I haven’t mentioned the pandemic too much lately because it’s so much of the same-old-same. And I know when I mention anything on social media or Facebook to friends that some of them get depressed at any covid talk. But I thought about not posting because it’s all I wanted to talk about today–and I didn’t want to muzzle myself. Except with a 3-layer face mask, of course.
Arizona numbers are way up, and this is after I’ve been hibernating for over three months. The appointment for my daughter to look at bridal gowns is Friday, and I am supposed to go with her. It’s so so hard to develop much enthusiasm at this point.
So in the interests of our mental health (there is so little of it available currently) I will mention covid negatives that turned into positives only.
Following Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I started this program last fall and joined a local group for moral support. The group is still meeting once a month (by Zoom now), but the only thing I am writing in my morning pages is what I made for dinner each day. I have over 3 months of menus, but nothing else since the pandemic began. So what’s good about this? I like writing our dinners down. Maybe it will come in handy some day. HAHAHA And I am glad the meetings are still being held because it’s wonderful to consort with other women artist types.
I have pandemic brain. Very fuzzy and not very smart. I had to look up “consort” to make sure about the meaning. Yup. It means to “habitually associate with (someone), typically with the disapproval of others.” A lot of artistic women have experienced the disapproval of others throughout their lives, so we’re there (here?) for each other. So what’s good about this? Recognizing that we have each others’ backs.
I can’t/won’t travel, see my mother in Michigan, go out to dinner. Yes, we are being very careful. So what’s good about this? More time with my cats, especially with the oldsters, Pear and Tiger, who just want me near them all the time.
Although I wrote a few poems near the beginning of the “lockdown,” I no longer even want to write a poem. Or if I do, it’s a little tiny flicker, not a flame. Certainly not enough to sustain me through a whole poem. So what’s good about this? I took the time to organize my poems into one chapbook, then another chapbook, then I put both chapbooks together into a full-length collection. It might still keep morphing, but at least I feel like I’m doing something! I’ve been working on titles, too ;).
Because of the pandemic I am beyond exhausted and have way too much work to do. This happened because 1) I have way more work-work than I did before, 2) I have no occasional help as I did before, and 3) all that damn cooking. So what’s good about this, you might ask?! OK, this is a little convulated. Maybe I’m pushing it. But I think it’s true. I don’t want to give up on my genealogy research, no matter what. But I really am too pandemic-brained and tired to do anything mentally taxing. So instead, I am doing a mindless fill-in-the-gaps project for my direct ancestors (I think I’ve mentioned this before) AND I am organizing my genealogy documents on my computer. Um, they were a mess. So I am pretty happy that I am making some structure out of chaos.
I miss hugging my kids. You got me there. Nothing good about that.
This probably doesn’t have much to do with covid, but I am only one journal away from meeting my publication goal for 2020! There are still four due to publish throughout the summer. Waiting on that one more acceptance . . . 🙂
Wear your masks, please. Wash your hands. Carry sanitizer with you. And if you need to travel and you’re female, get one of those pee funnels. If you’re male, get one of those portable urinals. That will save you from some restroom covid germs. I guess since I can’t hug my kids, I am trying to “mom” everyone else!
I didn’t really think I’d still be writing about Covid-19 or coronavirus this week. Trying not to think ahead to next week.
Have you been hearing about/seeing the best and worst in people this past week? So many stories about TP being stolen out of grocery carts, etc. But on NextDoor app, there are so many kind people offering to pick up meds and groceries for seniors and people with health issues–or even just for people afraid to go into the stores.
I picked up stuff for my kids and a friend. Then on a family chat when I joked about only have one bag of BBQ Lays and not much Tito’s in the bottle, my daughter and her fiance delivered those as a gift to me (they were at the grocery store where they found no potatoes, no onions, no eggs, and almost no meat).
My friend knew we couldn’t get eggs, so she bought eggs for me and for my daughter at Costco. When we picked it up, she had a bag of lemons from her tree for us, but wouldn’t come out the door to get the egg money, so I had to put it in the doormat. LOL
Times have not gotten bad yet. Just annoying.
I’ll move on to other topics, but it’s kind of hard to keep the Virus from intruding.
Remember when I started The Artist’s Way program? I read the book, worked Morning Pages, and Artist Dates. I also joined an in-person group. By the way, I found a little interview with Julia Cameron (the book author and creator of the program) on her blog. An Interview with Julia Cameron
Without going into the whole story of what has gone on for me with the program, I’d like to mention a few points that arise from where I’m “at” right now.
Morning pages are being used for what food we are eating for dinner based on what we have in the house and so that we don’t use up all the good stuff first.
