Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Museum Exhibits Michelangelo Drawings, But The White Shirts Drew Me In

We took Mom to the Phoenix Art Gallery. We’ve been before, but they always have some good exhibits. The one I really wanted to see was Gianfranco Ferré’s “The White Shirt According to Me.” The Italian designer took the classic image of the white shirt and embellished and distorted and improved it.

 That spot of humble plaid in the middle is hubby.

Here is the detail on the bottom of this gown shirt.

They also had an exhibition of stunning cameos. The details on the curly hair was so remarkable it took my breath away. But they were under glass and, besides, I don’t think I was supposed to take pix.

The Asian art really appeals to me and to hubby both.

The above piece represents a marriage of east and west: the Chinese vase is held by a French-designed stand.

I was also amazed by a tall red-painted and gilt-decorated cabinet with Chinese designs that was made in Mexico. So interesting how the Chinese designs were popular there in colonial days.

Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei cast some bronze Zodiac heads using the old method.

Chinese Zodiac is what some people think of as being born “in the year of the . . . . ” Hubby and I were both born in the sign of the sheep or ram. According to the information at the exhibit, the personality of these people is supposed to be artistic and elegant and peace-loving. They like history and are sensitive. I like that description, but suspect that they left out the negatives so people wouldn’t leave the museum miffed ;).  Mom has the sign of a dog, and she says that Dad was Dragon. That fits pretty well. However, the sheep description fits me better than it does hubby, and the dragon description fit my dad better than it does his twin. So you can only take this stuff just so far . . . .

What will hubby and Mom and I be up to next?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Art and Music, Inspiration, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

Imagine Alice So Small She Can Fall Down These Holes

The other day I was out by my pool (yes, it’s Arizona and we have a pool). My pool is small, but it has an attached jacuzzi and a little fountain. I glanced down at the fountain. It was shut off, so I mainly saw the empty fountain pool. When I noticed the side of this empty pool, my stomach lurched. [Pause to go look it up: an abrupt, uncontrolled movement–yes, definitely, it lurched]. ICK. Those little dots completely creeped me out. If you click on this photo, you’ll see what I mean. I’m sorry if it bothers you, too. Truly, I am. But I feel a need to share!

I began to think that maybe I am getting that phobia that my daughter has. It’s called Trypophobia, and it means a phobia of little holes clustered together. There are fabric patterns that resemble holes, and if you are Trypophobic, you can have a reaction to those. Or it can be a lotus seed pod, that you can see in this Pop Science article on Trypophobia. You could feel sick when you cut into a block of swiss cheese. Or, in my daughter’s case, even a massing flock of birds can bring out this phobia. Or is that her bird phobia (Ornithophobia)? Or a combination phobia?!

You will note that in this photo there aren’t really any holes. These are little “pimples” on the surface. Maybe these were created by the pool builder for traction. I suspect my pool looks like this, too, but I promise not to look at anything except the water surface! Any kind of pattern where a multitude of holes could lurk can cause a reaction in sufferers.

How about this one? A little coral–

Oh my. Some people say that this phobia is when a natural fear of something dangerous has become a fear transferred to things that are not dangerous. But I always say you can’t be too careful. Imagine all the bugs that could slither out of your basic pancake batter.

Do these kinds of holes or pseudo-holes or patterns that vaguely resemble holes make you squeamish?

A writing question: if you create a character with Trypophobia, how important is this to your characterization? Does it just become an interesting “tic” and a way to identify that character or is there a more intrinsic purpose to that character trait? Would it affect more important aspects of what motivates the characters and how the character lives her life?

On another note, remember how my mom is here through February? Now my aunt and uncle (my dad’s twin) are coming here for a couple of weeks in February, too. We are going to be busy!

P.S. If you’re wondering about my weird post title, I was thinking about my poem “Waking Up” in Doll God that features an Alice in Wonderland  character. I read it aloud the other day and was thinking about Alice when she’s so small and at risk in her environment.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Characterization, Lifestyle, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing Talk

What Are Your Writing Customs?

