True, it’s not the same without Sam The Dot Man, but the famous Fearrington Folk Art show in North Carolina, as everybody knows, is still really, really great.

Sam, who must be 80 something now, is reportedly in a nursing home in South Carolina, but there’s still the Cap Man — so named because of his bottle cap-encrusted pick up truck — and Miz Thang and her vibrant, intricately cut-out Country singers and Bluesmen (she usually sells out), Mama Girl and her newspaper and glue creations (the only art supplies, she, a former sharecropper, had at her disposal), and Missionary Mary Proctor, whose artwork features lots and lots of buttons.

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Faces. I see them everywhere. In rocks and parking meters and faucets and salads. Wood floors, car grills, rust spots, mailboxes, wrinkled pillow cases, sidewalk cracks – oh my god, entire families live in sidewalks. Stains, obviously.

 One of my first memories is being in bed as a little kid and seeing a woman sitting in the rocking chair in my room. She had a pleasant face–it was comforting to have her there watching over me. She turned out to be a pile of laundry. Today I saw an old lady in a babushka in a balled-up Kleenex.

It’s distracting! There are so many faces staring out at me from the wood floors of my yoga place that I fall over doing balance poses. It’s too much sometimes– faces shifting into faces, changing shape, changing expressions. I get pulled into their world, and I forget where I am.

I wonder. Are the faces there-there?  

And I just happen to see them?

Or are they a creation of my own mind?

What are they trying to tell me?




This girl and her cat are coming with me to a show next week in Louisville. I’ve never been to Louisville — or Kentucky, for that matter. Or Tennessee, which we plan to check out after the show—it’s only a couple of hours further south. My sweetheart is a musician, so that should be extra fun.

He’s even playing in a country-rock band at the moment (yes, there are country bands in Rhode Island), which he’s kind of embarrassed about. He used to look down his nose at country music, and I was pretty snobby about it, too. But you know what?   As corny as it is sometimes, it can be really great. People don’t just sit there — they get up and dance. You’re making people happy. You’re helping them forget for one damn night that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I think that’s important work.

The songs are about love and loss and hope and joy, stuff we have in common with every person on earth, even people who seem completely different from us.

Like the Muslim woman last summer. My sweetheart’s band was playing at a campground in Massachusetts. The crowd was mostly white people in shorts drinking Budweiser. Not that there’s anything wrong with white people, or shorts, or Budweiser! (Well, actually there is something wrong with Budweiser—it’s awful.) That was the crowd, pretty homogenous. Except for this one Muslim family. A little boy who looked about two, two teenaged girls and a boy, and their mom, who was wearing a maroon dress that fell to her ankles and a head scarf .

A few songs in, our friend Sue, who makes a practice of forcing other people to dance whether they want to or not, grabbed the teenaged boy by the arm and dragged him onto the dance floor. Sue and the boy, who didn’t look as embarrassed as you might think, danced together, and soon the girls joined in. Before the night was over, Sue was twirling the little boy around in her arms, and the mom and I were dancing together, me in cut-off shorts and her in a hijab. We couldn’t stop smiling at each other. We were having so much fun, also we knew how funny the situation was, and also that it was a moment of magic. After all, this was during the presidential campaign. When the last song ended, the mom put her hand on her breast. “I love country music,” she said. “ It touches my heart.”

Maybe we’ll see her down in Nashville.




Kill The Fly

Kill The FlyThe other day I was trying to get my peeps, a group of adults with disabilities, to write a group poem.  I taped a piece of paper on the wall and had my magic marker at the ready. They were sooooo not feeling it. Good luck getting these folks to do something they don’t want to.  Even the couple of staff who were there– kids in their 20s – weren’t rising to the occasion.  So I gave up. Instead, I decided to just write down what they were all saying, the words and phrases that were swirling all around the room.

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Green Bird

We went to live in Indonesia a few years ago. My ex-husband needed to do research – he was studying bamboo – and I was happy to go along.

I’ve always dreamed of having a green bird. A child’s dream, I know, but a part of me still is a child. Bright green, with jeweled eyes, she would ride on my shoulder and nuzzle my ear — my feathered talisman in this strange and exotic new world. Once, in a crowded, dusty market in Denpassar, I spotted my bird, high up in a cage fluttering with reds and yellows. We were rushed that day, we had no time for bird-shopping, but I knew I would go back for her.

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