Musician and Activist devoted to Justice, Creativity, and Courage

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Journal Entry, from the Gettysburg Hotel on Business…

11-15-16 9:41pm Gettysburg Hotel, Room 401.  Wow, just in the last hour I have gone from mood to mood from despair to curiosity to contemplative to glad to peacefulness to questioning to disgust to pain and to feeling sorrow.  I held the partial hand of a man confined to a wheelchair in the elevator.  His name was Rich.  I held the door and eagerly got on it (the elevator) with him.  He asked me what brings me to Gettysburg and I said that I work with the school and Democracy Matters to educate students about the corrosive influence of money in politics in our election system.  He said, sort of asked, “Getting rid of Citizens United.?” I said, “Exactly that. And more.”

It was so nice to meet him, if only for a moment.  I’d just returned to the hotel from seeing the movie, “The Dressmaker” and the movie was good, albeit somewhat depressing but still, I laughed at some parts.  Themes of revenge, miscommunication (intentional and unintentional), love, death, and mother/daughter relationships, and redemption.  After the movie though – at the historic Majestic Theatre – there was an art exhibit about Healing.  People wrote on cards about what they wished people understood, what they wished people wouldn’t assume, and what surprised them the most about their own healing.  The submissions were tremendous, heavy, and inspiring.  For what felt like an eternity, I stood there wanting to contribute but being still and waiting for some sort of approval or for someone to tell me it was time to leave, without me having a chance to write my own submission onto a card.

But I did.  I wrote about the voices inside our heads which are mean and tell us lies about who we are and what people think of us and how they hold us back from realizing our true potential… or something like that.  On the back of the card , I thanked the artists for providing such an outlet via art.  And then I walked out of the Majestic.

I’m feeling quite lost at the moment.  I went into the campus Lutheran chapel yesterday and prayed.  I even searched for the chaplain but he wasn’t to be found.  I walked down the basement hallway and at the end found the choir room.  Unmistakable rows of silent and still chairs and a grand piano, touched with dust yet probably frequently used.  This room reminded me of singing in high school and church and all the choirs I joined voices with so long ago – and I longed for those times.

Yesterday I remembered a happy memory from my young adult childhood of roller skating and feeling like flying yet still anchored to the ground by eight rubber wheels.

I’ve been searching for inspiration to be as energizing in my work as I know I can be.  Look there.  Deja vu.  I’ve felt this pen to this page before.

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On a sunny morning that feels like afternoon…

Today is November the 6th and I’m having one of those mornings where I feel like I should have accomplished a lot already, but really, my inside voice is just being a bitch.  I’ve woken up early, fed the animals, made and eaten breakfast, read a chapter of my book (Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, just in case you’re interested and want an amazing new book to read), and walked the dog, gathered eggs and fed the chickens… I’m house sitting for my dear friends little farm/menagerie and I’ve accomplished much already.

I will be doing work shortly, to make up for the two days I’ve been behind since my car decided to quit on me Friday afternoon.  Could be the battery… I’m hoping it’s just the battery…

Like many of you, the inner voice tells me things and gives me excuses and keeps me from shining my light at it’s proper voltage.  This is due to depression, anxiety, addiction, laziness, and a lack of assertiveness and will-power.  If you don’t know this about me, then now you do and you may actually be experiencing the same.  I’ve too often considered myself a victim of the abusive past in my life vs. rising above in my own mind.  Giving myself the time of day and showing up for me, because I matter too.  I hope you can have moments where you can rise above those limiting inside voices.  Each moment I hear them, recognize them, and challenge them consciously is a victory in my day.

I’m going to finish my work right now, and go out and enjoy this gorgeous day afterwards. With so much going on in the world, I am glad for the privilege of being able to enjoy a beautiful Autumn day and I hope I honor the Divine by living with more peace in my heart and more will-power to glow brighter every day.  I’m saying prayers for those in the struggle at Standing Rock and all around the world where greed and injustice are the M.O. (in my backyard as well, I see it.) I hope the work I do in this world impacts the long-time struggle for justice and peace.  Because we cannot know peace without justice.  And we cannot know justice without action towards it.





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Music makes my fingers wring out these words

Anita my love, put a smile on that face.
Your moon is handsome and frilly all the day long and so very shimmery in the night.
As the stars begin to weep for the strength of your heart, you will play the chords of all of their hearts and make tears flow from their eyes.


