Monthly Archives: April 2020

More Scrapping Scraps

I finished another story scrap for my SCRAPS scrapbook–finally.

As a reminder this is the first post. Click the photo to read it.

 

When I was a preteen, my grandmother sewed me shorts sets from cotton blend prints. She made the tops and shorts out of the same material, but the tailoring was fairly sophisticated, so the end product had more in common with a summer dress than a romper. I don’t know where she got the idea from or if it was in style in the sixties. At least one fabric was made into matching mother-daughter shorts sets for Mom and me.

 

But my favorite set was in a fabric that I found very cheering. Balloons in varying shades of spring greens, both solids and prints, float on a white field. The shorts were mid-thigh, and the top had a fairly high neckline. Because Grandma made it for me, the outfit fit perfectly. It was comfortable, and I felt good wearing it.

 

Not that I didn’t love to wear my denim shorts and short-sleeved sweatshirt. But Grandma’s short sets were lighter weight than my other play clothes and much more convenient than dresses.

In this photo I am posing alone–to see the one with my mother look at the finished pages at the bottom of the post.

In our old photos, I found myself wearing the balloon set on two different dates. The summer photo came first. It was on the occasion of our trip to Canada to attend Expo 67. In fact, in a scrapbook, Mom labeled the picture, “Mother and daughter enjoying a rest.” A body of water is behind us. Below that photo, my mother had pasted another photo and labeled it, “Sawmill at Upper Canada Village.”  There is another image of just me in the same spot but without my mother (the one above). From examining the few photographs I could find online, I do think these photos of me are also from Upper Canada Village.

 

In the photos, I am wearing the shorts set, with its matching triangle headscarf tied at the nape of my neck. I also wear a blue ¾ length sleeve cardigan that Grandma knitted for me. On my feet are navy blue Keds-type shoes.

 

I’ve written before about our Expo 67 visit, but we also went to other tourist sites in Canada during our trip. Upper Canada Village was one of the places we visited. Niagara Falls was another.

 

My grandmother must have made this outfit for me in the spring of 1967 when I was finishing up elementary school (6th grade). I started junior high in September.

The other photo revives vivid memories. It was taken 31 October 1967, Halloween, probably around 6 PM. I remember my mother posing me in front of the living room fireplace. I have very few memories of actual picture taking, so this is very special to my heart.

I am wearing a heavenly sheer green silk flapper dress that had been owned by my grandfather’s cousin Therese Remine. It was heavily beaded, and over time, the silk had weakened, and the beads were too heavy for the thin fibers. By the time I got home that night, the dress had already begun to rip. You might wonder why my mother would allow me to ruin an expensive vintage dress by wearing it one night for Halloween. I wonder that myself, but my mother’s value system is limited. To sum it up: she didn’t have any interest in the dress, so she didn’t care what I did with it.

 

Because the dress was sheer, I had to choose clothes to wear underneath, and the only thing that seemed to my 12-year-old mind to “go” was the balloon shorts set because both outfits were green.  I made myself a flapper headband to match and carried a handbag that must have belonged to Therese, although I am not positive about that. You see, I used to collect old discarded fancy wear and had quite a collection from a few women.

 

It had been my mother’s idea to make a headband. I don’t know how much I knew about the 1920s, and I probably needed her suggestion to visualize the whole outfit. I have mulled over the question: where did I first learn about flappers with their bobbed hair and short skirts? Their narrow flat outlines so like my own. I don’t remember what movies or books might have shaped whatever image I had by age twelve.

 

An essential part of my costume that night was the large diamond-shaped earrings. I’m not sure where those dangly earrings came from. I hope I didn’t lift them from the dime store at the plaza.

 

While I stood in the middle of our living room, smiling into the camera, my mother pulled her face out from behind the camera and pinned me with her gaze. “This will be your last year trick-or-treating. You’re getting too old.” So that was that. I felt compelled to enjoy myself this one last time.