Artist Dates are the things I can do from home: movies, books, crafts, etc.
I just gave my regrets for the in-person meeting this month.
How great to have more time to write and craft. Yes, my head is spinning in every direction. My focus is awful. BUT, if I can’t pull it together to write something, how could I withstand an ACTUAL problem? I have written two poems so far.
I am lucky in that I have six cats at home. But it does mean I’ve had to make sure I have enough cat food and litter to last two weeks. The kitties don’t know why Mom and Dad are home more, but they sure do like it–especially after we left them for so long while we were in Costa Rica.
Stay safe everyone. If you are lucky enough to work from home as I am, I hope you can squeeze in more of what you want to do in place of your commute time!
HUGS AND STAY SAFE
P.S. The photo was taken by the gardener (hence, the finger in the left side of the image LOL) at a festival we drove through in a small town in Costa Rica. Needless to say, festivals are now off-limits to all of us.
Thank you all so much for your kindness about my uncle’s passing. It felt too daunting to respond to all your condolences, but know that I appreciate each one. I closed the comments over there.
Tiger is feeling better. All of a sudden she started eating much better, and I have not had to take her for sub q fluids lately. I hope she stays well now. Everyone seems to be feeling ok currently (knock on wood). A friend brought them all fresh catnip yesterday, so that was well appreciated by the furkids.
Remember how I posted two weeks ago that wah wah wah I might not make my publication goal for 2019, which by the way is the first time I’ve ever set such a goal for myself. I don’t typically set goals for myself. Even if I am nudged, like on Goodreads, to do so, I usually forget about them. But this one I kept in mind throughout the year. When I last reported in, I was one publication short of my goal. Miraculously, I have had three more acceptances, and I believe these poems and an essay should all be published before the end of the year which will put me two over my goal!
Full disclosure: I also had two rejections in the same period of time!
My big news is that I have begun The Artist’s Way (TAW) program, reading through the book of the same name by Julia Cameron and doing the required and encouraged activities. The two main ones are morning pages and artist dates. Morning pages are three full pages of journaling, preferably written by hand first thing each morning. Artist dates must be done solo, and they require doing something that provides a fresh viewpoint or a burst of inspiration. Then each chapter has other assignments.
While the chapters are meant to be fulfilled in one week, I have discovered that many people take from two to four weeks to work on a chapter. I think I prefer this. I began with the one week plan, but three weeks into this project I felt that I was just scratching the surface of what I could accomplish. I joined a local support group that was just starting out, and we will meet each month to discuss our work with one chapter. So I plan to slow down and dig in deeper.
What is The Artist’s Way? The subtitle sums it up neatly: “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” It’s a way of eliminating what gets in our way to maximizing our creativity. Writer’s block? Writers who have done the program swear it can remove the block. This book has been around for twenty-five years, so there are a lot of people working the program.
One of my favorite writing theory books is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Not only did she write the foreword for my edition, but she and Cameron are friends.
I have already made progress, although the morning pages have been very difficult for me. I wake up to a lot of important emails (perhaps, in part, because I am three hours behind the east coast). In addition, my six cats won’t leave me alone until they are fed and the overnight poos scooped. And at least twice a week something “happens” in the early morning that has to be addressed: exploded water heater that has flooded a room, the early morning call I got that my uncle had passed away, a spilled cat water bowl on my alder floor. Then I want my caffeine, too. I have worked out a compromise. I will complete my morning pages before I go to bed that night. That means I will try to finish them in the AM, but if not, I will do them at some point in the PM.
Now that I have that worked out, it’s more a matter of what to write. I never have an actual writer’s block for poetry, nonfiction, or blogging, but for the morning pages I tend to write like this: “Halfway through now. What should I write about? Um, how about writing about the color red? Color should be the sixth sense. It deserves it’s own place, not just part of vision. OK, what now? I don’t want to write about red. It feels boring.”
This is an idea of what I write about. We are not “allowed” to show our morning pages to anyone.
For my artist date this week I went to the craft store and looked through every single aisle, at all the various types of craft materials sold. My favorite part of a craft store is the items that are displayed by color. I love color coordination.
I plan to keep on with the program, so that might actually be my second set of goals that I am making and will keep. Another good reason to stretch out the chapters, though, is that I don’t have to give up on what is most important. Mom is coming to visit for two weeks for Thanksgiving and her birthday. I don’t plan to do much TAW while she’s here, but rather spend as much time as I can with her. She’ll be 85 on December 2. I might not even do my morning pages on many of those days. We’ll see.
Happy Halloween! I love the fall holidays, and for Halloween I love the witches. I tell my kids this is a self-portrait. They think I’m kidding, but I’m really not.
