Category Archives: Dolls

Finding a New Cozy Series

The gardener and I visited our local used bookstore and loaded up a box. I know, I know. I’ve said I have a shelf and a half of unread books. I have a lot of want-to-read books on my Goodreads list. I’ve promised people their books will be read in the next phase. But the gardener was out of his books to read. He reads hardcover-only historical fiction, preferably in Asian settings.  Nothing too specific hahaha. I didn’t happen to have any of those on my shelf, so off we went.

Can you imagine me waiting around in a bookstore with discounted and sale prices and twiddling my thumbs?

All of this is to say It’s Not My Fault.

I thought I’d check out mysteries and poetry. I don’t even bother to look for memoirs because our store rarely has any in stock. Maybe people don’t give up their memoir copies as quickly?

In the somewhat lame poetry section, I found a Billy Collins book, so I grabbed that. But most of the rest were obviously cast-off textbooks/the classics–and I already have those.

In mysteries I had better luck. I prefer cozies. And of cozies I most prefer theatre (those are hard to find) and cats (those are easy to find) and retail shops (antique, book, etc.). What I never thought I’d find would be dolls!

And here they were: 4 wonderful mysteries of the Dolls To Die For series by Deb Baker. The entire short series right in front of me. And guess where they take place? Phoenix! (aka home)

So I brought them home where they are right at home.

When I lined them up with the doll buggy, I was reminded of a poem in Doll God. “Vintage Doll Buggy” was originally published in The Antigonish Review, a Canadian literary journal. I wrote this poem about war and innocence, focusing on a green doll buggy I’d seen in an antique store. But I happen to have two versions of that buggy–one pink and blue; the other red and white. In the poem you will see why I used the green buggy instead of mine.

 

Vintage Doll Buggy

 

 

“Every Boy Wants a Pop Gun”

— the company’s slogan. And

not just guns, but air rifles,

clicker pistols, caps.

They specialized in the arms

industry for boys in striped Ts.

 

How this paean to fertility

flowered in that factory, it’s hard

to figure.  Pre-war, maybe 1930s.

Pressed from Ford plant

scrap metal, like the guns.

 

The inside cups like a clam shell.

Like an embrace.  A sheath.

With a satin pillow, it’s a rolling

coffin, a time capsule.

 

When the fighting began,

the government banned metal

for toys.  The war effort claimed

even the green paint.  At the factory

they pressed en bloc clips

for the M1 Garand rifle.

 

Now its wheels bow out,

the green paint

chipped and dulled.

The yellow canopy still reverses.

A calm lingers inside as when

one fingers past a peony’s petals.

 

castle promotional cover

Click through to Amazon

Nancy Ann Storybook doll with pre-war doll buggy

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Filed under Arizona, Books, Doll God, Dolls, Fiction, Literary Journals, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry Collection, Writing

Headless in the Liminal Zone

This is how I feel this summer.

No, not like the model haha. The headless dolls.

I’m not the only person who thinks dolls are representations of humans. Why else do many people believe a child should have a doll that looks like her? Why do they give anatomically correct dolls to children who might have been sexually abused? This belief underpins some of the poems in Doll God.

I can’t seem to feel my head this summer. There are lots of body lumps curves and big limbs when I glance down. The heat makes me swell, and this makes my already swollen legs and feet take over my self-image until all I am is a big Goodyear blimp with two more blimps hanging down to the floor. I have a condition called Primary Lymphedema, and it causes swelling of the “extremities.” It can be really extreme. If you’ve ever seen someone with grotesquely swollen and misshapen legs, that is probably what she (sometimes he) has. (Just so you know, no, I don’t have the grotesque version–just the super annoying version). If you have ever heard of Elephantiasis, this is really the same illness–only that one is caused by the bite of a mosquito.I’ll throw in a photo from Wikipedia, so you can get the idea.

Elephantiasis

Elephantiasis

I have to wear compression stockings except when I am lying down, even when it’s 118 degrees out. Sometimes I feel like that Goldfinger girl who died when the gold paint covered her entire body. The stockings are almost claustrophobic. My SIL used to say my legs look like ragdoll legs.