 

The living room accessories in the photo were accumulated from various places, generally from other people. The big brass candlesticks were heavy. The painting was not a copy, but an inexpensive original painting. The Don Quixote figures had been displayed at a home décor shop. My father had purchased an old house on Westnedge on a land contract and rented it to an interior decorator who opened the shop. When she went out of business, she gave my father some small furnishings in lieu of back rent. That was how we ended up with the large wood fork and spoon that hung on our kitchen wall for years (yes, like in Marie’s kitchen on  Everybody Loves Raymond).

 

I look so young in these photos, and yet poised on the brink of burgeoning womanhood. I remember how I felt wearing that flapper dress. The twenties was my era, and I felt as if I belonged.

 

As my photograph was snapped, the bell rang. My friends had arrived so we could begin the house-to-house process. That’s when I realized I had to wear my wool coat over my costume. Or rather, my mother informed me I had to.

 

We trudged from front door to front door, but the knowledge that this was my “last time” weighed on my mind. My fingers grew chilled from the cold that had arrived early to Michigan. That’s where this memory ends.

 

67 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, travel, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing prompt

Reporting In, Part 3

I want to reach out and say Hi and hear back about how everyone is doing. I really want to know how readers are faring in the midst of the pandemic.

There is such a wide variety of how the pandemic is affecting Americans. I’m blessed that so far Arizona is not overrun with Covid-19 cases, that my family and I seem well, that the kitties seem well, and that we have food and shelter and a sunny sky.

I might get to see my granddog Riley today or tomorrow if things go well and her Mom and Dad stay far enough away from me. Isn’t she cute in her University of Oklahoma jersey?

Riley’s big sister Isabella Rose is a proud Sooner, but not a proud Tshirt wearer.

There might be a shortage of soda, beer, and seltzer coming our way. I guess we can handle that. There is always wine and vodka. And I have a soda machine for my soda water.

But the stories I’ve heard that others are enduring upset me. It’s impossible to push aside their pain and not absorb it as my own. It’s also upsetting to see that the NYC subways are still packed with people who have to go to work that way. They don’t have the luxury of holing up in their apartments and waiting it out.

We all have different coping methods. Praying is always a good one. So is self-care, like meditation, yoga, essential oils, healthy food, and kitty love. Or doggie love.

I like to keep my sense of humor as much as I can because it really does help. It boosts the immune system. But sometimes my sense of humor fails me.

We focus on the mundane tasks, as well as the tasks we have to learn to do ourselves.

On Saturday I used the hair color kit my stylist made for me and covered my roots. Well, most of my roots. Or if not most, enough . . . because I have nowhere to go anyway. My hair is very very resistant to color. It always has been. Therefore, it takes superwoman efforts to cover the gray. Over time, stylists have figured out that my hair has to be covered twice, with cap and dryer each time. Trying to just keep the color on longer and only doing it once does not work. Nobody can figure out why my hair is like this. It might be hormonal, but in what way? Anyway, I don’t have a dryer, so couldn’t do that part. And after I colored it once and showered to remove the Redken, I figured, screw it–this is good enough for now. So there are some patches of gray left. Who cares?

I had considered buying a box at Walgreens, but my daughter and daughter-in-law were horrified that I would ruin my hair. I guess they would have been shocked at the grad school years when the gardener used to color my hair with a box of Clairol. His method was not the “comb and part neatly” one used by stylists. His method was a chaotic attack from all angles that tangled my hair beyond combing. If I survived that, I can survive these gray patches.

Lots of my friends have gone gray, either over time or suddenly when they stopped coloring their hair within the last few years. But I doubt I will do so as I’m not fond of how pasty I look with “ash tones.”

Yesterday I did a supermarket pickup. They have it streamlined so I don’t have to sign anything and the employees are not allowed to accept tips. The young man put the bags in the back of my vehicle, and I just sat in my car. Of course, when I got home I exhausted myself sanitizing everything. I had ordered 3 kinds of jelly beans in the hopes that there would be at least one bag for the gardener (I hate jelly beans, by the way). He was not in luck. But I did score a big bag of russet potatoes, so I have real potatoes for the first time since before we went to Costa Rica mid-March. Last night I made latkes!!!