You will speak more than one language and you will stand and speak, bravely, and say unto yourself, “I love you. You are my rock. You are the wavelength upon which all the universe is spoken and heard, whispered and forgotten. You are everyone, everyone is with you.”


Smile now and skip away, in a giggle that beckons your soul to laugh out loud.


(image from Zaloo’s Canoes in West Jefferson, NC)


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Joe writes back.

Good Grief Girl, hope you take a vitamin supplement array…sounds like you and your boyfriend live life on your own terms…as we all should.
Sam Ervin the fourth, or something like that—and Tillis
I look forward to a possible January reunion…
Let’s keep in touch, we seem to be “well met…”   Sincerely, J
I am so proud of your grad school efforts; tomorrow looks like academics will rule the roost…life is so complex, compared to what looks, looking back, like a simpler time long gone.


Funny enough Joe, I have been taking my vitamins and I actively and daily recognize the privilege in my life to make the choices I make to be a little bit freer than some.  Yesterday, I was delighted to hear from you. I wrote about it in my journal this morning.  It filled me with joy to remember our first encounter and I wrote a recount of it.

​Life is seemingly more complex even than when I was coming up as a little girl in Alamance County.  I realized just yesterday how much I longed for a telephone you couldn’t walk around with.  How a stationary place to talk on the phone allowed for, or rather dictated, that one must pay attention to the person speaking on the other end.  How precious a thought in these mind-blowingly, fast-paced times when I truly believe people do not take the time to merely look one another in the eye, much less pay attention to the words they are bravely saying out loud.
You and I are brave creatures.  Boldly stepping out into the world and speaking.  Greeting everyone we meet.  Honoring the lives of the workers in places; we are the ghosts, I believe, of human past.  Is that too nostalgic of me?  I read in Woebegon Boy by Garrison Kiellor that nostalgia is for the birds.  Here is the beautiful paragraph about his mother, “Being Lutheran, Mother believed that self-pity is a deadly sin and so is nostalgia, and she had no time for either.  She had set at the beside of her beloved sister, Dotty, dying of scarlet fever in the summer of 1934; she held Dotty’s hand as the sky turned dark from their father’s fields blowing away in the drought, she cleaned Dotty, wiped her, told her stories, changed the sheets, and out of that nightmare summer she emerged stronger, confident that life would be wondrous, or at least bearable.”
What are you doing for Christmas?  
Cheers to a brave soul,

The Stationary Telephone                                                  photo from:



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A Conversation with Joe

Dear readers, whomever you may be,

I have had a sporadic correspondence from a chance meeting with a man named Joe in a breakfast joint in Asheville, near the Biltmore Estate.  I would like to share our letter/email writing with you and in honor of this man, I will keep his identity secret (the anonymous Joe).  I immediately fell in love with him and our breakfasts got cold while we sang to each other, recited poetry, discussed political goings on, story-telling, and so much more.  I was and am delighted to know this person and I think you’ll enjoy our correspondence just as much as me.