A machine pumps my legs occasionally. There is a leg-sized sleeve that fits over my leg and it alternatively fills with air and deflates, pushing against the leg to move the excess fluid out of there and toward my bladder. It makes my legs feel better, but it isn’t that powerful at pushing the fluid around. A massage called manual lymph drainage can be useful, but only if it’s done by a superhero. These superheroes are very rare. I had one for years, but that was in California. I don’t have one in Arizona.

That was a tangent, although I think you needed to know that to understand why my body becomes so central in the summer (at least in my mind haha, which is a bit of a paradox). So my legs look a bit more like the chubby doll legs above than like the elephantiasis sufferer, but much lumpier.

I might have lost my male readers by now because I have discovered that men generally can’t bear to look at the swelling. They seem to find it upsetting. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m generalizing too much. I’m just reporting on my experiences over the last few decades.

By now you might wonder why there are two dolls. I can’t answer that question because I found them this way at the hair salon. But since everything has a reason and a pattern, I have to assume that I am not the only one of me out there. Somebody else has the same problem.

On another note, I’m not just headless because the body has taken over my mind. It’s also because it’s hot and summer is such a LIMINAL period. Yes, it is. It always feels liminal to me–a passage between one year and another. Maybe it’s because I was very focused on school and summer vacation as a kid and then I was a teacher and the universe always seemed to operate on the school year.

All of the above is just to say that between the inflating body and the liminal season I #amnotwriting. Gosh, I have my memoir manuscript back from a reader and have some ideas on how to proceed. And I have the play we are supposed to be working on. I had another chapbook piece–this one flash nonfiction–taken by a lovely literary magazine called In Parentheses. It was all I could do to look it over for revision possibilities. At this point, most of the short prose pieces have been taken. So I really need to . . . WRITE SOMETHING.

Or not. I might not push myself until September. It will still be hot then, but the liminal period will be over.

In the meantime, we are going to sign the papers for Sloopy–and yes, that will be her new name!

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Writing tip: when cooking Chinese food always use sesame oil. You can never have a bad meal if you follow that advice. On a full stomach, you will be happier and think you are a writer even if you are not writing.

 

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Filed under Arizona, Doll God, Dolls, Flash Nonfiction, Food & Drink, Writing, Writing Talk, Writing Tips and Habits

Book reminiscing: Doll God by Luanne Castle

To celebrate this charming and personal review of Doll God by Robin at her blog, I am offering for one last time a donation event to receive a free copy.
For one lil ole donation of a minimum of $10 to Home Fur Good no-kill animal shelter in Phoenix, you will receive a signed copy of my book and a cat or elephant charm with free shipping (and tax write-off from the shelter).
My book is valued at $14 and the charm at $5, plus I am picking up the shipping myself. All I am asking is that you donate a minimum of $10 (for shipping to US address!!! (For international, please email me to discuss shipping costs). Feel free to donate more if you can, but only one package deal per person, please.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE: Home Fur Good donations

Go here for full details including how to email me the information.

witlessdatingafterfifty

image

I read my friend from Michigan’s book,

“Doll God,” over a period of days.

Luanne Castle heads off on some

interesting, curious, twisted paths

in numerous directions taken.

Natural, mystical and physical

worlds inexplicably melded,

in her 2015 prize-winning

book awarded by the ~

“New Mexico – Arizona

Book Awards.”

All found within a collection of

54 deeply moving, tense and

alternatively relaxing, poems.

I had wished to write with parts

of each poem originally to intrigue

and entice you with snippets

but we had to cut back

featuring several instead.

Partnering up with my mother,

past 30 year teacher of high school

English, World Literature and Spanish,

we tackled thought-provoking poems.

Floundering a bit in our lack of abstract-

thinking abilities, both more practiced

in concrete-level of comprehension.

Quick summaries may also

provide clues to what hidden

gems may lie underneath the

piles of pages, like leaves, which

hold…

View original post 796 more words

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Filed under Book Review, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Poetry reading, Writing

The Doll Collection: A Book Review

Poet Nicole Cooley, in her introduction to The Doll Collection, makes the connection for readers:

I have always thought that dolls and poems are a natural combination. Ever since I was a child, my dolls were part of my writing, as I arranged them into orphanages with my sister and wrote my own stories and poems about them. Now, I love to bring images of dolls to my poetry workshops for writing exercises.

