Monthly Archives: November 2015

What Ever Happened to MaryGold?

Remember MaryGold? That doll from the cover of Doll God? The doll you named?

Yeah, her. That doll. Here she is with my daughter’s cat. Notice how she has a Mona Lisa smile on her face. But in the photo below she’s scowling. How does she do that?

The reason I am bringing her up is that I’ve lost her! I tore the house apart last night looking for her, but all I could find was her muddy pantaloons. I know this sounds creepy, but I feel responsible, as if I might have done away with her. Why else would I find one article of clothing, but she is nowhere to be found?

I did get a nice plaque in the mail from the people at the New Mexico Book Coop that sponsors the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, but it would have been nice to share it with MaryGold.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Award, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Writing

Mask as Identity or as Hiding Place?

I’m always thinking of a mask as a means to an end–that which hides someone or someone’s face. When I meet someone wearing a mask I feel very uncomfortable–much like when someone is wearing dark sunglasses or is in a car with darkly tinted windows. I feel at a disadvantage. I am on the outside and can’t look in.

Maybe it’s because of all the scariness that hides behind masks. Think of the Anonymous Hackers mask. One minute they are ruining people’s lives with their hacking and the next they are trying to save us by hacking ISIS (Daesh, ISIL, the Islamic State–sorry I had to point out that all these names are another form of mask). So masks scare me.

But I noticed this mask my kids have hanging on the wall, left from a long-ago trip to Italy, and suddenly it occurred to me that the mask itself speaks volumes. The mask is a costume, an identity that can be donned.

And that made all the difference for me.

This mask is from the Carnival of Venice. I love costumes, theatre, and a chance at a temporary and different identity.

Duh, I guess that is why I am a writer. When I was a kid I wanted to be one of the “3 As”–actor, author, or archeologist. They are all about different identities, in one way or another.

How do masks seem to you? What mask would you choose right now? I think there’s a writing prompt in here somewhere . . . .

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I’m behind with responding to comments because . . . um, because. But I will catch up this week! Thank you so much for your kind wishes about Doll God and your advice about resting or writing!  And Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!!! I don’t think I’ll be able to post again this week, but I’ll be blog reading!

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Filed under #AmWriting, Art and Music, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing prompt

An Award-Winning Book!

That’s right: my “baby” is an award-winning book. Doll God won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award in its category. I can’t help but say WOOHOO!

And if I do say so myself, this book makes a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and [insert your holiday of choice] gift.

I’ll be donating some autographed copies for the raffle at the Holiday Festival that the animal shelter is participating in, so if you’re in the Phoenix area, you can pick one up that way! Or you can click the book to get to Amazon.

Home Fur Good Holiday Festival Cave Creek, AZ: December 12, 2015

Frontier Town
6245 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Get Directions »

Description of Event:

Home Fur Good Holiday Festival will be held on December 12th, 2015. Hours: 10:00am – 3:00pm

 

castle promotional cover

 

 

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Filed under Arizona, Book Award, Book promotion, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing

Rest or Write?

What am I doing writing-wise? If I am writing a lazy word like “writing-wise,” you can bet that my writing is getting rusty. I have a lot of work to catch up on and don’t feel much like writing, although last weekend, I did manage to write a draft of a poem for the chapbook project focusing on family history. We’ll see how well the poem reads when I take it out in a week or two for a second glance.

I have two poems for the chapbook coming out in the museum of americana and one in California Journal of Poetics. These should all be out before the end of the year.

An experimental flash nonfiction piece I began in the course Marie and I took last summer is being published by Phoebe.

But in general I don’t feel much like writing right now. My mind is too cluttered with other “goings-on.” It’s not exactly monkey mind, which is more restless and unsetted. It’s just overly full, like trying to get to sleep at night when you have too much on your mind. Maybe I need a rest from writing. Or not.

Do you think a writer should force the issue and write through those busy head times like Dory says?

If so, maybe I should get off WordPress and into Word?

On another subject, is this little boy so precious? With little kids like this, we do have hope for the future.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Flash Nonfiction, Literary Journals, Poetry, Publishing, WordPress, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

Tall Pointy Things

When I take my car to the dealer for service or, very occasionally, when hubby and I go to a restaurant in that area of Scottsdale, I see a startling and beautiful site. I am usually on the wrong side of the street to get a photo or traffic is moving too quickly. But the other day my car was stopped at the intersection, and I had a clear shot. Because it was dusk, the lights were already on.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this spire/tower/obelisk in 1954, intending it for the Arizona State Capitol. People thought it too “avant-garde,” so it was rejected. Can you imagine? Five years before his death, a successful man like that had a work like THIS rejected. I think it’s so gorgeous. If you see a little of the design of this in the 911 Memorial building I showed you, you and I think alike, but it must be coincidence. Speaking of terrorism, I actually have been thinking about our Scottsdale spire because it also reminds me a bit of another architectural wonder, the Eiffel Tower, which has become one of the symbols for solidarity with Paris in the wake of Friday’s terror attacks.