My poem “How to Create a Family Myth” has been published in Volume 6 of the esteemed literary magazine, The American Journal of Poetry Many thanks to editor Robert Nazarene for taking this piece.
This prose poem belongs in Kin Types: it’s about Kalamazoo and my grandfather’s stories.
This is the house in the poem:
Additionally, I discovered a cool journal called Defuncted that takes poems that were published in literary journals that are now defunct. They published four poems in one collection and then a fifth poem is separate because it had unusual formatting. I love the photos they put with the poems, too.
I’ve asked Maine poet Carol Bachofner to guest blog on here in the past. Since this is a big year for her, I’ve asked her to write again for this blog. My prediction: you are going to want to order The Boyfriend Project right away.
by Guest Blogger Carol Bachofner
2017 proved to be a year of productivity for me as a poet, with two manuscripts finished and both scheduled for publication. It was a hard year. The process for writing the two books was very different in terms of style, approach, and form. The work of moving back and forth between the two projects was a challenge to say the least, not only in the writing but also in the editing, revising process.
The finished products are very different too. One is somewhat typical, poems largely in free verse with shapes and setups that look like what we think of when we imagine poetry, other than the occasional prose poem. The other, Test Pattern, a fantod of prose poems is a breakout in terms of style. The poems do not look act much like typical poetry, more like little bits of fanciful, dystopic prose.
For now, I begin with book #1, The Boyfriend Project (Such a Girl Press, 2017).
The Boyfriend Project
In 2007, having moved back to my home state, I heard from high school classmates that a boy I dated in high school was dying of lung cancer. He wanted to see me. I spoke with his wife and she urged me to visit. The visit was wonderful and poignant. We admitted that what we experienced as love when we were teens had prepared us for the love we’d both found as adults. We laughed and joked and shared our memories of kisses, his unauthorized visits to my babysitting job, and how we saw each other then. We shared a kiss on his porch, a goodbye kiss. As I drove away, I could see him in the rear view mirror and knew at that moment this would be the last time. He died two weeks later.
I began thinking of the other “boyfriends” I had known (including crushes) and wondered what had become of them. This was punctuated by reading an article online about a war memorial in the town where my high school sweetheart had lived. His name was on the memorial. I was filled with dread that he might be deceased. I wanted to know. I did an internet search and found a business listed under his name. I called and left a message: “hey there, this is me, if this is you, please call.” He called within the hour. He was alive and well in a nearby state, married with two nearly-grown daughters. I called. It was such a relief to hear his voice again, a voice which sounded exactly like it did the last time I spoke with him. We decided to meet for lunch. We enjoyed five hours of wonderful conversation, glad to be connected as friends after 45 years of each wondering about the other. He apologized to me for breaking up with me on the telephone on Valentine’s Day. I teased him by “breaking up” with him in a phone conversation the year following.
Break, Break, Break
Valentine’s Day 1965,
a break in his voice, a zip
of energy I feel through the phone:
I love you. I miss you.
We should date other people.
45 years now, married to those other people,
we break up over and over, just for fun.
My meetings with these two former boyfriends gave birth to the book, a look at girlfriends and their boyfriends. I saw the project as a possible chapbook with funny or tender poems about boys I’d known and “loved.” What I did not expect was that the project would end up a full-length manuscript or that it would morph into looking at boyfriend stories of other women who were eager to tell me what those boys meant to them, and that I would end up looking at a timeline of relationships that spanned the innocent crush to the crushing and sometimes cruel. The book project raised its hand and demanded I take it more seriously.
When I began discussing the project with others, hearing stories about them and their boyfriends, I realized that my singular perspective was a little narrow and artificial. After all, it’s not about me. It’s about this universal thing called love, whatever that means. I wanted more. I wanted to give my readers more. Shortly thereafter I also began to realize that sweet glittery hearts and cupids was not all that needed to be covered here. Everyone who talked to me about their boyfriends had one who was cruel or unkind, even dangerous. What about those? Again, the project raised its hand and demanded to be a part of this. The project had a new idea of itself and I had to accept that.
Always in love is how I would describe my life. I love the idea of love, the rush of new love, the comfort of long-lived love. My father called me boy-crazy on more than one occasion. So the poems I set out to write was partially focused on resurrecting the many boys who’d come into my life, however briefly or in a more substation time frame. I had to start with my ride on the Kindergarten Bus. At age five, I was in love with two little boys whose names I cannot recall. What I do recall is the ride home from school. I wind the clock backward and write in the present tense. This is a technique I recommend to make a poem that happened in the long-ago seem more like something in the now. Of course the poem had to anchor the manuscript. I share it here in its entirety since it is a short one:
Kindergarten Bus c. 1952
little men without a clue
want to hold hands with me —
I let them.
