Beautiful Fragments

Grand Teton through the window of a crumbling cabin from the movie "Shane."

You’re alive. You’re breathing. You’ve gathered together the remnants of your life—beautiful fragments meant for a new piece of art. Curiosity is returning. Sure, you still trace the scars with the tip of your heart every now and then. To remember is okay. To sorrow and rejoice in the remembering all at once is okay, too. And, then you begin to prepare a place for it to reside. After all of the digging around, you find some roots remain. So, you water those along with the new life searching underneath. You’ve just heard yourself laugh and the sound of it startles you, reminds you of what pieces and parts haven’t changed. It’s called healing. It’s called hope. This is life after the ashes.

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Suzanne – An Interview

“I think there are a lot of people who think they’re too old, or too out of shape. It doesn’t seem to phase Kelly or this community here at Franklin Wheelhouse. I don’t think there’s anyone who would watch someone walk in and think, “Oh wow, they won’t be able to workout.” That would just never happen here.” Suzanne arrives at Franklin Wheelhouse with her signature ginger hair and impish smile. We’re meeting on an off-workout day, so she’s in between her work  at Centennial High School and getting her granddaughter from Pre-K.  Family? Married to Doug. Two kids, Adam and Sara and I have one grandchild, Zoe. Have you always lived here? I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. I moved here in 1981 to Nashville and married my husband Doug. He was the Assistant Dean of Students at Vanderbilt and I got my MBA from Belmont. Then we […]

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How To Make A Perfect Dukan Diet Galette

How to make the perfect Dukan Diet galette

The Dukan Diet galette is a tasty breakfast option, and a long-time favorite when I want something warm and bread-like, yet low-carb. The galette is a healthy low-carb, fiber-filled pancake. As a traveler, when I know I’ll have access to a kitchen, I pack some gluten-free packets of oat bran (Bob’s Red Mill) and stop by a grocery store for the other ingredients. Whether you are following the Dukan Diet, counting carbs, or simply searching for a healthier version of the pancake, here’s my tweaked recipe for this sorta delicate little breakfast treat. I hope you enjoy the galette recipe as much as I do! The Perfect Dukan Diet Galette Makes 1 yummy galette Ingredients: 1 egg, slightly beaten 2 T oat bran (1.5 T for Attack Phase) 1 T wheat bran (optional) 1 1/2 – 2 T non-fat, plain greek yogurt or quark Dash of cinnamon Spray an omelet pan […]

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Spalding MFA Alumni Interview – A Day in the Life

On this episode of A Day in the Life we meet Summer 2014 graduate Karen Chronister, a fiction and travel writer based in Franklin, Tennessee. When Karen isn’t working on her own writing she’s helping other creatives to market their writing.  Karen has a wholistic approach to life and writing and I know I could definitely take a page out of her book to put into my daily routing. Now, let’s hear from Karen: When did you graduate? July 2014 (Berlin/Prague Residency) What are your favorite books? Oh, wow. Charlotte’s Web, The Essays of E. B. White, Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice, The Forgotten Garden, Olive Kitteridge. It’s more about authors and stories…Elizabeth Strout, Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, Kate Morton, Jane Austen, Frank O’Connor, my Spalding professors…I read a lot of print travel magazines, too. Do you hold a full-time job other than writing? I have a freelance marketing business, […]

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A Cuppa In Celebration of Jane Austen’s Bicentennial

So much of what I long to see, smell, eat, or experience when I travel, I first discovered in a book. It’s an understatement to say Jane Austen’s whit, whimsy, and wisdom have influenced my life. Because of her, I have a fascination for lofty manor houses, Elizabethan architecture, the art of taking tea, British literature, the Cornwall coast, observing society and all of its mores and double standards with both a nod of reverence and twist of mouth, and asking for “porridge,” instead of oatmeal, on my first trip throughout the whole of England. Today marks the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s death at the premature age of 41. To my fellow Janeites, I say we should lift a cuppa to honor her. I never fully moved into my little cottage two and a half years ago (who can move in completely to 860 square feet after years of thrice the space?), […]

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Night Sounds #19,098

Oh, my…the crickets. And now, my neighbor is putting in a pond—so, come next, the frogs! Every night the train whistles a long, soft shrill, humming like smoke hovering just above the water. I lay here, still and thankful for sounds I love. I’m so happy. Now, if I could only smell manure, I’d be ten again, barefoot, flat-chested, and fancy…funny the things we miss when we grow up.

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AMÉLIE’S: A FRENCH BAKERY AND COFFEE SHOP In Charlotte

DOWNTOWN CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, looks a little too planned for this North-easterner. I’m absolutely not bragging about Philly, my nearest big market metro, but I’ll use it as an example of what I expect to experience downtown: winding, hilly, brownstone and rowhouse-crowded streets that test even the finest non-directionally challenged drivers, wisecracks and secrets thrown down at every turn, and cool little Mom and Pop food joints within an arm’s radius. In other words, unfiltered personality written all over the skyline’s wizened face. So, when I drop into a city like Charlotte, NC, that feels, well, a little too neat for comfort, it reminds of the “Mary Kay” face. Everything is in perfect order, with a rich color-coordinated palate, precise lines and plump curves, and more than a few illusions. I lower my expectations at finding much below the surface, since it is the surface that is demanding attention. This is […]

