A little background on the cover image: this is a tintype from my family collection. It was handpainted, and the jewelry was painted in gold leaf. We don’t know exactly who the photograph is of, but believe it is of the Remine (Remijinse) branch of the family. My great-great-great-grandmother was Johanna Remijinse De Korne, born in Kapelle, Netherlands. I love how the Dutch spelling conjures up the word “reminisce.”
It’s time to preorder Kin Types from Finishing Line Press.
Press here to order my book of poetry and flash nonfiction. Why Kin Types?
Wide variety of creative poetic styles
Insight into the lives of the women who have come before us
Flash nonfiction–what is life like for these men after their wives have died?
Quick but indepth glimpses from the history of women: infant mortality, vanity and housewife skills, divorce in the 19th century, secret abortion, artist versus mother, mysterious death, wife beating, and my favorite: a brave hero(ine) saving a family’s home
Much more, but you get the idea
You won’t miss out when you’re busy
You want the book to go to press
Only way to ensure getting a copy!
You are supporting the arts
The press run of Kin Types is completely dependent on the preorders
Maybe you thought I am only interested in cats and books and writing and wine food, but my love of local history was fueled by the vintage photographs (that are now antiques) and glass negatives my grandfather gave me. Many of them are interesting shots of locations and people in actions, but more of them are portraits and Grandpa assigned names for every person he knew. Another thing that reinforced my history interest was that my father was a “collector” of old buildings, especially downtown. He would buy old unloved commercial properties and rent them out, usually to young people who wanted a start in business. Since my mother’s great-grandfather had built some of the old buildings in our city, I came to believe that I was meant to coordinate the family photos and documents and to see where the family fit into our hometown. I’ve documented some of the information I’ve uncovered on my other blog.
But you know I’m also a poet and writer of the more lyrical sort. So it wasn’t enough for me to write blog posts about people long dead. Where the more typical family history research left off, I wanted to add the power of imaginative research. That’s when I started writing my Kin Types poems. These poems are meant to uncover and reveal the lives of women in my family who are long gone. But they could be women in anybody’s family. That’s what family history really should be: the history of the world as seen through the lives of “regular” individuals. The women in these poems endure difficulties and tragedies: the death of an infant, waiting to hear about the fate of a soldier brother, a clandestine abortion, emotional illness, inability to pursue art, a mysterious death, a horrific fire, and more.
My chapbook also contains two prose pieces–flash nonfiction–and, strangely since all the poems are about women, the viewpoint of both these stories is from two men in my family. They are men who, in some ways, lived the male American immigrant story of the late 19th century. But they also had their own troubles and tragedies, and they too cried out (in my head, at least) to have their stories told.
So it’s super exciting to announce that Finishing Line Press is publishing my book, and the stories of the people who have come before us will be available in poems and lyrical prose. Kin Types will be available for pre-order soon, so stay tuned!
I mentioned some time back that I had a flash nonfiction piece coming out in a journal called Toasted Cheese. There aren’t a lot of places that publish flash nonfiction (as opposed to flash fiction like my “Parking Lot Superhero” story). At least I haven’t found too many.
Here is the latest issue of Toasted Cheese, and in it is my story “And So It Goes.” I believe that if my name was taken off this and Superhero that nobody would guess the same person wrote both of them. The only thing in common is that both have an experimental quality to them. In the Story Shack piece, I used a structural twist to get to the essence of the story. In this new story, I begin at both the beginning and the end and then move through the story forward and backward.
“And So It Goes” is about my great-great-grandfather Pieter Mulder and my great-great-grandmother Neeltje Gorsse Mulder.
“And So It Goes” is prose, but it will be in my chapbook collection based on my genealogical research. I expect to have two or three prose pieces, as well as poetry and prose poems.
Remember that Toasted Cheese provides writing prompts and creative blog posts about writing.
On February 29, I posted this sample from December 15, 2015. You can find April’s writing prompts here.
What Do You Recommend?
Recommend on social media at least one thing you’ve read this year. If you don’t use social media, recommend in person. Independent authors are particularly grateful for recommendations.
Create some recommendation business cards and leave them with your favorite works in the bookstore. You can print them at home. They could be as simple as the word “recommended” with a thumbs-up or a shelf card that lists why you recommend the book. Don’t put stickers on or in the books.