One smaller thing that has been weighing on my mind in the midst of all the big worries is my daughter’s wedding. She has it planned for March 2021 here in Phoenix. She’s continuing to plan it. The guest list will be about 95% out-of-towners, from New Jersey, New York, California, etc. I think one of the reasons this stresses me so much is that it forces us to look eleven months ahead and predict the relationship we will have with the virus at that point.

On another note, writing is a good focus for me, but I have not been able to do too much writing. Happily, I’ve had a lot of publications coming out this spring. Still at least four more journals before summer. I guess this year publications, rather than new poems, are my contributions to National Poetry Month.

So tell me about you. 

 

103 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #NaPoWriMo, #writerslife, Arizona, National Poetry Month, Publishing

Poem Up at Zingara Poetry Review

Editor Lisa M. Hase-Jackson has published my poem “Maybe It was Spring” at Zingara Poetry Review. This poem is very different from the one also published a few hours ago at North of Oxford. That one is a dark story, a poem that reveals the real Medusa and what happened to her. You can find “Medusa’s #Metoo” in my previous post.

But “Maybe It was Spring” is a “risen” poem. It’s about all the possibilities of rebirth, renewal, and the hope of a miracle. It’s also a true story.

Click the image below to get to “Maybe It was Spring”:

If you have a WordPress blog, try following Zingara Poetry Review so you can be first to read the Zingara Poetry Picks!

 

15 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Inspiration, Literary Journals, Poetry

Medusa’s #Metoo by Luanne Castle

So thrilled that my poem “Medusa’s #Metoo” has been published at North of Oxford. Most of my life, I took the myth of Medusa as I had been fed it: that she was a monster who turned men into stone when they looked at her. Perseus was the hero of the story for cutting off her head. But look further. Medusa was a beautiful woman who was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. For Poseidon’s crime, Athena blamed Medusa and turned her into the deathly face framed by serpents instead of hair that we know her by. Surely Medusa’s #metoo story is an important one.

North of Oxford

medussa cave
.
Medusa’s #Metoo
.
Blackness shellacs my cave
but for the locked foyer with its glass
a moth born in the time
of dinosaurs and grown over-large
stopped spread-winged
on the pane, still and completed.
What is there about my walls
that stop life? The finch
that saw its soulmate
in a reflection, lying broken-necked
on my porch, the man whose eyes
caught mine, my own
famished for his form that perfected
itself in Brazilian granite
by sight of my teeming serpents
my out of control weeping
from this solitude I keep
My revenge from Athena this curse
a coverup through tweet and text
a smear campaign of slut and sext
Poseidon in Athena’s studio apt
My pterodactyl wings catch
on the limestone, grow runners,
they call me floozy, stink, death.
.
Luanee
Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a fi-nalist for the…

View original post 60 more words

18 Comments

Filed under Poetry, Publishing, Reading, Writing

Pandemic and the Plague: I Read Camus

In the midst of the quarantined life in the pretty garden created by the gardener and in the house with our six sweet cats, I’ve been reading The Plague by the existentialist Albert Camus since March 20 and just finished yesterday. I don’t know why it took me so long except that I am too exhausted to read at night and can only read 20 minutes a day, tops. It feels as if I have always been reading this book. It was first published as La Peste in France in 1947 and then in English in 1948.

I don’t think the novel is scaring me, although I am plagued (sorry) with dreams and nightmares that poke the surface of my consciousness every morning.

As I’ve read, I’ve highlighted passages (percentages are where quotes can be found in my Kindle version) that resonated with me from today’s pandemic. The translation I selected was by Stuart Gilbert. Here are some of the quotes with my “annotations” or questions:

“Thus the first thing that plague brought to our town was exile . . . . that sensation of a void within which never left us, that irrational longing to hark back to the past or else to speed up the march of time, and those keen shafts of memory that stung like fire.” 23%

  • Does that sound familiar? A weird void that just won’t fill in, no matter how much chocolate or wine you feed it. A desperate longing to get this over with once and for all?! Wash our hands of it, so to speak.

