Category Archives: Arizona

What I’m Doing for National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month! Are you doing anything special to celebrate? Even if you’re not a poet, why not try reading a poem a day? For something new, try this site for Vandal Poem of the Day: https://poetry.lib.uidaho.edu/ I start out the day reading 2-3 poems all year around, but I have four new books of poetry to read this month as well.

Rather than writing a draft a day as I have some Aprils, I am working on Scrap, my hybrid memoir. Each piece is the size of a prose poem, so I am trying to write 5/week. Because it’s more difficult than writing new poem drafts, I can’t challenge myself to 7/week. I need a little off-time. Also, my stupid snakes and birds eye needs a break. That’s what happens now for the most part to my vitreous detachment plagued eye: undulating snakes over the eye’s surface and bird swarms in the sky.

WordPress’ new upgrade has made it even more difficult to use the classic editing feature. It’s a bummer to me because I don’t like the other blogging sites nearly as much, but I don’t want to learn something new that is this complicated. When I first started my blogs in 2012, the process was completely intuitive. This stupid new WP setup is non-intuitive.

Are you learning to sucessfully use the block editing madness? If so, do you have any tips?

The weather is gorgeous right now in Phoenix. It is very summery with that soft morning air that makes me think I’m living in a resort climate (I guess I am). Add all the gardener’s winter flowers to the vision, and it’s just lovely. But April leads to May, which means that we need to change out the flowers next month for summer flowers.

Check out Amy Bess Cohen’s new book based on her family history. I wrote a review and posted it on The Family Kalamazoo: https://wp.me/p2K45r-22h You can find the link for the book over there. The story is very unique as it’s about her great-great grandfather, a young Jewish immigrant from Germany around the time of the Civil War, and how he moves to Santa Fe, becoming one of the pioneers of that city.

I called the Southwest Wildlife place again on the bobcat. The woman who takes the questions is not very helpful. Her attitude is that he belongs in our yard. My thought is that since I DON’T want him trapped and removed, she ought to be more helpful. The way she acts, a lot of callers would just hang up and call a trapper. She said, “We’re a WILDLIFE place.” Yeah, that’s the point. Don’t you want to help people with wildlife so that the wildlife is helped?

Leaving you with some cute pix from my kids.

The baby hummingbirds are from son and daughter(IL) in Orange County, CA. These chubbies who were hatched on the balcony left the nest on Friday.

This next pic is from daughter and her fiance. My fur grandkids who live in Arizona.

Follow me at: https://www.instagram.com/catpoems/

Let’s go make it a great week (and be helpful to others while we’re at it haha). XOXO

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Filed under #AmWriting, #amwriting, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Memoir, National Poetry Month, Poetry, Writing

Palimpsest of Scraps

The more time I spend with my art journal(s), the more I am realizing what appeals to me and what I like to work on. I am beginning to see a connection with my writing. 

The word palimpsest carries great meaning for me. Here is the Merriam-Webster definition:

palimpsest

noun

pa·​limp·​sest | \ ˈpa-ləm(p)-ˌsest  pə-ˈlim(p)-  \

Definition of palimpsest

1writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased

2something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

The following image is my latest two pages. I call it a palimpsest because it was created with many layers, and bits of each layer show in the finished pages, whether by eyesight or touch. For instance, there are pieces of poems: “It Would Be Easier to Stop Talking to Your Ghost” by Stella Li and “Triptych in Black and Blue” by Tatiana Johnson-Boria, published by Pleiades.

I’m also using my love of the reality and concept of scrap (title of my memoir-in-scrap), as well as a poem I’ve recently shared. I also love scrapbooking and used to love to design and make stained glass. I haven’t worked with quilting at all and not with mosaics since I was a kid, but those are other scrap arts and crafts that I love. 

For the initial layer of these pages, I used scraps from many sources, including graph paper, music, poetry, a story, a piece of an envelope flap that has the Hallmark logo embossed, and ripped up practice runs with art materials. I even included a hunk of the glued bottom of a brown bag. 