I am as excited about bringing dolls and poetry together as Cooley seems to be. But she has taken it a step further by bringing dolls into the writing classroom. In the beginning, her students are reluctant to take dolls seriously as a muse for writing. But then she describes how they end up creating “uncanny, strange, frightening, and beautiful images.”

Diane Lockward chose this subject for the first book of her new press, Terrapin Books, and she has edited with great care. Because no poet has more than one poem in the anthology the variety of styles and subjects piques the imagination.  I’ve never read an anthology where I felt such excitement at each turn of the page.

My favorite poem in the book—and realize that this is saying a whole heckuva lot because the poems are stunning—is Christopher Citro’s “The Secret Lives of Little Girls.” This is a poem I wish I had written. I’m achingly jealous of it.

The Secret Lives of Little Girls

 

How loudly you can groan if you just use your eyes.

Children are adept at this, twelve-year-old girls especially.

Alone, high in mountain caves along cliffsides

accessible solely by toeholds and birds of prey,

they deflate and slouch a bit in ease.

At such times they might play jacks or jump a rope,

its woven line slapping the cave roof, freeing

gypsum flowers to flutter down in fragments

over reeking hides and doll parts piled in corners,

a sleeping area of matted glossy magazines,

a fire ring of rolled socks in parti-colored balls,

simple flint implements, a clamshell for stripping pelts,

small animal bones for holding a bow in the hair,

a pompom here and there caked with glitter and mud.

Hidden in the back beyond reach of firelight, a dollhouse—

perfectly split down the center as eggs rarely are—

where the gods live. The mommy god and the daddy god

stand facing each other either side of a four-poster bed,

a cellophane fire in the living room hearth below.

A dining room table set for three, three plates, three napkins,

and cutlery—a clear plastic goblet at each place.

In the daughter chair, an acorn balanced atop an acorn.

A smile scraped into the top one,

presumably by sharpened antler bone.

I’m imagining a little girl’s room as an eagle’s aerie—a difficult-to-reach, glamorous, gritty, dangerous space.

But there are so many other showstoppers. Do you know what a Frozen Charlotte is? Nicole brings up this doll in her introduction, and Susan de Sola’s “Frozen Charlotte” explores this doll/dead girl. Read the book to find out the story behind the doll.

“Doll Heads,” by Richard Garcia, will rip your guts out with its brutal reality.

There is even a poem, written by Susan Elbe, about Colleen Moore’s dollhouse at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  My own book Doll God might have its roots in that dollhouse. When I was a kid, we used to visit the museum regularly—and each time I refused to leave until we toured the doll house, just once more.

You will love these poems.  They will grab you at a visceral level and not let you go.

Go. read.

 

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

More Doll Poems!

If I told you there is a new poetry collection about dolls out, you would say that is news I’ve been spouting for a long time, right? But this isn’t my book that I’m talking about. This is an anthology of poems by dozens and dozens of poets–and every poem is about a doll or dolls. The book is appropriately titled The Doll Collection.

The minute I opened the book to the table of contents I got excited. Dream dolls, paper dolls, Barbies, doll makers, puppets, mother’s doll, and doll heads. There is even a poem about the doll I have written about in my unfinished memoir: the red riding hood doll that flips around to be the wolf and/or the grandma! There is a pregnant doll. There are dark poems about loss and violence.  There are poems brimming with heart or compassion or longing.

The pens behind these poems were held by a large variety of poets (OK, give me a little poetic license on that one–we can pretty much figure most were written on keyboards), including many luminaries like Chana Bloch, Kelly Cherry, Denise Duhamel, Jeffrey Harrison, and many more.

Oh, and there is a poem from Doll God in there, too: “Marriage Doll.” Woot!

What a wonderful book for anybody who loves beautiful, accessible poems–and particularly for anybody who has ever loved a doll. 

LIGHTBULB FLASH!!! Or a cooler idea yet would be to buy a pair of books: The Doll Collection and Doll God.  What a great gift! Mother’s Day? Spring birthday? Just because?

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Weddings plans are in the works for son and his fiancee! They are looking a year out, but lots of preparation is already going on!

We went to California again. I’ll try to post a couple of photos of that hideous drive later this week.  Hahahaha.

