My Wacky Migraines

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I was recently diagnosed with something called vestibular migraine. Or hemiplegic migraine. Or maybe both. There is a difference because vestibular is awful, but hemiplegic can be dangerous. Apparently there is no way to tell for sure, but I am not going to accept that answer. Story unfinished. But let me back up.

For twenty-four years, I have been plagued by something that was called “complicated migraines” by the neurologists I had seen. After Loma Linda mistakenly diagnosed me with TIAs (mini-strokes), UCLA and, later, Barrows in Phoenix, diagnosed these episodes as complicated migraines.

They are a migraine disorder, but they are not migraine headaches. I used to get the headache version until they turned into this other sort of migraine. In fact, I had some horrific migraines when I was a kid–seven to ten years old. The version I’ve been getting for 24 years is generally without headache. The symptoms include sudden severe vertigo, heaviness, inability to stand or sit, weakness, burning through the sinuses, widely fluctuating body temperature, brain fog, squinched up face on one side only, numbness of limbs, nausea, vomiting, falling asleep at the tail end of the acute episode, etc. It’s very difficult to go anywhere by myself, and this is why I don’t travel alone any longer. I can’t attend concerts or sporting events with lots of lights. I had to leave daughter’s wedding reception early once the goofy lights came out. Although we had planned ahead, what the DJ thought was mild was not. That’s ok because her friends all had a wonderful time, and I was tired anyway.

When I moved to Arizona, the complicated migraines got worse in that I felt sick every day and had acute episodes every couple of days. I had to go on preventative medication in the form of a blood pressure med. The meds kept the acute episodes from happening so frequently.

I would say my migraines have been under control for a dozen years until this spring when I started feeling sick (sore eyes, nauseous, slight vertigo) all the time. So I went back to Barrows, to their headache clinic. That’s where I was diagnosed with vestibular and/or hemiplegic migraines. No such thing any longer as complicated migraines.

My worst trigger is light, especially flickering artifical light. Fluorescents always have a flicker, even if you can’t see it. But LED can be bad, too. And fluorescents that have a noticeable flicker are the devil. When I have to go under artificial lights, such as the doctor’s office or grocery store, I wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Other triggers are sleep disturbance, stress, too much paperwork where I have to look down instead of across (computer better than paper on the desk or table).

Another thing that happened in the last few years is that I occasionally get migraines with very traditional aura in the form of sickle-shaped kaleidoscope images. And, yes, it is as vivid as in the image below.

I am going to try to continue to search for answers. My symptoms are consistent with having both conditions at the same time, but I haven’t been able to find anyone yet with my regular set of symptoms. There are rare individuals who have both vestibular and hemiplegic, but the forms occur at different times. Some of my regular symptoms apply to vestibular, and some apply to hemiplegic (especially the one-sided face squinch). So onward. And in the meantime, please hand me the hat and sunglasses!

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Summer Junky Art Journaling Project

For the past 75 days I have been participating in a class, taught by Kasia Avery, through Everyday Art called 100 Small Steps. The course was designed a couple of years ago which is when others took it. But it’s still up at their site and the price is minimal. So I am taking this class all by my lonesome. The structure is that of a daily prompt, a guideline, and a bonus life enrichment prompt and is meant to “force” one to do something creative every day. There is a Facebook page related to the course, and I am posting a photo every day of that day’s work. Of course, I am the only one doing so. And there are people who took this course in the past who are kind enough to give me regular encouragement although they are long past this experience.

At this point, I am 3/4 of the way through the program. Even when I had to go out of town for work or had distressing life events, I still made sure to do something in my art journal. There’s a lot of crap, but every day taught me something. And there are a few pages that make me very happy. One important thing about pushing myself through the 100 days is that I keep going. It would be easy to miss some days, but then it will be even easier to miss a few more. And time spent with my art journal is my zen time.

For the first 25 days I used a zippered binder and its “cardstock” dividers. This binder had been left at my house by a previous boyfriend of daughter. For the second 25 days I used an address book. 26 letters of the alphabet is pretty close to 25 days! Then I started a journal that Kasia had recommended as an inexpensive type she likes. It’s a Decomposition Book (hahaha), made of 100% post-consumer-waste recycle pages and printed with soy ink. This one has a topographic map on the cover and graph paper inside. The pages are a bit thin, so sometimes I glue two together. And the gesso helps strengthen them, as well. My big dilemma now is whether I continue in this book or switch to a fourth book. I think I’ll switch because the journal is already getting pretty thick with gesso, paint, collage, fabric scraps, safety pins, and the like.