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Storyteller’s Workshop for Teens in Franklin (Summer 2017)

STORYTELLER’S WORKSHOP FOR TEENS Spend a few fun mornings this summer getting creative with activities like: journaling, storytelling, nature/travel writing, word games, fun AND thoughtful writing prompts, mentor feedback, and practice “reading” your work. This is a relaxed, find-your-voice writing workshop/meet-up in Franklin, TN. Workshops will be held at The Coffee House at Second & Bridge (front room). Lots of writerly mojo here! Drop-ins welcome!! Who: Teens 12 & up Time: 10AM – 11:30AM Start and end times will be prompt. *Note: Please come a little early if ordering food or drink. The crepes are divine!) Dates (Tuesdays & Thursday mornings): June 27 – Informal meet up at The Coffee House at Second & Bridge. June 29 –  The Coffee House at Second & Bridge. (TBD) July 18 – The Coffee House at Second & Bridge July 20 – The Coffee House at Second & Bridge July 25 – Karen’s Wee Writing Cottage on Mercury […]

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A Writer’s Self Portrait at e.e. cummings’ Joy Farm in New Hampshire

Joy Farm, poet e.e. cummings’ New Hampshire Summer retreat, is full of mysteries and treasures, winding trails that lead to burnt-out ruins, and a growing collection of literary memorabilia. We are staying at Steep Acres, a three-season cottage on the property. My convives are a small, merry band of fellow Spalding MFA grads (and a professor or two we may have writer-napped). We’ve gathered for at least the purpose of writing, wine, and chatter. We yawn our minds wide and embrace whatever ghost or good vibe or energy floats close by. It’s just before dinner. I’m alone for a bit. So, I, the moth, climb wide wooden steps to the literary flame to an upper room in the original house. It is an unheated attic room replete with rough-hewn, aged timbers enveloping everything from floor to ceiling. It holds countless literary gems, including a September 1, 1952, issue of Life magazine. On […]

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Rob Hendon — He Paints Guitars

Occupation: Artist Location: Nashville, TN ROB HENDON: “I’m Inspired by the Acoustic Guitar…It Represents Songwriting” There’s a gratefulness to your paintings. A positivity. It’s out of sheer enjoyment. And, I love to paint. People notice faces in my paintings. Everyone sees something positive. I seriously paint, but I don’t take myself seriously. I don’t worry about criticism. Like songwriting, I’m doing what I love. I’ve been lucky enough to find a niche to make a living. Not everyone gets to write songs or paint for a living. Some days, it’s easy; you can write a song or paint fast. And, other days, you have to go back to it and keep working. It’s what I watched for years on Music Row with songwriters. So many similarities. That’s true. You spent time on Music Row before taking up painting. Twenty years. My favorite job was A & R at Capitol Records in my […]

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Read for a Better World

Read. Literature. Contemporary stories from thoughtful writers. Read memoirs. New essays and The Essays of E. B. White [I recommend “Death of a Pig.”]. Pulitzer Prize winners like Elizabeth Strout. Read Facebook posts by Anne Lamott and Humans of New York. The Bible. Anything Brene Brown writes. Jane Austen. Reread the stories you loved as a child: The Velvet Room, Treasure Island, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys…Harry Potter…Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. By now, you have books and stories and authors in your head you think I’ve missed. 🙂 Your view of humanity will expand. Your language and vocabulary will expand. Your compassion will expand. Your relationships will improve (there are studies that show readers are better lovers, and I mean, heart lovers.) You know what else will improve? With no college or masters degree or Ph.D., your writing will soar in leaps and bounds. I’ve seen evidence […]

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Discovering A “Hidden” Coffee House In Nashville

The Best Coffee in Town. When I was 18, I had an argument with my father that it shouldn’t matter who you know, but rather what you know. I’m still an optimist and a wee bit naive, but I wouldn’t argue that today. I’d say both matter. I can’t tell you where it is. I can’t tell you the name of the joint or how to get the information. You’ve got to know someone. Or get invited. Perhaps, you ask the right question of the right person who knows that Someone. It’s not about money or power. It’s about coffee-ease. Code words and earnest seeking about the truths the bean holds. I’m not exactly sure what I said the other day in Nashville, but I said it to the right person in the right place and I found treasure: a “hidden” coffee house. What, you are thinking, is this an […]

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Jon Decious of TOWNE

Occupation: Musician, All Around Farm Hand Band/Duo: TOWNE Location: Nashville, TN Birthplace: Somerset, KY “Runnin’ Into You” by TOWNE (Games We Play EP) Good morning, Jon! You Devious Angel, you… Morning to you too, Karen! Thanks for having me. Our duo actually just changed our name to TOWNE—but I don’t mind still getting called a devious angel. It’s still pretty accurate. What’s an “all around farm hand” doing in Nashville? As an “all around farm hand” in Nashville, I’m trying to write and record great songs so I don’t have to be an “all around farm hand” anymore. It keeps the lights on, and honestly, I’ve really been fortunate to get the opportunity to make money doing work that is more physically than mentally straining. I can’t tell you how many songs have been started or finished riding in circles on a mower or chainsawing a tree.  When did you start your journey as […]

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