Category Archives: #AmWriting

Creativity is Play

Last year I wrote about starting to work on Julia Cameron’a The Artist’s Way with a local group of artists. I haven’t said much in a long time, probably since before the pandemic began. I thought I’d give you a little update about the process.

 

The group is still meeting once a month, generally with me in attendance. We moved to Zoom meetings when the pandemic began. We are down to four fully-committed women. Last week we worked on chapter nine where I learned that enthusiasm is more important than discipline (YAY!!!!) and that all artists make creative U-turns upon occasion. When we finish the book, we plan to start work on another book but haven’t yet decided which one.

 

If you’re familiar with TAW (The Artist’s Way), you know that there are two permanent parts and one temporary one. The temp component is working the book itself–reading it and doing the exercises. Though temporary, reading the book can be done over and over again. The permanent and most important parts are Morning Pages and Artist Dates.

 

I am here to fess up that I doubt I can ever complete TAW the way Julia Cameron wants us to. What works for her and thousands of people doesn’t work for me. I have to do it my way (can you hear the song there? hah).

 

First let me tell you the brilliant part of TAW–for me. It’s the Artist Dates. Because art is all about PLAY and ENTHUSIASM, I love giving myself permission to play in and about anything creative. So when I ordered the supplies for an art journal and got all excited about it, that was an Artist Date. When I started work on the Wild Unknown tarot cards, that was an Artist Date.

 

The book itself is fun and gives me ideas of how to think about creativity

 

and writing itself, but I am not a blocked artist, and I really think the program is geared for the blocked artist, the frustrated artist, or someone who is prone to getting blocked. Many times someone is blocked because other people have rained on their parade which is so extremely unfortunate. Luckily, I have not had a lot of those experiences or at least ones that I really took to heart. But I know others who have had that happen over and over again.

 

OK, now the last part of the program is the Morning Pages. Some people think these are the most crucial. I hate them, and after trying them, I refuse to do them any more. They are just work. More stuff that I “have to” do–about the opposite of play and enthusiasm as you can get. So why do I have to do them? 😉 (Hint: I don’t!) That said, I see them helping other people, so I am not dissing the concept or the application.

 

I’m just being honest about my participation in the process.

 

I had one of my stupid complicated migraines the other day and it has lingered, maybe because of the VF. Otherwise, I am doing fine, and I am sure that I am getting better. In two or three more months I should be completely well. Grateful!!!!

 

We had Thanksgiving on the patio with Mexican food yesterday with daughter and her fiance. Thursday the gardener and I will dine alone. Yes, it will include gluten free stuffing. Stuffing is the “Artist Date” of the Thanksgiving menu hahaha.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans this week. Please stay safe. With the vaccine on the horizon we want to be in good health to really appreciate life after the vaccine.

My boys . . .

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, gluten free, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing Tips and Habits

Poem Up at Coastal Shelf

A big thank you to editor Zebulon Huset who has published my poem “The Shape of Me” in the double inaugural issue of Coastal Shelf.

The poem begins this way:

The Shape of Me

Have I been removed from something bigger?

Something gargantuan with jiggerfish capabilities.

Some thing that attracts, precise and cold.

Looking around, I notice cars and trashcans,

and up, clouds suspended in a blue crisp enough to lick.

You can follow the link to the full poem:

THE SHAPE OF ME

 

By Cameron Cassan – cropped from Dancer Silhouettes. Explored, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10611704

Coastal Shelf is a paying market. Check it out for the good writing and consider submitting. 

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

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? 

###

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.

###

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

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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Filed under #amrevising, #AmWriting, #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape

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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Cats and Texas and Actors and Such

Nothing much has changed here except that I am working a lot too much, it’s too hot outside (and we never did get our monsoon), and I think Kana throws up hairballs every other day because with her IBD she has difficulty passing the fur as she ought to.

Here she is in her new Cat Person chalet. I didn’t make a chalet last time because I thought Kana, my box queen, was too big. But SHE doesn’t think so.

For fun I thought I’d share an old poem with you. It was published in the journal Front Range, Issue 6, Spring 2011. It’s more narrative than usual for me, but I remember having fun writing it. After my daughter graduated from the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!), the gardener and I drove back to Arizona through Texas. So did daughter and son in daughter’s car. It was a fun family trip, and it was kind of relaxing that it was in two vehicles. Two years before her graduation, my daughter had performed in summer stock in Texas (Granbury and Galveston). So the last time I had been in Texas before daughter’s graduation was twice the summer she was there–once to Granbury and once to Galveston. The old theatre in Granbury has been the scene of John Wilkes Booth sightings. The idea is that he didn’t die when the history books tell us he did, but instead he went to Texas and got back into acting.

***

Booth Made Footprints in Texas after Escaping the Burning Barn

 

John Wilkes Booth didn’t die an assassin’s death

but like a schoolteacher in love with Shakespeare,

in his bed confessing with precise diction

 

though at that point not a soul believed him

because he acted the role of nobody

so authentically that his own frustrated soul

 

banned from acclaim for what was left for him,

returns to the scene of his last applause

and blesses the opera house actors

 

who can hear his boots slipping down the aisle.

