Float On: Keeping My Head above Water at Forecastle

Through the festival gates, rough waters lay ahead of me. The port-a-potty was more like a THC sauna, as I must’ve slipped in right after a patron who hot-boxed a doob. From the smell of it, Louisville seemed to be chiefing on dirt weed, but every once in a while, it reeked like I was on a Bullitt County back road and somebody had trampled a skunk. It may be hard for a person without the addict gene to comprehend, but one drink or drug can send a person such as myself on a wild spree where by the end of the night, I’ll be saying, “I must’ve taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque.”

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Why I Garden: I hate getting started, but dirty nails fit me, and the sight of new vegetables make me weep

I moan over the prospect of starting seedlings or prepping the ground. In fact, this is why I started “The Lazy Gardener” column a few years back, to share—or should I say reveal?—my most private vegetable-growing secrets: that I’m a wimp when it comes to weeding; that I surrender at the first sign of aphids, blame the weather or the wildlife for my unsuccessful yields; that my garden would not be possible without someone else’s prodding.

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Announcing the 2014 Literary Contest Winners …

Our 2014 literary contest winners have been selected and notified. Finalists have been notified by email. Winners, finalists and semifinalists are listed below. Many thanks to all our contest participants. It was a tough competition in all three categories, and we were stunned by the poems, essays, and stories we received.

Thank you to our readers, Bobbi Buchanan, Cecilia Woloch, Christopher Martin, D. Cameron Lawrence, and Michael Jackman, and to our final judges, Steven R. Cope in poetry, Charles Dodd White in fiction, and Dianne Aprile in nonfiction.

Winners, finalists and semifinalists will appear in The New Southerner Literary Edition, which will be available online and in print in December.

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There’s a Song in It

When I need supplies to keep my dream alive, I look at what I have to do to get things done, instead of wallowing in pity. I’m in the business of audio and art, not futility. I’ve been instilled with the knowledge that a work shirt isn’t an Armani button-up ruined by a drop of coffee, but a T-shirt decorated with grease, dirt, and sweat. A man can be defined by his successes, but he is ruled on how he handles obstacles. In my mind, problems are merely that—obstacles, something to get past.

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‘Holy’ Socks! Here’s the solution to all those holey ones—maybe

Let’s face it. We live in a throwaway society. Look at the average lifespan of a mobile phone, for example. How long will that little wonder of technology last? On average, 18 months, according to Media Bistro. So last spring, when I went in search of a pair of socks that would last longer than six months, I wasn’t sure such a product existed.

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Means as an End: Musician’s mandate is evolve or die

I fall in love with songs when I first write them, but soon after, a love/hate relationship evolves. Depending on the day, time, mood, weather, what I ate for breakfast, stage of the moon, horoscope, price of the Dow Jones, or anything that can be skewed by perception, I may hate or love playing back the song I just wrote. From there, I might decide to record it. If I do, it’s a process of finding the tone and message I want to achieve with the recording. Do I want to use an acoustic, electric, programmed instruments, or real percussion? Do I want to yell, whisper, or stay silent? Should I use the solid state or tube amp? Set it on 10 or barely turn the volume knob? Clean or dirty? Crunch or lead? Once I run the gambit on soundscapes and every possible tonal difference, I start to mic.

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No Connection

I was so addicted to texting that I began to worry what my friends thought when I was not texting them back. I wanted to look at my phone just to see if anybody had noticed I was not texting them back. The urge was intense and grew in intensity. Then I realized I could not look at my phone because, being the smart cookie that I am, I had given it to my mom. Thank goodness I knew myself enough to realize beforehand that I was addicted to my iPhone.

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Ways of Working with Plants

More often than not, the plants need to sit in liquid, hot or cold, for their properties can be extracted. Part of their hidden wisdom is that they can teach us patience by calling upon us to slow down, sit still, rest. I believe that these days most human ills come from doing too much and not resting enough. We need sleep, time of not doing, space for our beleaguered minds to rest at ease. So the plants steep in water or oil for minutes, days, or even weeks at time, while we watch and wait for their gifts to be ready for us to receive.

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The Wonders of Weeds Revealed: New blog focuses on herbal remedies

In this age of rising medical costs, invasive procedures, prescriptions with multiple side effects as well as increasingly drug-resistant bacterial and viral infections, I feel it is critical that we reclaim how to care for ourselves and as did our ancestors. There is nothing newfangled or exotic about working with common, local “weeds,” garden grown herbs, or those bought from a reputable merchant. It is what people have done for thousands of years.

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