Some of you probably remember a post by my friend poet and writer Carla McGill last year called “Poetry, Loss, and Grieving.” It’s a beautiful essay and has had a lot of readers.

Carla just started her own WordPress blog! Please go visit and welcome her. Blogging is all new to her, especially the technology, so she can use a lot of support. Also, you’re going to love her blog. It’s about writing and called Writing Customs. Be one of her first blog followers! And follow her on Twitter, too, here. You will love Carla’s posts (I promise). She’s so thoughtful and insightful and a wonderful writer and person.

I’m still trying to catch up with work and visiting with my mother, so don’t think I’m off writing a novel or something hahahahahaha. I hope to be back Monday.

Go tell Carla what YOUR writing customs are!

P.S. This is a chandelier at the Wrigley Mansion I visited with my mother and my husband. It’s Waterford crystal and Arizona amethysts!

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, WordPress, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

You Hoo! Woo Hoo!

The best way to find something is to stop looking for it. I cleaned off a really messy shelf and inside an old gift bag, I came across you-know-who.

Imagine my surprise when I peeked inside!

Her head is a little wobbly (neck string loose?), so I was careful with her.

I put her in tissue paper so she would be more comfortable with that bad neck. And I marked the box with her name: MARYGOLD

MaryGold in pink tissue

We’ll see if I lose her again.

Off working on tax prep and hanging with Mom! Maybe a little writing . . . . Have a great week, everyone!

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Dolls, Writing

Places to Go and People to See

My mother is visiting for two months. So that she doesn’t have to sit around while I work all the time, I decided to take her to southern California and visit her grandson and his fiancée. And to stop off at a few wineries . . . .

Did I ever mention that I discovered my father’s grandmother’s family owned vineyards in Germany? It was in a village called Budesheim, right outside of Bingen. I explained to Mom that proves that I come from a long line of winos.

We not only checked out Chardonnays, but other wines as well.

We were picky about which wineries and even walked out of one before we bought our tickets. Calloway above was a favorite.

Mom was entranced with the snow on the mountaintops so early in the season.

I was entranced with the egrets sneaking around every vineyard.

On an unrelated note, if you’ve read Doll God and haven’t yet written a review for Amazon, I am shamelessly begging for another review to boost the book up to 30 reviews. It’s been at 29 for a loooooooong time. xo

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book Review, California, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Sightseeing & Travel

My Angel Survived the Ball Breaking and Other Miscellany

Today is a grab bag post. Know that this mirrors my mind right now–an assortment of miscellany.

I have both poetry and prose writing projects in the works, a post to write about Sheila Morris’ new book The Short Side of Time, a book review to write for Adrienne Morris (loved The House on Tenafly Road) for Goodreads and Amazonand Mom arrived this weekend. She’ll be here in Arizona for the next two months, trying to catch some sun rays. Her knee is in a brace, as it’s bothering her lately, but it’s so nice to have her here. The kitties at the shelter need lots of help, and Kana and Tiger still don’t get along (sigh). If only Tiger realized that she only has to make an assertive move toward Kana and she would earn some respect. Or not.

And then it’s time to start pulling everything together for the TAXMAN (how come it’s never the TAXWOMAN?) for our businesses and personal. So much tedious work on top of regular work. If you can’t tell, I resent this extra burden.

I had a flash fiction piece accepted by Story Shack. They will assign an illustrator to illustrate the story, a feature I love about their magazine.

Remember those German glass ornaments I keep in my antique trunk? Did I mention that daughter’s boyfriend accidentally broke one last year? It was a silver ball that was open on one side (like a little diorama) with an angel in the snow. The ball broke away, and all that was left was the angel standing on a glass shard. I just found it in a drawer where I tucked it because I couldn’t bear to throw it away. I hope I’m not going to turn into a hoarder, but she doesn’t seem like something I can throw away as if she were trash.