The kitties are a lot of work because of integrating all these various personalities. But they sure are cute. I discovered that Meesker is talented at catch. We bat one of his toy mice back and forth. He catches with his claws extended and then smacks it right back at me. Lily is a talented eater and excellent lovebug.

I had a couple of poems from my Red Riding Hood project accepted at a wonderful journal (I’ll share when they are published) and have one of my Rooted and Winged Grandma poems accepted at another. I want to start a writing project before too long. Maybe when 100 Small Steps is completed. Go have a great week!

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Announcing the Winner and Finalists of The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Judging for Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest is completed. The winner of the contest and of the $250 award is Merril D. Smith for her poem “How I Learned”!

How I Learned


recurring patterns, star shapes
and spirals, leaves and shells are echoes,

the vibrations and reverberations of before-time
the ineffable radiance, the glimmering streams

whose crystalline traces created
seas and a world
where we swim before we can fly—

fractals that connect past and future.

Birds sing the harmonies of stars,
trees and seas bear primeval secrets, 
tremulous whispers flow underground and
across continents, waves of knowledge
break on fallow shores,
snippets coast on spindrift, 
we feel the droplets, taste the salt, hear only susurration--

perhaps we understood once,

the whispers, the songs, the patterns,
like puzzle pieces, fragments 
I have glimpsed, 

in a dream,
a tightrope journey over a dark, uncharted crevasse
my arms outstretched for balance,

and then 
free-
      falling 

upside-down and in-between
the visible and the unknown--

but my ancestors spread wings
that covered centuries
to catch me, guide me,

You can, they said
as they showed me that I have my own wings—
unfold them, fly. This, too, is part of the pattern.


The finalists, in no particular order, are:
*Jess L. Parker
*Serena Agusto-Cox
*Stephanie L. Harper 
The finalists will be receiving a Rooted and Winged tote bag. Congratulations to all three because the scores were very close.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE CONTEST JUDGES!

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

The Math of Cats

There’s been a lot of subtracting and adding going on at my house this past year. After my daughter lost her dear cat Izzie, the gardener and I lost Felix and then Pear. Those three sweet furry souls were all gone within two months. That left us with four cats and my daughter with zero (although she had her dog).

I started to think about the years ahead when we would have fewer cats, thus making it easier to travel. And I would have less daily kitty chores.

Then daughter and SIL adopted two kitten sisters. Daughter was keeping her fingers crossed that they would bond as well with Riley, the dog, as with each other. Sure enough, this happened.

Cute enough?

I asked my daughter if when Tiger (who was 18) was gone, she and her husband would bring their animals over here and take care of everyone while the gardener and I go on a long trip (first time ever).

But early this summer we had to open our home to my son’s two cats, all while our little Tiger seemed to be ill. Sure enough, she died on June 28–4 weeks after the new cats arrived–and on the 7th anniversary of our furboy Macavity’s death.

So we were six cats, then five, then four, then six, and now five. Follow that? No long vacation for us for awhile!

Lily with her new best friend Perry
Meesker

Lily is the long-haired orange and white cat, and Meesker is the house panther. Lily, a very affectionate girl, is already fully integrated into the household, but Meesker is more shy and prefers the freedom of his own suite (i.e. bedroom). That’s because his Minion Manservant (the gardener) watches TV two times a day in there with him. They play mouse, too, and Meesker brings the mouse back so it can be thrown again. Sometimes he stops by his water bowl and washes the mouse before he brings it back.

Now I just need to figure out how to get Meesker out of the room without stressing him too much. I will also have to figure out how to tell, in a half-second, whether it’s Meesker I’m seeing or my other house panther, Kana.

Has anybody read the Ruth Galloway mystery series by Elly Griffiths? I just plowed through all fourteen books, and I’m upset that I have to wait until 2023 for final installment. As much as I love Louise Penny and Ann Cleeves, I liked these even more! The characters are wonderful, and Ruth’s love life is certainly interesting.

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Filed under #amreading, Cats and Other Animals, Nonfiction

Review of a Treasure: Millicent Borges Accardi’s Through a Grainy Landscape

The title of Millicent Borges Accardi’s new poetry collection Through a Grainy Landscape is from a quote by Tiago Araújo about driving at night where the view has been altered by the “dim and orangey lights” and from the final poem of the book, which explores the journey of living in a world where “walls / built across artificial boundaries” harms even children.