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Filed under Books, Doll God, Dolls, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Writing

Another Book Inhabited by Dolls

 

Marie of 1WriteWay introduced me to the writer of another book with the word DOLL in the title.

Dolls Behaving Badly

When I started reading Cinthia Ritchie’s novel Dolls Behaving Badly I immediately thought, “Oh, my son’s fiancée will love this book.” Then I thought, “Mom will want to read this book.”

 

It starts off like fun chick lit. A single mom of a genius 8-year-old son needs to figure out how to pay her bills on her waitress salary and find love and happiness from a trailer in Alaska.

 

Luckily for me, before I sent a link to them, the dolls entered the book. Just in time, I stayed my hand (I know the phrase doesn’t belong outside the Bible or historical romances, but this is where it gets a little “Biblical”).  The protagonist, Carla Richards, is not just a server, but also an artist, and retired Barbie and Ken dolls serve her art. She hacks and appends to them, all for a very “upscale” erotic website.

 

Although I didn’t send out the link, I kept reading because the last thing this book is is porn. It’s a well-crafted story of how Carla and the “family” she builds around her grow and change with dignity.

 

Ritchie know how to tell a story that is both accessible and thought-provoking.  Sometimes the book stuns me with a lyrical phrase or brilliant notion.  She uses some contemporary stylistic experiments quite well. For instance, Carla is writing her diary in tandem with reading the philosophies of an inspirational speaker known as The Oprah Giant. She’s haunted by the ghost of her dead Polish grandmother and is still friends with her ex, a chef. The recipes of both these characters are translated by Carla and the recipes supplied for the reader.

 

If it were a movie, the book would be called a comedy, maybe even a romantic comedy, but as written word it is much more than that. The book probes and examines our hopes and fears without letting us know that’s what it’s doing. Dolls Behaving Badly is not lightweight or superficial. It accesses the hidden areas of the mind and of the heart.

 

I still think my mother and future daughter-in-law would love this book, but I can hear the comments (“My mom gave you a book with WHAT kind of dolls?”). Maybe I could send it to them anonymously?

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Filed under Art and Music, Book Review, Books, Dolls, Fiction, Novel, Reading, Writing

The Wax Image of Myself

I inhabit the wax image of myself, a doll’s body. Sickness begins here; I am a dartboard for witches.

Sylvia Plath

If not a dart board, at least a bulletin board. 

I’m trying to recover from a hideous sinus infection. Bad sinus infections always remind me of Sylvia Plath because she was prone to them and wrote in her diary about having them. I think they snuck into some of her poems.

I’m so behind in everything, but you know what? I don’t even care except that I am behind in reading your blogs–and that makes me sad. Two days ago I made a start to try to catch up, but that didn’t last long.

Germless hugs to all! xo

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Sorting and Collecting for Free

I’ve been adding social media to my life for a few years. Some types or platforms I find more useful or more appealing than others. While I have not gotten excited over Instagram, I do love Pinterest. I rarely think about the social aspect of Pinterest. I’m simply infatuated with the intriguing photos that lead to stories, more images, or recipes.

As a collector, I find it addictive to add to boards that categorize some of my favorite subjects, and I’m grateful to other Pinterest collectors for providing pins and for the ease of adding my own contributions.

Something about Pinterest reminds me of  sorting M&Ms by color before eating them. And collecting shells on the beach and sorting them by shape or color. Simple and therapeutic. Sort of puts me at the emotional age of a toddler.

M and Ms

Some of my boards are writing and reading related, as you might expect. Check out Writing, Scribbling, and Jotting for an idea of my boards. If you have a particular blog post (written by you or someone else) that you would like me to pin onto the board, type the link into the comments here, and I’ll check it out!

I have boards for that ever-present child in me (I linked to Dollhouses in case you want to see a sample):

  • Dolls, dolls, dolls
  • Dollhouses
  • Tiny beauties (miniatures)
  • Vintage toys
  • Kestner dolls
  • Children and dolls
  • Puppetry pins
  • Paper dolls
  • Doll art
  • Antique, Vintage and Old-fashioned Nurseries
  • Dionne quintuplets

I’ve got fairy tale boards called Red in the Woods and A World of Snow. The former is one of my best boards, mainly because so many artists have a version of Little Red Riding Hood! I don’t usually pin the highly sexualized ones, but there are a ton of those, too.

