I Am Not a Gardener

Photos courtesy of Nancy Elizabeth Wentzel

“I am not a gardener,”
I remind my husband
As we scroll through endless photos
In search of our first house;
After eleven years of wandering the country
like vagabonds, pursuing useless degrees in
Math and science
We’re weary of apartment confines,
Heavy with another baby on the way.

Every house I view seems palatial;
The extravagance of our own home, our own yard
Leaves me not very picky about the options in our price range.
We should be close to the college
And Nate wants a yard- a big yard, fenced and level,
For the children to play.
“We should have goats, and bees,” he says
As we drive around rural Unicoi County.
“I am not a gardener,” I remind him.
“You’ll have to do all the yard work.”

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Surviving the Pandemic as an Artist

Self Portraits 2020 by Tony Sobota

2020 started off so promising.  Our son had a meltdown-free 1st birthday party, the Titans kept Tom Brady and the Patriots from another Super Bowl, and by March I was having my best year of art sales on record.  A little over two months later, 2020 has been canceled.  Our son now eats adult amounts of food, Tom Brady broke up with Bill Belichick, and like many full-time artists COVID-19 just deleted half my income.  So far.  

While surviving as an artist under normal circumstances invites challenges, the pandemic has multiplied them.  I rely on art, music, and street festivals for a majority of my annual income, so every cancelation brings greater urgency to change my business model.  However, I also need to keep the lights on in the meantime.  I’ve had several commissions come in to help me break even, thankfully,   but since these projects require the bulk of my time I’m currently in a sort of catch-22.  I’m struggling to pivot my business while simultaneously paying the bills—not to mention keeping my “inner artist” from burning out.

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Empathy and the Devil

It’s apropos that I’ve been rereading C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters with a friend now. Weekly, we pore over a couple of chapters and broach free-range discussions launched by the demon Wormwood and his “affectionate uncle,” Screwtape. Our culture, like many biblically-tinged cultures before it, is saturated with talk of Satan in his various literature-based iterations. Merely over the course of American history, we’ve developed perhaps as twisted a view of the fallen archangel Lucifer as we often have of Jesus. Everyone from Washington Irving to The Grateful Dead has had a go, with widely varying degrees of accuracy. Yet, as with Jesus (who, let us not forget, made Lucifer and all his fellow angels), we can’t altogether divest Old Scratch of his scriptural identity by means of either broad-brush cartoonism or utter disregard. Thanks be to God.

[Editor’s note: As C. S. Lewis himself said in the preface to The Screwtape Letters, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” Therefore, if you have an unhealthy interest in things diabolical, this post may or may not be for you. Feel free to read or disregard as wisdom dictates.]

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Word + Song preview: Drew Miller

Tonight is the night! WORD + SONG is here!

In celebration, we’re giving you another little preview of what’s going down this evening in Loudon, Tennessee. Here’s Drew Miller, playing a song from his two-part project, Desolation & Consolation. The first half of the record can now be found at The Rabbit Room Store, and you should go download it!

OCTOBER 30, 2019 6:15pm
First Baptist Church, Tellico Village
Loudon, TN

You can find more about Drew Miller and his excellent and ongoing work at DrewMillerSongs.com. We hope to see you this evening! Join us at First Baptist Church of Tellico Village.

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bleeding in, bleeding out

Orchid – Josie Koznarek

All the time I knew
you carried weight upon your back
in every tremor when you spoke,
in each “I could never…” disbelief;
as if the sin that you held close
was when you reached out to receive.

All the ways I knew
you bought such shame for taking time
in every conversation held,
how all the grasping proved the need
within a hungry heart undone,
that, reaching out, still could not feed.

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Word + Song preview: Matthew Clark

It’s a great time to give you a preview of things to come! Matthew Clark, one of the three featured artists headlining Foundling House’s WORD + SONG storytelling concert, October 30, at First Baptist Church Tellico Village in Loudon, Tennessee, shares a bit here about the title track to his most recent release, Beautiful Secret Life.

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