with celery leaves or cilantro leaves.


If you're not going to make this recipe tomorrow, refrigerate the celery root in an unsealed plastic bag for up to 2 or 3 weeks. To prepare, trim the leaves (if present) and root end. Scrub well. You can roast it to make it easier to remove the skin and any brown bits. If you’re using it raw, peel quite thickly and place cut the pieces in water with a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discoloration.


"British chef" (other than for all those exquisite cream and fruit pastries) may sound like an oxymoron, until you think about Nigella Lawson.  As of today, I'm adding Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I came upon his feature at The Guardian when I was looking for celeriac recipes. Just take a look at this  salad he composed.  Since we don't have endive in this week's farm share, think about a chiffonade of kale with cashews (or your favorite nut) and orange or apple slices.

Fearnley-Whittingstall has been "championing food integrity + consumption of local, seasonal produce since 1998" River Cottage on the Dorset/Devon border and he LOVES celeriac. He writes, as compared to a potato, it's
even more unprepossessing, with knobbly, knotted looks that only a mother could love – or a cook who has unearthed its inner beauty. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that celeriac might just be my favourite root of all time. It's nothing less than a winter wonder.


Want more celeriac recipes?  Here are some that look yummy:


BTW, did anyone make it to the farm November 21 for the final 2014 farm stand which included a meat show case? Besides the veggies, there was a fresh supply of goat and pork cuts, sausages, fresh chicken, duck eggs, and more, along with cooking tips.

If you didn't make it, you missed some good eating. I heard a lot of folks say they had no room for dinner after stopping in for samples. (My own black bean and rice dinner had to wait until the next day.)

Here's the scoop on this years samples, as best as I can remember (sorry I didn't take notes):
  • goat sausage congee and goat bone broth from Hoof Harted Farm
  • a variety of ham steaks (my fav was Lisa's lemon rosemary) from Ben's  pastured pig, plus his cracklings and Lisa's spinach and ground pork fritatta
  • hard boiled eggs and Lisa's squash or pumpkin curd  featuring Sally's ducks
  • gizzard stew, a brined roast  and a roast with fennel from Sally's Freedom Ranger chickens. 


Honeybeelujah! Reverand Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir take on Big Ag

Photo from Sarah Galo posted on twitter and used by permission.


"Lots of Bee-atitude, hard-working and sticky sweet. Honeybeelujah!"

Lucky freelance writer Sarah Galo snapped the above photo, while she was at  Joe's Pub at the Public in NYC watching Billy Talen  and his choir taking on "Big Ag," especially Monsanto, and the struggle it causes bees (which we need to pollinate our food) and thus the rest of us.

I got to watch Billy Talen  live online and even if you missed it, you can, too (starting at 2:10).

More later on these activist artists and how they've taken on mountaintop removal.  (I met Billy and his choir at Appalachia Rising where we both performed.)  For today, just let's talk about the performance.  (I'll write more on what's happening to the bees later, too.)

Billy appeared, as usual, in Swaggart-like finery and the choir dressed  as Pilgrims, in preparation for their Thanksgiving protest at the corporate headquarters of Monsanto on November 27.  Special surprise guest was Joan Baez, who had also appeared with Billy and the Choir at a fundraiser for Ferguson activists on November 21.

Here's Erik McGregor (aka Minister Erik R. McGregor) photo used with permission of  Joan Baez with Billy and the choir at Joe's Pub from his photo set.

Here's another (used with permission)  of Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the latter in their incarnation as the "Honey Bees" taken in Boston from their IndieGoGo campaign to swarm corporate headquarters of Monsanto. 

In addition to covering Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, he document the actions of other NY-based activist groups including
* Sane Energy Project
* Food Not Fracking
* United For Action
* Food & Water Watch
* 350NYC
* Occupy Wall Street movement and the different affinity groups spawned from it.

Monsanto's world headquarters are in prosperous Creve Coeur (French for heart broken), a small city in St. Louis County, just 9.7 miles from Ferguson, where a jury is still deciding on the verdict--first slated for today--regarding the death of  Michael Brown.

Evidently the police chief there is prepared for the verdict: