Raspberry Harvest

3 raspberries
It’s the perfect childhood memory I didn’t have. Now living out in the country it’s raspberry picking season and the bramble scratches my skin as I work my way through raspberry canes that tangle as they always seem to do. No matter. The lure of ripe juicy raspberries just out of reach beckons and I push further getting ever more mired in the bramble
Despite the sharp tearing at my clothes and skin, here stand I in the midst of it all, selecting the ripe raspberries discarding the shriveled ones. Mother nature is amazing in providing raspberry look alike bugs and I’m occasionally startled when the raspberry I go to pick suddenly has moving parts. Yuck, I think as I make these now adult memories with the child within me still.
I give today a three raspberry rating – about all that might make it in the house if I don’t turn over the quart box soon enough. Here we go with raspberry mush all over my fingers and all over my face and only the sweetness of a second childhood’s shadow in the distance.

Fly the Friendly Skies – Big Wind Day

Big Wind Day.  #231wind  No, this is not about an airline and the problems they run into with a long history of customer satisfaction issues and overbooking.

The post came about after seeing this meme passed along this morning from friend Lennox Chase.

” Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Do better. Much better. Rise above.”

stunning first day end broadcast

So, yes, let’s talk Big Wind and a big mountain, affectionately called The Rock Pile. Let’s also talk about the world’s worst weather. The strongest gust of wind ever recorded in a manned weather Observatory. April 12, 1934. Today is the 83rd anniversary of the 231 mile per hour gust of wind recorded at the top of the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. Sure, another record was set more recently but it was an unmanned location in a typhoon. Sorry Australia, I am talking about everyday conditions. Snow and other stuff – every month. No other location of human activity has seen a recorded speed such as this.

So instead of angry airline meme’s, I prefer to focus on a fun event taking place on Mount Washington today where friends John Donovan and Dan Szczesny are completing their week of volunteerism at the Mount Washington Observatory.  They have been attending to basic human needs by providing food, housecleaning, companionship and other services for the brave men and women who staff this station 365 days a year including those days and nights in the long cold dead of a New Hampshire winter.

john with 231wind cake

John takes the cake

On this, the 83rd anniversary of the Big Wind, Dan and John cooked up a big wind Day celebration. Cake to support the efforts of the people manning the station.

cisse hot cocoa New Heights TWM sign

Dan’s selfie with Cisse

 

 

Perhaps served with the hot cocoa from my favorite fair trade cocoa company, Cisse.

After all, it must be nice to kick back with a good cup of hot cocoa when the outside temperature is below zero and the wind is at the higher end of the charts. Hence, we have found another community of all good people doing good things for others.

 

Dan has published several books including NH 2017 non fiction Literary Award winner, the Nepal Chronicles about his wedding in Nepal and The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie – hiking, with his foster child, now teenager, New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with a view. Atop the Rock Pile, he is creating an interesting year for his book in progress to be published by Hobblebush in June 2018. Indeed it is part of his 365 days of mischief and adventure on the mountain.

My role as cheerleader and Community Builder is to help them with some amplification of the messages. Adding value where I can because what Dan and John are doing is a lot more beneficial and enjoyable than much of the other stuff we read about online these days.

Want to fly the friendly Skies? Take a look at their video atop the mountain.  Having your feet lifted off the ground by wind forces in excess of 100 miles an hour with temperatures considerably below freezing is the real test of power.

You can help make a difference:

John Donovan is raising funds for the Observatory. You can add to his fund drive supporting the work of the Mount Washington Observatory here; Seek the Peak 2017.

Dan is modest about his need for funds but spending time and travel driving to and from the Mount Washington area isn’t without its expenses.  I convinced him to put a PayPal site so we could all help him out by buying a tank or two of gas and provide some spending money for his research. I like his writing style and I would encourage you to send him $30 to help pay for a tank of gas or two that it takes to get him up there!

Now that you’ve found you way to #231wind day, take a look at these two people making a difference in the lives of others.  And now, when you go online and see all that big hot air out there take a moment to make a donation to things that provide comfort and make a difference.

