Reviews and Journals and Vaccines

Recently Liz (Elizabeth) Gauffreau  (also: Liz Gauffreau blog) reviewed Doll God, and it’s such a gorgeously written review that I wanted to point it out. This is the Amazon link: Doll God review by Liz Gauffreau. Her analysis reminded me of what Doll God meant to me when I was writing it and what it still means to me today. Here is a small section with her comments followed by a quote from “Sonoran October.”

I particularly appreciated the poems focused on the landscape of the Southwest because I’ve never lived there. After a few rereadings, I realized that the poems express a relationship with the land that is very intimate. You can’t get it from visiting; you have to live it. From “Sonoran October”:

Midafternoon, the only movements:
cottontails dart like ballplayers
from creosote to cactus to ocotillo.
A sky so blue it hisses at my touch.

I’ve been continuing to work on my art journals, although I’m supposed to be finalizing 2020 for taxes for the business. (hahaha) Yes, I said journals, plural. That’s because Amy Maricle suggests keeping more than one journal going at once. When one is drying, you can flit over to another and work on that one. The one I started with is relatively small, and the second one is much larger. The pages are also different as the smaller journal as an accordian style inside, and the larger journal has regular pages. I am learning why art journalists like to make their own journals, though. As you move through the journal, it becomes thicker and thicker until it can’t close. If you bind your own, you can solve that problem by making your binding adjustable or just giving yourself more space.

I suspect the gardener thinks the time I spend on the art journals is amusing or he isn’t sure what to think about it! He doesn’t say much, and he tends not to bother me when I’m in my office working on them. Maybe he’s mystified why I’m not using that time to write. I’m not, though, as it’s a completely different experience than writing and much more relaxing during the pandemic. Artist Anne-Marie van Eck says to stay in “createfulness” because when we create we are connected to our bodies and our minds and we stay in the present. I find that to be an exact description.

Many people seem to have taken up hobbies or expanded on them during the pandemic. Have you done that yourself? A friend of mine became an experimental baker, and another took up quiltmaking. Another friend has become an obsessed gardener (haha, you know who you are–I know you’re reading!!!!) and is transforming her yard into one huge garden (in addition to the catio she already has for her kitties).

I’ve been doing prose revisions lately. Two essays and a review all needed revision. Thank goodness for good and kind editors.

A friend and I read the first part of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, a biography of one of my favorite writers, written by Ruth Franklin. The book could be better. It spends so much time on Jackson’s husband’s career that it feels as if he is standing between me and Jackson, if you know what I mean. And he’s a creep, too. When we had to return our “copies” (hers was audio) to the library, neither of us were very sad. In case the name Jackson doesn’t ring a bell, think “The Lottery” or The Haunting of Hill House or my favorite We Have Always Lived in the Castle. 

Nevertheless,  I rechecked out the book.  I am reading sections related to the writing of certain books.I watched the 2020 movie Shirley, starring Elizabeth Moss. The movie mixes fiction with fact as it places a fictional couple in the household of Shirley and her husband. Some of the actors were fabulous, but especially Michael Stuhlbarg as Shirley’s husband. (Note: I don’t mention her husband’s name on purpose. He was a famous lit critic, but he was so awful and takes up so much space that I refuse to name him). The way Jackson is portrayed in the film I found to be too dark and crazy and particularly smirky. She doesn’t remind me of Shirley Jackson at all.

The gardener woke up early enough to find a Great Blue Heron in our yard! Note that the coyote in the background is bronze in this case although we get plenty of real ones. And the owls are plastic and meant to be deterrents to animals (hahaha).

On Friday I received the first dose of the covid vaccine. Yay!

Make it a great week!


Filed under #amrevising, #writerlife, #writerslife, Art and Music, Book Review, Poetry book, Poetry Collection

67 responses to “Reviews and Journals and Vaccines

  1. What a delightful post!

  2. What a fabulous review, Liz did! She’s wonderful and generous.
    I haven’t taken up any hobbies, nor did I clear and clean the house. I always bake, so I don’t know if that was different or not. I’ve pretty much been doing what I was doing, except without going anywhere or ever dressing up (by which I mean jeans instead of sweats, leggings, pjs).
    All that wildlife in your backyard is amazing!