I skimmed through my pages in order of when I made them, and I discovered that at first my collaging was on the “top” of the page, so to speak, whereas now I am using collage as a base and then a bit more in one or two other stages. I learned the value of collage underneath because of all the interest it provides. My first pages look very flat in comparison.

Onward to more improvement LOL. I do see a connection (first noticed by Sheila Morris) between these art pages and my poetry. The layering, complexity, and happenstance, for one–er, three–things.  

I’m going to start PT for my shoulder/arm. And now I have vitreous detachment of my only reading eye. One of my eyes is to see distance, and the other is for reading. Seriously. That’s why I can’t wear bifocals and rarely wear glasses just wandering around. I wear glasses to read, another pair for driving, and then I have a computer pair made out of some really old and ugly frames. But my eyes (sort of) don’t work together, so having a really blurry reading eye kind of sucks.

Saturday I walked outside into the blue-blue sky, and I was attacked by swarms of birds from every direction. It was like a remake of the Hitchcock movie. But they weren’t real birds. They were one of the entertainments my eyes are providing me right now :/.

In other news, the puffballs are out! Technically, they are called Sweet Acacia trees, but we call them the dang puffballs. There isn’t a human alive who isn’t allergic to these things. They smell super sweet and, at first, you will think they are roses. But then the scent goes on and on and becomes sickening and you realize it isn’t roses at all. But they do signify home after all these years.

In the close-up you can see that this tree has two little puffballs growing from the trunk itself.

Announcements:

Pear Blossom’s 21st birthday is tomorrow!!! And Tiger Queenie’s 17th is April 1. Happy birthday, sweet girls.

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A Week with AWP

For some reason way back when I thought it was a good idea to sign up for the AWP conference that was to take place on Zoom just a few weeks after the Barrelhouse conference. AWP was this past week. I didn’t have time for it right now, and then my internet went down for two days. Good grief. I heard that the sessions might be recorded and left up so that attendees can view them later, but without the live chat function. You might recall I attended the AWP in person a few years ago in Tampa.

These are the sessions I did manage to watch.

Free Verse: Making a Life outside the Tenure Stream: Victoria Chang, Paul Guest, Ada Limon, Jennifer Popa, Maggie Smith

Invincibles: Women Writers Publishing After 50: Peg Alford Pursell, Valerie Brelinski, Jimin Han, Geeta Kothari, Naomi Williams

Loss, Memory, Transformation: Women Poets and the Elegy: Allison Adair, Melissa Cundieff, Cara Dees, Janine Joseph, Yalie Kamara

To Contest or Not to Contest: River Teeth and the UNM Press Provide Insight: Joan Frank, Phillip Lopate, Joe Mackall, Elise McHugh, Angela Morales

Crossover Collaboration: Poets with Visual Artists, Dancers, and Musicians: Jeffrey Bean, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Douglas Kearney, Timothy Liu, Joanna White

Beyond the Brady Bunch: Reinventing the Poem of the American Family: Geffrey Davis, Blas Falconer, Keetje Kuipers, Erika Meitner, Oliver de la Paz

New and Known: Poetic Forms and Traditions: Roy Guzman, Khaled Mattawa, Diane Seuss, Mark Wunderlich

Every single one of these sessions was life-giving. Just wonderful.

I plan to check in on some of the other sessions in the next week or two.

I’ve also snuck in reading a collection of Shirley Jackson short stories–some I have read, but most are new to me.

I tried to make a few collage pieces for art journaling, but couldn’t really devote much time because of the conference.

And I got in some cat snuggling. But I really want to get rid of the pain in my arm. It’s been five or six months now. Good grief.

Have a great week! Here’s a bunny from my yard.

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Face First

Before I tell you this, please let me be responsible and say that how we celebrated this year would only work in a climate like Phoenix.

