Tag Archives: #amwriting

A Walk in the Neighborhood, Arizona Style

What do I see and hear and smell on a walk near my house?

From the moment I step outside I smell flower fragrance. So I take a big sniff and keep walking. I hear songbirds singing.

Next I see the seedpods. Everywhere. Here are just a few.

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Then I see the pretty Mexican bird of paradise plant.  See how fiery and unique the blossoms are!

I come upon flowering saguaros.

 

Closer.

The sounds I hear are silence, then a rush of cars, then this: babies in their nest–inside a saguaro.

Apparently some baby birds are very noisy when being fed.

On the writing front, I wrote a little essay this weekend. We’ll see what happens with it. Best part: #amwriting

Make it a good week if you can figure out a way!

Leaving you with a wild baby in my yard. This is a baby kingsnake.  They are not only harmless to humans, but they kill rattlesnakes. We have been nurturing a family of kingsnakes ever since we moved here. Isn’t he cute?!

 

 

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An Unintended Visitor


Last Tuesday, a hawk showed up on my patio. It was directly below a hanging plant, a long drapey succulent. Hidden underneath the thick spongy leaves was a dove nest with two babies. The gardener and I assumed the worst, and when we saw one little head moving up there, thought the hawk had killed the sibling and was hanging around to get the other.

I went inside and took this closeup through the window. I banged on the window to get the hawk to leave, but it just sat there.

Before too long I began to worry that it was abnormal for a hawk to just sit there on the ground without leaving.

I put in a call to the local wildlife rescue that specializes in birds. I have brought them quail chicks, doves, and pigeons in the past. But nobody called me back. I made some other calls and posted on next-door app. I was finally able to talk to a second wildlife rescue. They said to let the bird sit there overnight because it might have a concussion. If the bird was still there in the morning I was supposed to call them back. A concussion made sense because there was a window right by the plant with the dove nest.

While they first assumed it was a juvenile bird that was afraid to fly, one of my daughter’s best friends volunteers with raptors in Tucson. I showed her photos and she said it was an adult red-tailed hawk. That was helpful information because the rescue paid attention when I told them that it was an adult bird, so that the lack of flying was abnormal.

Next morning the bird was still on the patio, but in a different spot, and looking more bedraggled. About a half an hour after I got up, the bird stepped into the pan of water I had put out for it the night before and just stood there cooling its feet.


Through a series of events it ended up that the first rescue group that I called sent a volunteer to capture the hawk.

The hawk actually escaped twice after the events of the video, but was quickly recaptured each time. That afternoon, I wrote a poem about the hawk, making it a female.

The next day, the volunteer texted me and said that the hawk turned out to be a female (but I already knew that!). She wanted us to look for a nest. The thought of starving baby hawks motivated the gardener to search our neighborhood and me to post on next-door app asking people to look for hawk nests. We found two, but not hers so perhaps she didn’t have a nest after all. The volunteer said that if there wasn’t a nest close by it’s doubtful that she had one because she would have done anything to get to the nest, even if she couldn’t fly. She would have walked!

You might wonder how she’s doing. I sure do, but they don’t let people know. That is frustrating, but I’m satisfied I did what I could for her. What a magnificent bird. An interesting note: I read up on red-tailed hawks, of course, and discovered that they generally don’t go after cats and dogs, although they are huge and their wing spans can be six feet.

By the way, both dove babies are still alive!

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Another Poem Up at Zingara Poetry Review

“Finally Going to Tell You about the Staircase Ghost” was published today by editor Lisa M. Hase-Jackson at Zingara Poetry Review.  This poem relates a couple of the “super”natural experiences I have had.

As befitting Mother’s Day, one of them occurred when I was a new mom. The other is a ghost story.

Finally Going to Tell You about the Staircase Ghost

 

I closed comments over here, but comments are allowed at Zingara.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS OUT THERE–AND THEIR CHILDREN

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Two Poems Up at Superstition Review

Superstition Review is a literary journal from Arizona State University, and I am so tickled that they published two of my poems. Also, they posted an audio clip of my reading of both poems. Follow this link:

TWO POEMS BY LUANNE CASTLE

So you don’t even have to read them yourself, just put up your feet and listen for two minutes.

The first poem is called “One of Her Parents was a Float.” It’s a poem inspired by adoption. Until the poem I published with Plath Poetry Project a few months ago and this one I hadn’t written an adoption poem in a long time. I feel really pleased with the originality of this way of looking at the subject.

The second poem was inspired by seeing a photo online of a little girl named Minnie Rae PREGNANT in 1871 San Francisco.

In those days, there weren’t any services to help girls like this. Charity and all the baggage that came with it was all anyone could hope for. What baggage? Demands about doctrine, religion, and lifestyle, all the while not providing enough to live on.

But if you think nothing like this has happened in a long time, I’ll give you an anecdote from the late 70s. That is a long time ago now, but it has teemed in my head since then. The gardener’s cousin was married to a wonderful man who taught in an inner city school in a very poor area of NYC. One of his students was 8 years old and pregnant. He struggled with how to deal with the horrors he faced every day in the classroom.

Is stuff like this still going on today? Let me know what you think!

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Reporting In, Part 3

I want to reach out and say Hi and hear back about how everyone is doing. I really want to know how readers are faring in the midst of the pandemic.

There is such a wide variety of how the pandemic is affecting Americans. I’m blessed that so far Arizona is not overrun with Covid-19 cases, that my family and I seem well, that the kitties seem well, and that we have food and shelter and a sunny sky.

I might get to see my granddog Riley today or tomorrow if things go well and her Mom and Dad stay far enough away from me. Isn’t she cute in her University of Oklahoma jersey?

Riley’s big sister Isabella Rose is a proud Sooner, but not a proud Tshirt wearer.

There might be a shortage of soda, beer, and seltzer coming our way. I guess we can handle that. There is always wine and vodka. And I have a soda machine for my soda water.

But the stories I’ve heard that others are enduring upset me. It’s impossible to push aside their pain and not absorb it as my own. It’s also upsetting to see that the NYC subways are still packed with people who have to go to work that way. They don’t have the luxury of holing up in their apartments and waiting it out.

We all have different coping methods. Praying is always a good one. So is self-care, like meditation, yoga, essential oils, healthy food, and kitty love. Or doggie love.

I like to keep my sense of humor as much as I can because it really does help. It boosts the immune system. But sometimes my sense of humor fails me.

We focus on the mundane tasks, as well as the tasks we have to learn to do ourselves.

On Saturday I used the hair color kit my stylist made for me and covered my roots. Well, most of my roots. Or if not most, enough . . . because I have nowhere to go anyway. My hair is very very resistant to color. It always has been. Therefore, it takes superwoman efforts to cover the gray. Over time, stylists have figured out that my hair has to be covered twice, with cap and dryer each time. Trying to just keep the color on longer and only doing it once does not work. Nobody can figure out why my hair is like this. It might be hormonal, but in what way? Anyway, I don’t have a dryer, so couldn’t do that part. And after I colored it once and showered to remove the Redken, I figured, screw it–this is good enough for now. So there are some patches of gray left. Who cares?

I had considered buying a box at Walgreens, but my daughter and daughter-in-law were horrified that I would ruin my hair. I guess they would have been shocked at the grad school years when the gardener used to color my hair with a box of Clairol. His method was not the “comb and part neatly” one used by stylists. His method was a chaotic attack from all angles that tangled my hair beyond combing. If I survived that, I can survive these gray patches.

Lots of my friends have gone gray, either over time or suddenly when they stopped coloring their hair within the last few years. But I doubt I will do so as I’m not fond of how pasty I look with “ash tones.”

