The beautiful South 85 Journal has published my essay, “Family History,” in the new issue. This creative nonfiction piece is about a violent crime that occurred within my extended family. Writing this has been so difficult, but also necessary. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what happened, so I explored it in this way. I hope you read this piece because the sharing of it also helps me process it all. But a warning: it is about violence and family.
Let’s see if I can write this post without any talk about the horrors going on in the real world.
When I got Valley Fever at the very end of September 2020, I whined a couple of times on this blog about my shoulder getting very bad at the same time. In fact, I might always wonder if my flu shot caused the damage. Before you laugh, that’s a real thing. Vaccines can cause bursitis, calcifications, and all manner of painful shoulder issues. In my case, when I finally got an xray, I was diagnosed with both rotator cuff calcification and frozen shoulder. The reason it took months to get the diagnosis was that with Valley Fever I was terrified of getting Covid. They both tend to look the same on a lung xray, and at my age, I really didn’t want that double whammy.
After the diagnosis I began physical therapy and attended dutifully for almost three months. Then I kept doing the exercises for several months afterward. Surgery wasn’t the best situation for me because of another health issue. But then the shoulder pain began to increase again instead of decrease.
Bottom line about physical therapy: it completely unfroze my shoulder, so that’s a good thing. But it did nothing for the calcification, which was in a particularly painful spot. This pain went on for 1 1/2 years.
This winter I found a sports doctor who believes in non-surgical alternatives. I was specifically looking for someone who could prescribe shockwave therapy. I’d read online about it, and it sounded very promising. When I saw the doctor I found out that he had had the treatment himself and swore by it. I also discovered that he only recommended one place in the entire state of Arizona. It was luckily in the greater Phoenix area.
I went 4 times. Two times I had treatments by one therapist, then the 3rd and 4th were by a second therapist. I could tell immediately that she was more powerful in her administration of the therapy. After the 4th treatment I started feeling a lot better, but was still uncertain about the outcome. However, daughter’s wedding was coming up and I wanted to hibernate for a couple of weeks ahead of time so that I didn’t get Covid and miss the wedding.
Guess what happened? Those treatments had broken up the calcification. Over that two week period they were absorbed into my body. My shoulder is now completely better.
This is my testimonial for shockwave therapy. Why won’t insurance companies cover it? Is it because somebody is making money off all those shoulder surgeries?
I’m not a doctor of medicine (just literature which has a different sort of healing power haha), so this is just my story. From my story, my cautions would be to only get shockwave therapy under the supervision of a medical doctor and licensed physical therapist with shockwave training, not at an alternative medicine office of any kind. Read a lot online about it. Be sure never to get shockwave therapy in areas of the body where there is danger (again, research and doctor’s script).
Next Monday I’ll be at the workshop in Tucson, so I won’t be posting. I’m excited because the other nonfiction entries have been good reading, so I think the interaction at the workshop should be a good one.
I’ve been #amwriting, #amreading, and #amrevising lately, although not too much of any of them. Just enough to keep me going. My focus has been off because of “world events,” and I am trying to be kind to myself.
That means arty junk journaling :). Here’s a video of a journal I just finished. It’s not one of my favorites, but some of the pages are decent. And I painted it in pale pink after the war started because somehow that color was calling to me.
Here is a reminder that spring is here, and the birds don’t know about all the horrors around the world. They are in “tryst” mode.
I try to keep my blog a healing and nurturing place for myself and maybe a bit of an escape for readers. So I don’t like to write here about political issues. In fact, I hate politics, although I recognize how important they are. I can wish for permanent world peace, but I know that humans are deeply flawed and that the concept is a utopian ideal. Even without taking into account sociopaths and psychopaths, humans are gnarly, snarly selfish creatures. That said, there are plenty of mainly wonderful people doing wonderful things in this world.
Anyway this is leading up to me saying something about a political situation. And that is war perpetuated against Ukraine by Putin and Company. I find it so distressing, both for the Ukrainians and for world stability. There are constant wars against people all around the world, but the reason I am commenting here on this isn’t because these are white Europeans, although I’ve seen people argue this. It’s because there is a domino effect that can occur and there is a pattern of war in Europe contributing to or leading to war in many regions (world war).
