Monthly Archives: January 2015

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?

 

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

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!

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Filed under Art and Music, 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!

thepoliblog

Golden laurel wreath, probably from Cyprus, 4th/3rd century BC; Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim, Germany, photographed by Andreas Praefcke in April, 2007. Golden laurel wreath, probably from Cyprus, 4th/3rd century BC; Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim, Germany, photographed by Andreas Praefcke in April, 2007.

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.

Trajectories:
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…

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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!

 

 

ENTER TO WIN A FREE BOOK

Doll God by Luanne Castle

Doll God

by Luanne Castle

Giveaway ends January 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Poetry for Wonder

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!

ENTER TO WIN A FREE BOOK

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.

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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.

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!!

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

A Doll in Need of a Name

Thank you so much for your support for the publication of Doll God. I had no idea there is so much work involved with the birth of a book. I’m running on little sleep and learning everything from scratch.

I feel like I did when my son was a baby. Nearly headachey through the eyes, foggy, and sleepy.  But definitely not crabby. Hahaha.

If you did or do order a copy of my book and you like it, please write a couple of nice sentences over at Amazon (and Goodreads if you’re on that site). Apparently this is very important to the sale of the book. It doesn’t have to take much time; it’s more  important that it be heartfelt.

So what have I been doing? Too much and I’m too tired to make a list, I’m afraid, but I can tell you that at both Amazon and Goodreads I set up author profiles. I spent hours reading a book telling how to market a book on Amazon only to discover that the information was so old that it’s no longer applicable. Most of the bells and whistles the writer referred to are no longer available.  I contacted friends by email about Doll God.

It’s also important for me to pay it forward by reading and reviewing other poetry books (along with my memoir and some fiction reviews).

With all this hubbub, I don’t have anything brilliant to say. But I do have a shot of the doll from my book cover cavorting in my flowers. Note that these flowers were saved from the freeze this year by lots of hard work by hubby and by me. We had to cover all the shrubs and flower beds and even the cacti and succulents when we had a freeze that lasted a week.This doll has been through the mill, as my mother would say. She’s been face down in mud puddles and tide pools and traveled back and forth between Arizona and California several times (through the USPS).  This photo is proof she has a face, too.  In the book cover below, her face is hidden.

Doll God promo coverI think she needs a name. My daughter, who took the original photo for the book art and who took the photo of her in the flowers, as well, thought she needed a name, but we never settled on one.

Any ideas on a name for the doll?

 

 

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Filed under Art and Music, Book Review, Books, Doll God, Dolls, Nonfiction, Photographs, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

Searching for Angels

Woohoo! My book is available. (Where’s that champagne bottle again? Empty?)

Since Doll God is now up on Amazon here, I thought I would tell you a little more about the collection. Here is the full description:

Luanne Castle’s debut poetry collection, Doll God, studies traces of the spirit world in human-made and natural objects–a Japanese doll, a Palo Verde tree, a hummingbird. Her exploration leads the reader between the twin poles of nature and creations of the imagination in dolls, myth, and art.

From the first poem, which reveals the child’s wish to be godlike, to the final poem, an elegy for female childhood, this collection echoes with the voices of the many in the one: a walking doll, a murderer, Snow White. Marriage, divorce, motherhood, and family losses set many of the poems in motion. The reader is transported from the lakes of Michigan to the Pacific Ocean to the Sonoran Desert.

These gripping poems take the reader on a journey through what is found, lost, or destroyed. The speaker in one poem insists, “I am still looking for angels.” She has failed to find them yet keeps searching on. She knows that what is lost can be found.

Doll God promo cover

It’s really hard to describe your own book! Seriously. I wrote the above description, but it seemed agonizing to do so. After all that work crafting those three little paragraphs, you better believe I’m going to use it ;).

If you’re so inclined to buy Doll God and see what I’ve spent so much time on for the past 20 years, I will be thrilled to hear how the poems make you feel. Because above all, poems should be felt as a sensation or series of sensations.

I was so blessed to get pre-publication reviews from some absolutely stellar poets and writers. Although Stuart Dybek is most well-known as one of the most important short story writers of the time, he began his writing career as a poet and has published two poetry collections, in addition to many other books.  Matthew Lippman and Caroline Goodwin are highly successful and absolutely wonderful poets. Their styles couldn’t be more dissimilar, and yet they both write exquisite poetry. You can find these blurbs on the back of Doll God.

“Every day the world subtracts from itself,” Luanne Castle observes.  Her wonderfully titled collection, Doll God, with its rich and varied mix of poems part memoir, part myth and tale, shimmers as it swims as poetry is meant to, upstream against the loss.

Stuart Dybek, MacArthur Fellow and author of Streets in Their Own Ink

 

In her haunting first collection, Luanne Castle has created a space where “the sounds/of the schoolchildren/and the traffic/grind down/to nothing” and where the reader is invited to experience the lasting echo of our primal human past. Who makes our toys, and why? Which toys and in whose likeness?  With startling imagery and a keen eye for the subtler shapes of violence and redemption, Castle asks us to consider and re-consider these questions. Like a “world of broken mirrors waiting” the poems call us back to ourselves, our childhoods, and the potential rewards of prayer and reflection. I find both hope and despair in these pages, where “every day the world subtracts from itself and nothing/is immune,” and every object contains a voice and a story. This is a fierce and beautiful book.

Caroline Goodwin, author of Trapline

 

Luanne Castle’s new collection, Doll God, is sublime.  The manner of these poems– that they embrace the doll and bring to it humanity and divinity–is something to behold.  The voice in these poems is tender, visceral, and wonderfully human.  Ms. Castle has forged a vision that feels like something you want to dance with, dress up, talk to like a child, but with an adult’s sensibility.  I love these poems with my whole heart because they make me feel both childlike and grown, simultaneously.  Doll mistresses, primordial conches, Barbies, infuse these poems with tremendous humanity, and they delight with purpose, sadness and joy, and an incredible range that will leave you breathless.

Matthew Lippman, author of American Chew

I’m so nervous and so excited for you to read my book. I hope you like it. Better yet, I hope some of the poems resonate with you and your life.

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

Never Too Young for Soda

While I’m twiddling my thumbs waiting for Amazon to list my book, I thought I’d mention (again) that my husband has a soda pop advertising collection.

I have to walk past this every day.

 

image

Here is a vintage ad I  think is particularly bizarre, hilarious, or disgusting–probably all of those descriptions.

A baby drinking 7up! Can you imagine what would happen if a company tried to create an ad like that today?! No wonder my generation is hooked on soda.

Or am I the only one with a soda problem? I have it down to one a day, but even that seems ridiculous with all the wonderful teas available. And plenty of water.

But think of it: every day I walk past all those signs. They murmur “refreshing,” trying to coax me over to the refrigerator.

 

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Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Memoir, Nonfiction, Vintage American culture