My family made an outdoor socially distanced Hanukkah and Christmas celebration in our backyard. All four kids (two plus two) were here. We sat apart, didn’t share food, and were careful with gift giving. We enjoyed seeing them and the three dogs a lot. But it was very stressful for the gardener and me because we are more careful than the kids, and every movement seemed fraught with potential danger (at least it felt that way).

During the festivities, when the gardener was in the house, I tripped on a pavement seam and fell. Yup. Smack on the concrete. First my knee hit. Then my cheekbone hit. Full body force. My arms didn’t even go out to catch me! I think I”m fine, but pretty swollen and bruised. After falling I looked up into four worried faces that were exactly six feet away from me in every direction. They wanted to come help me, but didn’t want to bring me covid!

On another note, something very cool and terrifying happened a few days before the party.

I was in the kitchen and caught a movement outside through my periphery vision. I glanced out the glass door to the patio. Our grill is outside the door and to the left of it is the wall that goes around our yard. I saw an animal jump from the grill to the top of the wall and pause for a second before jumping down the other side. Much of the animal was obscured by oleander tree foliage and blossoms. What I saw was a spotted cat butt and chubby legs. The animal was too small to be a bobcat, but too out of proportion to be a housecat. It was a baby bobcat!!! Then I knew what the outline was that I had seen a couple of nights before. I was on the couch watching TV and outside the window a cat walked by. I could only see the silhouette, but the cat looked out of proportion for a stray cat or a bobcat. I had kind repressed that sighting because it didn’t make sense. But after I saw the baby butt on my wall, I knew what it was.

So very very cool. But also terrifying that a bobcat is inside my yard proper, right next to my house and the door where we go out to the patio and the grill.

Leaving you with a photo of the delicious gluten free baked goods made by my daughter.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! XOXO

 

 

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Filed under Arizona, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing

Too Many Ideas

Last Monday I saw the Wizard (aka the infectious disease doctor). I learned more about Valley Fever, plus I was able to hear his insights about Covid. And he told me about a Margaret Atwood poem in The New Yorker. Does anybody have a copy of it? I’d love to see the poem if you could take a pic and send it over :).

For a VF case like mine, I can expect to have the exhaustion for four months. After six months if I don’t get worse I can be pretty sure I won’t be bothered by it again, except for the node or nodes left in my lung (which is just an annoyance).

As far as Covid goes, he told me no restaurants (not even outdoors) and nobody in my house to fix the sink without a mask on. I have to entertain my family outside. So basically, just what I’ve been doing since mid-March.

Two weeks ago I talked about my new archetype tarot cards and researching The Destroyer archetype. Because I’ve had other stuff I’ve had to do I didn’t get as into it as I would like as of yet. But you know what I did anyway? This is so crazy. Let me preface it by saying that lying on the couch too tired to actually do something gives me a lot of time to think. And you know what I think about? All I should be doing, all I want to be doing, and about new things to do. Insanely, I bought supplies to start an art journal. I am already missing writing, staring at the tarot boxes (Wild Unknown and Original), and not touching my SCRAP scrapbook project (fabric swatches and memories).  I need to face the fact that I am one of those people who always have to have projects going on. My dad was like that, too. I’m pretty sure there is a gene that causes it.

I have watched more TV in the past month and a half than in the last year, I think. I’m not a TV person usually, but the gardener and I recorded all the October horror movies and have been watching them. Plus we love Professor T , a Belgian mystery show, and Baptiste, sequel to The Missing. The latter is filmed in Amsterdam and is more “typical” than the former. Professor T is a bit surprising and very endearing. Then on Netflix, on my laptop, I watched (by myself) The Haunting of Bly Manor. I found it interesting (the blind casting was very thought-provoking and problematic), but a little slow-moving. I’m also left with so many questions. [SPOILER ALERT!!!!! skip to next paragraph] For instance, if the ghosts originated with Viola, why was Dani haunted by her fiance even before she went to Bly? Wait, what about Miles? How did he survive? How did grownup Flora not recognize the names Bly and Owen, especially since Owen was at her wedding? Was Jamie really at Flora’s wedding or not? She seemed ghostlike to me, but she was still alive.