Please share this post because this is a BIG WIND that matters

Evelyn Dunphy – First Lady of Katahdin

eevelyndunphyportrait_hrclick this photo of Evelyn for a short video where she answers my question “What does Katahdin mean to you”

With the National Park Service celebrating its 100th anniversary,  I commented that I thought Maine Watercolor Artist Evelyn Dunphy was the real First Lady of Katahdin. What I meant by that was, quite simply, of all the people I have come across connected to the mountain, no other person had done more hands on, up close, community driven work to make modern day Katahdin real. Sure the President and his wife declared The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on August 24, 2016 on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. And yes, land was accumulated and donated, but fractious conversations emerged. Residents, people from away and politicians of all sorts got involved. Yet, long before celebrity and notoriety, Mount Katahdin was quietly enjoyed, shared and championed by many, enjoying the wild spaces as Governor Percival P. Baxter envisioned them.

When these spaces were threatened, it was individuals like Evelyn who became active in raising awareness of the beauty and the need for preservation. She painted and donated artwork and was recognized and awarded the First Artist in Residence in Baxter State Park. Ever.

She has shared those watercolor images in shows around the world. She leads art workshops and engages people, mano a mano – hand to hand – brushstroke to brushstroke as she shares her love of the Katahdin region and her art of watercolor. To me, this makes her the First Lady of Katahdin. A true ambassador for the wilderness preserved by Governor Baxter for the people of Maine.

“But Katahdin in all its glory,

Forever shall remain

The Mountain

Of

The People of Maine.”

Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument

1-16September2016.indd

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service. How fitting that on the centennial of the National Park Service, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was declared official by the President of the United States.

I was so pleased to have The Cryer select one of my images of Mt.Katahdin and the surrounding area for the September 2016 cover of the monthly newspaper.

I had the pleasure of kayaking around Millinocket Lake and attending renowned watercolor artist Evelyn Dunphy’s workshop at Frederic Church hundred year old camp in the Shadow of Katahdin.Rhodora_©KeithSpiroPhotoDSC_2870 Evelyn, a dear friend and world class artist has led workshops all over the world- Italy, Provence, Ireland, France and most recently, Cuba. But it is her annual visits to the Katahdin region and her activism to protect the area that her earned her a fierce local Maine loyalty and she was awarded Baxter State Park’s First Visiting Artist (2009). She is truly the First Lady of Katahdin in my eyes.

Congratulations National Park Service, Katahdin region and artist Evelyn Dunphy for your modern day successes in preserving the natural wonders of our little piece of the world in Maine.Church camp E Dunphy_©KeithSpiroPhotoDSC_2740.jpg

 

Magical Marketing of an Epic Eggplant

The Magical Marketing of an Eggplant of Mythical Proportion

Art ©Maria Castellano-UseryPhoto ©KeithSpiro

Art ©Maria Castellano-Usery      Photo ©KeithSpiroPhoto

Yes, folks, this is truly an eggplant love story that started many decades ago when I first met my then future father in law.  He was a meat and potatoes kind of man.  When I first started dating his eldest daughter, I was quickly under suspicion for all kinds of unimaginable reasons that came down to just one thing.  “Was I man enough to take care of his girl?” (in the event that we ever decided to run off to get married. That was the liberal side of him).

And so, I was invited out to many a family dinner. Theirs was a house where, when you were called to dinner, you grabbed your coat and stood by the door – awaiting the destination for the evening’s feast. Big name steak places. Corner diner, blue plate beef specials. Always meat. Always potatoes.  I fit right in – mostly vegetarian – always Eggplant when it was on the menu.

It didn’t take long for him to ask my future Mother in Law, “What’s the matter with that guy? Does he think we’re poor?  Does he always have to order the cheapest thing on the menu?”

Try as she might, I don’t think she ever really convinced him that I really, really did like eggplant.

Fast forward a few decades. My father in law has passed-on and my Mother in Law resides in the warm climates to the far South. She worries about costs and sees travel back our way as both a hassle as well as an expense. We’ve had ongoing discussions about spending the time together now and don’t worry about the money –  but – sometimes – money still lurks as a background obstacle to more frequent visits.  Lurked, in the background, that was, until I had an impassioned conversation recently about us paying her way, anytime and every time she wanted to visit the grandkids and the great grand kids.

The secret stash? The magic source of this limitless bounty of generosity?

The long held special EGGPLANT SAVINGS FUND, I told her.  Her husband was right. And after nearly 40 years of marriage – all that money I saved, eating the cheapest thing on the menu has transformed into this special fund that we could call upon to pay for her travel – anytime she wanted to visit.

The first set of tickets was in her hands in minutes. The laughter has never ceased. My father in law – of blessed memory –is a guest at most dinner conversations along with the requisite plate of eggplant.