My daughter and her castmates searched

in every shop, in the fly system

 

weights and pulleys, the rotting velvets and silks

wishing not to find him knowing if they found him

they would silence something important

 

something bigger than he was back in Washington,

or on national tour, in the middle

of the country, an opera house in Granbury

 

which is to be expected in a state

like Texas which magnifies everything

under its glass where you drive and drive

 

for days and are still in the same damn state,

a state of industrial stupor.

We aren’t lulled by the long grasses, the stretches

 

between.  Count the oil derricks

vying with the windmills, the refineries,

and the ghost of boot prints in the dust

 

so enormous I worry that our kids

driving ahead of us on the Interstate

on the way home from college graduation

 

will disappear into one, swallowed

into the mirage as if they were never

part of us, leaving us searching for prints.

***

Do you like cats? Do you like veterans? Do you think a 95-year-old man should have a good birthday even during Covid? Then you might want to pull out your box of birthday cards and fill one out for the human grandfather of Bob Graves, the Writing Cat. Bob looks so much like my Mackie Man (RIP, 1998-2015).

This is what Bob sent in his Bobington Post yesterday:

Operation Birthday Card!

by Bob Graves, The Writing Cat

We thought it would be best if everyone sent cards/notes to us and then the woman will package them all up together to send to her dad. The address is below.

 

If at all possible, please try to send to us by Friday, September 11th.  This will allow the woman time to package them all together and send to the birthday boy.  Since he lives so far away from us, she will not be able to deliver them in person.

 

A little about Mr Graves…

  • His name is Robert (Bob) Graves
  • I was named after him because I remind the woman of him
  • He’ll be turning 95 years old on September 17th
  • He’s sharp as a tack and loves receiving mail
  • He’s a WWII Veteran
  • He loves both cats and dogs
  • He attended Georgia Tech

Please know in advance that we are so grateful for each of you, whether you send a card/note or not.  Let me know if you have any questions about this very special project. We will keep you posted on how many cards we receive!

 

Very truly yours,

Bob

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Cats and Other Animals, History, Inspiration, Poetry, Publishing

Two Poems Up at Praxis Magazine

A big thank you to the editors of Praxis Magazine Online for publishing my poems “The Rule” and “Your Sonnet.” Praxis is an African-based magazine for arts and literature. Check it out by reading the other stories and poems!

“The Rule” is obviously a response to the Covid pandemic. Like a lot of writers, I am torn between wanting to write about the pandemic and wanting to get away from it by NOT writing about the pandemic.

“Your Sonnet” is a poem that a lot of (particularly, but not exclusively) women can probably relate to. It makes use of the Little Red Riding Hood story, as do several of my poems in the last couple of years. I know that I have posted before about my Pinterest board for Little Red art, but now the board has over 1,300 images! I really do wonder if any secular folktale has inspired more art than Little Red: Red in the Woods

You can read the poems here:

THE RULE and YOUR SONNET

 

Last week I wrote about penpals and posted a link for Snail Mail Social Club. After applying by checking off my interests from a provided list, I was given two names and addresses to write to. One of them was an individual living at home. The other is a staff contact at a senior facility. The idea, apparently, is that the facilities don’t want to give out names for privacy issues so I am supposed to write as many letters as I like for these unknown people living there.

I have to admit I was disappointed. I wrote back, asking if they were going to match me up with people with my interests, but have not heard back. I can send generic letters to any senior facility–I don’t need this “finding” service to get me a staff member’s name. The reason I liked writing to Matt was because he said he was interested in war stories, so I wanted to hear his and tell him the ones I know about from my family. If someone wants to talk about books or history or art or cats, I’m all here. Or there. Or pen in hand.

Does anybody else have information about finding people to write to that I have something in common with? I think it would be more meaningful to shut-ins since I am not a 3rd grader writing with my class. Does that make any sense or do I sound nonsensical?

Let me know what you think . . . .

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

Find a Pandemic Pen Pal

The other day a friend of mine posted some photos from a nursing home in Texas. Some of the residents were looking for penpals. Their facility is locked up because of the pandemic, so the people are presumably getting lonely. Each person holds a white board with their first name, listing a few items they like. In a few moments of spontaneity, I wrote to one of the residents. I chose Matt because he simply wrote that he is interested in war stories. He reminded me of my dad a bit, and my dad loved war stories when he was living in the nursing home. Also, I am researching my great-uncle Chuck’s military history because my uncle asked me to do so. He told me that there is a story there, one that I had never heard before. I don’t have all the info yet, but when I do I plan to reveal it on my family history blog. I’ll probably link to it here.

Anyway, I wrote to Matt about my dad being in the Korean War and Uncle Chuck in Germany during WWII. I really hope he writes back, but he might get a lot of mail. I felt happy just writing to him, even if I don’t hear back.