One tries to kiss me.
Two, who by high school
would not have shared me,
hold my hand in turn.
Their faces shine
with something like love.
Last off the kindergarten bus,
I am a kiss stolen by the boy
whose house is 3 blocks away,
who walks by my house on Saturdays,
wishes school was 6 days.
This poem is soft and funny and sweet. Sweetness deserved the entre to the book. I knew pretty quickly that the arc of the poems would move from this childlike sweetness to the teen years, fraught with frustration and fumbling attempts at love and relationship. Isn’t that the way the teen years work anyway? The teen stories I was able to access showcase a range of experiences, not the least of which uncover a look at forbidden love and a bit of risk. The following poem, a story shared by a woman friend, illustrates this.
Church Boy, Town Girl
At the edge of town,
behind the Baptist Church,
behind the church bus, they smoke, inhale
unfiltered Camels. Church boy
wearing Jesus Saves tee, town girl
in a yellow sun dress. He presses her hard
for a kiss; she blows smoke circles
with her eyes closed. She knows what’s next,
like her mama told. Watch out for them
churchy boys, they’s the devil. They take
what they wants and lets you go.
Still as a broken clock, she waits.
Inside the church, singing:
and the walls came a-tumbling down.
One of the problems with writing about love, and writing about the less beautiful side of love, is doing it without getting too personally involved (as the writer). Huh? you are probably saying, isn’t “love” a most personal thing after all? How does one write about love from the outside, looking in and still get across the feeling of love in all its facets?
The answer, for me, has always been to write somewhat obliquely. In other words, don’t think everything needs to be told. Find those details which will tell it. Let the truth of the situation emerge on its own, which will happen with some diligence on the part of the writer.
Look at what this poem does and what it does not. We can see the girl and boy from the elements of setting: where are they? at the edge and behind the Baptist Church.
What are they wearing? He is wearing a Jesus saves tee; she is wearing yellow sun dress. Who is this girl? A Town Girl. She is no church girl. This suggests also that she is out of her normal setting. He, by virtue of what he is wearing is in his normal setting, but maybe not by his own choice. As reader, you get to decide by way of the details. You have become the omniscient observer.
It is easy to discover the set up and the problem from these small aspects of setting. All writers should consider setting when writing and revising, poets included. Setting details place the action of the poem in a space that matters to that action.
Look now at what is happening, the action of the poem. The boy and girl are engaged in doing some things likely forbidden by the church, smoking and making out. The setting (behind the church) suggests this. They are unfiltered as the cigarettes they smoke,; they are not concerned about what’s right or wrong. She has her eyes closed. He is pressing her. Running through her head, is her mother’s warning about boys, especially them churchy boys. The use of this internal warning provides another layer of the girl’s dilemma. In the final line, we know the outcome from the song they (and we) hear… and the walls came a-tumbling down. Readers know what is probably next.
This is oblique writing. Oblique writing is not at all vague. It is about telling what needs to be told in such a way as to let the reader experience what the people of the poem are doing or feeling. Oblique writing is an embodiment. You are the girl. You’re not simply told about the girl. This attention to detail let’s you be part of the girl’s story without intruding. I am grateful to “Donna” for sharing her story. I hope my poem honors her.
As the manuscript began to take shape, I realized that it would be good to include a few poems about the sadness and rejection that sometimes accompany love. We’ve all been there through bitter breakups, divorces, even illness. What does love ended or altered look like for the dumped, the thumped, the sorrowful who are out of love? Again, women stepped up and shared. I already had my own stories to render into poems. There was no end to the dearth of material. I decided to fill the middle of the manuscript with the sadder side of love. There were so many stories, I wondered if I’d ever be finished telling them.
One thing I learned from talking to women is that love is elastic. We can come back after a fall. More importantly, we are the sum of our loves. It doesn’t subtract from us. We are also part of the equation for one another in coping. We are part of a community of lovers. When one of us is suffering, the rest of us can make a difference.
Thanks to Jean and her story, I was able to show that. In my poem, After Your Divorce, I explore how empathy might work, how there is a support we might offer in time of lost love (for whatever reason; this is about loss via divorce).
There is a you, a she, and an I in the poem, never named. These do not need to be named because the poem is about all of us, and about how we sometimes miss the opportunity for being the help that is needed. In a sense, the poem is an apology. It is also an acknowledgement that love problems know no gender. The you might be a man, might be a woman. We don’t know and we don’t need to know. What we do know is that the I has missed an opportunity for empathy.
