Monthly Archives: September 2020

Learning from the Past (haha)

The gardener and I went to California for a couple of days last week. That was our first time out and about in six months. The only interesting thing I saw on the trip was a fire in the mountains near Palm Springs. A huge red helicopter was sucking up water out of a pond that had been created for the purpose of firefighting. Then it flew up toward the smoke pouring out of the side of the mountain.

This photo was taken through the car window as we zipped along the freeway. Notice the pond under the helicopter.

The day after we got back from California my neck went BONKERS. It was so painful that I couldn’t even lie down as the pressure was excruciating. It reminded me of when I injured my neck in sixth grade.

That incident belongs in the category of what were my parents thinking? 

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I was eleven, and we had been tumbling in gym class. I’d always been so-so to lousy in PE. My best events were sprinting and square dancing. Definitely not gymnastics.

The kids from both sixth grade classes were in a line, rushing through barrel rolls on a padded-top vaulting “horse.” As I eased myself over the vinyl for the third time, almost folding my over-long neck in two, I felt something crack. By the time I completed the mile-long walk home after school, the pain demanded attention. It gored me anew as if with an awl with every slight movement of my body.

At the emergency room, my parents gathered round the doctor as he pointed to the damaged vertebrae on an X-ray. “This is why she has to brace her neck. It will also help keep down the inflammation.” Mom’s shoulders were hunched. She had pulled into herself. Dad bounced on the balls of his feet.

At home, Dad wrapped my neck with a faded beach towel and pinned it with one of my brother’s diaper pins. The towel still held the out-of-context smell of sand and Coppertone.

After a night spent awake more often than asleep because of the lump under my neck, I finally fell into a deep sleep sometime after the glow-in-the-dark hands on my alarm clock displayed 5:30. But at 6:30, I awoke to find my arms wrapped around my limp ragdoll, my mother gently shaking my arm. “Wake up. You’ve got to get ready for school.”

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. “School? I can’t go to school.” I wrapped the covers tightly around my shoulders.

Mom pulled the cover down to the foot of the bed. “Rise and shine, Lulu. Your friends will be here for you pretty soon. I made eggs and sausage.” Every morning, the neighbor kids stopped by my house so I could join the group walking to school.

“What about the towel?” It had gotten twisted while I slept, and I tugged on it, trying to straighten it.

As Mom unpinned the towel, I could smell fried pork patties on her hands. “You have to wear it,” she said, as she re-wrapped the towel around my neck.

I didn’t think I had understood her correctly. “I can’t wear a towel to school!”

“You heard the doctor. It’s not negotiable.” I knew that voice, and I knew Dad’s iron hand lurked somewhere behind Mom’s no-nonsense tone.

Reluctantly, and perhaps in shock, I got dressed, ate a few bites of breakfast, and when the doorbell rang, I was ready to go, beach towel and all. When I opened the door, my friends all spoke at once.

“Gaaah, what’s that around your neck?!”

“What’s the deal?”

“Wha . . . .” Karen collapsed into a sputtering laugh.

That day I suffered. Kids pointed their fingers and mimed explosive laughter attacks as they walked past me in the hall. In class, they whispered behind their hands, staring openly at me.

I stood alone at my locker and caught a glimpse of my reflection in the windows across the hall. A girl with a giant donut around her neck.

A neck brace would have drawn attention to me in a negative, pitiful way. But a beach towel and diaper pin? That launched the pitiful on a swift path to the ridiculous.

Underneath the towel, the swelling increased, the pain intensified, and my voice began to diminish. By lunchtime, I could only rasp. Pain closed off all but the sensory part of my mind.

I sheepishly approached my teacher’s desk and croaked unintelligibly.

“Let’s go to the office.” Her suggestion seemed a relief. The office was far from the laughing eyes of the kids.

To the secretary seated behind the counter who stared with an open mouth at my beach towel, my teacher said, “I don’t think school is the place for her. Can you please call her mother to pick her up?”

In the car on the way home, my mother said, “Why didn’t you tell me it hurt?”