Ask for recommendations at a used book store and/or independent bookstore. If you’re lucky, your local chain bookstore will have fellow book lovers who are well-versed enough to recommend as well.
Recommend a book to a friend on Goodreads.
While you’re there, write a recommendation of a book. If you’re stuck for one, think of a book you discovered on your own and write the review as though you’re speaking to your younger self.
I’d like to remind you that today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (began last evening) and Cinco de Mayo. Two completely different events to ponder, both related to war. Look at how much one day can contain. It reminds me that in writing it’s important to think small to go big.
I’ve been adding social media to my life for a few years. Some types or platforms I find more useful or more appealing than others. While I have not gotten excited over Instagram, I do love Pinterest. I rarely think about the social aspect of Pinterest. I’m simply infatuated with the intriguing photos that lead to stories, more images, or recipes.
As a collector, I find it addictive to add to boards that categorize some of my favorite subjects, and I’m grateful to other Pinterest collectors for providing pins and for the ease of adding my own contributions.
Something about Pinterest reminds me of sorting M&Ms by color before eating them. And collecting shells on the beach and sorting them by shape or color. Simple and therapeutic. Sort of puts me at the emotional age of a toddler.
Some of my boards are writing and reading related, as you might expect. Check out Writing, Scribbling, and Jotting for an idea of my boards. If you have a particular blog post (written by you or someone else) that you would like me to pin onto the board, type the link into the comments here, and I’ll check it out!
I have boards for that ever-present child in me (I linked to Dollhouses in case you want to see a sample):
I’ve got fairy tale boards called Red in the Woods and A World of Snow. The former is one of my best boards, mainly because so many artists have a version of Little Red Riding Hood! I don’t usually pin the highly sexualized ones, but there are a ton of those, too.
For my love of textiles I have Hankies and History, Lace and other fun textiles, and Buttons buttons. Really all these textiles and trimming are related to history.
Last week was very hot in Phoenix. A couple of days were 115 degrees and all days were well over 100. Earlier this spring the weather was beautiful, which motivated some birds into filling their nests with eggs a second time. But now that we have a very hot June, the heat has taken its toll on the inhabitants of our outdoor nursery.
It’s way too hot for baby birds.
Thursday afternoon we found a baby bird (starling? sparrow?) that had fallen from a very high nest. He wasn’t quite a full fledgling yet, and he fell onto our upper deck, which was not a good place for Mama to take care of him. We ended up having to take him to the wildlife rehabilitation facility. Friday morning, his sister found herself in the same situation. She was taken to stay with her brother.
Saturday morning, hubby found a baby that was still a nestling, on the ground. Many baby birds do fall out of the nest before they fly, but he was clearly not ready and looked as if he were dying. I rushed him over to the caring rehabilitation and they administered fluids right away.
Humans have to be careful taking baby birds away from their mothers who may be nearby and feeding them. But in these cases, the heat was going to kill the birds first. Baby birds need some heat to thrive, but too much heat is deadly.
So you might be wondering how the hummingbird babies are doing.
On Saturday, almost exactly a month since the first 2015 batch of hummingbirds left the nest, the second batch followed their siblings out into the big world–or, at least, our neighborhood.
In preparation, Mama fed both babies, as she had been doing since they hatched from their eggs.
Although my videos aren’t very good, they will lead you to quality hummingbird videos posted by other people.
The larger, stronger, bolder brother (they could be sisters or a brother and a sister, but I think they are brothers)began flapping his wings, testing them out, and he gave encouragement to his brother. Then, on Saturday, he flew out of the nest, while Mama and brother watched.
He landed on a rock of our fountain, where he stayed for a few minutes until he got his courage. During that time, Mama flew back and forth between the nest and the rock.
After he flew off to explore, Mama spent several hours coaxing the skinnier, more timid baby from the nest. She fed him a few more times and even groomed him just a bit, as if to say, “I want you to look presentable out there in the world. Appearances matter. Show our predators that you are confident and know how to take care of yourself.” In this photo, she has turned her back on him momentarily, maybe to rest?
I was so impressed that Mama spent so much time with her offspring. She showed him what to do by flying out of the nest and returning to him repeatedly.
Eventually it worked and he flew off when Mama was out of the nest.
When I saw the empty nest I was a little sad, but wait: he came back several times, resting on the edge of the nest.
Saturday night and Sunday he didn’t come back. He’s off discovering his world, too.
All four hummingbirds that were raised in this nest have, no doubt, found the world to be a bit different from that of his siblings. I hope they all find it a pleasant place where they are rewarded for their hard work and don’t find any predators that can’t be avoided.
That’s it now for hummingbirds. It’s too hot to be creative here, but I am going to jumpstart the creativity by taking an online course in “flash essays.” I am hoping to learn how to write in a more cutting edge style. And I think I’m going to need the structure as I can see the summer melting away.
When I was in Michigan for my father’s funeral and to spend time with my mother, I organized the family photo albums and loose photos so that Mom could find her way in the basement. I took a couple albums home with me to digitize for her.
The first one I worked on is an album that my mother put together when she was 10 years old, so the photos are all from the 1940s.
I love to see that the kids had dolls. In this one, my aunt is holding her two Christmas dolls. This would be about 1946 or 47.
Here my mother and her siblings are with a couple of cousins. My mom is the tallest girl because she was the oldest of all the cousins. I don’t think my uncle is holding a doll. What IS that he’s got? A bow?
I love that crocheted shade pull you can see hanging in the window. Just another little touch that was part of my young life and slowly disappeared over the years.
Given a little time, I can probably figure out what dolls most of these are. Surprisingly, none of them look like Shirley Temple dolls–and those would have been very popular.
In this last photo (actually there are a few more, but the dolls and stuffed animals aren’t as visible), my aunt (age 6) is sitting with Pat (age 7), one of their cousins. Pat is the larger girl. Pat has a very important surgery coming up next month. If you are a praying sort, please put her on your prayer list.
Notice the wagon handle off to the side, showing they are sitting in a little red wagon. And the leather sandals and saddles shoes with the stretched out saggy socks. Sometimes I think there was more in common between my childhood and my mother’s than between mine and my kids’!
I’m not sure if all the girl cousins loved dolls, but the ones in these pictures seem to have enjoyed them.
Do you have any old photos of family members with dolls? Over on Pinterest I have a board of photos (particularly vintage and antique) of children with dolls.
I don’t intend to natter on about dolls all the time, but on Thursday I think I will share with you a doll story you might find interesting. Actually it’s about The Doll Empress. You thought The Doll Lady overdid the dolls in her house? Hah, she is nothing compared with The Doll Empress.
Although I haven’t been writing this spring–on purpose, I might add–when I started my new poetry project last fall I focused on creating poems out of the genealogical research that I do for my family history blog The Family Kalamazoo. It makes sense to narrow in this way, as I am always spreading out in too many directions. However, it’s difficult to write poems about a subject that is so personal to my family. It makes sense to write a poem about a maple tree or a new baby because these subjects are universal, but what makes someone else’s dead ancestors interesting to readers? That is a difficulty.
So far I’ve had one poem from this small grouping published, and that was in December. It was in the online journal Blast Furnace, but here is the poem, a prose poem:
When Your Grandfather Shows You Photographs of His Mother
You identify yourself in the antique image. Long slender neck, narrow torso, your face tipped to avoid the light. Your hands rest in the valley between your thighs sharp under yards of stiff calico. Your face long, well-sculpted by a lean diet and youth, nearly but not ascetic. Blue veins clutch the temples under translucent skin, a milky film that just contains you. In the next photograph your black dog Carlo poses at your side.
But Carlo isn’t your dog. Three degrees separate you across the time dimension. You never beat a man with his horse-whip for using it on his horse, though you wish you had that sort of courage and that sort of hands-on life, or burned all the books except the family Bible, praise her lord. And yet you hold your bodies as both shields and thresholds.
Because a face never reflects the same, every photo sees something else. You’re your father under the red star and your mother’s grandmother in the morning sun. But not your mother who is the image of her aunt. You never did let her kiss you. You see Carlo and his mistress in another photograph, and her smile is so familiar. Now the gauzy mask of your mother’s face floats across her-your features. Another light source and hour. Another shift of the hologram that is you.
If you happen to be one of the three people who read this blog from the first post you might find the subject recognizable. I rewrote that first blog post into this prose poem. I am fascinated with how we look like our ancestors and relatives, but in some lights, various shadows, or on different days, we might look like a completely different person–or share his features. It’s as if our general counteance is always shifting.