The poems of this book spring from strong influences on Accardi and her writing: Portuguese culture and the Portuguese diaspora; her childhood as the daughter of immigrants, and her mother, a lively figure in party dresses and good times. Accardi says that the poems were inspired by writing by “Portuguese-American writers and Portuguese writers in translation.” I have not read these muses and mentors, but appreciate the wellspring and focus they give the collection.

“It was my Mother who Taught me to Fear,” gives you an idea of what to expect from Through a Grainy Landscape:

The irregular verbs of culture that brought
the family away from The Azores, to the promised
land of California, was, were been.
Shocking like a past to push away
And start over born, born/borne.
As if invisibility could be
Run away from, a new start
in the garage of an uncle,
after a cross-country railroad
trip like pioneers, Los Angeles
was away from beat, and was beaten
down, the promised land was
to become became, begin,
a location that pushed away
and helped folks to start over,
pretending you were someone
else to fight, fought, fought.
To flee, fled. To approach
a way to make-over, redo, make-believe.
To start again. As if half-life
never happened. Not the Great
Depression of your grandmothers,
or the Great War, with its aircraft
carriers and new breed of
how to be and what to do. California
was a gifted promise for the melting
pot generation, goodbye to bend (bent, bent)
into shape. As the train car runs through
every state in the union, interwoven, interwoven
in a pattern called starting over,
in a safe place with a brand new method of
keeping, kept, kept. Where no one genuflected
on Sundays, kneel (knelt/kneeled, knelt/kneeled).
to recreate yourself from nothing is a wonderful thing.
Time were, you almost believed
it was possible.

Accardi’s collection is a treasure, both for its specific context within Portuguese-American literature and because it responds to the perspective that the United States is a country of immigrants and the descendants of immigrants. I even learned a favorite new word: saudade, which means “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament” (Oxford Languages). This poetry collection left me with something akin to that feeling.

Through a Grainy Landscape is available HERE.

I remind those of you who preordered Rooted and Winged that the writing contest ends on Wednesday, July 27. That’s the last day you can submit a flash fiction, flash nonfiction, or poem that addresses the prompt in the guidelines. See HERE.

Before too long I will write about the two new cats living at my house. For now I will say that integrating them is a work in progress! Perry is helping me, of course.

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Only a Few Days Left to Submit to The Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest closes on July 27!

Read the guidelines below to find out more about the chance to win $250!

Eligibility to enter: Preorder Luanne’s forthcoming poetry collection Rooted and Winged, cost $19.99, link below (if you already preordered the book, you are exempt from this requirement) by July 15. You may enter as many times as you wish, but a preorder is necessary for each submission.

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Dates: Preorder book by July 15. Submit through July 27.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, no name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

K. E. Ogden

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Suanne Schafer

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

Elizabeth Gauffeau
ROOTED AND WINGED

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Cat Rescuer Extraordinaire Holly Provance

Dedicated to the memory of Kit Kat, the “Calico Queen”

This is my friend Holly Provance with her dear Kit Kat who just passed away at the age of 18.

Holly is a heroic cat rescuer in Temple, Texas. In fact, she volunteers a lot of her time in the cat and dog rescue field. I interviewed her to see exactly what she does to help the animals that most humans have forgotten.

 Would you please tell us what you do for the animals?

I volunteer with several great organizations. Snip and Tip does primarily TNR (trap-neuter-return), but I recently worked with them to rescue 15 cats from a very unhealthy living situation. Normally these cats would have been returned after neutering, but the environment isn’t safe, so I took the kittens and cats in to foster so that hopefully they can have a better future and not have to go back to living at a drug house.

I also volunteer with Fixin’ Ferals TNR and Rescue. I foster community cats with mange, skin and eye issues, or other conditions that need some “extra” work, and then return them to Fixin’ Ferals for them to either be returned to the community or adopted out. I recently went and picked up a cat that was paralyzed, and was able to send her to an amazing foster home through Fixin’ Ferals. We found out someone shot her, so she will always be paralyzed, but she is doing great in her foster home. Such a different outcome for Dragon than when I found her dragging herself from under the porch of a mobile home begging for help.