Dear Old Soul (and all the rest is ever so young),
     Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe wrote in “The Web and the Rock,” (Asheville was his web and New York City was the Rock he aspired to go to).  As a boy, at the end of his magazine delivery route, he would go down to the train depot and watch passengers boarding the East-bound trains, imagining they were headed for New York City. As the train steamed out of the station and finally rounded a far bend in the tracks, “He stood there looking at the rails, shining with the music of space and flight, sweeping off into the distance…until lost from sight.”
    What “a joy on this earth,” you are, and how happy I am to have spent that magic time with you–your
 singing of your murder ballad is still running up and down my spine.  Barbry Allen in modern dress.
     There is a remarkable down home sophistication about you that is so charming  (and I WAS charmed).  And I am very truly yours,  J
I wrote Joe a letter in the mail on a card from Montgomery, AL while recruiting for my organization.  The card was beautiful and had the design of up-close peacock feathers.  In my card I wrote how delighted I was to have met him and that I hoped to receive a letter back!
Dear Joe, I hope that you have received my card in the mail!
Looking forward to hearing back from you🙂
I hope you are well and enjoying your many breakfasts you may have talked through since last we saw one another.
Talk soon!
Anita, Please forgive my slow reply–your card was wonderful…my excuses are mundane, stopped up washer drain in basement, some stones prospecting, trying to write some book copy everyday (really had to do)  I’ll forge a proper reply to your card soon.
Your note about justice reminds me I had the great pleasure to have breakfast with Senator Sam Ervin one time–a happenstance–I asked him about his meeting with jurist Judge Learned Hand–“Yes,” Senator Ervin said, “I quote him often–speaking of the law, he said, ‘Upon this we have placed our all.’ “
We were well met, Anita, and I do expect ongoing correspondence,  Regards, J
Upon not receiving a letter in the mail, I reached out this morning to see how Joe was getting along.  Seems that Joe’s not the only one who gets caught up in life and neglects to write back.  I know for that I have been guilty.
Hi Joe, I hope you’re wonderful and enjoyed your Thanksgiving.  I hope your washer drain is fixed!!!
Sending love on to you, do take care.
Well, Happy Surprise to me!  Yes, even though my 88th birthday was last week, I’m still housekeeping (knock on wood)  Took hand sledge to cinder block wall behind washer, exposing (1945) rigged up trap on washer drain, ran twisty cables, etc–draining fine.
Little name dropping, perhaps shared at our last meeting;  My late wife (1928-1984), Bettie, and I were only ones in breakfast bar at King Cotton Hotel, (Greensboro?) circa olden days, Senator Sam Ervin (later to chair Watergate Impeachment), came to breakfast bar and joined us at our table- He had been our post office convention speaker the night before–I asked him about his days at Harvard Law School and anecdotal meeting with Judge Learned Hand.  “Yes, it’s true,” the Senator replied, “And Judge Hand did say, speaking of the law, ‘Upon this, we have placed our all.’ ”  Thought you might enjoy that…
Ms Kinney, where are you? May we do CornerKitchen again?   J
I am currently in Beech Mountain, soon to travel around the Southeast in several fell swoops.  Heading to Atlanta this Thursday via Charlotte to drop off a live Christmas tree to a friend.  In Atlanta I expect I will find my wild self in a workshop with one of my best friends and see some live hopping music to enliven my soul.  That following Monday, I will be driving to Birmingham, AL to visit my boyfriends family, then on to Thomasville, GA (very close in proximity to Tallahassee, FL) to live for about 2 weeks in an airstream selling Christmas trees and basking in the Southern GA sunshine, not too far from the railroad tracks where I can gleefully hear the train going by about 2-3 times a day.
After this rendezvous, Peter and I will be returning to central NC to my hometown of Burlington for Christmas.  We eat BBQ on Christmas Eve as a tradition and Peter is an excellent pig-cooker.  Soon after the big holiday, we will be going to Mexico with a class from Appalachian State University to both have a holiday and to practice my Spanish skills so that I might pass a language exam upon my return so I can finally get my Master’s degree completed from a school in Vermont called SIT where the Peace Corps started.
After January 15th, I would like to visit Asheville once again and meet up with you!  What a glorious meeting we had and will have again.
Happy 88th birthday, what did you do for your birthday?  I turn 33 in February on the 20th, 2016.
Your story about Sam Ervin is an interesting one.  Could it possibly be that this is the same Sam Ervin who ran for Supreme Court last year when unfortunately Mr. Thom Tillis bought the position of our state Senator?
That is all up to this point but I am sure that we will continue writing.  He’s a story-teller from way back.  I became misty-eyed more than once while speaking to him that day while eating (or rather not eating) our breakfast.
The way it happened was this:
I walked into Corner Kitchen, a swanky little restaurant in Asheville, NC one Saturday morning after having a visit with my dearest of friends Phil and Becky to see a concert (Heartless Bastards) the night before.
Upon greeting everyone in that place who was working with a smile and a gesture of “good morning” I sat down at the bar, ordered shrimp and grits and a bloody mary, extra spicy, and did some casual people watching.  The sun was shining in the glass eating area behind me and the bartendress was a fabulous, no-nonsense type of “sweetheart once you get to know her, but she’ll probably kick your teeth in if you don’t watch it”.  You know the kind.  I love all of them.  I like to think of myself as one those people, if you don’t watch it.  (Though I’d never kick anyone’s teeth in, really.)  As soon as I received my vittles, an older gentlemen sauntered in, obviously saluting everyone who worked there as an old friend with a big grin and loud booming voice.  Wearing overalls and a smile, he sat down one seat over from me at the bar and began chatting up the lovely bartendress.  He and I looked at each other and I greeted him with a “good morning to you!”  At that, we were non-stop talking.  He had so many questions about me and I about him.  He learned that I was a singer/songwriter/activist/poet.  I learned that he was a story-teller, life-liver, and ex-postmaster and musician.  We gently bombarded one another with sharings of our pasts and questions of current pass-times and hobbies, works and interests.  It was as if I’d met someone whom I’d known for lifetimes, in an 87 year old man.  He didn’t remind me of my grandfather, he reminded me of ALL of my grandfathers, boyfriends, and those whom I’d like to meet and spend eternity with in all of my upcoming lifetimes.  I’ll never forget that day and the magic it brought me.  He sang a song for me that he’d written for one of his greatest loves.  He’d put it down on paper and memorized it for a date when they were courting.  I sang him a ballad I’d written about Ransom and his murderous, heartbreaking death.  I sang him also Utah Phillips’ song “I Think of You” because Joe’s mannerisms reminded me of Utah Phillips and the way he tells a story.
Stay tuned for more, I don’t know when it’ll come but I am sure there’ll be further illuminated exchanges between me and Joe and I’ll post them here.
Hula Girl day I met Joe