    • I think Liz did an amazing job and spent a lot of time doing so!
      In a way, that happened when you added poetry to history–and of course baking is a time-consuming affair. So you already have a lot going on. And you blog often, too!
      I read last night on “Next Door” app that the packs of coyotes are getting more bold. I think this is from the pandemic. They see fewer people around and are taking advantage, trying to reclaim their land!

  3. Also–congratulations on getting your vaccine. I have an appointment for this week. For some reason, I got a notification, but my husband did not. So weird!

    • I am so glad to hear that you’re getting vaccinated! We don’t have notifications here. We have to go online and schedule an appt–a very onerous task and one a lot of 80+ are not equipped for.

      • We have a similar system. We’re both registered with the state, and I received an email saying I was eligible to schedule an appointment, which I did online. There are also all sorts of other sites that you can go to that to try to schedule an appointment, and it requires being online 24/7 it seems. The pharmacies are always booked with no appointments available.

        • Are they doing stadium vaccines by you? We have 2 big stadiums and they have it in the parking lot (it’s obviously not cold here) and you just drive through. It’s like McDonald’s LOL. They do Pfizer at the stadiums and the pharmacies do Moderna.

          • I’ve heard about stadiums, but I’m not sure. The big stadiums are in Philadelphia and north Jersey. We have some Mega sites–at colleges, and there’s one at a mall. I don’t think they have any drive through ones here. You have to stand in line outside in the cold.

            • I liked your comment, but I don’t like it. Standing outside in the cold yikes. I guess they don’t want people inside because they could get covid in line? Aren’t you Jersey girl supposed to say “on line” or is that just NY and MD, etc.? It’s so nice to be in the car, though, and then people could stay warm–except of course the nurses and volunteers!

  4. Great news about your vaccine. I get my first shot next week. It’s been a free for all here trying to get an appointment but a techie relative worked some magic and wellah! I have an appointment. Love the pic of your yard. We got the occasional blue heron around our small pond. Mostly in the March time frame. One winter he fished out half of our fish so after that we put some protective coverings on it for the winter.

    • Wow about the heron! I did read that they like to stop by fish ponds and koi ponds for meals. I told the gardener (who would love to have one), and he said we could never have one then :/.
      And YAY re the vaccine!!!! Do you know which one you’re getting? I’m so happy you’re getting one, and I hope they have a system where you automatically will get the 2nd on time.

  5. I rejoice that you are prioritizing reading, writing, and making art. It is a choice….a wonderful choice.
    Right now I am reading “Life Among the Savages.” The works of S. Jackson will be read! Otherwise, I am cluttering my mind by memorizing little scripts. Maybe I will take up paper cutting in my off hours. It’s a clean form of art, and I used to be pretty handy with scissors.
    Be well and enjoy the good reviews. You deserve them. 💐

    • I’ll read that one, too. I want to reread Hangsaman, then maybe Life.
      I love the idea of paper cutting. I am not very good at cutting anything and would probably just keep going until there was nothing left. I’d love to see what you make if you do it!

    • I remember reading Life Among the Savages years ago and enjoying it.

  6. Great review for Doll God, Luanne. I must say your yard (what I could see) looks beautiful. Glad you could get your first dose of the vaccine.

  7. Wonderful review of Doll God, Luanne. I couldn’t agree more about your relationship with the southwest. Makes me want to visit again!
    So glad for your Covid vaccine – got my second one last week! I somehow feel safer. Hope it does its job! Your art journals sound fun…ignore the gardener’s looks and go for it.

    • Aw shucks. Thank you!
      SO glad you got your second! That must make you feel a lot of relief. I know it isn’t foolproof, but it’s so much safer than without it.
      Hah, I am ignoring his looks. The reason I thought he must be amused (and keeping in mind his mother was a real artist) is because he said to me, “You’re a poet and a historian and now an artist. I guess you can do anything.” Then he laughed maniacally, knowing that if anything has metal in it I can’t go near it or I will botch it up somehow.

  8. Amy

    Great review! And such good news about the vaccine. You must be feeling better, given how busy you are!

    • Thanks, Amy. I am feeling better. I was exhausted the day after the vaccine, but that went away and now I am at about 92%, still needing a bit more rest from the VF.
      CONGRATS on the new book!!!! It’s in the queue, as I mentioned, which means I won’t be reading right away, but it won’t be terribly long as I bumped it up a few ;). But when I do I will review it, of course!