And then I found Brushstrokes With ImpactTM   Art by Maria Castellano-Usery. Her program for having community impact while making the art she loves is wonderful. It’s a way of giving on so many fronts. You can follow her delightful blog here. Her psychedelic eggplant became my obsession as the gift to deliver to my mother in law. A birthday present, yes, but also a powerful reminder of the power of love, art and humor!!!

A Chance Meeting with author Walter Mosley

walter mosley photo by keith spiroThe best thing I did the other night was to decide to join Malia Lazu at Emerson’s Paramont theater Emerson Paramont theatre photo by keith spiro for an intimate book reading and signing by Walter Mosley. Future Boston Alliance co-organized the event as well as Mosley’s eleven day “Obsessive Residency”  with ArtsEmerson. I knew Malia as co-founder of Future Boston Alliance but I came to also learn about her long standing friendship with Walter Mosley. Author of over 40 books, he has won awards including a Grammy and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Easy to see why! We learned first hand that his parents read to him as a kid, that he began drawing incessantly at age twelve – and hasn’t stopped, and that he writes something every day. When asked – he stated “a writer, writes something.” All the time. They write.
Walter had been in residence at Emerson College most of the week and when he talked about Interrogating Whiteness, he had over 200 people in the audience with the discussion spilling out onto social media for days.

I attended the more mundane evening launch of his new book The Graphomaniac’s Primer – A semi surrealist memoir.  The evening was anything but mundane. The editor didn’t like Walter’s choice of front cover, but he loved the back cover and in our fresh off the press, evening before the official release edition of the memoir  – what was the back final page is now also  – the front cover. This is the book that Walter Mosley calls “The literary home shopping network.”

Adrian Walker & Walter Mosley photo by keith spiro

Another interesting part of listening in on this intimate  conversation he was having with Boston Globe Columnist Adrian Walker and us, was watching unfold, the path of enlightenment as he discovered that he was a graphomaniac.

walter mosley photo by keith spiro

a contemplative moment by author Walter Mosley as he realizes he is a graphomaniac.

The revelation came somewhere in the middle of an overgrown letter O but it also might have been during the escape of the letter S from its assigned space while he wrestled to push it back into line.  You really needed to be there to watch the story unfold in a most amazing way.

walter mosley photo by keith spiro
If you weren’t, grab a copy of the book and get someone who was there to read it to you!  Walter said we were the first to see and hold it in our hands, and so far,  I haven’t seen it listed on Amazon or Barnes &  Noble nor on its publishers website. So keep an eye on Black Classic Press and watch for its availability. You can see my autographed copy but I’ll have to read it to you. It’s not available for loan.

The day I got to sing with Amanda Palmer & Matthew Ebel

Vintage video footage of the day I got to sing with Amanda Palmer and Matthew Ebel can be found here on YouTube. For me, in retrospect it was the turning point in how I viewed sales, service, marketing and communications……….

Back in 2010, in the early days of social media, pioneers  Amanda Palmer, Matthew Ebell and I were selected to present at Jeff Pulver’s 140 conference in Boston Massachusetts.

The 140 conference was started by Jeff, a wonderful and warm entrepreneur and early investor in Twitter, to explore “the State of Now.” This was to be the opportunity to talk about using the web and Twitter, a hundred and forty character communications tool, to leverage real-time communications and change the world. Today, we more clearly see how social and business have merged to disrupt old ways and old rules of sales, marketing and service, but back then, we were just beginning to see the amazing changes brought by speed and access.

I planned to reference Marshall McLuhan and Sesame Street and talk about sound bites and their impact on communications but I soon learned that I was to follow Amanda Palmer and Matthew Ebel and their music panel and mini concert.  Indeed, A hard act to follow.

Real Time Twitter lesson Number One: reach out immediately and call for help. People will respond. I tweeted to Jeff Pulver backstage and asked for all my new friends to come out on stage and help me. I was scrambling because the only thing I knew for sure at that point was that most everybody knew the Sesame Street song and Marshall whoever – was long ago interred in history. My new need was immediate, real and compelling.

I salvaged the rest of my presentation in the transition and while the talk may be lost to history, these most memorable moments, where I got to sing with Amanda Palmer and Matthew Ebel, live on.

Today, I continue to explore the power of social media and community building and I often reference Amanda Palmer’s famous Ted Talk

and newer work The Art of the Ask http://youtu.be/4SeLGDboyhI

along with proudly pointing to  Matthew Ebel’s successful alternative marketing with his robot army. They are both great examples of what is possible.  Back then, using social media and asking for help were new to all of us.