After Your Divorce
I asked you to read my poems
I wrote table and forced you out
into the woods to choose a tree,
maple, oak, or maybe an exotic teak.
You had to decide the shape too,
round or rectangular or oval. I wrote
a cobalt bowl filled with orange day lilies
and a white coffee mug, rim smudged
with Dior’s Infra Rose. I might have
written an apple on an ivory table runner
from Brazil, but I wrote a half-eaten
nectarine set on a white paper towel the way
she did to keep from messing up a plate
for just one item. I knew about your divorce
and yet I wrote table, leaving so much
for you to do. I should have written door.
The poem relies upon the details to show the situation of the you as well as the response and final empathetic gesture of the narrator. Notice again the setting and the details within. These amplify the situation as well as show the lost relationship. We see how the lost person was in the relationship. We see her details in the specific lipstick she wore, how she used a paper towel for her snack. We can see her. We can feel her. Not only that, but the you has become a sympathetic person to us.
The speaker of the poem, the I, has gained empathy by poem’s end. We feel satisfied with the character. The sadness is not gone, but we are heartened that empathy has come.
What of the fact that some people would do anything for love? Some maybe want to avoid bad love by extraordinary means. I included a quirky prose poem in the book that tells how that might go. Even in light of the somewhat odd connections made between the speaker of the poem and the fortuneteller, it is details and setting which hold up the ideas of the poem. The speaker desperately wants to know about, be warned about bad lovers. The epigraph by Maggie Smith describes lovers as confetti. The speaker knows already that confetti is unpredictable. Still, she is crazy to find out what can be predicted. If only she could pay what is asked. I hope the poem leaves readers asking what would I do for love or to avoid a bad lover?
Bad Lover Juju
Everyone you loved was scattered confetti
— Maggie Smith
Some of it (them) green, some yellow, some a garish orange. One was your favorite purple, the kind with blue-red in it. No matter. They weren’t your type of lover. Not that they cared. Not that you knew that back then. Disposable was what they thought when the lights were out and you had gone home. All eventually floated away on the backs of birds of prey, leaving you bitten. Shiny feathers fell on your head, on your shoulders as they went. You visit the woman whose talent is seeing lover juju. You want a new lover, someone not confetti. She asks for beads of glass, blackberry ice cream as payment. You’ve brought vanilla ice cream — all you have. Bad juju she says, licking the bowl and stringing a noose from the beads. You want to hear the name of a lover who could save you. More beads, more ice cream. The woman falls asleep with her hands on the noose she’d made. She begins to look like your mother, your grandmother. Bad juju you think, backing slowly from her chair. Bad juju she dreams, saying aloud the names of every bad lover. You dial the ice cream parlor down the street. They’re completely sold out of blackberry. They tell you there’s been a run on that lately. Bad juju.
Still, even in light of the somewhat odd connections made between the speaker of the poem and the fortuneteller, it is all about details and setting holding up the ideas of the poem. The speaker desperately wants to know about, be warned about bad lovers. The epigraph by Maggie Smith describes lovers as confetti. The speaker knows already that confetti is unpredictable. Still, she is crazy to find out what can be predicted. If only she could pay what is asked.
I decided, after the rather tragic or lonely poems in the second part of the book, to end with my own stories of great love, my last love. I want to leave the reader with a sense that sometimes, if we are lucky enough, love can be mature and enduring. One of the poems comes from a time when I needed an unselfish love, needed a supportive love. From a time when love may well have been all there would be for me. This poem is from my grownup story of love.
I chose to write this poem in my own voice. I am the speaker and I am the receiver of the love. Poets are often told to avoid “confessional” poems as they leave out the reader. But facing probable death in a poem willingly breaks that open. As in the discussion previously, we all could use a little empathy. Who would not be drawn to the relationship in this poem, feel a sense of empathy toward both the speaker and her lover? Need and gift. It is because of great love that the need may be expressed and the gift given. Look at the details. See the love at work in those details.
I call to you, whimpering in the night
where we once cried out in lovemaking.
I call and you lift me up for my medicine
or a trip to the bathroom. I am not yours
as I once was yours; I have become your task.
Your burden, wrought in love and devoted
service to that love is the meal we have set
before us. We dine together, you sip wine
as I nudge soda crackers along my dusty palate.
We eat in bed and talk of other times, times lost.
I call you the little pet name I made up in jest
when you danced naked with a hat on your penis;
You laugh, call me “pretty lady” despite my gray
flat skin. Your hands run my slackened frame;
still I am beautiful to you. All angles and bony
points of interest, still I am your passion.