I wondered if other nursing homes are doing the same. I mean, it didn’t take long to write the letter and it cost me a stamp. I found this article by AARP: Pen Pals Share the Joy of Letter Writing. The AARP article led me to this website: Snail Mail Social Club. For this “club,” you end up writing to individuals in “facilities,” as well as to the staff at the facilities. I think this is a chance to thank people who are taking care of our elders. I filled out a very brief form for Snail Mail Social Club. I put down my interests as animals, art/crafts, history, and reading. You have to choose from the choices on the list. I will be sent a list of people to write to by email.

Letter writing is strictly old school, not like what bloggers do. To blog we need the power of the internet and the power that goes into our computer electrical cord (or battery). It felt good to send out a letter. Now I better write one to my aunt!

Kind of ironic that I am posting about letter writing when the USPS is in trouble, but then maybe it is meant to be that I write about this now.

I told my mother about writing to Matt and asked if the nursing home at her campus offers something like this. She asked me to please call and give them the idea. I left a message on the voice mail of the appropriate person, but I have not yet heard back.

If we all, adults and children alike, wrote to just one pen pal, that would give light and color to the lives of so many people who are cooped up from Covid, unable to even see their own relatives in person. Imagine how it feels to be locked in, wondering if you will die before you can go for a car or bus ride or see your relatives again.

This photo is from my father’s U.S. Army photo album from his time in the military. Interesting that he seems to be posing in front of the quartermaster school. He was not a quartermaster, but he was a supply sergeant, so it’s likely that (unless I have this confused) he worked for a quartermaster. He isn’t wearing a uniform in all of his photos. In some of them he is even wearing a bathing suit. I chose this one because I like his jazzy sweater.

I’m going to close comments because it’s been a super busy week, and I need to catch up with comments and the blogs of others. Make it the best week you can (considering haha).

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

Science and Me Redux

Over seven years ago, I posted “How and Why I Don’t Know Science,” which was “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress. I’m going to paste it here so you can read it if you like and if you didn’t at that time. Why am I posting it all over again?

I am reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is how the book is described on Goodreads:

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Werner, the German boy, is a genius at science, math, engineering, mechanics. I am not quite 1/3 of the way into the book and the two main characters have separate threads. Werner’s thread makes science, especially applied sciences, sound so fascinating that it makes me regret that I never learned much science in school. Thinking about this reminded me of my post all those years ago. The post explains how it came about that I didn’t learn science.

Once in awhile I like to go back and look at something I wrote a long time ago. I’ve had seven years of writing experience after composing that blog post. I’ve also changed as my life has evolved over time. Since I wrote it I have become more involved with my writing and more involved with cat rescue. And I’ve gotten farther away from my childhood.

The main reason for feeling that I am further from my life (and me) as a child is that because I have written so much about my childhood since then I have been able to let some of it go. Once I write about an event, I unpin it from deep inside me and it begins to float away. Very useful way to get rid of bad memories.

Until one goes back and reads a memory, of course ;).

###

Here is HOW AND WHY I DON’T KNOW SCIENCE.

After I heard we had to dissect the body of a cat in tenth grade biology class, I requested to take a replacement course instead. Today many school districts are sensitive to this issue and students can opt out without creating a stir. But back in 1971, school administrators at my Michigan school had never heard of a college-track student requesting to skip the foundation of high school science classes—and all over a dead cat. (How and Why the cat would die wasn’t divulged). Although they were surprised by my request, they allowed me to switch over to a course called Earth Science, but the only connection it had with its name was interminable dullness like dirt.

At fifteen I saw the world through a lens like a microscope and never from the top of a cliff. My father often said, “You can’t see beyond your own nose. It’s the bigger picture that counts.” My father, though, only saw the world as if it were a coloring book—large geometric blanks to be colored in by him, sloppily, with loops passing wildly beyond the black lines.

My view worked well for the science projects I had performed at home for years. When I was nine, my mother had bought me a How and Why book with scientific experiments kids could do at home. I grew mold on potatoes, made a weather station, something different every week.

But Earth Science class turned out to be a playpen for students who would not much longer be called students, kids who had troubles at home and troubles at school. Because I didn’t have the capacity to look at the longer range consequences, I didn’t realize that by not taking biology I’d left science behind. I wasn’t able to study physics or chemistry as all the science classes were lined up like the begetters in the Bible—biology begat chemistry which begat physics.

The SAT didn’t require any scientific knowledge, and somehow, with my intuitive test taking abilities, I managed an eighty-something percentage on the science portion of the ACT. The next year I attended a college chosen for its proximity to my boyfriend and satisfied the lone science requirement by taking a course called “The History of Science,” which taught no science.

Today I don’t know much about science, but my conscience is clear where my four cats are concerned. Too bad I couldn’t have a clear conscience and science both.

###

Obviously seven years ago I had four cats. But now I have six!

Kana says, “Have the best week possible!”

Kana is next to my cardboard standing work desk

and the painting on the wall behind her was by my MIL;

the table is one we call “kitchen” but actually functions as cat feeding station

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Reading, Vintage American culture