There is something about a tall, upstanding representation that lends hope, I think.

Here’s my own little touch of hope in the desert:

I started to wonder what the difference is between an obelisk and a spire and a tower. While I think there is a lot of  overlap, usually an obelisk has four sides to it, like the Washington Monument.

A spire is the tall pointy thing found on top of churches, for example, although you can have a spire all by itself, which is what most people think the Scottsdale beauty is.

And a tower? Well, everything else is a tower, I guess.

And, no, they are not phallic symbols. If you think they are, that’s your problem, not mine, and certainly not these works of art. Exit gutter now. hahahaha

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Arizona, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Reading from The Book

On Sunday, I gave a poetry reading in Redlands, California, at the State Street Deli and Cafe. It was organized by Carla McGill, who did a fabulous job of it. Before I read, Carla read some of her own poetry, as did two other poets. After the event, I was able to sell and sign some copies of Doll God. Although I get nervous speaking in public, I really do love reading my poetry aloud. Actually, I love reading poetry aloud, period.

You know what I notice in this photo? How messed up my scarf got. What a shallow mind.

Here are a couple of clips of the reading. In the first I read “American Girl,” “Effigy,” and “Calculating Loss”–all poems from the book.

and in this clip I read a new poem about my great-grandmother.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, California, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Writing

A Robot for My Cat

After all my yakking about my new cat Kana you might wonder how she’s doing.

She’s absolutely adorable, and I’m madly in love with her. She likes to follow me around and when I go outside in the yard, she waits for me at the door.

Kana’s Halloween Costume

It’s been difficult integrating her with my other cats.  All four cats–the 3 original and the 1 new one–are seniors. Felix, Pear Blossom, and Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi all like to lie around the house all day doing absolutely nothing. Kana, on the other hand, finds everything new and somewhat stimulating, especially the other cats! She has no sense of personal space and gets right up into their faces. Each cat has a different limit to his or her personal space. Tiger likes at least six feet between herself and any other cat, although she is the one who sleeps with hubby and me–pressed up against one of us. Felix likes about three feet–once another cat (except Pear–the two of them face kiss almost every day) moves into that space, he gets nervous. Pear doesn’t need as much personal space, but she is a very independent spirit. She’s a small cat, and my pet sitter says about her, “Little but mighty.”

Kana chased Tiger a lot at first, so we have been training Tiger to increase her confidence. The idea is to get her to stop running away from Kana. Now she is more apt to growl at Kana when she gets too close. The training involves treats, so Tiger doesn’t mind it at all ;).

Some days are good because Kana feels more at ease and less restless. Then everyone finds their favorite place and hangs out. Some days are not so good because Kana wanders the house, looking for a cat to annoy. Sometimes Pear goes out of her way to annoy Kana.

I was worried about the evenings because Pear likes to lie on me when I’m on the couch watching TV or reading. Tiger sometimes squeezes in, too. On rare occasions, Felix comes over and tries to find some room. So I thought Kana would expect to climb onto the couch with me, and it would cause trouble. But actually, she is a doll in the evening. We have a recliner, in addition to two couches, and after I put a soft blanket on the chair, Kana realized it made a wonderful bed for her. So while I am still working for a couple of hours in the evening, Kana lies on her TV-watching bed, next to hubby, who is on his. Eventually, I sit on the other couch to unwind, and Kana will lie on her “bed” without moving until bedtime. It’s pretty cute.

Kana does get put to bed in her own room (my office) each night, so that the others get a rest from her and she doesn’t wander into our room and upset Tiger. She doesn’t seem to mind. I’m sure this has all been a lot for her to get used to, and maybe she likes that secure alone time at night.

Because Kana is still restless during the day so often, I have been making and buying toys for her. For instance, I tape feathers and toy mice onto paper towel rolls so she can bat them around the floor.

I found a robot fish at Target. It’s not a pet toy, but found in the regular toy department. It came with a bowl, and you can see Felix checking it out.

