Category Archives: Arizona

The Babies and the Stories

Hummingbirds make such wonderful mothers. Six years ago, the hummingbird who raised two nests right outside my door was a good example. When one of her babies turned out to find it more difficult to learn to fly, she spent hours one afternoon patiently teaching the little one. The green hummingbird raising her babies in our oleander right now is another good example. First, before she ever laid her eggs, she completely moved her nest from the windchime/mobile to the oleander tree when she realized the first place was not safe. Now we’ve noticed that because the sun beats relentlessly on the babies in the mornings, she sits on them for protection even though they are now big kids. We expect them to fly away any day now. Here she is shielding them from the sun.

Last week I told you that Kana was enjoying a manuscript box, but Tiger would lie down in it when Kana wasn’t there.

I think I forgot to mention that my daughter gave me Storyworth for Mother’s Day. I had never heard of it before. Every week for a year I get a story prompt mailed to me. The idea is these stories are all about my life. As soon as I email one back, my kids get the story dumped in their inboxes. I am allowed to include photos if I like. And if I hit send and regret something I can easily edit it. At the end of the year, the kids will get books of “the story of my life.” Why is this different from creative nonfiction and memoir writing? These stories are geared for my kids and (hopefully someday) their kids. Some of the stories are already part of family legend, but now they will be written down in a permanent form. If I don’t like a particular prompt, I can change it out, but so far each one (I’ve done four) have been fruitful lines of enquiry ;). I’ve written about my first memory, most memorable birthday, favorite trip, and a time when I was brave. I’m not saying I wouldn’t share any of these on this blog, but not today, folks.

It’s a genius idea that I wish I had thought of before these people did hah. The reason it’s genius is that it’s got to be a money maker as it’s pricey. But I kind of think it’s worth it because who does this anyway? And keeps it up for a year? You could do this completely on your own. But will your loved ones keep writing those stories every week? They will if they know you paid for the subscription!

Make it a fine week!!!!

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My Past Week Minus Work and Physical Therapy

Let me say this up front: have a thoughtful Memorial Day. You might want to read posts from blogger Joy Neal Kidney who writes about her grandparents who lost three  beloved sons during WWII. As Joy reminded on Instagram the other day, Memorial Day is to honor and remember those who died serving the United States. Veteran’s Day is for those who served and came home.  We do tend to blur this distinction. Since so many who die in battle are young, they often leave no children behind. In part for this reason, more of us have veterans in our families or are veterans ourselves, and it is left to nieces and nephews to mourn the fallen family member. In my own family, only one person died during war for the United States (my ancestors arrived in the 1800s, so it’s possible that some siblings of my ancestors perished in war for their countries. This young man was the younger and newly arrived from the Netherlands brother of my great-grandmother’s brother-in-law. That doesn’t sound like a close relation, but our family was small and close and I knew Aunt Jen very well until she passed away when I was twelve. After being in the United States for less than a year, Gerrit Leeuwenhoek volunteered for this country in the Spanish-American war and was shipped to Cuba where he died of malaria. This letter was sent to Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen.

Later, Uncle Lou had Gerrit’s remains moved to the cemetery in Kalamazoo.

***

The dove kids are thriving. We see them hanging out on the railing near the plant that held their nest.

The hummingbird mama is doing well taking care of her twins. She feeds them regularly. Here she is sitting on them.

May is when the saguaros blossom. This year has been a little bit different, though, because they are blossoming more generously. Usually they bloom off the “top of their heads.” But this year the flowers trail down the sides as if there are so many they are spilling over. Nobody seems to know why, though they have made guesses. The gardener says it’s because we didn’t have much rain this year. Click on the image and you can see the flowers growing out of the sides of the tree.

I’ve been reading a novel manuscript, and Kana has been spending her time in the manuscript box, even as it gets filled up with the just-read pages.

My sweet Pear (the 21-year-old) seemed to be unwell, but now I think that she was having trouble getting up and down from the couch–and that in the early morning hours Perry was traumatizing her with his attention. I tried putting things in front of the couch so that she would have a “stairs” of sorts, but she is too fragile to learn something like that at this point. Finally, I had an epiphany. I needed to subtract from the couch instead of adding to it. I took out one of the seat cushions. Now she can step down to the couch without the cushion and then on to the floor. And Perry is now locked in our bedroom at night. What is surprising is that he’s being so good although he can’t roam the house.

Sorry for annoying you with some of my journal pages, but I am enjoying it so much and you can always skip :).

This one is in a very small book. The quote is from a poem called “Sisters” by James Lineberger.

And this one is all about the memories. 

I’m moving forward on the memoir, and I would definitely call it a hybrid at this point. I hope a few people like it when I’m done because I feel better writing this version than any of the previous 18 versions. (No, not kidding). I really hope it works this time. Needless to say.

I’m not sending too much out right now, but just thought I’d let you know I have a new poetry book in the works!!! (Shhh) Yeah, but publication date will be in 2022. That sounds so far away! More info to come.

Make a happy week!

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My Zoo

My daughter shot new headshots for me the other day. Perry loves his attention so he climbed into my arms and posed. This was complete serendipity, but I might use it for my blog and social media image.  Do you like it?

After maneuvering his way into this photo, he wanted his own headshot.

 

A couple of days ago a new bobcat walked through my neighborhood. This one was skinny with a curly tail. I fear there are too many bobcats in one territory now. One day a friend on Instagram referred to all the wildlife here as my “zoo.” Haha, it feels that way sometimes.