  9. Nice post. Lots of good news in it. I love the sample of your poetry.

  10. A wonderful round up of your days, and a great review!

  11. I wish I could get some of your energy by online osmosis! The art journals are bringing out more from another part of you. How exciting! Someday, I will visit and see first-hand! xo

  12. I’d love to say I’ve taken up new things, but I’ve actually given up quite a bit. I tend to take it easy a lot. Lots of time with fam and pets and coziness, comfort — the opposite of what I feel away from home.
    I’ve been overwhelmed and overwrought and I’m just now starting to perk up a wee bit. Cooking and baking more is happening again. Reading blogs more often.
    I think your journaling is marvelous and no one should care, as it’s for you and you are worth the time to zen out in craft of any sort 🙂
    Today had good vibes. I have high hopes for the week!

    • It’s easy to see from your blog how highly you value comfy coziness. And the cooking and baking! 🙂 Being away from home also drives me to the comfort. But I don’t have to work outside the house any longer, so that has really changed things for me. That said, evenings you will find me under two fuzzy blankets and three cats on the couch :).

  13. Liz does write charming reviews. I recalled Shirley Jackson from the story “The Lottery” and have heard of the others but not read them. I knew nothing of her personally. Too bad the biographer focused too much on her husband. As a historian, I know how records for men tend to be more plentiful than those for women. Hopefully changing at long last.

    We have our first shots, too. What a relief, right? Maybe some light at the end of the tunnel.

    • I am now thinking a lot about what I knew and then learned about Jackson and reading between the lines. I am really amazed at what she accomplished. People have focused on her lack of tidying up, her agoraphobia during part of her life, stuff like that. But she ran a huge house, cooked, raised four children (without much help at all from their father), raised up to 16 cats at a time, wrote like crazy, and made more money than her husband.
      That first shot is such a relief. WHEW!!!!

  14. Love the heron. I have two book by Jackson I bought because they were supposed to be funny books about raising her kids that she wrote. I only read a few chapters of one so far due to lack of time, but I seriously doubt she will say anything negative about her husband in it, so I am very curious now as to why he is such a jerk!! I may have to dig into that some. I was just asking my kids a few days ago about her and apparently they don’t even read The Lottery in school anymore, I was shocked. None of my kids have read it.

    • I want to read those books and read between the lines haha. I can’t remember if I ever did as I focused more on her other books and short stories. Speaking of those books, have you ever read Please Don’t Eat the Daisies? by Jean Kerr. It’s a book that is about the comedy of domestic life “back in the day.” Should be very similar to Jackson’s books. I read it as a teenager and loved it.
      I am shocked about them not reading The Lottery, too. That’s awful. We really need that story.

  15. Congratulations on the review and the vaccine. Maybe my blog is my art journal

  16. I’m very glad to hear that you received your first vaccine and that you’re feeling better generally. Good news! I love the photo of the heron in your yard. He looks as if he belongs there.

    I plan to feature my review of Doll God on my blog on March 10. (I sent you an email about it.)

    Enjoy the rest of your week!

  17. Love how you apply yourself so diligently!! Glad to hear you got the first shot!! Yay!!!
    Here’s where I’m at now!

    • I do feel better after getting that first shot. Whew! I’m glad to hear you’re reading! I think a lot of us have let social media take over from reading, and that’s a mistake as it doesn’t fill us up the same way.

  18. What a lovely review Liz wrote of your book. She is quite the wordsmith as well. I am wondering how the vaccine will mix with your Valley Fever? I’m happy for you that you can get the vaccine though. I’m quite reticent. How stunning that Heron looks in your yard!!! Almost like a statue itself. Keep feeling better and better.

  19. Enjoyed this post a great deal. I just got my Covid #2 shot and had an extended reaction to it. Took me four days to feel like my old self. My Better Half was down for the count the same amount of time as well.
    I hope the week ahead is a good one for you. I will be on Spring Break and intend to work in the yard if the weather cooperates.

  20. you’re doing a fabulous job with the work you do and it’s quite admirable. i respect the patience and courage you display to remain consistent and committed. great show. will be following you and look forward to you reviewing one of my books, someday.

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