I recently took in a trio of kittens through Journey Home Rescue, which is primarily a dog rescue, so they networked to find a foster for some sick kittens, and found me. My own organization is Ferals and Friendlies, where I manage my own colony, and do neighborhood TNR here in the beautiful Garden District of Temple, Texas.

The Meowtel, where fosters stay when there is a large group. It’s air conditioned and has an enclosed outdoor area for rambunctious kittens
This is Wacoville, complete with multiple food and water stations, and shelters. The fencing keeps the dogs from bothering the colony cats who aren’t dog-friendly.

In my spare time (ha ha) I am a volunteer for Texas Transport, helping transport dogs to new homes/rescues, and I am a scanner with Central Texas Lost and Found Pets. When someone finds a pet, we go and scan for a microchip to try and get the animal home. Sometimes, that leads to rescuing a pet. I recently went to scan a very old Chihuahua who someone had found wandering down the highway. The poor guy was covered in fleas, had ear mites, and horrible skin issues. The finder couldn’t keep him, and I didn’t want him to end up at the shelter as they are already overwhelmed. So he came home with me as a foster. And now, I’m the proud owner of a very old, still kind of scraggly looking Chihuahua who is heartworm positive, and wobbles when he walks, but is an absolute little rock star who quickly became a much-loved member of the pack. Welcome to the rescue life.

Trio is one my recent transport passengers. I was one leg of a 19 leg transport team sending Trio and his friend Toby from Texas to a rescue in Michigan.
This is Dobby, who was just supposed to get scanned for a microchip, but ended up living the dream when he wasn’t chipped and no owner came forward.

How did you get involved in volunteering in rescue?

I started doing TNR (trap/neuter/return) when I moved to my current house 3 years ago. There were a number of cats that just started showing up, so I put out food, water, and shelter, but I wanted to do more. I contacted a local TNR organization called Snip and Tip, and they lent me traps and helped me do my first big TNR. Through them, I connected to other organizations, and realized I could help by doing medical fostering. I joined different Facebook groups, and just offered to help when I felt I had the skills and resources that were needed. I connected with Fixin’ Ferals TNR, and I got my first mange cat from them. I had no idea what I was dealing with I took in Waco (so named for the city he came from.) But I found a treatment plan that worked, and so used it to help other cats with mange or other skin and eye infections. At some point, I agreed to foster a litter of kittens through Fixin’ Ferals, and I continue to foster for them.

What is your professional background and does it help in any way(s) with rescue?

I have spent most of career working in the nonprofit world, for organizations big (American Cancer Society and NAMI Texas) and small (Austin Steam Train Association.) But I never wanted to work in the animal welfare field because I felt like I would connect too much. Three years ago I made the leap to the for-profit world, where I serve as the business development director for an inpatient mental health facility. I love it because I get to help educate the community about mental health, provide resources and support to patients and families, and work as an advocate for better treatment options and access to care for individuals living with a mental health condition. Having a lot of community connections really helps, because you never know who may be a resource for the volunteer work I do. For example, I currently have fourteen foster kittens/cats needing homes. So I am partnering with the Hewitt VFW to host an adoption event at their post. I have that connection because of my job!

Please tell us about the cats. Are there special ones that you want to tell us about? What are the most difficult cases? What are the biggest joys?

Cats! I love cats!! My current crew consists of Kit Kat (RIP dear friend), Lucky, Moxie, Pixie, Strut, Charlie, and Poppet. We just lost Kit Kat the other day. She was the calico queen at age 18. She was picked up off the highway as a very small kitten.

Lucky is 14, and her name comes from the fact that she was the lucky one of her litter who survived being thrown out of a car. Moxie and Pixie were also found on the road kittens, and they are now 4. Pixie is a tortie, and boy does she let you know it. Strut and Poppet came in as medical fosters. Strut suffered some type of blunt force trauma to his face and leg, and was having seizures when we got him as a foster. He lost an eye, and one of his legs is crooked, and he’s a klutz, but he is the sweetest boy. He was up for adoption, but the right family never came along, so now he’s one of the crew. Poppet came in with horribly infected eyes, and we had to have both of them removed. She was also up for adoption, but as with Strut, the right family ended up being ours. Finally we have Charlie. who came up with one of the neighborhood cats as a kitten. We were able to trap him, and he bonded with Strut, who was also a kitten at the time, so he became a permanent member of the family. They live with Baxter, Bandit, and Dobby, our three rescue dogs.

