A Single Rose, A Sink of Dishes

Life feels like a whirlwind lately. Instead of continuing to blindly rush through the day, I am going to make a conscious decision to focus with mindfulness. A meaningful mindfulness, following the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, as I wrote about a full two years ago here.

If it’s time to wash the dishes, I will wash them in order to wash the dishes, not to hurry through the process so that I can get back to tax preparation or writing.   I hope you will go back and read that post if you are feeling at all overwhelmed.

My father has been in the hospital again ( and hopes to go to a nursing home for a week or so today). He went into congestive heart failure, with fluid on the lungs and atrial fibrillation. Then he got a high heart rate. When he left the hospital before he was supposed to go to the nursing home, but they had a flu epidemic and were in quarantine. A nurse whispered to him the first night that he shouldn’t be there as he would die if he got the flu. So he went home. Who knows if he started getting A-fib on and off and didn’t know it. Now they have his sinus rhythm normal, and I hope he can go to the nursing home today. They don’t have any flu cases.

In addition, it’s tax season, so I have much work. I am trying to enjoy a little hubbub with the publication of Doll God (hey, it’s netted me 3 bottles of champagne from darling friends!). I have approximately 5 weeks to revise my entire memoir manuscript for my Stanford instructor Julia Scheeres. And my old cat Mac requires feeding 7-10 times a day (which twigs the other cats to their “empty tummies” hahaha). Oh, and there is that pesky thing called work, too ;).

As an added blessing, on Tuesday hubby and I found black mold in the closet where I store my scrapbooks, books, and old writing. Luckily, only one scrapbook from 1989-1990 was ruined. Consequently, I’ve been moving pretty fast trying to keep up.

But if I rush from one activity to another, trying to check them off my ever blossoming list, I will do this until I just drop dead one day. Pretty dumb. So I am back to reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book TheMiracle of Mindfulness because it will help me live and experience through the whirlwind and not just exist at its center.

I’ll keep his book handy. Maybe just seeing it on the table will keep me focused! How about you? Are you rushing too much?



Filed under Memoir, Writing, Doll God, Publishing, Lifestyle, Inspiration

My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy, Part III

What I didn’t realize until after my MIL passed away was that she had painted my first school–McKinley Elementary–where I attended kindergarten. My grandparents lived across the street, and I stayed with them during the day while my parents were at work. Grandma walked me across Emerson Street every morning for school. In this painting you can see my grandparents’ house on the other corner. Sorry that the image below looks a little crooked. There is glass over the painting and I had to angle the camera in order to avoid the glare.

The school is long gone, but the house my grandfather built is still standing. When I was a kid it was white, but then it was gold. Now it’s white again. The gray house on the other side of theirs is also gone. Here is the house today as I saw it in October.

Here’s a little tangent away from my mother-in-law. Although the house looks modest, it was a wonderland to me. I loved every minute I spent there–from the 2nd floor with the 3 bedrooms still preserved as my mother and her siblings had lived in them (complete with books and toys) to the kitchen where my grandmother made homemade doughnuts and delicious farm suppers to the money plants and strawberries growing out back.

My gigantic classroom at McKinley was at the opposite side of the first floor from my grandparents’ house. It had a huge window which opened out to a grassy field. We could walk out through that field and sit under an old thick-trunked tree while the teacher read to us or we played post office. I do wonder sometimes what it is that makes us tear down public buildings that well served generations. Why do we need new?

My MIL’s paintings captured many buildings in Kalamazoo that had new facades put on or were destined to be destroyed. How sweet of her to paint my first school.

P.S. We discovered the painting after Diana passed away, and my husband and I gave it to my mother because it was her school, too!


Filed under Art, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Photographs, Research and prep for writing

Luanne Castle’s new book of Poetry: Doll God


Poliblog wrote such a cool review of Doll God–as a poem!

Originally posted on thepoliblog:

Luanne Castle, whose very popular blog is at http://writersite.org , has just published a book of poetry, Doll God.

Here is the review I posted on Amazon.

The changing feelings and conditions
Of a person,
Of two people,
Of an animal,
Of an object,
Over an hour or a lifetime,
Each captured in a concise slide-show,
Each snap-shot taken
With empathy
And insight.

If you wish to comment on this post but do not see a box where you can submit a comment, that is because WordPress does not include the mechanism for commenting on the page that shows all of the recent postings. Comment boxes are available only on the page for the individual blog post. So click here, scroll to the bottom of the post, and submit your comment.

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Filed under Blogging, Book Review, Books, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

Review of Luanne Castle’s First Poetry Book “Doll God”


Jennifer very kindly read Doll God and reviewed it. Thanks so much for your support, Jennifer!