Your face shines, avoiding pain and distress
over my possible outcome. The doctors face me
with treatments which blush up in high fevers,
but you are cool. You collect my favorite things
near the bed to distract me from all suffering.
I call out to you in the night when I think “this is it”
and you roll to one side, spooning my weak body
with your strong one. I feel your current seep in
and get enough juice to make it to morning. I call
and you bring me whatever I need. I need everything.
The final poem is Polaris, a short poem to my husband. A poem that says so much about how love blends us one into the other. The poem encompasses that relationship which has evolved over many years, over many constellations of love have burned themselves into something eternal. I always end my public readings with this poem. It delights both of us when he is present. When I read the poem, I feel my palm pressed together with my husband’s. I can taste the starlight on my tongue.
— for Bill
On our January porch, hands
open to star shine, we are pierced
by Polaris. It’s a stigmata I feel
as my right palm presses
your right palm, fingers laced.
It’s a burning, a covenant. Later
in our bedroom, some shine
on your shoulder where I touch
as you drift into your own night
sky. We have been pierced
by star points, filled with light.
We sail on it, I your compass, true
North, and you my lantern
and flame, tower and beam.
Carol Willette Bachofner, poet, watercolorist, and photographer, has published five books of poetry, most recently The Boyfriend Project (2017) and Native Moons, Native Days (2012). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including, Dawnland Voices, an Anthology of Writings from Indigenous New England (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). She won the Maine Postmark Contest 2017 for her poem, Passagassawaukeag, which is published in The Maine Review. Her photo, Rigged, received Honorable Mention in the Spirit of Place contest by Maine Media workshop and is printed in the contest anthology. She served as Poet Laureate of Rockland Maine from 2012-2016. Visit her web site at www.carolbachofner.com
Watch for Carol’s second post about her new books. She will write about Test Pattern, a book I was thrilled to write a blurb for. To purchase The Boyfriend Project click through the book cover art to Carol’s website and you can order the book.
The gardener and I have been married for ever so many years (vagueness is mandatory here), and this month we had our anniversary. We ate at a wonderful Lithuanian restaurant (I thought it was Ukrainian, but I was wrong). We also decided to choose our own anniversary gift. This is what I chose for myself.
A gorgeous light catcher custom-designed and crafted by Pauline at The Contented Crafter. I wanted something for my office, which is coral and black on ivory. When it arrived last week, I was ecstatic. Such a classy presentation, too. Pauline had the light catcher in a gauzy bag with the top of the piece tied to the bag so that it can just slip out and not be tangled.
I laid it out in a tray because the gardener wanted to hang it himself. (He doesn’t trust me with picture hangers, but the truth is that unless it involves a molly I think I am better at them).
My mother has arrived for a few weeks, and we had to put her in Perry’s room (my daughter’s room). Perry had to be moved into my office. He sleeps in there and also has his time-outs in that room now. So we decided to hang the light catcher in our living room instead.
As I inspected it on the tray I was thrilled to see how much of my personality Pauline imbued the piece with. As she describes it: “pinks and oranges and coppery hues; sea jasper beads, tiny coral beads, seashell pieces and masses of crystals.” The charms are a Russian nesting doll, a cat, an “I love cats,” a tiny book called “A True Story.” There are hearts and stars. Imagine!
And here is a close up of the top of it.
See the doll (for Doll God) and “I love cats” above?
Since my photos suck, Pauline sent me some better shots of the lovely! Click through the slideshow to see up close!
Why did I want a light catcher?
Well, for one thing I had seen some of the photos of Pauline’s work and thought it beautiful.
Also, one of my favorite movies as a kid was Pollyanna, and the most memorable scene was the one about the prisms at Mr. Pendergast’s house. If you want to cut to the chase, start the video at exactly 2:40.
The light catcher is certainly living up to its name. It throws brilliant rainbows all around the room.
Mini rainbows on the floor
I love having my home filled with rainbows!
Also, I got the new issue of Tab in the mail. It’s quite an innovative literary magazine. It’s a series of beautifully designed postcards with poems and art. My photo is sort of upside down, but I don’t think it matters because the idea is that you pick up a card and read them one at a time. I have been carrying them around with me.
Here’s what I have to say about #amwriting. Before Mom got here I had completely restructured the memoir. It still needs a lot of revision, but the structure is radically different. Marie Bailey really helped me with her comments. Thank you, Marie! Check out her story, “Rapunzel, A Different Kind of Fairy Tale.” Extremely enjoyable and found at the new lit mag, The Disappointed Housewife. When I restructured, it was easy to see what scenes to get rid of. I jettisoned about 23,000 words and wrote another 3,000 so far. This means that I have now written about 310,000 words for this project. But it’s only 66,000 words right now. Good grief, get on with it and finish it, woman!