For my love of textiles I have Hankies and History, Lace and other fun textiles, and Buttons buttons. Really all these textiles and trimming are related to history.

For history I cultivate these boards:

The apron board is new and was inspired by blogger Sheryl Lazarus here and here.

I’ve got animal boards like Beasties (just because I love that Scottish word), Black Cats Rule, and Children and Animals.

Speaking of black cats, Kana is doing well! Here she is enjoying a little box. No box too small for this girl!

 

Art-themed boards include:

  • Art of the Scrapyard
  • Revision Art
  • Translucent beauties
  • Scrapbook and paper crafts (woefully in need of work–just like my own scrapbooking!)

Most of my recipe boards are gluten-free. I’ve even got a couple of secret boards. Subjects? Hah, that’s why they are secret.

Some people (read: hubby) might think I’m wasting my time on Pinterest, but it sure seems fun to me. And I only “play” over there for a couple of minutes almost every day.

What about you? Are you on Pinterest? Why or why not?

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Children's Literature, Dolls, Fairy Tales, Family history, Food & Drink, History, Lifestyle, Photographs, Reading, Research and prep for writing, Vintage American culture

You Hoo! Woo Hoo!

The best way to find something is to stop looking for it. I cleaned off a really messy shelf and inside an old gift bag, I came across you-know-who.

Imagine my surprise when I peeked inside!

Her head is a little wobbly (neck string loose?), so I was careful with her.

I put her in tissue paper so she would be more comfortable with that bad neck. And I marked the box with her name: MARYGOLD

MaryGold in pink tissue

We’ll see if I lose her again.

Off working on tax prep and hanging with Mom! Maybe a little writing . . . . Have a great week, everyone!

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Dolls, Writing

On the Trail of MaryGold I Came Across Pinkie

MaryGold has not made an appearance. She isn’t under the bed, and she hasn’t sent me a postcard. As some of you pointed out, her disappearance is a mystery. MaryGold has a story to tell. But I don’t know what it is!

In a little twist, while I was searching for her yet again last Thursday, I happened upon her sister! Her sister’s name is Pinkie, and though she isn’t in Doll God, she does look remarkably like MaryGold. In fact, she could have been MaryGold if MaryGold hadn’t been MaryGold. You know what I mean, right?

Isn’t she something? Almost a twin, except for her pink outfit. You won’t catch her playing in mud puddles like MaryGold. She has her own merits, but she’s not my MG.

She’s even more flowery than MaryGold.

That’s why she’s named after PINKS, which if you are not a gardener, is a type of flower also known as Dianthus.

Still on the scent of MaryGold. And I do mean scent. After her frolics in the tidepools and mud puddles for her photo shoots, she exuded a lovely beachy dirt smell when I last saw her.

Several of you mentioned that I ought to write about MaryGold’s disappearance. Cinthia who wrote Dolls Behaving Badly mentioned she might do so. Marie at 1WriteWay had a great idea: that if enough people write about her she might turn up! So if you want to write about The Mystery of MaryGold, I would be thrilled to publish it here on my blog!

In the meantime, Pinkie will have to sit on my bookshelf and keep the books company.

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If you wonder why I am being so silly, it is fun, but also I have been trying to get my mind off the San Bernardino tragedy. I taught at the university there for fifteen years and still feel part of the community. Also, the killers’ home in Redlands? The same town I had my poetry reading at last month. And while it was all going on, I was driving past the city. It really shocked me. I still feel numb.

On a smaller and even closer to home note, this weekend hubby was tree trimming with the landscaper and he looked up at the worst moment: when a big branch came crashing down. He has a corneal abrasion. The doctor used a dye and optical light to examine it. He showed me the scratch across his eyeball. It looks as if I took a big diamond and scratched the window on purpose. He wouldn’t fill the Percocet prescription, but I am making him take the antibiotic four times a day because apparently it’s easy to get an infection from a tree branch scratch on the cornea. But it should heal well.

 

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Filed under #AmWriting, Doll God, Dolls, Inspiration, Writing, Writing prompt