Yesterday I did a supermarket pickup. They have it streamlined so I don’t have to sign anything and the employees are not allowed to accept tips. The young man put the bags in the back of my vehicle, and I just sat in my car. Of course, when I got home I exhausted myself sanitizing everything. I had ordered 3 kinds of jelly beans in the hopes that there would be at least one bag for the gardener (I hate jelly beans, by the way). He was not in luck. But I did score a big bag of russet potatoes, so I have real potatoes for the first time since before we went to Costa Rica mid-March. Last night I made latkes!!!

One smaller thing that has been weighing on my mind in the midst of all the big worries is my daughter’s wedding. She has it planned for March 2021 here in Phoenix. She’s continuing to plan it. The guest list will be about 95% out-of-towners, from New Jersey, New York, California, etc. I think one of the reasons this stresses me so much is that it forces us to look eleven months ahead and predict the relationship we will have with the virus at that point.

On another note, writing is a good focus for me, but I have not been able to do too much writing. Happily, I’ve had a lot of publications coming out this spring. Still at least four more journals before summer. I guess this year publications, rather than new poems, are my contributions to National Poetry Month.

So tell me about you. 

 

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Poem Up at Zingara Poetry Review

Editor Lisa M. Hase-Jackson has published my poem “Maybe It was Spring” at Zingara Poetry Review. This poem is very different from the one also published a few hours ago at North of Oxford. That one is a dark story, a poem that reveals the real Medusa and what happened to her. You can find “Medusa’s #Metoo” in my previous post.

But “Maybe It was Spring” is a “risen” poem. It’s about all the possibilities of rebirth, renewal, and the hope of a miracle. It’s also a true story.

Click the image below to get to “Maybe It was Spring”:

If you have a WordPress blog, try following Zingara Poetry Review so you can be first to read the Zingara Poetry Picks!

 

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Medusa’s #Metoo by Luanne Castle

So thrilled that my poem “Medusa’s #Metoo” has been published at North of Oxford. Most of my life, I took the myth of Medusa as I had been fed it: that she was a monster who turned men into stone when they looked at her. Perseus was the hero of the story for cutting off her head. But look further. Medusa was a beautiful woman who was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. For Poseidon’s crime, Athena blamed Medusa and turned her into the deathly face framed by serpents instead of hair that we know her by. Surely Medusa’s #metoo story is an important one.

North of Oxford

medussa cave
.
Medusa’s #Metoo
.
Blackness shellacs my cave
but for the locked foyer with its glass
a moth born in the time
of dinosaurs and grown over-large
stopped spread-winged
on the pane, still and completed.
What is there about my walls
that stop life? The finch
that saw its soulmate
in a reflection, lying broken-necked
on my porch, the man whose eyes
caught mine, my own
famished for his form that perfected
itself in Brazilian granite
by sight of my teeming serpents
my out of control weeping
from this solitude I keep
My revenge from Athena this curse
a coverup through tweet and text
a smear campaign of slut and sext
Poseidon in Athena’s studio apt
My pterodactyl wings catch
on the limestone, grow runners,
they call me floozy, stink, death.
.
Luanee
Luanne Castle’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a fi-nalist for the…

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Let’s Keep National Poetry Month in Mind

If we keep National Poetry Month in mind throughout April maybe it will take the edge off social distancing through April 30. As for Arizona, we were put on a stay-at-home order on Monday that is to last through April.

So: National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, I like the poster. For years I couldn’t stand the posters, then last year they had a contest and chose a design by a high school student. And it was great.

They did the same thing this year, and I love the result. The assignment was to submit artwork that incorporated line(s) from the poem “Remember” by current U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo that “reflected a celebration of the art of poetry.”

This poster was designed by Samantha Aikman, a 10th grader.

Honorable mention went to senior Kai Huie:

It is also National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo. Try your hand at writing a poem a day!

So happy April. And HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY TO TIGER QUEENIE PRINCESS MIMI JOSEFINA.

Nobody can do resting bitch face like my little princess

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Reporting In

Reporting in from the pandemic, as I sort of promised last week. Not going too stir crazy yet, although my concerns about all the changes to our collective and individual as-planned futures has me a bit shocked.

I wrote a few poems about the Thing happening to us, as I mentioned last week, but have agonized over a weird about-what? poem all week on and off. One of my pandemic poems is coming out in the anthology Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus, ed. G. A. Cuddy. I read a bit of it for PITTOC, and they posted it on their Instagram account. I reposted it on my Instagram account. The poem is called “Another Elephant Poem,” of course related to the elephant in the room.

Another one of my pandemic poems was published by Headline Poetry and Press: Monkey Mind

I would not call either one of these poems uplifting. They simply are. The third poem I sent out to a journal so we’ll see: that poem is a bit more upbeat.

On a positive note, Hermione Wilds reads one of my pre-pandemic poems on Youtube.

You know that video found on Instagram that I mentioned above?  I kid you not: I absolutely did not have this many wrinkles, bloatings, and sags before March. Yes, I am getting older, and my face is showing it. But, WOW, what a difference a month makes. I have not been sleeping well. Rather than having insomnia, I have been sleeping, but my sleep has been plagued by nightmares. One night the dream went on forEVER, with me trying to social distance and people not allowing it. No matter where I went, people crowded up around me.

Is that creepy or what, that I am apparently now afraid of people?!

Now here are some good doings.

Funny: at the cats’ dinner time I shut our bedroom door so Sloopy Anne doesn’t run in there after dinner. She likes to lie in wait for us, but she can’t sleep with us because she and Tiger get jealous of each other–and Tiger gets to sleep with us. So now the second I try to sneak to the bedroom door, Sloopy Anne anticipates and races me for the door. I keep trying to figure out ways to trick her, but she is ON to me. Pretty cute.

Making: I wrote a story about a fabric scrap for a page in my SCRAPS scrapbook. The edits took me all week. I might make two pages out of this one because the story is so long. Or I might just insert the story inside a pocket or somesuch and keep it all to one page. I haven’t started making the page yet, so I will have to see how it turns out.

Content: I’m so blessed to have my cats. I am celebrating Pear’s birthday today. She turns 20. I will celebrate Tiger’s birthday this week, too. She turns 16. They are the oldest of my six. All but Perry are seniors. As my poem “Monkey Mind” mentions, I wish everyone who is lockdowned or isolating had pets to give them love.

 

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Advice from Pauline

Beginning perhaps on Friday I developed a strong urge not to blog today. Monday is usually my day, but Monday had no appeal any longer. Suddenly, I didn’t feel as if I had anything to say. The news had wrung me dry.

Anything that crossed my mind seemed as if it had already been said in a way that I would never be able to muster with my brain fried, diced, and served.

Then Pauline responded to my comment on her blog The Contented Crafter.

I was looking at a post from you on IG [Instagram] about making elderberry syrup and my phone rang – and I never got back to it. I know you have a very different governmental system to ours and it does sound very hard for all my friends there. Here we have a woman in charge and it’s showing. People and health first. We know it will be a struggle later on when the virus has been held in check, but personally I hope it means we will change our ways of living, our expectations, our emissions, our stuff, our disinterest in those who have less, the generally disadvantaged, the third world countries, the dispossessed peoples of the world. I hope we will plant more trees, use no plastics, clean the oceans and care for our animals better. I hope there will be a new normal and we will embrace the positive in that – whatever it is. In the meantime we will make tasty goodies in our kitchens, from fruits and vegetables grown in our own gardens, to help our own wellbeing – and that of our pets. We will laugh at ourselves and laugh with each other and this will raise our immunity levels. We will strive every day to look for the good things that are being done and enacted and shared – lets walk through this together and share and support and make the world a smaller, friendlier, safer place for a while. I think this will make a great deal of difference. Thank you for coming over Luanne, all the way from Phoenix too – which sounds so exotic to me 🙂 I hope the Gardener is well and all the kitties too. Keep posting – just about what you are making and how you are feeling and what made you happy and laugh, or sad and cry today….. and I will too. xoxo

You see what I mean about somebody else saying it better than I could do. Notice what she wrote at the end: Keep posting–just about what you are making and how you are feeling and what made you happy and laugh, or sad and cry today. WOWSA!!! And she will, too :).

So that is what I am writing about today.

I did make elderberry syrup to boost the immune system of the gardener, the daughter, the future SIL, and myself.

I don’t spend a lot of time or money on “supplements” and other immune boosters or cures, as a rule. Well, not a rule. Haha. When I try something I end up using it once or twice and then it sits in the cupboard. And I don’t usually make it myself. But this time it seemed important to make it myself. That way I know all the ingredients that go into it. It smells quite medicinal when it’s cooking, but the taste was quite good. I used cinnamon and ginger, but I did not use cloves as I am not very fond of cloves.

I felt as if I was channeling my women ancestors while I made the syrup. Caring for my family with my own hands, putting love into the medicine along with the honey.

What else did I make? I made chicken breasts with the lemons from my friend’s tree and the rosemary from my bush. I cooked sauerkraut and, instead of throwing away the juice as usual, we drank it. The gardener’s uncle used to drink sauerkraut juice every day and swore by it as a health drink. It also is supposed to be an immune booster. I admit the cooking of the sauerkraut is just because I love it that way: with natural sugar, paprika, pepper.

 

I

I wish I could say that I made some more pages for my fabric Scrap scrapbook, but although I meant to, time got away from me. Trust me, I NEVER don’t have anything to do. I’ve added sitting out in the sun on every day with sun. It’s helpful emotionally and maybe physically. I wrote another poem this week, but it stinks. I made a little herb garden so that I can have fresh herbs without having to run to the store.

I am learning to need a little less, use a little more of everything, and put more thought into all I do.

What made me happy and/or laugh?

My cats, of course. Perry is especially cuddly lately, and I think he senses my anxiety. Pear and Tiger wants to be with me all the time. The other three are their own usual selves. At least I hope they are. I hope they don’t have hidden anxiety. They all give me lots of love and security, and occasionally, make me laugh pretty hard.

My daughter started an Instagram account for her puppy. You can see Riley at rileysblackbook. Now I get a little dose of Riley every day, although I can’t go over to their place in actuality.

Some of the memes and videos on Facebook that friends share make me happy or laugh. The bunny who wants to be a herding dog was one of my favorites this week. See it here: Bunny has been watching the dog herd

Restarting my “fill in the gaps” project for genealogy that I post over at The Family Kalamazoo blog. It forces me to focus, but I don’t have to be as creative as when writing a poem. And these days, I really want to get a rudimentary structure of family history done and sent digitally to all the younger family members. Just in case.

What makes me sad is watching young people crowding the beaches and parks, sassing the police who try to move them along, and putting themselves and everyone in danger. What makes me sad is that my mom lives alone and has to isolate and to keep from going crazy she still socializes with 3 of her neighbors. Who can blame her?

What makes me sad is watching videos from Italy about the patients and healthcare workers. The doctors who came out of retirement to die at the hands of Covid-19.

But the videos of all the music coming from the people make me teary in a bittersweet way.

Another bittersweet for me has to do with the shelter animals. Mostly, I am terrified for the animals as sad reports come in about people abandoning or euthanizing animals out of ignorance. The shelters had to cancel all their fundraisers. And the staff and volunteers have to risk their own lives to work at the shelters, taking care of the animals. There was a bonded pair of senior kitties I REALLY wanted to foster. But it turns out it wasn’t right for us right now. So instead I took on another task for the shelter. I am now “womanning” their Twitter account. So come follow along at Home Fur Good.

How do YOU feel? What makes you happy and sad these days?

Stay safe and keep growing. That’s my new motto.

 

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