“And though the narrator experienced only the common form of exile, he cannot forget the case of those who, like Rambert the journalist and a good many others, had to endure an aggravated deprivation, since, being travelers caught by the plague and forced to stay where they were, they were cut off both from the person with whom they wanted to be and from their homes as well.” 24%

  • Do you ever have strong feelings of sympathy for people who didn’t get to quarantine where they are most comfortable? Or with the person they most want to be with? Awful. I am cut off from my kids, like so many, but at least I am here with the gardener and our cats.

“Looking at them, you had an impression that for the first time in their lives they were becoming, as some would say, weather-conscious. A burst of sunshine was enough to make them seem delighted with the world, while rainy days gave a dark cast to their faces and their mood.” 24%

  • As soon as I felt locked in, I started desperately searching for sunshine so I could get some of it on my bare skin. I hadn’t had this feeling since I was a kid in Michigan, desperate to feel the warm sun on my skin that had been buried under dry epidermis layers and woolens. The gardener intensified his radar searches for weather forecasts.

“But the gaunt, idle cranes on the wharves, tip-carts lying on their sides, neglected heaps of sacks and barrels–all testified that commerce, too, had died of plague. ” 25%

  • Yup, most businesses are tipped over, lying on their sides, and beginning to rot.

“Their first reaction, for instance, was to abuse the authorities.” 25%

  • Haha, we all do it. And mainly for good reason. I blame every politician and government employee/appointee involved over the last hundred years since the government has been responsible for protecting us from a pandemic at least since the last pandemic. But they didn’t. Not one of them. They washed their hands.

“Nevertheless, many continued hoping that the epidemic would soon die out and they and their families be spared. Thus they felt under no obligation to make any change in their habits as yet. Plague was for them an unwelcome visitant, bound to take its leave one day as unexpectedly as it had come.” 30%

  • Most of us are probably still in this phase. But those of us who have lost someone or watched someone suffer with the disease have gone beyond that one.

“At first the fact of being cut off from the outside world was accepted with a more or less good grace, much as people would have put up with any other temporary inconvenience that interfered with only a few of their habits. But, now they had abruptly become aware that they were undergoing a sort of incarceration under that blue dome of sky, already beginning to sizzle in the fires of summer, they had a vague sensation that their whole lives were threatened by the present turn of events . . . .” 32%

  • As it gets warmer and we get closer to the beginning of summer, more and more people are going to start “chompin’ at the bit.” And will feel more desperate. Let’s hope it doesn’t go that far.

“[T]he way in which, in the very midst of catastrophe, offices could go on functioning serenely and take initiatives of no immediate relevance, and often unknown to the highest authority, purely and simply because they had been created originally for this purpose.” 35%

  • Oh man, when I run up against the dumbest bureaucracy still operating at molasses-speed, it makes me angry.

“Now and again a gunshot was heard; the special detailed to destroy cats and dogs, as possible carriers of infection, was at work.” 36%

  • In the United States this “disposal” generally takes the form of dumping animals outside and at shelters. Stories are that it has been more like in the book in certain areas of China.

“‘However, you think . . . that the plague has its good side; it opens men’s eyes and forces them to take thought?'” 41%

  • Do you hear people talk about the positive aspects of the pandemic? Do you feel weird about thinking about the “good side” of something catastrophic?

“‘We’re short of equipment. In all the armies of the world a shortage of equipment is usually compensated for by manpower. But we’re short of man-power, too.'” 49%

  • We’ve heard a lot about this!

“The plague victim died away from his family and the customary vigil beside the dead body was forbidden, with the result that a person dying in the evening spent the night alone, and those who died in the daytime were promptly buried.” 56%

  • And this: people are dying alone, without their families or friends, and then their bodies are zipped into plastic bags. Wash hands.