Hula girl on the road home from Asheville the day I met Joe

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First Page 

Saturday 1:39 PM October 24, 2015
Once I had a dream where the world was filled with inspiring words and teachers. We were all cradling our precious lives and our beautiful planet. We respected ourselves enough to respect all others. Entangled fates all strung together in time and in deeds.
My fantasy lived on… into my waking moments, and I began to realize that I come from a place where the world could be, how our tiny pieces could come together to be huge winds of change and resilience.
I am truly beginning to love myself again – breathing life into the very chasm I dug for myself so many years ago.
There are times for caves, but now is not one of them.


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I’m thinking about it, wondering about it, getting to it.

Seeing as how all things come in waves and in circles and in squares sometimes, maybe happiness is one of all things.

What makes me happy? Trust, Fun, Play, Quality Time, Justice, Creativity, Support (both verbal and active), Consideration, Adventure, Comfort, Meaningful and Intimate Conversation, Healthy Habits, Sunshine and Rain, Humor and Laughter, Respectful Challenge, Inspirational moments, being right here, Learning to be aware of my body and mind, Not feeling sick or afflicted, feeling strong and talented, Singing and Playing, Witty Banter and Food, good, wholesome food.  Poetry, good fiction, prose, listening to the radio and records and dancing.  I LOVE going to the movies, that makes me happy, even when I cry all the way home because it was a sad movie.  I love remembering people who have passed on and how grateful I am to have known some of them.  I am happy when I am with my grandparents and know that they love me to ends of their time on this Earth.  It makes me happy to drive out to the parkway and find a spot to sit and read, or sit and watch the sun go down, or walking through the chilly Autumn forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I love a clean and organized space – helps me think clearly and feel a tiny bit of stability. I enjoy moving furniture, building and making incarnations of spaces.  I enjoy learning new things and I love Mister Rogers.  I enjoy alone time, and I enjoy the quiet.  I enjoy eyes to eyes and hearts to hearts.  60s French pop music and old-time jams.  Garage rockabilly and downtempo Groove Salads.  (this list could go on and on)

What things create happiness in the world? It seems to me that peace creates happiness among some, along with reconciliation, trust, equal rights, and justice.  How am I contributing to the happiness in this world? Trying to make the world more fair, working for Everyone having a voice, not just a chosen few.  RE-writing the past habitual patterns – just because it’s always BEEN this way, doesn’t mean it has to continue to BE that way.  Forgiveness can make us happy, if we can just get there.

I enjoy feeling comfortable in my own skin.  I enjoy trusting those around me and feeling accepted and loved and treated with kindness, respect, and manners.  I enjoy saying thank you, please and you’re welcome, with fervor.  I enjoy not forgetting that this world and my part in it is a miracle, a stunning blip on the Universe’s radar.

Front Porch @ MMPPs