My daughter says the The Haunting of Hill House is not as slow, so I should watch it.

I am so blessed. I am not in much pain, and I have a good prognosis. I have everything I need at home (except people), and I live with the gardener and six pretty kitties so am not lonely. And nobody is waiting for me to finish that art journal ;).

With Covid on the rise, PLEASE STAY SAFE. No unnecessary risks. It’s not fair to yourself, to your loved ones, or to others, including healthcare workers. But then you knew all that.

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Look for the Beauty


This is day 36. I am hanging in there, gaining a bit of endurance, and trying to pay attention when my body needs rest. I’m also trying to pay attention to the beauty that I encounter.

It’s the time of year when we put the winter flowers in. I didn’t participate this time, but watched a bit of the work. The gardener had daughter and her fiance, as well as our pet sitter and her boyfriend to help. It took them a few hours to plant all the flowers. The nursery ran out of white snapdragons, rust and variegated marigolds, and many other flowers. The gardener suspects it is because the summer was so darn hot.

An hour and a half after everyone finished and left, look who showed up in our backyard.

That’s right: a gorgeous Arizona bobcat. If you enlarge the photo, you can see his beautiful black and white ears. The area where he is trudging is actually a steep section above a pony wall. Below the ponywall is a sidewalk and then our house.  This long and narrow space is a bit dangerous as we could get trapped back there by the bobcat. They tend not to attack humans unless they have rabies, but who knows? And, yes, they eat house cats (and small dogs). This is one of several reasons my cats are kept indoors all the time.

Since I haven’t been able to write, but would like to prep a bit for writing in the future, I decided to study a subject I have long been interested in: archetypes. I first encountered them years ago in a class taught by an English professor who was very into Jung and Jungian theory. Archetypes really resonate with me–being a poet I find myself exhuming them frequently. Later, I studied Freud for my work with literary theory, but I never felt in sync with Freud the way I did with Jung. In fact, to me, Freud’s thinking is kind of creepy, whereas Jung’s is more expansive and important.

An archetype can be described many ways, but a short definition might be something like this: a recurrent motif in psychology and art and the culture at large. Many say they can be found throughout all cultures. I worked quite a bit with The Mother archetype in grad school, but this time I wanted to get more in depth with more archetypes. So as a “sorry you’re sick” gift to myself 😉 I purchased this beautiful box containing a tarot deck of 78 archetypes.

After reading the book that comes with the deck and meditating a bit on the whole situation, I pulled one “random” card from the deck with the intention of working very thoroughly with it. And what did I select?

Why, the card that makes the most sense in this year of 2020, the year where so much of life as I have known it has been toppled and erased. I pulled out the card of THE DESTROYER. I kid you not. I don’t want to write now about what I am learning as I explore this archetype because I don’t want to short-circuit my work.

I hope that this exploration will lead to poetry writing when I am up to it.

By the way, this is Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Although I did not grow up with this tradition, I find in it much to admire. Taking a day to remember and pray for loved ones who have passed seems like a very good way to harness our feelings of grief. It prevents us from tamping down our feelings and thoughts about those we have lost, but gives us one day where we can really focus on loved ones. If we celebrate, we serve food that they loved. We create an altar and put their photos on it. Next year, I think I will prepare ahead for Dia De Los Muertos. Yesterday I cried remembering my maternal grandmother, so I think she is waiting to be recognized in this way.

Stay safe and remember you are loved.

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Day 22

This is day 22 of Valley Fever.

At least it’s getting slightly cooler in Arizona, finally.

The roadrunner came back!

