Monthly Archives: May 2020

A Walk in the Neighborhood, Arizona Style

What do I see and hear and smell on a walk near my house?

From the moment I step outside I smell flower fragrance. So I take a big sniff and keep walking. I hear songbirds singing.

Next I see the seedpods. Everywhere. Here are just a few.

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Then I see the pretty Mexican bird of paradise plant.  See how fiery and unique the blossoms are!

I come upon flowering saguaros.

 

Closer.

The sounds I hear are silence, then a rush of cars, then this: babies in their nest–inside a saguaro.

Apparently some baby birds are very noisy when being fed.

On the writing front, I wrote a little essay this weekend. We’ll see what happens with it. Best part: #amwriting

Make it a good week if you can figure out a way!

Leaving you with a wild baby in my yard. This is a baby kingsnake.  They are not only harmless to humans, but they kill rattlesnakes. We have been nurturing a family of kingsnakes ever since we moved here. Isn’t he cute?!

 

 

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Growing Things

On Friday we planted new pentas, vincas, coleus, and marigolds. Daughter and her fiance helped MUCH. We left a lot of the old flowers, although they were a bit leggy, mainly because of the cost and also because we have been so busy that we didn’t have time to do more.

When the pandemic began, I was eager to be a pioneer woman and even froze eggs and lemons in case we had a shortage. Now I am very ragged around the edges, having been overworked by all the dealings with the government and business-in-the-time-of-coronavirus. I am used to always being busy, usually thrive on it, and yet I will say that I am too exhausted at this point. And I don’t see a letup. Plus, when I get this tired, my legs and feet swell miserable (from my primary lymphedema). That aggravates my “hip-leg.” I have a painful condition with my left leg up near the groin that I refer to as my hip-leg. It feels like a twisting nerve and is particularly and suddenly painful when I put my foot down on the ground. The swelling makes it worse. And the exhaustion and work-work-work makes it worser yet.

But I don’t have the virus. And neither does my family. And my kitties are a lot of work, but so cute. And I have new flowers. So there you go.

We also have lizards galore this year. And the quail couple with their single file of bobbing babies. You see, I can keep finding cool stuff to distract myself!

My friend who wrote this very popular essay years ago (Lake Erie) teaches creative writing to seniors. Because of the pandemic, her classes now are on Zoom, and my mom is taking one! I am so happy she is doing so because it’s good for her to interact with others, although it’s on phone Zoom (no video) and not in person. Also, she is a reporter for the community newspaper (used to be an editor for it), but with the pandemic she can’t interview people in person. My mother’s community has a big apartment complex, a nursing home, an assisted living, a rehab facility, and garden homes (duplexes). She lives in a garden home, so she has more space and more freedom than if she lived in one of the other buildings.

I call my mother regularly, but it’s hard to find new things to talk about when you’re not out doing new stuff! And she’s not going to doctors or seeing friends, so she doesn’t have that to talk about. She does read my genealogy blog The Family Kalamazoo, so that makes her happy because I am almost always yapping about her family. Most recently I’ve been working on my 3x great-grandfather who was a “prosperous celery farmer” (according to his obit) in Kalamazoo. I had no idea when I was growing up there that my ancestor was one of the farmers who raised Kalamazoo’s “famous” crop. The thing that interested me most about him was discovering that as a widower he married and divorced a woman after he immigrated to the U.S. It almost looks like he married her so she would help raise his six children. I wonder what he discovered he didn’t like. How I would love to see the divorce papers! I have all kinds of fictional scenarios popping up in my head.

When I was growing up, my dad planted a plum tree in our backyard in Michigan. He used to take pix of us next to the tree, watching the tree and us kids growing, I guess. After my father passed away five years ago (last Thursday), my mom had a plum tree planted on the edge of the woods behind her house at the senior complex.

This weekend I found out I got the Volunteer of the Month award for April at the shelter. Yes, well, so many of the other volunteers couldn’t do their jobs because the shelter has been closed to volunteers for the pandemic. However, my work increased because I make the adoption calls (more adoptions!) and do data entry for those. I also took on the shelter’s Twitter account, which is a challenge right now because just as soon as I get info on a new dog it gets adopted :)! The reason this is occurring is in part because people are stepping up to adopt during this period. But it is also for another reason. Our shelter is a no-kill that functions largely by rescuing e-list dogs from the county kill shelter. (The cats seem to magically appear at our shelter, by the way). Our shelter is only bringing in a limited number of animals because without volunteers, the staff can only take care of just so many hungry mouths.