I think the bowl is unsafe because the opening is small, so I put the fish into a regular bowl of water. Here is Kana with the fish. She seems a little more cautious of that scary goldfish.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

Such Sad Beauty

My daughter lives in New York City now, not far from the financial district. When we visited her this month, hubby and I accompanied her to the 911 Memorial.

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Hubby and daughter reading the names at one of the twin reflecting pools.

The flowers

The towers reflect also

Magnificent

Look closely: a chilling reminder

Did you see it? Up in the sky, looking quite tiny? Click on the photo and zoom in . . . .

The memorial was quite the experience, and I have no words to talk about it except in the small and personal: makes me a little queasy having my daughter living so close.

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Are you a GOODREADS member? If so (or if you want to join) please vote for DOLL GOD as a write-in nominee for the Book Choice Award. If it is one of the top 5 write-ins it will become an official nominee!!! It could be your good deed of the day haha. If you’re a member, CLICK TO GOODREADS AND SCROLL DOWN TO WRITE IN

To join Goodreads, go to GOODREADS MAIN PAGE

News flash, I’m the featured poet at a poetry reading in Redlands, California, on Sunday, November 8 (300 E State Street). That’s THIS Sunday. 3-5 PM. Also reading will be two other poets, including my dear friend Carla McGill. If you recall, Carla wrote this beautiful post on here about “Poetry, Loss, and Grieving.

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Filed under #AmWriting, History, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry reading, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Our Cemeteries

In the past, when we’ve visited Michigan, hubby and I visited his parents’ graves. This time, we went with my mother to the veteran’s cemetery where my father is buried. When we got to Toronto, we also visited hubby’s grandparents’ graves.  Sherri Matthews gave me the idea to write about our cemeteries.

In Michigan, it was “pouring rain,” (is that a Michigan expression where pouring is used as an adjective meaning the rain is coming down in a downpour?) and we had left the umbrella back home.  There is a government building on the very large property, and I stopped by to see if they had an umbrella to borrow. A nice young man ran about looking for one, even running out to his own car, but alas no umbrella.

The cemetery feels very spacious because there are a lot of grounds with a curving road that cuts through. All the newer sections use flat markers, rather than gravestones, so the illusion is as if one is in a park. It looks clean and contemporary.

When we got to my father’s section, the rain stopped.

Graves are dug in the order of date of death, and many have come after my father. There is an institutional feel. Everything is large and impersonal. Big equipment just beyond my father’s grave is carving out room for more of our dead veterans, and in some cases, their spouses.

I’m grateful for the sacrifices of our veterans, and I am glad that this national cemetery is well cared for and in a beautiful setting. But it’s not where I would have liked my father to be buried. Originally, my parents had plots in a family section of a local cemetery. He would have had a regular headstone, where we would not have been limited by government rules. I also don’t like this idea for my mother because eventually (she’s in very good health and a very young 80, to be clear) she would have to go in the same grave with him, I believe. But near the end my father became more and more focused on his military service in the Korean War, and he changed his funeral and burial plans.

In Toronto, we found old traditional cemeteries. We were told the name of the Jewish cemetery where we would find hubby’s grandparents, so we followed my iPhone directions to get there. We were told it was on the north side of the road, and when we got there we discovered two cemeteries–both Jewish–one on each side of the road. We went to the appropriate side, but we couldn’t find any of the relatives, although we searched the names on every stone. I kept thinking we were in the wrong place because in general the dates appeared too old to me. Although there were a few where the deaths were past 2000, for the most part I thought these plots had been bought 100 years ago.

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I felt bad about this cemetery because although someone was taking care of the grass, many stones were falling over. I didn’t know how much vandalism had to do with this and couldn’t help but wonder why nobody had fixed them!

Jewish cemeteries are sometimes subjected to vandalism. Quite recently in France hundreds were vandalized. But these are old stones and maybe they have fallen over on their own?

Eventually I wandered across the street to the very neat and orderly, but crowded, cemetery.

I searched for some time, as the sun was moving down in the sky, creating shadows. Finally, hubby reached a cousin on the phone. He drove over and showed us that there was yet a third cemetery just up the street! That’s where we found hubby’s grandparents.

Although this cemetery had the right feel and was quite beautiful and old, I won’t show you my photos of hubby’s grandparents’ gorgeous stones because his relatives are what hubby and I think of as superstitious, and I don’t want to annoy anyone.

These Toronto cemeteries all had the look of big city cemeteries where the rows of gravestones are quite close together because land is precious.

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Filed under #AmWriting, History, Memoir, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel, Vintage American culture, Writing