Maybe I’ll keep her to stand guard over 2016.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Blogging, Book Review, Cats and Other Animals, Fiction, Lifestyle, Writing

A Truck to Remember

When I was just past thirty,  I wrote a poem about my father. It took an Honorable Mention in a contest sponsored by The MacGuffin literary journal and judged by Diane Wakoski.  I gave him a copy of the journal after it was published, and he acted like he always did when he didn’t know if he was being subtly criticized or if he should be flattered. I told him to be flattered.

“Little old ladies” (his term) always loved my father. And I think that’s how he found some of his treasures. Maybe that is where my trunk came from, now that I think of it!

A Scout Truck Grows Older

 

The only time my father did not bury

himself with obsolete and imperfect things–

rice-paper widows with old iceboxes and documents

to give away to someone who cherished them

for their age–was when he loved a ‘sixty-four

gray-green Scout, still toddler-new and shiny.

I took this as an omen of better times;

not knowing he wanted to see the decay of beauty.

 

My father and I travelled long and alone

in that truck that was not really a truck–

no caked mud flaps, corroded door frames,

three-year-old garbage under cab seats.

In January he cranked its heavy plow,

flexing the biceps of the Scout’s compact body.

It whined and startled from the weight

of Kalamazoo’s heavy winter, my father

pushing it on and on way into dark.

 

That summer he steered us bouncing across

the spongy edge of Long Lake, passing closest

when breath-near the bottomless drop-off.

I imagined the truck tipping and me

with no orange life jacket to endure

the cold whirlpool, those obsidian depths.

But we spun on, tilting, along that damp sand,

crushing the last fishtail-smelly driftwood

and snail shells that lake would ever spew out.

 

The Scout began aging–coughing and slowing.

When it held enough soiled shirts and rusty tools–

things not new, too common to call antiques–

I was too grownup to dress in boy clothes

and pretend to be my father’s son, loving

the feel of destruction beneath our wheels.

The MacGuffin 5.3 (1988): 18

I couldn’t find an old photograph of the truck. I realized I don’t have many photos of those years.

I’m not sure if my dad’s truck was #1 or #3 in the ad. I remember running away and getting out to the garage and seeing the Scout sitting there. The world looked exhausting from the garage, so I hauled my little laundry bag of clothes into the truck and fell asleep.

 

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Family history, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Publishing, Writing, Writing contest

Of Engagements and Cats

As you can probably guess from my last post and the list of events that occurred in my life in 2015, I am glad to be on this side of 2016. But one more good thing did happen at the very tippy end of 2015: my son got engaged! He bought his girlfriend a pet rock (that’s what I call it), proposed on bended knee (on a hotel rooftop overlooking the ocean and city lights), and even asked her father for permission. Both son and his fiancée are traditional types! Not that it’s necessarily my business, but I definitely approve his choice. Come to think of it, I guess it is as much my business as it is her father’s business!!! I’m thrilled to be gaining another daughter!

The last couple of weeks I’ve been spending more time than usual on the shelter cats. I even started to think that my next project after the one I am working on ought to be poems about an animal shelter. That is a rich, emotional, and even dangerous setting.  Nobody has done that one before. The problem is how to write about the issue without becoming too sentimental or too cold. I think that is why it’s a subject usually avoided in literary poetry.

For your entertainment, a little cat poem by Irish/American poet Eamon Grennan.

Cat Scat

Dearest, note how these two are alike:
I am watching Cleo listening, our cat
listening to Mozart's Magic Flute. What
can she be hearing? What
can the air carry into her ears like that,
her ears swivelling like radio dishes that
are tuned to all the noise of the world, flat
and sharp, high and low, a scramble of this and that
she can decode like nobody's business, acrobat
of random airs as she is? Although of course a bat
is better at it, sifting out of its acoustic habitat
the sound of the very shape of things automat-
ically-- and on the wing, at that. The Magic Flute! What
a joy it is, I feel, and wonder (to the end this little scat)
does , or can, the cat.

—Eamon Grennan

What do cat poems have to do with son’s engagement? Not much, except that he has two cats, Lily and Meesker, so they will be very happy to be part of the marriage ahead.

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