More information on Pauline at The Contented Crafter
A little about me: For a start, I’m a baby-boomer – you do the math – the number keeps changing and so do I!
I’ve had many incarnations as wife, mother, student, teacher, teacher trainer and mentor, curriculum writer and advisor, community hub developer, new worker trainer, and [whew!] life coach. In between I painted, crafted, hand worked, gardened and generally tried to create beauty around me where ever I went. Oh, I forgot to mention ‘world traveller’!
These days I’m [mostly] a very contented crafter and pursuer of serenity. And of course, I live with Orlando, a now elderly Maine Coon cat of great distinction and forbearance and a most delightfully joyful pup who goes by the name of Sid-Arthur [yes, a play on Siddhartha for those of you who picked it up]. They feature prominently throughout this blog.
I’m retired now and happily spend my days doing whatever it pleases me to do. Sometimes, in between my crafting projects, I still coach now and again, gratis, as a thank you for this blessed life I’ve been given.
I have had a most interesting life, from traumatic beginnings through the highs and lows of self discovery – learning to take responsibility for my thoughts and actions, learning to forgive and let go, learning to trust, learning to ‘be’.
I adopted this as my motto many years ago, it still fits: Life is a school room and everything is a lesson to be learned. Lessons will be presented in many ways and many forms until they are learned. When a lesson has been successfully mastered, another lesson will be presented. You will be tested.
What I have come to see is that some lessons will be tough, some will be fun. The secret is to maintain a sense of equilibrium with them all, no matter how they make you feel.
And in the end, it’s all been about learning how to be a ‘successful’ human being – and by ‘successful’ I don’t mean in a material way. I mean in terms of understanding who and what I am and why I am here and what is the meaning of it all………. you know, all that existential stuff.
I consider myself to be counted amongst the most fortunate of people despite the fact that I live without much of the material wealth and supports that so much of the western world considers necessary. I enjoy to keep it simple these days!
The other day I realized that I do need to be systematic to stay organized and to be organized to feel productive (thank you, Jill Weatherholt). Chaos doesn’t work for me. Neither does too much spontaneity. Some, yes, but not too much.
I keep trying to get organized around poetry, and it keeps fighting back.
I had the possibly annoying brilliant idea that I would come up with a systematic way to share poetry tidbits and trivia (called T2) on a more regular basis. But what structure to use for that systematic organization?
Heh. I tried birth dates of poets. You know, like this: it’s June 20, so I will share something about Irish poet Paul Muldoon who was born on June 20, 1951. Kinda left me cold. Not Muldoon or his work, but his birthdate as an arbitrary choice of tidbit or trivia.
I wondered what happened in the poetry world on a June 20? I found this about Sylvia Plath on Poetry Foundation:
It was during her undergraduate years that Plath began to suffer the symptoms of severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death. In one of her journal entries, dated June 20, 1958, she wrote: “It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.” This is an eloquent description of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, a very serious illness for which no genuinely effective medications were available during Plath’s lifetime.
I’m sure I read that before because when I was Plath-obsessed I studied her journals pretty, um, obsessively. But I wouldn’t remember that she wrote that on a June 20, would I? And while this is a very important quote for anyone with or touched by bipolar disorder, many other Plath quotes speak to me much more.
What I really like to do with poetry doesn’t have a lot to do with systems or schedules (maybe poetry fights back because it doesn’t like systems). I like to write it, for one. Too hot right now for that (we’re having a dangerous heat wave in Arizona) When I taught future elementary teachers, I had them make big posterboard collages for teaching particular poems. I like to make collages about poems, too. Too hot for that for sure. I like to read poems and write in a journal the most random idiosyncratic* responses to them.
* When I was a new grad student in Riverside, I had a meeting with a professor about a paper I wrote. He thought it was good, but very “idiosyncratic.” I had the embarrassment of asking him what that meant. Yes, I was an English grad student and had always read a lot, but sometimes it’s clear I am not an expert on English. If you grew up like I did, this is what idiosyncratic means: “peculiar or individual.”
Yup, peculiar. Hah. Individual. It also means one-of-a-kind. My paper was one-of-a-kind. I had no idea. But I was perceptive enough to realize that it wasn’t good to be “idiosyncratic” in grad school. (It was worth it because now I love the word).
Back to the subject of what I like to do with poetry. Journaling about poetry is therapeutic and creative. It’s lots of fun.
Have I mentioned I haven’t done it in a long time? So it isn’t just the heat over here.