Additionally, all four of the gardener’s grandparents were Jews from Ukraine, although it was part of the Russian Empire in those days. Jewish history beyond the Pale has a lot of sad chapters, but there were also happy times and some good neighbors. Volodymyr Zelenskyy being selected as president of Ukraine was a big deal. He not only was a comedian and not a politician before this top office, but he is Jewish. How significant and hopeful that someone Jewish could be elected president of Ukraine. And now this horror. Please send Ukraine what you’re good at: prayers, protesting, positive vibes, money, whatever you can do.
Here is a poem Rattle just published by a Ukrainian poet. She took Putin’s speech from Feb 21 and created an erasure poem, where words are erased to find a different meaning. Mir in Ukraine
I had to get a piece of my memoir ready for the workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books. I received the manuscripts from the other participants the other day and am eager to read them. Some of them are probably the same pieces that made them finalists. For mine, I chose a different one. For the contest I sent in the first section of the memoir, about when I was a little kid. For the workshop I sent in the next section, where I was ten to 14 or so. I know that makes it sound like an autobiography, but it’s definitely a memoir, focused more on my relationship with my father.
On the subject of my arty junk journals, I began to prep the book to use for daughter’s wedding journal. First I had to gut my 2nd year French book. That felt great! It also provided me with some collage materials–music, maps, French passages. When I first saw people altering books, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t imagine violating a book. The teaching I had received about treating books like treasures was strong within me. But now I realize that there are plenty of books that end up in landfills and that there is a difference between an out-of-date textbook and a first edition of Peter Pan. It’s fun to give the book cover and the “collage materials” from the inside new life.
Reading some good books, such as Ashley C. Ford’s Somebody’s Daughter, a memoir, and Caroline Goodwin’s Madrigals, a collection of poetry and collage art.
I’ve been remembering wrap-around skirts. If you’re from my era, you probably remember them. They were large circles of cloth, open on one side. You wrapped the cloth around yourself and tied, buttoned, or buckled it at the waist. The overlap was in the back, so you had to keep smoothing the back of the skirt to make sure part of it wasn’t stuck up on the cloth underneath. If you don’t know what I mean and do a google search you will find a lot of skirts that end in the front, but I remember around 1970 ours were always ending in the back, like in this image.
These skirts were very easy to sew because you didn’t have to worry about fit. But they did tend to accentuate what we called a stick-out butt, which I had. I sure hated that feature, never knowing it would come into fashion when I no longer had it hahaha.
I am planning to make my daughter a junk journal for her wedding. I haven’t made a bound journal before, so I experimented by making a bound version to use for my regular arty junk journaling. I took an old adolescent lit textbook (I used to teach it to college students who were in the secondary ed program) and took out the “signatures” inside. Signatures are groups of sheets folded in half that are put into the binding as a unit. Each book is comprised of several signatures. Then I decorated the cover with old fabrics from my teen years, buttons from Grandma’s collection, and some doodads I found. I created three signatures of about 7 folded pages and bound these signatures into the cover.
For the wedding journal I got the idea of knitting a cover for it, and Marie Bailey at 1WriteWay gave me a lot of help. I haven’t knitted since I made a basketweave baby blanket for my son ahemahem years ago!
Make it a good, safe, productive, and peaceful week!
In April 2019, I had two poems accepted by the Saranac Review. Then crickets. All through that year and then the first year of the pandemic, also: nothing from them. I didn’t want to withdraw the poetry as I really wanted it published by SR, but I worried that they were struggling with problems, especially the “covid factor.”
Finally, as if by magic (hahahahaha), the issue has been published. And it’s gorgeous. I mean really gorgeous. It has very thick glossy pages, which makes it a wonderful coffee table journal. I don’t think you can see how great it is from the photos. You have to touch it. I am thankful that SR has published my poems in this beauty.
I’ve blurred out the last half of both my poems because I don’t think it’s thoughtful (to the journal) to post complete poems immediately upon publication in a print journal. But the poems will be in my new book (preorders in May 2022)!
Look at the details of this cover.
And here’s the back.
I got the idea for the poem “April Things” on an April drive to California from Arizona.
The second poem is about a subject that is threaded throughout my new poetry book, my maternal grandparents.
I have been having a difficult time in the last few weeks. Family and (annoying-type) health issues. Some holiday celebration changing. Worries about my daughter’s upcoming wedding (early February) with covid news. So I started doing a mixed media junk journal free “course” called #caredecember. It lasts 20 days and is about self-care as well as self-expression. In this stressful holiday season, I am focusing on staying in touch with nature and just “letting most of it go.” I’m wishing you all peace and love and kindness.