The hummingbird eggs have hatched, and Mama is busy feeding them. I’m sorry I don’t have a photo, but I didn’t want to spook the little mother.

On Saturday we had dove baby drama here.  We had some advice from a volunteer at Liberty Wildlife, the rescue that handled the red-tailed hawk rescue last year. I also learned some additional mourning dove info on Google. For instance, did you know that very often the mother and father both take turns sitting on mourning dove nests? Or if the mother does a lot of it, the father will step in, too? This is what happened. The gardener found a dead mourning dove by our glass door in the morning. Then he realized there was a nest in the hanging pot, and it had two big babies inside. We had a wedding to go to so we were getting stressed by trying to figure out if they were still being fed or not. If the mother was killed, would the father feed them? A few hours later we noticed a small adult or nearly adult bird sitting on the edge of the pot, next to the babies. She was there a couple of times when we looked, but not always. Was this their mother? Were they too big for her to fit on the nest? Was it their father who was killed? We planned to bring the babies to Liberty Wildlife next morning if it looked like they weren’t being fed.

Next morning the nest was empty. The gardener saw one of the babies down in the wash, fine so far. Mourning dove babies are still watched over and fed by parents for a week or two after the babies leave the nest. We have to hope they are being fed as I don’t want to rip them away from a parent that is still around.

This art journal page was fun to make. My art journal pages, like those of a lot of people, are not planned out. I just start putting stuff on the paper and see where it will take me. This time it took me to Dick and Jane and their “lunar understanding.”

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Neighborhood Visitor

I have this great photo to share with you. I did not take it, but it is one of the bobcats from my neighborhood. My neighbor found the animal resting in his yard, so he snapped this image. What luck! And what gorgeous animals the bobcats are.

This poem was in Poem-a-Day this morning coincidentally.

The Waiting

Jane Wong

I was waiting for something
to arrive. I didn’t know what.
Something buoyed, something
sun knocked. I placed my palms
up, little pads of butter, expecting.
All day, nothing. Longer than
that. My hair grew, fell out,
grew. Outside my window, I felt
the flick of a tail in September
wind. A bobcat sauntered across
the grass before me, the black tip
of its tail a pencil I’d like to sharpen.
I immediately hushed, crouched,
became a crumpled shock of
joy to see something this wild,
not myself. It turned to look
at me, its body muscular in
the turning. In its mouth was
the tail of a mouse drained of
blood, dangling diorama of death.
Sharp eyes looking at me and then,
not. Its lack of fear, its slow stroll
across the stream’s bridge, fur
lacquering its teeth. Sometimes
what comes to us, we never called
for. How long had I been crouched
like that? I stood up, blood rush
trumpeting. My arms wrapped
themselves around myself, lifted.
It was as if a bank vault had
opened and I was just standing
there, stealing nothing.

Copyright © 2021 by Jane Wong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 17, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Make it a great week!

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Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Arizona, Cats and Other Animals, Flora, Garden, and Landscape, Nonfiction

May Flowers

Continue reading

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A Mixed Bag Week

While the gardener and I were in California for two days last week, my daughter encountered the bobcat. She was in the back of our house, watering plants. As she turned slightly, she saw the bobcat walking toward her from the side.  She scooted into the house quickly and took this video.

She said that the bobcat actually hung around the backyard for awhile. Then he/she was back again the next morning!

In Arizona our mask mandate is expired, but where I go people are all still wearing masks inside. Not outside, thank goodness. Without a mask mandate, you do run the risk of running into a jerk. When we were in Pasadena, I noticed that everyone has to wear a mask outside, even walking down the sidewalk where other people are a block away.  I thought that was pretty stupid, too. I wanted to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. Dear God, Can we please have common sense back? I promise I’ll take good care of my share. Love, Luanne

Pasadena sidewalk

Not sure if I mentioned that my The Artist’s Way group finished the Cameron book and is moving on to another. We’re starting Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s a short book, but so far it has some brilliant ideas. I also think the Cameron is brilliant, but there are things I don’t like. One of those is that Cameron comes from a place of extreme privilege, whether she thinks so or not, and it kind of permeates the book. The Bayles and Orland book has a voice I prefer.

Here’s one of my latest art journal pages. Although it’s not cheerful, I am pretty happy with this messy one. The man’s face is a transfer from a sketch my MIL did of a man at the Art Students League when she was there. His name was Leonard.

I read an article, “Success and the Late Blooming Woman Author,” in a recent issue of Writer’s Chronicle, the publication of the AWP. Late blooming is a subject dear to my heart because I didn’t publish Doll God until I was almost sixty. Look at this passage:

The percentages of women writers 55 and older being published in “the most equitable magazines”  “rarely reached twenty percent.” Ugh. Well, I keep working against that. Never said I wouldn’t take on a challenge.

Leaving you with a little cat chat. This Perry routine has evolved over time, and this is where we are most recently: Every night Perry carries his “babies” up to our bedroom and, one by one, lays them in front of my face and looks at me for approval. His babies are little stuffies we call squirrels and mice. They are not all squirrels or mice, but they are close enough. When I wake up in the morning, I am surrounded with cat stuffies in the bed. Here’s another piece of cat info: when I hold two cat food cans in front of a cat–let’s say, Felix–he will go back and forth a couple of times, sniffing them, and then nudge one toward me. There is no doubt that my cats know they are supposed to choose which one to eat.

Make it a great week, dears.

 

 

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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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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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