The last book I read before I got sick was John W. Howell‘s Eternal RoadWhat a fun and thought-provoking adventure! Click the title to purchase it on Amazon. Last I looked, the Kindle version was $.99!!! Here is my review: Goodreads review of Eternal Road

I was supposed to prepare a video poetry reading for the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, but I could not handle that. I guess this is not my season for poetry. #wtf2020

That’s all for today, folks. Please wear a mask and social distance!

XOXO

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Best Nurse Ever

Although I still haven’t heard from a doctor, I was seen by a nurse practitioner at an urgent care last Monday. She insisted I probably had Covid. I admit I can be a real PITA when I want to. This was our conversation:

NP: I think this is Covid.

Me: It’s not possible. I’ve been a hermit for six months.

NP: Everyone says that and is surprised when they are diagnosed.

Me: (this is where I am a PITA) They are lying to you. I am not.

NP (ignoring what I said) You can get it at the grocery store or the gas station.

Me: I haven’t been either place in six months.

After the chest xray results came in a half hour later, NP said that according to the radiologist it was either Covid or Valley Fever. At that point I could tell that for my sake she was hoping it was Covid–under the thinking that if it was Covid I was on the mend without real damage. A blood test for Valley Fever was taken. From there the gardener took me up to the Mayo tents for another Covid test.

In a day I knew the Covid test was negative. Of course, now I was worrying I got Covid from the urgent care! Although the gardener kept hoping that my illness really was viral pneumonia and that I would soon be well, I had a strong feeling it was Valley Fever.

And it is. If you don’t live in the Southwest U.S. it is possible you haven’t even heard of VF. It’s considered an “orphan disease” or quite rare. But it’s not rare here in Arizona. It’s more like the “silent epidemic.” Tell too many people about it and they won’t want to visit Arizona. It’s a lung disease that is caused by a fungus found in dust in the SW. There has been a big pile of dirt from a construction site right next to my house for months, so all it took was a little wind to blow it over to my house. Many people get VF and don’t even know they have it as they are asymptomatic. But if you have symptoms it can be annoying as it takes weeks or months or longer (average time is six months) to clear up or it can become very dangerous as it invades other parts of the body.

I have an appointment with a specialist, but not for quite awhile. In the meantime, no nurse or doctor has talked to me about this potentially dangerous and definitely life-changing illness. I suspect there are just not enough doctors to cover all the regularly sick people and all the Covid people.

Today is day 15, and I am just as tired as I was a week ago. If I do a little chore or two in the kitchen, I have to nap for 30-45 minutes afterward.

This is fifteen years ago to the season that I was laid up for a year with a tumor and reconstructed foot. At that time, Pear Blossom lay with me and took care of me. Although she is 20.5 years old now, she is still doing so. Perry and Tiger lie with us, but make no doubt about it: it’s Pear’s couch and she is taking care of Mom and just letting them hang out. I hold her little paw or she holds my big hand with her paw.

I’m going to turn off comments again because I still haven’t responded to comments from two weeks ago or been reading blogs. I hope to be able to do that this week.

Hope you have a happy week and PLEASE stay safe.

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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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The Year I’d Like to Return: Refund, Please

I hope you and yours are all well, and that you are handling all this chaos and sometimes isolation.

We had some sad news this weekend. My cousin’s son passed away after all those weeks in a coma/on a ventilator/ on dialysis. He left behind a 6-year-old son, wife, mother and father, sister, and grandfather. I feel very sad for him, as well as for his son and wife. And my cousin and her husband have had a lot of tragedy in their lives before this, so it’s just too too much.

I have to stretch to find something positive right now to share as I want to retreat to my couch with an ice cream bar. I saw a cute hummingbird and took a couple of lousy pix and a short movie. And today is my birthday, by the way. A big one. Woohoo. Heh.

I can’t figure out what kind of hummingbird this one is. We live in Maricopa County, so I looked up hummers in this area, and he/she doesn’t really look like any of the ones pictured. The closest would be a male black-chinned hummingbird.

My mom got me this book of cute poems by kittens. It was written by the same author of I Can Pee on This.

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