No poet could ever suffer from writer’s block when she has access to any of Diane Lockward’s phenomenal craft books. Now she has published her fourth, The Strategic Poet. The book is a #1 New Release in Poetry Writing Reference on Amazon. Click on the following image to find the book.
The back of the book lists the poets whose work appears inside as either prompt poems or sample poems.
One of my poems is featured in the book. It’s a formal poem, a triolet, but rather than being a single triolet, I made it a triple!
The description in the book of a triolet:
I accepted the challenge to use the form for a significant topic as I based the poem on a cat hoarding situation we had in Phoenix last year where 133 cats were found in one apartment lived in by a couple with children. Here is the very beginning of the poem. To read the entire poem you would need to purchase Lockward’s book.
Although I haven’t mentioned my arty junk journals in awhile (other than using supplies for my cat nicho), I am still working on them. Here’s the latest completed double page where I jumped all in with purple.
Speaking of my cat nicho, look who decided to check it out from behind. Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina. I don’t know if she realizes that I made it for the cats or not, but she never goes in my study and then yesterday she did, only to investigate the nicho.
On my last post about losing all the kitties, Linda Raha suggested I make scrapbooks for the kitties. She knew that that would be right up my alley. What she didn’t know is that I was already making something to remember my dears by.
Using my art journaling supplies and a carton that cat food comes in, I made this so that all the kitties (including Mac who I lost in 2015) are together, right where I can see them all the time.
The cat bed and bowls are dollhouse-sized. The kitty on top was a gift. Here is a close-up of the kitty pix.
Upper left is my heart Pear, then clockwise, Mac, Felix, and Izzie.
Monday I had the vaccine booster shot, and I felt fine yesterday morning. But then I started to get sick with a 101 fever and then painful lymph node swelling under my arm, reaching into my chest and back and down to the tips of my fingers. I had finger cramping last night, but not this morning, so maybe I will be getting better soon.
Well, i wanted to share with you my little cat nicho. Make it a great rest of your week. XOXO
You might think from the post title that fall has come to Phoenix. Not. It’s still hot. And, yet, there is something of fall here, if only in our minds. Today is a holiday in the United States. We celebrate Labor Day because the lives of laborers in the 19th century (and early 20th century, too) were often horrible and sometimes horrific. If you want to read more about what it was like through fiction, try Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or Rebecca Harding Davis’ Life in the Iron Mills. Although many workers in this country have reaped the benefits of unemployment insurance for some or much of the pandemic, before 1935 no such assistance existed. I was thinking that Labor Day 2021 ought to be dedicated to medical–as well as the whole chain of food delivery–employees since they have been our front lines against covid.
Last month I participated in The Sealey Challenge, reading poetry every day. For the first half or more, I read a book a day. Then I chose more complex books and gave myself 3-4 days each. I’ve never read so much poetry in one month in my life. Well, maybe in grad school, but I mean I’ve never enjoyed so much poetry in one month in my life hahaha.
I also participated in an Instagram mixed media challenge called #seekgathercreate. It was a lot of fun. You start off by collecting four different objects each week to use for the page. The rest is up to the art journaler. Here are a couple of pages I made for it.
This month I am participating in Genealogy Photo a Day on Instagram. There are assigned topics for each day, so my job is to post an image, generally from my own family, that fits the topic. What I like about this besides the interactions with people on Instagram is that it makes me think about my family history from a different perspective. I think it makes the old new for me.
I’ve been revising my memoir. I was going to join #pitmad on Twitter, but then I realized that my manuscript might not be a good match for finding an agent that way. I also realized how short my memoir is now. A few years ago it was too long, but the new version is significantly shorter. Too short for a traditional publisher, most likely. Nevertheless, after some finishing touches I am doing this week, I doubt I will try to lengthen the manuscript. If I like it the way it is, then I want to publish it the way I like it. Of course, this is what I am thinking today!
Pear is hanging in, but I had to up her pain meds a bit so that her leg doesn’t bother her. I’m taking it one day at a time. Tiger is now drinking way too much water. She is 17.5, so she is not a spring chicken either! I worry about her kidneys, plus there is something going on with her liver. Here is Perry lying next to Pear. Maybe he hopes he can comfort her.
Not only is it Labor Day today, but this evening begins the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Shana tova! Happy New Year! XO