Baxter, my emotional support floofmonster

There are the “permanent” colony cats – Bear, Jr., Jester, Jon Snow, Pirate, Shimmer, Waco (the infamous mange cat,) Goldeneye, and Jax (another mange cat from Waco.) While normally Waco and Jax would have returned to their colony after they recovered, but the colony they came from has lots of medical issues, so the decision was made to allow them to stay with my colony. There are also the neighborhood cats who are regulars – Curly Tail, Floof Tail, Swirl, Hissy, Gigi, Grayson, Blue Eyes. They come and go, although Curly Tail is working his way up to permanent colony member. That just means that he has moved from eating at the feeding station in the side yard, to eating and spending most of his time in Wacoville, which is a designated outdoor living space for the colony cats.

I don’t decide who becomes a permanent colony member – they just let me know at some point that they like living here. For the neighborhood cats, my rule is that if they come here to eat or to seek shelter, they get snipped and tipped. So I trap regularly. They are spayed/neutered, ear tipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas and mites, then released.

Click on the images below to open larger.

Finally, there are the current fosters – twelve kittens, two mom cats, a teenager, and an old man. Ten of the kittens (the motorcycle gang of Harley, Davidson, Throttle, Silly, Sprocket, Spark, Tank, Piper, Speed, and Racer,) and the two moms (Mom Cat and Not Mom Cat) came from the drug house rescue. Wynken and Nod came in with their brother Blynken, who didn’t make it. But the two remaining storybook boys are doing great, and will be going to Pet Connect Rescue to be adopted out through Petsmart. The teenager, Sam, came in very sick with all kinds of nasty parasites, and now is waiting to find the right furrever family. Then there is the old man – Carrot – who came from a hoarding situation. He was bad allergies, and he seems to have a flare up every time I think he is ready to be posted for adoption. It’s hard enough to find the right home for an older cat – but it’s pretty much impossible when their back end is bald! In the meantime, he has him own special spot in the crew here, and he is living a great, although noisy, life.

How do you handle the emotional toll of what you do? A lot of people say I would love to do that, but I can’t handle the sad stuff. If there are things that make you “keep coming back” and taking care of your own emotional health, what are they?

The emotional toll is sometimes overwhelming. I’m so fortunate that I have an incredibly supportive partner, who lets me cry when I need to, who digs very small graves for very small kittens who don’t make it, and who doesn’t bat an eye when I tell him that I am bringing home the body of a deceased puppy I went to scan (no microchip so no owner to notify) because I couldn’t just leave it on the side of the road. Our motto is no one crosses alone, even if that is only in spirit. Everyone gets a proper send off to the rainbow bridge. Believe it or not, that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back. That the sickest who don’t make it got to live out their final time, whatever that was, being cared for. They are warm, fed, bathed, loved for as long as we have them. And then there is the total joy of delivering a kitten to his new home! Or matching an older cat with an older woman who recently lost her cat, and was in need of a special companion. 

None of this would be possible without the love and support of Derrick. That’s Poppet on the back of the chair. He’s holding Bandit, who came from our local shelter. He was so fearful that he bit Derrick when we went to meet him. The rest, as they say, is history.

Please let us know how people can donate to your project of helping the cats who have been let down by other humans.

The best way to follow the many adventures, and sometimes misadventures, is on my Facebook page, Ferals and Friendlies. I keep an Amazon wish list posted, which is a great way to support the colony and the fosters. I also post when I have large vet bills, in case someone wants to support a specific foster cat. But what I need most is to find furrever homes for the fosters, so that I can continue to bring in new fosters! So please like our page and share our posts. And if you see a kitten – or two – you know would be the purrfect addition to your family, email me at feralsandfriendlies@gmail.com. You would be surprised at the number of places that the volunteer transports go!

Thanks to Holly for sharing about her life as an animal rescuer. It’s good to know that we don’t have to live in Temple to donate or even to adopt your animals. I love how you mention “or two” about kittens. I learned over the years that it’s by far best to adopt two at a time when adopting kittens. So much better for their upbringing—and easier on the humans, too. My daughter just did that this spring, adopting two little female tabbies—and their bonded cuteness is so adorable. When I babysat them I noticed how much easier it was to take care of two than if one little kitten had been here on her own.

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Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Inspiration, Interview, Nonfiction

What’s Going On?

