Category Archives: Blogging

Pliers Lined Up by Size

My son has a cat stroller he uses to take his cats for walks. It was quite pricey, so although he encouraged me to get one I didn’t for over a year. But then I saw one at 1/3 the price online, so I ordered it. It arrived in great need of “putting together.”

I left it lying on the living room floor and every time the gardener asked me why I hadn’t put it together yet, I explained how busy I am. (I am busy; that’s not a lie).

Finally, he started putting it together himself.  [Big winky face]

But the instructions were not correct and the gardener is not a patient person. I could hear him complaining to beat the band, so I offered to help. He asked me to get a long skinny screwdriver and a pliers with a regular style jaw in a medium size. When he started to explain a little more, I had to remind him: “I’m my father’s daughter, remember? I was raised alongside Dad’s workbench.”

My father had a workshop in our basement, and when I was younger than six I could often be found at his feet as he toiled at his building, fixing, creating. I loved the vise, the lathe, and all the different tools lined up by order of size on the pegboard over the workbench.

When I was six, my father built a bomb shelter out of his workshop–and moved all his stuff out to the garage. This “poem start” (not a completed poem, but a first draft) documents that first workshop and its disappearance.

Winter

 

A small, square space at the bottom of the steps.

One casement window ajar

just below

the ceiling hinting

at the black and unknown winter.

 

The man working, a little girl,

face like a cup,

watching his arms crank

the vise handle,

tighten the grip

like Superman.

 

False walls invoke a room from

the open basement.  The workbench

so like that of the elves,

its thick wooden surface scarred

slick by hammer blows.

 

He presides over the saw

with precision, aiming

for the pencil line, sawdust

falling away on each side

like the snow from a plow.

 

A rack of baby food jars

containing nails and screws

revolves overhead, and at the back

of the planked surface families

of pliers and screwdrivers line up

by size like Goldilocks’ bears.

 

The girl sits behind him

the chilled concrete twanging

her backside through her thin

pajamas.  She pounds the

wooden posts in her little workbench

all the way through and then

flips it and pounds them back again.

 

Everything in its place.

His sleeping bag and snowshoes

from the war

hang from the rafters.  The caricature

of the man pinning diapers on her,

her head bald except for

two hairs sprouting heroically

as Tweety Bird.

 

He carries the contents she thinks

are the room

up the stairs and out to the garage.

The claw and the ball hammers, all

the members of the pliers and screwdriver

families, the cardboard box

of sandpaper.  Sleeping bag and painting.

 

After much labor slabbing mortar,

constructing dual-layer cinder block

walls, the man rests

his chin on the ladder rung, surveys

 

a small, square space at the bottom of the steps,

dark and cold.

 

On the way out, he slaps

a fallout shelter decal

on the door he has just hung.

 

The man toils over his bench in the garage now.

She’s not allowed.

The space heater is too dangerous.

For a couple of years I couldn’t follow my father into the workshop the same way. The coziness and security were gone. But then we moved when I was eight and he created another wonderful workshop in the basement.  He did so everywhere he ever lived.

Designing the Butterflies are Free set in Dad’s workshop–11th grade

When my father was dying he gave me a beautiful set of wrenches to take home. As I tried to get through security at the airport, TSA took the wrench set from me. I never saw it again.

After Dad’s funeral, family members and friends began plundering his workshop of its tools and gadgets.

What place reminds you of your father or mother? My grandmother’s kitchen reminds me of her, and my other grandmother’s sewing room expresses her spirit. My grandfather’s place was his vegetable garden.

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For the rest of the summer, I plan to blog once a week instead of twice. I’m behind in my conversations with y’all and want to catch up! I’ve got some new eye problems, so I’m trying not to spend as much time on the computer, writing and reading, and then, after all, it is really really hot here.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Blogging, Family history, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Writing

The Staircase #liminality

This week’s liminal photo has a name. Haha, pretentious, considering the quality of my photography? Much. But it still has a name: “Stairway to Heaven.”

I like this photo because a perfectly liminal space is that between life and death, earth and heaven.

Have you been watching for #liminality? What have you found?

Here is a poem by H.D. that I thought of because of the record heat wave in Arizona this week. Hilda Doolittle is a poet whose poems I worked with for my dissertation. Ultimately, I dropped her as one of my subjects, choosing to focus on Jorie Graham, Sylvia Plath, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, and Linda Hogan, for the most part.  Her work was so precise and crystalline and so focused on her classical allusions, that it wasn’t warm enough for me (sorry for the pun). But this poem perfectly captures the heavy hot air. The air that makes it difficult for the lungs to expand.