Also, a reminder that I am doing a Goodreads Book Giveaway through the weekend.

Good luck to you!




Doll God by Luanne Castle

Doll God

by Luanne Castle

Giveaway ends January 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Originally posted on Poetry For Starters:

I have had the absolute privilege to read Luanne Castle’s first book of poems with the wonderful title “Doll God”. Her poems have been published in great journals such as the Wisconsin Review, Prairie Wolf Press, and TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics and several other publications as well. This is her first book of poems printed by Aldrich Press. She studied creative writing at several schools two of which have been the University of California and Stanford.

My reviews of books are not lengthy. I try to pull the essence of the overall book and I am here to promote the positive. I may miss the mark all together, but I hope that I honor the pieces in some way. I hopefully somehow inspire the reader to add each author’s books to their collection of favorites.

“Doll God” by Luanne Castle has an underlying theme of feminine that…

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Filed under Book Review, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

My Plan to Lure Hubby to More Rescue Cats

We have a winner for the name of the Doll God doll! She is to be called MaryGold, named by the mysterious John Janssens. So apropos, considering she was cavorting with marigolds in the photo. Second place is Violet, suggested by the charming Seyi Sandra, who writes the lovely blog Seyi Sandra David: A Writer with a Difference. Third place The other second place is Flavia, a name Mareymercy mentioned. She was so surprised to see the name do so well. She takes some amazing photographs she shares on her blog.

Taking the advice of a blogger who wrote about Goodreads, I have set up a Book Giveaway which begins today and ends on Monday. Of course, as with any new (to me) site, I’m a little unclear as to exactly when today and exactly when Monday. To be on the safe side, I would recommend entering the contest by Sunday! Let me know if you enter and how the experience was for you. And good luck to you!


Doll God by Luanne Castle

Doll God

by Luanne Castle

Giveaway ends January 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

On another note (and hence the blog title), Monday afternoon hubby and I visited a local no kill animal shelter to deliver the diabetic food and insulin we didn’t use for our oldest cat Mac. With the help of our vet, we went a different path for Mac because of his many medical issues. We are treating him with a different diet instead of insulin. I found a shelter that has a cat named Randy who is diabetic and can use the hundreds of dollars of food and insulin I bought and didn’t use!

By bringing hubby I had a method to my madness. He’s in semi-retirement, which means he still works a lot at home, but doesn’t get out much. He’s also “down” about how business (something he loves and is very talented at) has changed for the worse in so many ways. But he loves cats. When we got inside the shelter, I said, “Do you have a social room for cats here?”

“Sure, it’s right this way. I’ll show you!” She was very eager. Of course, she was. But so was I.

Many of their cats were off at places like PetSmart, looking cute and hopeful, no doubt, from within their glass cubicles. But there were a few left behind. We were greeted at the door by the impressive and friendly tabby known as The Mayor–named for his way of greeting everyone! The room was decorated like a nursery school playroom with fun equipment and toys. A tiny orange kitten sat alone in a big cage, blinking at me and hoping I would take him home (sorry, I can’t add to my cats right now, little buddy). They had a few long shelves with clean towels and blankets and a black and white cat slept behind some of the blankets. We peeked in to see her. She stretched at us. Another cat slept on a cat tree, too exhausted to visit with people who only stopped in for a second.

As we walked to the door, I said, “Do you need volunteers to hang with the cats?”

Yes, they do need those humans. The cats need to be socialized–to hear human voices, smell human smells, and feel human touch. What better people to do that than us? I am dragging hubby (reluctant, but not opposed) to the volunteer orientation in February. Stay tuned.

This is the man who, when we found our first cat, said, “I don’t do cats. Just dogs.”  Hahahahaha. Famous last words.

On a related note:

Have you heard about cat cafes? They might have started in Japan, where apartments for young singles typically do not allow pets. People can go to the cat cafe, have a beverage, and play with cats! There seem to be some in the U.S., too, and you can adopt a cat from there, after making sure the two of you are a good match.

Plenty of apartments in Phoenix allow cats, so I doubt one could make a business out of a cat cafe here. But one could certainly make a charity out of it, right? Of course, that sounds like a LOT of work, so I think volunteering at the shelter once or twice a week would be something we could handle right now.


Filed under Books, Doll God, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing

Vote for a Name


Please vote for a name for the doll. She feels objectified and needs an identity.

Originally posted on Writer Site:

Here are the names that you suggested for the doll-that-needs-a-name. Please vote for one name. We’ll see what happens!!

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Vote for a Name

Here are the names that you suggested for the doll-that-needs-a-name. Please vote for one name. We’ll see what happens!!


Filed under Books, Doll God, Dolls, Nonfiction, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing