This past week we went to Cali for one night for work. That was exhausting, especially with the stressful traffic. I also worked more on the memoir. I feel as if I have two unpublished books just sitting here now because the poetry book doesn’t start preorders until May! and this one, who knows. But I also know that I have been working very hard on these books and all the cat issues. I feel drained. It’s time to get some rest and renewal.
Pioneertown published three of my poems, so I was grateful to get this sense of renewal over poems I wrote before this period of memoir work.
Here is the link if you would like to read them. I would love it if you do :).
Kitties are hanging in over here, as are we humans. I am eager for cooler fall weather. October is my favorite Phoenix month: please, October, don’t disappoint!
This week I plan to do just what I need to do for work and life, then hang with my kitties and mystery novels and crafting supplies. Oops, I do have to finish one last book review I promised for Main Street Rag. There’s always that one last thing, isn’t there?
Make it a good one! XO
In this photo of Perry there is a black mark I must have made by accident with the edit function on my phone. Please ignore. That is how lazy and tired I am. Putting up a flawed photo of my perfect lil guy. Doesn’t he look as smart as he is?!
I don’t know why, but there are always a handful of things I’ve misplaced. They are rarely items needed for everyday life. When I find one, I soon find I am missing something else.
One of the items I’ve been missing for a couple of years has been MaryGold, the doll on the cover of Doll God.
How long has she been missing? I believe she was lost, then found, then lost again. Here is a post from December 2015 where I mention her disappearance and the discovery of her sister, Pinkie: On the Trail of MaryGold
Well, she’s found again! I discovered her in tissue paper inside a box in a dresser drawer in the guest room. She’s been so quiet!
I really enjoyed taking her on adventures. She doesn’t look bad for a girl who has been up to so much, including lying in a tidepool for her photographer, my daughter. I hope I don’t lose her again. If not, I’ll probably discover another missing object. (Does everyone do this or am I the only person who always has to be missing a few items?)
In honor of MaryGold’s reappearance, I’m offering Doll God for $7 each which includes shipping (if it’s in the continental United States only) through October 2021. The list price is $14 at Kelsay Books. Yesterday it was over $52 on Amazon (good grief). I’ll sign the book and address it to whomever you like. Be SURE to write in $7 so it doesn’t charge you $10 by mistake!
You might think from the post title that fall has come to Phoenix. Not. It’s still hot. And, yet, there is something of fall here, if only in our minds. Today is a holiday in the United States. We celebrate Labor Day because the lives of laborers in the 19th century (and early 20th century, too) were often horrible and sometimes horrific. If you want to read more about what it was like through fiction, try Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or Rebecca Harding Davis’ Life in the Iron Mills. Although many workers in this country have reaped the benefits of unemployment insurance for some or much of the pandemic, before 1935 no such assistance existed. I was thinking that Labor Day 2021 ought to be dedicated to medical–as well as the whole chain of food delivery–employees since they have been our front lines against covid.
Last month I participated in The Sealey Challenge, reading poetry every day. For the first half or more, I read a book a day. Then I chose more complex books and gave myself 3-4 days each. I’ve never read so much poetry in one month in my life. Well, maybe in grad school, but I mean I’ve never enjoyed so much poetry in one month in my life hahaha.
I also participated in an Instagram mixed media challenge called #seekgathercreate. It was a lot of fun. You start off by collecting four different objects each week to use for the page. The rest is up to the art journaler. Here are a couple of pages I made for it.
This month I am participating in Genealogy Photo a Day on Instagram. There are assigned topics for each day, so my job is to post an image, generally from my own family, that fits the topic. What I like about this besides the interactions with people on Instagram is that it makes me think about my family history from a different perspective. I think it makes the old new for me.
I’ve been revising my memoir. I was going to join #pitmad on Twitter, but then I realized that my manuscript might not be a good match for finding an agent that way. I also realized how short my memoir is now. A few years ago it was too long, but the new version is significantly shorter. Too short for a traditional publisher, most likely. Nevertheless, after some finishing touches I am doing this week, I doubt I will try to lengthen the manuscript. If I like it the way it is, then I want to publish it the way I like it. Of course, this is what I am thinking today!
Pear is hanging in, but I had to up her pain meds a bit so that her leg doesn’t bother her. I’m taking it one day at a time. Tiger is now drinking way too much water. She is 17.5, so she is not a spring chicken either! I worry about her kidneys, plus there is something going on with her liver. Here is Perry lying next to Pear. Maybe he hopes he can comfort her.
Not only is it Labor Day today, but this evening begins the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Shana tova! Happy New Year! XO
I mentioned before that my kids gave me a subscription to Storyworth, which sends weekly story prompts to me. At the end of the year, the family will get a book of the stories. Here’s the prompt and my story from week two.
What was your most memorable birthday? My 21st.
I’m in our tiny apartment living room, and in the middle between the couch and the TV is the ironing board and a basket full of wrinkled clothes. The TV is on, but the incessant drizzle and gray sky outside the sliding glass door overpowers the 24” TV screen. The wet pavement of our cracked patio looks nasty with blown damp leaves. Bedraggled, drooping petunias surround the cement square. It’s my 21st birthday, and my husband is at work. Eventually I get dressed in my new jeans and matching vest with leather trim. Half the laundry is still in the basket, but we’re meeting at Valentine’s nightclub in the Kalamazoo Center. I drive toward downtown. The rain has let up, but there is still a slight mist, and the streets are wet. A 21st birthday is supposed to be a big deal, at least that’s what I’ve heard. But this is a disagreeable Tuesday, and I’ve been completely alone all day. As I get close to the outdoor mall, the sun wakes and a brilliant rainbow spreads it wings across the sky. I park my car in the parking garage attached to the Kalamazoo Center, then I head toward the convention building, across the skywalk nestled underneath the rainbow. I look down the long expanse of hallway. The new sun is glinting sideways through the glass. What’s that lying on the ground halfway across? When I get closer, I stop and look down. There’s a $100 bill, partially folded in half, as if it fell from a large wad of money. Or as if it descended from the rainbow.
Note:$100 in 1976 is $469.71 in 2021
I’ve wondered why this birthday was so memorable to me. I’m not a person motivated by money, much to the gardener’s annoyance. A gloomy, gray day with icky ground isn’t my idea of a fun time. Neither is ironing, something I almost never do today. And I’m sure I had a lot of fun at Valentine’s, a club owned by actress Karen Valentine. They made great Brandy Alexanders, and I loved that drink in those days (drinking age was 18). But the memory of that particular evening escapes me. Instead, I have a very detailed, almost extensive, memory of the afternoon ironing and then the drive downtown and finding the money. It seems that the effect of a pleasing surprise arriving almost miraculously after a period of feeling depressed was so powerful that I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, it probably contributed to me becoming a more optimistic person than I had previously been.
This memory is involuntary, as described by writer and critic Sven Birkerts. It’s been 9 years ago that I wrote about working on my memoir (hahahahahaha) and how important involuntary memories are to the pursuit of the meaning of our memories. You can read it here: Breaking the Codes of Childhood
Imagine if I hadn’t found that $100 on my birthday. I might be a different person today.
And guess what? I found a photo of me in that jeans outfit in the same month as my 21st birthday! This is a different night, at a friend’s home.
All the babies in the yard are grown up, and every so often a hummingbird or dove swoops past me that looks a little familiar ;).
I am winding up the physical therapy now. I had two problems: rotator cuff calcification tendinitis and frozen shoulder. The PT has cured the frozen shoulder at least to 85% usage. The other will take much longer as I need to keep exercising. Eventually, the calcification is supposed to be absorbed by the body.
My brain is a little zapped right now. I’m concerned about health problems my daughter is having, and I am feeling stunned over the condo collapse in Florida. When I’m feeling like I am right now I am convinced that the greed and arrogance of humanity is going to take us down.
Also, I have claustrophobia so I spent days worrying about the people in the collapse.
Trying to cheer myself up, I made this page in my smallest journal. Fabrics from my childhood, and the button belonged to Grandma.
Notice that I’m making a little fun of myself, too, as 19-year-old me thought that big-a** hat looked stylish.
Putting the finishing touches on the first draft of the newly “remodelled” Scrap.
I’m focused on being a good nursing home nurse for Pear Blossom. She’s doing well getting up and down from the couch with that one seat cushion removed. But sometimes she chooses to lie on the cool floor near her water bowl. Pee pads and water bowl are very near the couch for her convenience. She is still such a pleasure all the time. She’s my little nurse, too. She’s the one who got me through my one-year-plus foot surgery recovery and the Valley Fever. She used to take care of our last dog when he didn’t feel well. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the room and found her in Perry’s blue cube.
The more time I spend with my art journal(s), the more I am realizing what appeals to me and what I like to work on. I am beginning to see a connection with my writing.
The word palimpsest carries great meaning for me. Here is the Merriam-Webster definition:
pa·limp·sest|\ ˈpa-ləm(p)-ˌsest, pə-ˈlim(p)-\
Definition of palimpsest
1: writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
2: something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface
The following image is my latest two pages. I call it a palimpsest because it was created with many layers, and bits of each layer show in the finished pages, whether by eyesight or touch. For instance, there are pieces of poems: “It Would Be Easier to Stop Talking to Your Ghost” by Stella Li and “Triptych in Black and Blue” by Tatiana Johnson-Boria, published by Pleiades.
I’m also using my love of the reality and concept of scrap (title of my memoir-in-scrap), as well as a poem I’ve recently shared. I also love scrapbooking and used to love to design and make stained glass. I haven’t worked with quilting at all and not with mosaics since I was a kid, but those are other scrap arts and crafts that I love.
For the initial layer of these pages, I used scraps from many sources, including graph paper, music, poetry, a story, a piece of an envelope flap that has the Hallmark logo embossed, and ripped up practice runs with art materials. I even included a hunk of the glued bottom of a brown bag.
I skimmed through my pages in order of when I made them, and I discovered that at first my collaging was on the “top” of the page, so to speak, whereas now I am using collage as a base and then a bit more in one or two other stages. I learned the value of collage underneath because of all the interest it provides. My first pages look very flat in comparison.
Onward to more improvement LOL. I do see a connection (first noticed by Sheila Morris) between these art pages and my poetry. The layering, complexity, and happenstance, for one–er, three–things.
I’m going to start PT for my shoulder/arm. And now I have vitreous detachment of my only reading eye. One of my eyes is to see distance, and the other is for reading. Seriously. That’s why I can’t wear bifocals and rarely wear glasses just wandering around. I wear glasses to read, another pair for driving, and then I have a computer pair made out of some really old and ugly frames. But my eyes (sort of) don’t work together, so having a really blurry reading eye kind of sucks.
Saturday I walked outside into the blue-blue sky, and I was attacked by swarms of birds from every direction. It was like a remake of the Hitchcock movie. But they weren’t real birds. They were one of the entertainments my eyes are providing me right now :/.
In other news, the puffballs are out! Technically, they are called Sweet Acacia trees, but we call them the dang puffballs. There isn’t a human alive who isn’t allergic to these things. They smell super sweet and, at first, you will think they are roses. But then the scent goes on and on and becomes sickening and you realize it isn’t roses at all. But they do signify home after all these years.
In the close-up you can see that this tree has two little puffballs growing from the trunk itself.
Pear Blossom’s 21st birthday is tomorrow!!! And Tiger Queenie’s 17th is April 1. Happy birthday, sweet girls.
Recently Liz (Elizabeth) Gauffreau (also: Liz Gauffreau blog) reviewed Doll God, and it’s such a gorgeously written review that I wanted to point it out. This is the Amazon link: Doll God review by Liz Gauffreau. Her analysis reminded me of what Doll God meant to me when I was writing it and what it still means to me today. Here is a small section with her comments followed by a quote from “Sonoran October.”
I particularly appreciated the poems focused on the landscape of the Southwest because I’ve never lived there. After a few rereadings, I realized that the poems express a relationship with the land that is very intimate. You can’t get it from visiting; you have to live it. From “Sonoran October”:
Midafternoon, the only movements:
cottontails dart like ballplayers
from creosote to cactus to ocotillo.
A sky so blue it hisses at my touch.
I’ve been continuing to work on my art journals, although I’m supposed to be finalizing 2020 for taxes for the business. (hahaha) Yes, I said journals, plural. That’s because Amy Maricle suggests keeping more than one journal going at once. When one is drying, you can flit over to another and work on that one. The one I started with is relatively small, and the second one is much larger. The pages are also different as the smaller journal as an accordian style inside, and the larger journal has regular pages. I am learning why art journalists like to make their own journals, though. As you move through the journal, it becomes thicker and thicker until it can’t close. If you bind your own, you can solve that problem by making your binding adjustable or just giving yourself more space.
I suspect the gardener thinks the time I spend on the art journals is amusing or he isn’t sure what to think about it! He doesn’t say much, and he tends not to bother me when I’m in my office working on them. Maybe he’s mystified why I’m not using that time to write. I’m not, though, as it’s a completely different experience than writing and much more relaxing during the pandemic. Artist Anne-Marie van Eck says to stay in “createfulness” because when we create we are connected to our bodies and our minds and we stay in the present. I find that to be an exact description.
Many people seem to have taken up hobbies or expanded on them during the pandemic. Have you done that yourself? A friend of mine became an experimental baker, and another took up quiltmaking. Another friend has become an obsessed gardener (haha, you know who you are–I know you’re reading!!!!) and is transforming her yard into one huge garden (in addition to the catio she already has for her kitties).
I’ve been doing prose revisions lately. Two essays and a review all needed revision. Thank goodness for good and kind editors.
A friend and I read the first part of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, a biography of one of my favorite writers, written by Ruth Franklin. The book could be better. It spends so much time on Jackson’s husband’s career that it feels as if he is standing between me and Jackson, if you know what I mean. And he’s a creep, too. When we had to return our “copies” (hers was audio) to the library, neither of us were very sad. In case the name Jackson doesn’t ring a bell, think “The Lottery” or The Haunting of Hill House or my favorite We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Nevertheless, I rechecked out the book. I am reading sections related to the writing of certain books. Continue reading →
This past week was better than the week before, although I did have medical tests for two days which was a big time suck. Tests for the Valley Fever (no results yet) and for the arm. I most likely have tendonitis of the biceps, and that is why it’s so painful. I’m now icing three times a day, but I might need some PT. Do you know if they will do PT via telehealth, at least until I get both vaccines? Yes, I’m a wimp.
When I came out of the Xray office, these birds were holding a noisy concert.
Before I forget to tell you, next week I’m going to post on Tuesday instead of Monday, but then I will probably go back to Mondays.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve been selling part of my wardrobe on Poshmark. I’m sick of a cluttered closet although I usually choose from a handful of yoga pants and tunic-Ts to wear. Also, I feel less guilty about all these art supplies I’ve been stocking up because what I am making at Poshmark is just covering my new purchases. I particularly love pan pastels, but they are expensive at about $10 each!!!
I’m going to share a page from my art journal with you to give you an idea of what I’m working on. If you haven’t been keeping up with me starting an art journal, I will let you know that I am a COMPLETE AND UTTER BEGINNER, which becomes clear when you see this page. But it is a good representative of me teaching myself how to use art supplies and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. So here goes. [Covers eyes and ears at the same time with all 4 limbs.]
I worked on a separate sheet of paper which I then adhered to a background page (scribbled with pastels and water) in a temporary-type way. My daughter’s face is a transfer. Learning to do a transfer was the most exciting and most difficult thing I’ve done so far. It meant another supply I had to buy: Fluid Matte Medium. I used watercolors and acrylic paints. A scrap of a poem called “Daughter Poem” and a ticket from a production of Rent my daughter was in. A “Love” stamp with gray ink. Gray pan pastel with 2 different stencils and a die cut. A pocket made of tracing paper with a plaid secret note and a gold star. I would have liked to stitch the pocket with colorful yarn/thread, but the paper has been weakened from all the coats of paint and products–and the transfer process as well.
A pick-me-up that occurred this past week is that I had an essay accepted at a journal with a very nice editor–we worked a bit on revision. And . . . I had three poems accepted by another wonderful journal. The essay and the poems are all about my father, so maybe this is a trend for 2021.
I am hoping to get the vaccine this week. If not this week, then certainly next week. Keeping these fingers crossed until it happens.
The high point was Saturday when I attended the Barrelhouse writers’ conference, Conversations and Connections, via Zoom. I attended sessions by Tommy Dean (micros), Randon Billings Noble (lyric essays), and Claudia Gary (villanelles). It was a comfy way for me to attend a conference. Even so, I get a little overstimulated. Plus, I had to feed the cats their very complicated breakfast during the micro segment, so I couldn’t do the writing. I learned some interesting stuff, and if I ever get a clear head again I plan to make use. If they offer the conference online again, I highly recommend it. The cost was not high, and we get a couple of free books.
Also this week, I did the following:
worked (from home)–the usual crap–no more, no less
cleaned the living room and my daughter’s old bedroom (even got rid of stuff nobody is going to want)
was frustrated because of the pandemic and because I am tired and don’t feel so great (Valley Fever)
was in pain, particularly my arm and shoulder
wrote a review of Beth Ruscio’s poetry collection Speaking Parts for Main Street Rag
played with my art journal
worked on the beginning of the new draft of the memoir
got frustrated working on the beginning of the new draft of the memoir
cleaned up cat puke from several cats and wet litter dragged through the house by my old girl, Pear
groomed Pear every day and worried about her
was annoyed by the gardener worrying about the covid variants and the vaccines (he’s an overthinker)
was annoyed by an identity theft issue and the stupid bank it occurred at
attended a telehealth appointment and made more medical appointments
talked to my mother less than usual, but was glad to hear she got her second vaccine dose (I also owe phone calls to two relatives and a text to my brother–I can’t seem to want to communicate with people lately–maybe that’s why Perry chatted with you last week hahaha)
Almost everything this week, other than the conference and the art journal were energy sucks. I can’t stress enough how therapeutic the art journaling is for me (you too?). I know I suck, but I am learning techniques. I have to remember that I am starting from absolutely ground level.
Looking forward to an energy sprouting week ahead. Who’s with me?!!!!