“It is true that the actual number of deaths showed no increase. But it seemed that plague had settled in for good at its most virulent, and it took its daily toll of deaths with the punctual zeal of a good civil servant. Theoretically, and in the view of the authorities, this was a hopeful sign. The fact that the graph after its long rising curve had flattened out seemed to many . . . resassuring . . . . the old doctor reminded him that the future remained uncertain; history proved that epidemics have a way of recrudescing when least expected.” 75%

  • This analysis could be a conversation about our current pandemic.
” . . . and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.”
  •  For an existentialist and for the writer of one of my favorite (and very dark) novels, The Stranger, this is quite an upbeat ending.

I have asked myself if it’s been helpful to me to read The Plague. When I am reading it I feel it is because I can contextualize that all the reactions to Covid 19 are typical of a pandemic, especially in a modern era. Camus’ story was based on, I believe, a 19th century case of plague, but he set the story in a vague period in the 20th century. Why is this understanding of the “typicality” of our reactions good for me? How does it help me? Maybe that is only part of it. Maybe by reading a story of the bubonic plague in France in the mid-20th century I can displace some of my emotions about our plight and our future onto this fictional world created by Camus. The book takes on some of my emotional burden, in a way.

###

Did watching Outbreak do that, too? Hah, maybe. I watched that movie on my iPad because the gardener didn’t want to see it.

As we wait and wait for I am not entirely sure what (because the experts really do not know–they just hope) I am grateful that we are not sick and that our cats are also ok for now.  I wish I were taking advantage of National Poetry Month, but I have been too busy and too exhausted. I have written one more poem. I will try again this week! Please stay safe, everyone.

How do you handle the burden of your emotions over the Covid-19 pandemic?

 

 

56 Comments

Filed under #writerlife, Arizona, Reading

Reporting In, Part 2

This week has been difficult for me because the gardener and I are self-employed and our businesses are shut down temporarily for the pandemic. I spent my week dealing with the resulting issues with nobody to call for advice.

So today I am reeling from a week of that. And frustrated by all the stuff I didn’t get to do that I wanted to do. But I did keep up with tweeting for the shelter (takes longer than it would seem to as I have to collect the info first) and other animal work.

I hope that I get to work on my Scraps scrapbook and write and go for walks this week.

On top of the government and bank crap, the gardener has been damn grumpy.  Anybody else living with someone who is grumpy during the pandemic?

Today I will give you a couple of photos of the grump’s handiwork in the yard .

Both these photos are at the wall we share with the neighbor.

The flower wheel was made by my father, and I think I’ve posted a photo of it before. The metal flowers are fading, but I sort of enjoy seeing them become different shades over time.

I sure hope that I get to do some writing before National Poetry Month is over.

By the way, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus is now available for purchase through Amazon. Why should you buy it other than reading a lot of poems about a Very Timely Subject? Because the purchase price goes toward both Doctors Without Borders and Partners In Health! The poets are from all over the world and from all age groups, even a 7 year old! Makes me tear up to think about it. POETRY IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

Hope your week is good enough and, most importantly, that you and yours are well.

Sending LOVE!!!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under #NaPoWriMo, Arizona, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection

Let’s Keep National Poetry Month in Mind

If we keep National Poetry Month in mind throughout April maybe it will take the edge off social distancing through April 30. As for Arizona, we were put on a stay-at-home order on Monday that is to last through April.

So: National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, I like the poster. For years I couldn’t stand the posters, then last year they had a contest and chose a design by a high school student. And it was great.

They did the same thing this year, and I love the result. The assignment was to submit artwork that incorporated line(s) from the poem “Remember” by current U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo that “reflected a celebration of the art of poetry.”

This poster was designed by Samantha Aikman, a 10th grader.

Honorable mention went to senior Kai Huie:

It is also National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo. Try your hand at writing a poem a day!

So happy April. And HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY TO TIGER QUEENIE PRINCESS MIMI JOSEFINA.

Nobody can do resting bitch face like my little princess

Leave a comment

Filed under #AmWriting, #NaPoWriMo, Cats and Other Animals, National Poetry Month, Poetry