I thought I’d made clear that I was in no condition to go to school and that a towel did not make a neck brace that I could wear in public. But my mother seemed to think it was my fault that I didn’t communicate better.

“I did tell you! And it got worse today at school!” I gulped in some air. “It was horrible!” Sobs burst from my mouth before I could control them and that began a shuddery crying jag. Every time my mother would try to pat my arm with a jerky, awkward movement, I cried louder.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you disliked it so.” My mother frowned as if she were confused.

The doctor must have set my mother straight when she called him about the swelling and pain because she kept me home from school for a month after that.

Now that I’ve been a mother long enough to see my kids reach adulthood, I can see the scene through Mother’s Eyes. The reactions of my parents perplex me more than they ever did. I never doubted that they loved me, but they didn’t listen to me or imagine things from my perspective.

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Having lived through that experience gave me the idea the other night to wrap a pair of yoga pants around my neck. Perfect! I was able to sleep through the night wearing that “brace” around my neck. My neck got much better because the brace took weight off my neck. So now I am sleeping with the pants around my neck every night!

Do you have a childhood memory where you wondered what in the world your parent or parents were thinking?

 

 

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Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, Family history, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

LET’S MAKE EVERY SINGLE DAY PUPPY MILL AWARENESS DAY

Before I get into the title subject of this blog post, I am sharing a link to a review I wrote of Ann Keniston’s newest poetry collection Somatic. It was published in the beautiful journal Under a Warm Green Linden: Review of SOMATIC by Ann KenistonThese poems are sometimes historical and public and sometimes about her private grief for her mother and father. The poet works with the forms ode and elegy in a way that questions how the forms function.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day (was September 19, 2020)

When my daughter was young she became aware of puppy mills and was horrified by the plight of especially the breeder dogs, the mamas. After that, every argument paper she wrote for school was an argument against puppy mills in one way or another. She came at it from a different direction each time. I wish I had thought to save the papers and put them together into a binder. The thing is: she was right. Puppy mills are horrid places, especially for those mother dogs because they never get to leave until they have been “used up” and thrown away.

While Puppy Mill Awareness Day was technically two days ago, I wanted to post this today to suggest that every single day should be puppy mill awareness day.

Tell your friends: if they are set on a certain breed dog, have them search for rescues that focus on those breeds.

The only dogs I’ve ever owned have been mutts literally found on the street–or in the case of my childhood dog, in the lake. Three of my granddogs are rescues. Two are mixed breed and both cute as a bug’s ear. One of them is a “purebred” Jack Russell whose original owner was going to march him off to the county kill shelter when he was sixteen years old. Both purebred dogs and mixed breeds need rescuing.

These are my “granddogs.”

Riley

Riley is the baby. She’ll be a year old at the beginning of next month. She lives with my daughter and her fiance and her sister, kitty Izzie.

Gary

Gary is the senior. He’s 18 1/2 now and acts like a puppy. He lives with my son and DIL and his brother, doggie Theo, and brother, kitty Meesker, as well as sister, kitty Lily.

Theo

Theo is an adorable and fur-challenged piece of work who lives with Gary, Meesker, Lily, and his mom and dad.

Here is some important and fascinating information copied from the Puppy Mill Awareness Day website HERE.

What is a Puppy Mill?

1. The term, Puppy Mill is a slang term. It defines a place where dogs are bred for profit. Little or no thought is given to the health, temperment, or quality of the breeding dogs or offspring. A commercial breeding facility would be such a place.

Commercial breeding facilities are USDA regulated and the dogs are defined as livestock. Being the fact that they are livestock, they do not have to be cared for as we care for our personal pets. They live in small cages, or hutches much like a rabbit hutch and never stand on solid ground. Many dogs live their entire lives like this with little human contact. When the dogs no longer “produce” they are usually destroyed.

2. When did this practice start?

Soon after WWII, when the midwest crops failed, the USDA presented the idea of breeding pure bred puppies as a cash crop. The number of puppy mills have been growing ever since.