Take care of yourselves, peeps. If you have Instagram, be sure to check out Bobthewritingcat! That big-hearted curmudgeon makes me happy and teary. As Bob always says, go wash your hands!!!

 

 

 

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Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Family history, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Memoir, Nonfiction

An Unintended Visitor


Last Tuesday, a hawk showed up on my patio. It was directly below a hanging plant, a long drapey succulent. Hidden underneath the thick spongy leaves was a dove nest with two babies. The gardener and I assumed the worst, and when we saw one little head moving up there, thought the hawk had killed the sibling and was hanging around to get the other.

I went inside and took this closeup through the window. I banged on the window to get the hawk to leave, but it just sat there.

Before too long I began to worry that it was abnormal for a hawk to just sit there on the ground without leaving.

I put in a call to the local wildlife rescue that specializes in birds. I have brought them quail chicks, doves, and pigeons in the past. But nobody called me back. I made some other calls and posted on next-door app. I was finally able to talk to a second wildlife rescue. They said to let the bird sit there overnight because it might have a concussion. If the bird was still there in the morning I was supposed to call them back. A concussion made sense because there was a window right by the plant with the dove nest.

While they first assumed it was a juvenile bird that was afraid to fly, one of my daughter’s best friends volunteers with raptors in Tucson. I showed her photos and she said it was an adult red-tailed hawk. That was helpful information because the rescue paid attention when I told them that it was an adult bird, so that the lack of flying was abnormal.

Next morning the bird was still on the patio, but in a different spot, and looking more bedraggled. About a half an hour after I got up, the bird stepped into the pan of water I had put out for it the night before and just stood there cooling its feet.


Through a series of events it ended up that the first rescue group that I called sent a volunteer to capture the hawk.

The hawk actually escaped twice after the events of the video, but was quickly recaptured each time. That afternoon, I wrote a poem about the hawk, making it a female.

The next day, the volunteer texted me and said that the hawk turned out to be a female (but I already knew that!). She wanted us to look for a nest. The thought of starving baby hawks motivated the gardener to search our neighborhood and me to post on next-door app asking people to look for hawk nests. We found two, but not hers so perhaps she didn’t have a nest after all. The volunteer said that if there wasn’t a nest close by it’s doubtful that she had one because she would have done anything to get to the nest, even if she couldn’t fly. She would have walked!

You might wonder how she’s doing. I sure do, but they don’t let people know. That is frustrating, but I’m satisfied I did what I could for her. What a magnificent bird. An interesting note: I read up on red-tailed hawks, of course, and discovered that they generally don’t go after cats and dogs, although they are huge and their wing spans can be six feet.

By the way, both dove babies are still alive!

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Writing

Another Poem Up at Zingara Poetry Review

“Finally Going to Tell You about the Staircase Ghost” was published today by editor Lisa M. Hase-Jackson at Zingara Poetry Review.  This poem relates a couple of the “super”natural experiences I have had.

As befitting Mother’s Day, one of them occurred when I was a new mom. The other is a ghost story.

Finally Going to Tell You about the Staircase Ghost

 

I closed comments over here, but comments are allowed at Zingara.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS OUT THERE–AND THEIR CHILDREN

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

Two Poems Up at Superstition Review

Superstition Review is a literary journal from Arizona State University, and I am so tickled that they published two of my poems. Also, they posted an audio clip of my reading of both poems. Follow this link:

TWO POEMS BY LUANNE CASTLE

So you don’t even have to read them yourself, just put up your feet and listen for two minutes.

The first poem is called “One of Her Parents was a Float.” It’s a poem inspired by adoption. Until the poem I published with Plath Poetry Project a few months ago and this one I hadn’t written an adoption poem in a long time. I feel really pleased with the originality of this way of looking at the subject.

The second poem was inspired by seeing a photo online of a little girl named Minnie Rae PREGNANT in 1871 San Francisco.

In those days, there weren’t any services to help girls like this. Charity and all the baggage that came with it was all anyone could hope for. What baggage? Demands about doctrine, religion, and lifestyle, all the while not providing enough to live on.

But if you think nothing like this has happened in a long time, I’ll give you an anecdote from the late 70s. That is a long time ago now, but it has teemed in my head since then. The gardener’s cousin was married to a wonderful man who taught in an inner city school in a very poor area of NYC. One of his students was 8 years old and pregnant. He struggled with how to deal with the horrors he faced every day in the classroom.

Is stuff like this still going on today? Let me know what you think!

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