Heat

H. D., 18861961

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air--
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat--
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.







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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Blogging, Liminality, Writing

Liminality and the Lake

Last week I posted about liminality, defined as a space between or on/in a sensory threshold. A transitional state. You can read more about it here.

When I traveled to my home state in October 2014, I had not visited Michigan for quite some time, and it was a very intense, emotional  trip for me. Although I’d spent a lot of time with my parents out west, I hadn’t been to see them on the land where I grew up.

There is a way that I could think of that visit as a liminal space because it was the threshold that led into my father’s illness and eventual death in May 2015. It was the last time I saw my father before his illnesses, although he might have already been sick at the time–and nobody realized it. Our relationship began to change after this trip.

I found a photo from that visit that I find to be symbolic of liminality: the dock at my parents’ home. The dock is a passageway between land and water. If you walk off the dock into the water, you had better know how to swim or be wearing a life jacket.

I wasn’t prepared for walking off the dock that fall, but luckily I had had swimming lessons as a kid.

By the way, that wire across the top of the photo? I thought about cropping it out, but it seems important somehow.

Have you found any liminal spaces?

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Filed under #writerlife, Blogging, Family history, Liminality, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

In the Between

I’ve always had a thing for liminality. Yup, liminality. Doesn’t it feel good on your tongue? According to Merriam-Webster (remember her?):

Definition of liminal

  1. 1:  of or relating to a sensory threshold

  2. 2:  barely perceptible

  3. 3:  of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition :  in-between, transitional<in the liminal state between life and death — Deborah Jowitt>

I love that in between space there. You know, anywhere. Passageways like cupboards and rabbit holes and wardrobes.  The place of process, like focusing on the process of art instead of the finished product. The place of change where you are different at one end than you were at the other.

I thought I’d let my camera start searching for some of those liminal spaces. If you find any, please share!!!

This one is at the Virginia Dare office and shopping center in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

On Monday I have such a deal coming for you! Watch for it!

In the meantime, life with Slupe is sweet.

 

Did you think I’ve forgotten about Kana and Tiger (and Pear and Felix)? Nope. I think I have mentioned that Tiger has a little window seat that is all hers. It’s her happy place. I put an X of double faced tape so that Kana can’t lie there and annoy her. She has an ice cube tray with toys so that I can hide treats under the toys. And I placed a mini litter box behind my antique trunk in case Kana blocks her from the ones in the laundry room. Lots of quail and bunnies and lizards for Tiger to watch.

Tiger has a little squeak like a mouse and runs from Kana which prompts Kana to chase her. Sigh. I guess it’s all that liminal space ;).

 

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Filed under #writerlife, Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Liminality, Writing

Pilot Fish Trailblazer Nominee: Cleveland Amory

I’m so honored to write an article about my hero Cleveland Amory for Patti Moed’s Trailblazer Nominee series over at Pilot Fish. Please check it out and see what kind of world Amory wanted to create.

P.A. Moed

It’s with great pleasure that I introduce this week’s guest blogger, Luanne Castle, who writes about a man who has inspired her since her childhood.Luanne is an award-winning poet, educator, writer, and an advocate for animal rights. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina. Her heart belongs to her four cats and the homeless cats at the animal shelter where she volunteers.
The New England conscience does not stop you from doing what you shouldn’t–it just stops you from enjoying it.–Cleveland Amory

Black Beauty

Black Beauty Cover, First Edition.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/BlackBeautyCoverFirstEd1877.jpeg Black Beauty Cover, First Edition.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/BlackBeautyCoverFirstEd1877.jpeg

When I was eight and staying overnight with my grandparents, I discovered a tattered copy of Anna Sewall’s novel Black Beauty in my mother’s old bedroom. I began to read and when my parents came to pick me up the next day I was still reading, lost in the…

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Filed under #AmWriting, Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Essay, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Reading, Vintage American culture, Writing

Flutterbyes

Two years ago I wrote a blog post called Flutter Fun about the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale. I was there with my kids. The other day I took Mom and my uncle and aunt to visit the butterflies.

As before, they had the stunning blue morphos that are brown camouflage on the outside and bright blue when the wings are opened.

They had many new species in addition to the original beauties.