You can see why I want some interesting way back into immersing myself in poetry that isn’t just the poetry I’m writing. I am lazy. And easily distracted. I thought maybe if I shared a poetry T2 on a regular basis, even if it’s within a post about something else, it would be a way of playing with poetry. Like making mud pies or playing with a bucket in the sand. Maybe if it’s just fun, poetry won’t notice that there is a schedule/system in place.
For today, since it’s so hot, how about a quote from a poem I love? I posted a long portion in the fall of 2013, but this passage gets to the heart of my sweet Felix’s nature. From Christopher Smart’s (1722-1771) “Jubilate Agno, Fragment B, [For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]”. The trivia is that Christopher Smart’s nicknames were Kit Smart and Kitty Smart. Kitty Smart is a good name for some of my cats! The poem is very wide, so be sure to use the slide bar to read to the end of each line if the ends are not visible to you
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For my cat Felix
Let me know, please, if you have ideas for what kind of T2 you would like for me to share about poetry. Maybe it’s not as hot by you . . . . After all, it did get to 118 yesterday.
I went to California for a few days with hubby for work. Not writing work. Survival work.
Life needs to settle down a little, but my schedule seems full for months ahead now. I wish I had more time for writing. I get frustrated about how little time I actually can spare.
On the ride I snapped a few pix of the scenery. I’m always amazed at how entire mountainsides or significant portions can appear dark according to the lighting. They have a damp look although they are actually where the sun is partially blocked. Sometimes they are shadows. They make me feel moody.
While our mountains are kind of small and unadorned–and not beautiful like the Rockies or the Blue Ridge–they are the most interesting landscape around.
When I glanced at my photos I realized that even this mundane view is fuel for my writing and that if I remain aware and observant I am always writing. When a poem seems to write itself it’s because I’ve done my homework by absorbing what’s around me and meditating on it.
For now, I’m curious: how would you describe the mood of this photo?
Reminding you that I will be taking down these 30 posts in the very near future :). Maybe you’ll see them in the future in some other form or “location.”
This post has been EDITED. The disappearance of that last poem: a mystery. It went the way of the other September poems–back into my writing box.
If you have enjoyed reading these one day poems, you might like my book Doll God where the poems have had a little more time coming into the world. It’s now a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards!!!
Throughout September, I will be “running” a poetry “marathon” for the Tupelo Press 30/30 project. By donating in recognition of my efforts, you will be supporting a fabulous independent, nonprofit press.
I promise to write a poem a day for 30 days. Since it took me decades to cough up not even twice that for my first poetry collection Doll God, you can see what a feat I am trying to accomplish.
To help preserve poetry as an art, it’s important to support the independent presses and literary magazines. These are the places that publish nearly all published poetry today. It hasn’t been a positive era for them. I’ve seen many lit magazines close up—and when the presses go out of business, we often don’t even hear about it.
Every dollar you donate will go toward the operation of the press, enabling it to continue publishing beautiful books that would not get picked up by large commercial publishers. You can read the daily poems, as well as the bios of this month’s poets, and donate here.
As incentives to donate, I am offering the following:
For a donation of $10, you tell me what subject or image you want to see in a poem, and I’ll write that poem.
For a donation of $20, I will dedicate a poem to you or someone of your choice.
For a donation of $40, I will send you or someone of your choice, a signed and personally addressed copy of my book, Doll God.
For a donation of $55, I will send you or someone of your choice, a signed and personally addressed copy of my book, Doll God, and I will dedicate a poem to you or someone of your choice.
For a donation of $100, you get two copies of Doll God and two dedications!
Remember that if you donate $129 for a Tupelo Press subscription, you will receive the 10 free books of their current series.
For any of the above donations, including the subscription of 10 books, please remember to click or write my name in the honor field. Then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what dedication or subject you are interested in. If you “earned” a copy or two of Doll God, please give me your mailing address and to whom you would like the book(s) addressed.
Again, you can read the daily poems, as well as the bios of this month’s poets, and donate here.
If you decide to help keep Tupelo Press publishing its amazing variety of books, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
Wish me well, please. It starts tomorrow, and I’m nervous as can be!
If you are not able to donate, the other poets and I would still love for you to read our first draft work. I love feedback. Every day, I will post a link to that day’s poem over here so feel free to critique or pat me on the back (or the head, if you think that is more appropriate after reading the poem), encourage me, tell me what you like or what you don’t like. Or tell me a funny story or something completely unrelated that the poem reminded you of ;). Or just say hi in your own incomparable way so that I remember there is a world outside poetry. Gonna be an intense month!
One more thing: by November 1, I plan to take down all September’s 30/30 posts.