I’m so annoyed that WordPress took away my ability to draft a post in “classic” instead of “block.” I hate block. Any writer would hate block. And you know what? Even my website guy who is a techie instead of a writer hates block editing. If WordPress would pay attention, they would see that blogging via WP is down since they started that ridiculousness.

Things have been tough this past year without WP screwing around with me. Four kitties since July that I’ve had to watch get sick and then help over the rainbow bridge. Family troubles causing me to end up with two more senior cats that I need to integrate into the household (not to mention the family troubles themselves).

I wrote a chapbook of poems, and I submitted it to a contest that I found through a reputable writing website. My chapbook didn’t take one of the top three spots, but it was one of nine finalists. I thought that was great until I got an email from them saying that as one of their “top finalists” my book deserves to be published. I can do that if I cough up $600 for the publisher. What???? So I read more about the press. They say they operate on a cooperative publishing model and are not a vanity press. To clarify: a vanity press is when you want to publish your book and you pay a publisher to do so. There is no possible rejection involved. This “cooperative” press assures first that they want to put their name on your book. Then you pay $600! When is this ever a good idea? Let’s say you have had a book rejected by many publishers and you don’t want to self-publish and you can afford to spend the money. Maybe then? Back to me submitting to their contest. I guess I’m a little ticked off that a legit writing website would let them advertise that contest without explaining about the “hit you up for $600 bit.”

Remember that the writing contest I’m holding right now is LEGIT. 🙂

Remember my tiny books for Doll God and Kin Types? I got them for Rooted and Winged!

You have through Friday to preorder a copy of the actual book if you have not already. I’m still pledging to donate $5 per preordered copy to Liberty Wildlife. Also, if you would like to enter my writing contest (for prose or poetry) which closes on July 27, you must preorder a copy by July 15 to be eligible. Guidelines at the end of this post.

GUIDELINES AFTER ELIGIBILITY (PREORDER ROOTED AND WINGED) MET:

Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.

Prompt:

Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.

Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, don’t put your name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.

How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to writersite.wordpress@gmail.com. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.

CONTEST JUDGES

K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . ​Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]​

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchaferhttps://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.

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Filed under #AmWriting, Book promotion, Books, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Publishing, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing contest

Advance Review of Rooted and Winged by Carla McGill at Harbor Review

Harbor Review has published a gorgeous advance review of my new collection Rooted and Winged by Carla McGill. I really love seeing what she found in my work. Check it out here: Harbor Review: Review of Rooted and Winged by Carla McGill

The first paragraph just to get you started:

Luanne Castle’s third collection of poetry, Rooted and Winged, is a striking exhibition of poetic intuition and skill. Comprised of forty-four poems and structured in four parts, the poems take readers on a journey through contrasts, dilemmas, and disturbances, all witnessed or summoned by a narrator who offers unflinching observations of nature, scenes, and moods. In keeping with her first two collections, Doll God (Aldrich Press, 2015) and Kin Types (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Castle has woven family members and childhood memories into sometimes quiet, sometimes tumultuous present-day reflections.

This is a reminder that the eligibility period for the Rooted and Winged Writing Contest ends on July 15, which is a week from Friday. However, the deadline for submissions is not until July 27! Read the guidelines here: WRITING CONTEST GUIDELINES

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Filed under #poetrycommunity, #writingcommunity, Book contest, Book Review, Literary Journals, Publishing

Too Sad to Write Much

On Tuesday, June 28, 2022, Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina Castle tiptoed across the rainbow bridge while her Mommy and Daddy cried and her doctor gave Mommy a big hug. She met her feline sister and brothers Pear Blossom, Macavity, and Felix, her canine brother Sandy, and her feline niece Isabella Rose at the rainbow bridge. Tiger Queenie had the biggest catitude in the littlest body. Her beautiful tabico coat inspired one of her names, Josefina, as it was the coat of many colors. We loved her so much.

Tiger Queenie Princess Mimi Josefina, RIP

The day before she had to be put down for a probable brain tumor (her deterioriation by the day was marked), I learned that our dear Kana is in renal insufficiency and needs testing. Last July was Izzie, August was Felix, and September was Pear Blossom. This past year needs a re-do. Suffice it to say for now that Tiger Queen Princess Mimi Josefina was a very special kitty. She was the gardener’s favorite cat of all. And we both loved her universes-full.

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Filed under #poetswithcats, Cats and Other Animals