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A few butterflies pressed up against the few windows, trying to get out of the atrium. I felt sad for them, but most of the butterflies seemed to be concentrating on eating.

IMG_8531 - Copy

 

Hubby and I also took my aunt and uncle to Sedona and Flagstaff. Then I ended up sick afterward, probably because I managed to get myself pretty tired keeping up with an 87-year-old (my uncle who is my dad’s twin).

 

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Filed under Arizona, Blogging, Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Nonfiction, Photographs, Sightseeing & Travel

What Are Your Writing Customs?

Some of you probably remember a post by my friend poet and writer Carla McGill last year called “Poetry, Loss, and Grieving.” It’s a beautiful essay and has had a lot of readers.

Carla just started her own WordPress blog! Please go visit and welcome her. Blogging is all new to her, especially the technology, so she can use a lot of support. Also, you’re going to love her blog. It’s about writing and called Writing Customs. Be one of her first blog followers! And follow her on Twitter, too, here. You will love Carla’s posts (I promise). She’s so thoughtful and insightful and a wonderful writer and person.

I’m still trying to catch up with work and visiting with my mother, so don’t think I’m off writing a novel or something hahahahahaha. I hope to be back Monday.

Go tell Carla what YOUR writing customs are!

P.S. This is a chandelier at the Wrigley Mansion I visited with my mother and my husband. It’s Waterford crystal and Arizona amethysts!

 

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Arizona, Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, WordPress, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

My Angel Survived the Ball Breaking and Other Miscellany

Today is a grab bag post. Know that this mirrors my mind right now–an assortment of miscellany.

I have both poetry and prose writing projects in the works, a post to write about Sheila Morris’ new book The Short Side of Time, a book review to write for Adrienne Morris (loved The House on Tenafly Road) for Goodreads and Amazonand Mom arrived this weekend. She’ll be here in Arizona for the next two months, trying to catch some sun rays. Her knee is in a brace, as it’s bothering her lately, but it’s so nice to have her here. The kitties at the shelter need lots of help, and Kana and Tiger still don’t get along (sigh). If only Tiger realized that she only has to make an assertive move toward Kana and she would earn some respect. Or not.

And then it’s time to start pulling everything together for the TAXMAN (how come it’s never the TAXWOMAN?) for our businesses and personal. So much tedious work on top of regular work. If you can’t tell, I resent this extra burden.

I had a flash fiction piece accepted by Story Shack. They will assign an illustrator to illustrate the story, a feature I love about their magazine.

Remember those German glass ornaments I keep in my antique trunk? Did I mention that daughter’s boyfriend accidentally broke one last year? It was a silver ball that was open on one side (like a little diorama) with an angel in the snow. The ball broke away, and all that was left was the angel standing on a glass shard. I just found it in a drawer where I tucked it because I couldn’t bear to throw it away. I hope I’m not going to turn into a hoarder, but she doesn’t seem like something I can throw away as if she were trash.

Maybe I’ll keep her to stand guard over 2016.

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Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Arizona, Blogging, Book Review, Cats and Other Animals, Fiction, Writing

Rest or Write?

What am I doing writing-wise? If I am writing a lazy word like “writing-wise,” you can bet that my writing is getting rusty. I have a lot of work to catch up on and don’t feel much like writing, although last weekend, I did manage to write a draft of a poem for the chapbook project focusing on family history. We’ll see how well the poem reads when I take it out in a week or two for a second glance.

I have two poems for the chapbook coming out in the museum of americana and one in California Journal of Poetics. These should all be out before the end of the year.

An experimental flash nonfiction piece I began in the course Marie and I took last summer is being published by Phoebe.

But in general I don’t feel much like writing right now. My mind is too cluttered with other “goings-on.” It’s not exactly monkey mind, which is more restless and unsetted. It’s just overly full, like trying to get to sleep at night when you have too much on your mind. Maybe I need a rest from writing. Or not.

Do you think a writer should force the issue and write through those busy head times like Dory says?

If so, maybe I should get off WordPress and into Word?

On another subject, is this little boy so precious? With little kids like this, we do have hope for the future.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Blogging, Creative Nonfiction, Flash Nonfiction, Literary Journals, Poetry, Publishing, WordPress, Writing, Writing Tips and Habits

Off Having Fun

Off doing my fun thing . . . .

“The world’s a puzzle; no need to make sense out of it.”

SOCRATES

If you like, you can puzzle over just what my fun thing is. Hahaha.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Blogging, Writing