3. How are these puppies sold?

Many commercial breeding facilities sell their puppies through a “Broker” or Class B dealer. Breeders will sell litters to brokers, such as the Hunte Corporation.
The broker will then ship orders to pet stores. It is their job to make sure the puppies are in that adorable 6-8 week old stage so the pet store can make the most money selling them. Other methods are internet sales, classified sales, farm markets or simply a sign out front.

4. If my puppy has AKC papers, it means its healthy right?

NO. It means that the breeder registered the litter with the AKC. AKC is a registry body. A registration certificate identifies the dog as the offspring of a known sire and dam, born on a known date. It in no way indicates the quality or state of health of the dog. Just because your puppy has AKC papers does not mean that your puppies parents are healthy or kept in a humane manner.

5. When it is time to look for a family dog, where should we look?

PMAD always promotes adoption. Our country shelters kill 6-8 MILLION dogs and cats each year, not because they are sick, or aggressive, simply because there are not enough homes. Many are housebroken, trained and excellent with children. They end up in the shelter because of family problems, such as divorce, loss of job, relocation, death in family, allergies, etc.

We suggest adopting from your local animal shelter, your local animal rescue, Or petfinder.org when adding a furry companion to your home. By adopting, your teaching your children that life is important. You are teaching compassion.

New subjects:

Daughter and her fiance have rescheduled their wedding, hoping to get it far enough out from the pandemic. Now it is scheduled for 2022!!! That’s a long time to wait, but the upside is that I have plenty of time to find a dress and shoe combo that will work for all my ailments, complaints, and preferences LOL!

Have you read the latest Louise Penny Armand Gamache mystery, All the Devils Are Here? Wow, I loved it. I’ve read each book, all in order (thank you,  WJ), and the one before this, A Better Man, was a stinker IMO.  But now she is back on track! I hope her next book will be a quarantine Gamache.

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Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction, Writing

A Spiritual Teacher has Left Us

I know that I am not alone in feeling a loss at hearing of the passing of our friend and blogger Pauline King from The Contented Crafter. Pauline was the wisest person I ever met. As a tribute to Pauline, go peruse  her blog.

Pauline made me a beautiful light catcher 2 1/2 years ago, and I wrote about here: Rainbows Everywhere.

At the start of the pandemic, Pauline gave me some advice which I shared here: Advice from Pauline. Her advice included:

We will strive every day to look for the good things that are being done and enacted and shared – lets walk through this together and share and support and make the world a smaller, friendlier, safer place for a while. I think this will make a great deal of difference.

RIP Pauline. You were a powerful beacon in this dark world. I hope we learned enough from you. Love, Luanne

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Filed under Art and Music, Blogging, Inspiration, National Poetry Month

The Heat is On in Arizona

The heat is up again in Arizona, but that just brings the birds out more as they scramble for water. The gardener has a fountain obsession, so we have plenty of water for these guys.

Here’s the little fountain with the little birds.

And here’s the big fountain with the big bird–in this case a roadrunner.

It’s labor day, and I am going to take a nap today. After all, I wrote a poem and babysat my daughter’s cat this week. Love and hugs and all!

 

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Poem Up at Humana Obscura

A big thank you to editor Bri Bruce who has published my poem “Superbloom” in the inaugural issue of Humana Obscura.

The poem takes a look at the phenomenon known as superbloom that occurs in the southwestern United States every few years.

The magazine is published in the issuu format. You will find this poem on page 44, but take a look at the other poems and stories, too!

Here are the first two stanzas:

Superbloom

 

On my big brown mountains

are rocks

that grow larger

though not visibly

also lichen, sow thistle, bristle grass

without water you can smell.

 

One bird seeks a saguaro

like a mast on a masklike sea

rabbits and voles above and below

my skin

run through chaparral.

SUPERBLOOM

 

Photos from March 2019

I’m closing comments because I had a flu shot and am feeling pretty awful from it. This happened to me the last time I had one, about six years ago, and my doctor put in my chart that I was allergic (it’s not an allergy–more of an intolerance). But now with Covid, he took it off my allergy list and told me to suck it up (OK, he didn’t say that) and get it this year. So now I have the whole list of symptoms: fever, sore muscles, skin painful to touch, headache, etc. But I would still love it if you get a chance to read “Superbloom”!

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