This is the great-grandmother I wrote about in the poem. Even I find our resemblance (when I was younger, of course) astonishing. The black dog in the one photo is Carlo.
My idea with the poems is to create a chapbook–a publishable collection that is smaller than a full-length poetry collection. Maybe around 20-25 poems. And I want to focus on my female ancestors. These are the people difficult to research because they don’t show up in old documents and newspapers as shopkeepers, dog breeders, or politicians. What was the day-to-day of their lives really like? I am trying to find out by researching and then allowing the material to develop into poems. At the moment a poem is completed, I feel that I have brought to life the experience of one woman.
It’s difficult to find literary magazines to send individual poems to because the subject matter is not contemporary and only universal in the notion of the project as excavating the lives of generations of women. In other words, I need to find places that specialize in or are sensitive to the intersection of history and poetry.
Are you interested in two unrelated subjects that you have been able to connect in your own life?
In case you are wondering why I am not writing on purpose, it’s because I was writing so much for so long that I knew I needed a period where I don’t take on any old or new projects. I’m resting my brain. Except for blogging, of course, dear peeps.
I have a DOLL GOD Giveaway going on at Goodreads right now. Hop on over there and sign up if you want to win a free copy!
Blogging is the best social environment available online. The positive give and take has been more than I could have ever dreamed. The support I get for my writing from you has been like food that nourishes me. And the caring I’ve received about my father feels like sunlight streaming through the trees.
Sometimes blogging gives tangible information. I have received a surprising amount of information on my family history blog, The Family Kalamazoo. I don’t talk about it too much over here because I have a lot of other stuff to yap about, but that blog started as a way to share old photos, family stories, and genealogical research results with my family. I soon found a wonderful genealogy blogger community. Sometimes non-bloggers who have an interest in one of my tag words drop by and share knowledge that adds beautifully to my research. I mentioned before here about the antique scrapbook that fell into my lap this way.
Now something else happened that I think is so cool I want to share it with you. I haven’t been very active over there lately because, as you know, I’ve had a few other things on my plate lately (understatement!). So I’ve been posting antique photos from my family that are unidentified. Sometimes bloggers give me tips that help me narrow down to a time period or even a branch of the family.
Last Wednesday I posted this photo. It might be my favorite because of the unusual clothing of the woman that reminds me of Pilgrims or Puritans. And because of her sweet expression.
I didn’t have a time period or a family branch, other than that it had to be from my grandfather’s family. Notice that the photographer is based out of The Hague and Utrecht. My family didn’t live in those areas of the Netherlands, although one 2x great grandmother was born in an area south of Utrecht.
Imagine my surprise when I got this response from a new reader:
If you click on the link above and take a look at these cool old photos you will see that most of them are from a period later than my photograph–and the people look early 20th century. But there are a few that are 1890s and more traditional, like mine.
Then he wrote this:
In the Dutch province of Zeeland there is a society for the preservation of traditional costumes. The secretary of that society identified the traditional costume as the traditional costume of Cadzand, a small town in the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 2007 Cadzand had about 800 inhabitants. I believe this information may be useful to you.
I’m so excited to know that this lady who was somehow part of my family is from a small town that is distinguished by its own traditional costume. Who knew?!
So here is what I keep thinking about. The woman sitting there smiling for the photographer, probably excited that she will see a photograph of herself when all is said and done. She’s wearing clothing her family has worn for generations. And she’s holding . . . what else, but a book?! What kind of book is it? It doesn’t look like a Bible to me. What could it be? What if she could have known that one day her photograph would be on something called the internet with the potential (OK, I’m being a “little” dramatic here) of being seen by millions of people? How would she have felt? Would it have boggled her mind? Would she have been thrilled to think of her image captured “forever”? Would she have wondered about her future descendents/relatives like me and what our lives are like?
I feel connected with her across the years. And I want to know what her life was like. Have you ever felt that way about someone from long ago?
Last week I went to Long Beach, California, for work. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I had my iPhone. Unfortunately, every great potential shot I saw I couldn’t photograph. I found it so frustrating. Either I was in the car and couldn’t get a clear view or I couldn’t get to the camera of the phone fast enough. On top of that, my husband kept complaining, saying I was spending too much time photographing and that it was distracting him from driving and thinking. (I thought to myself, if you’re that easily distractible, you have worse problems than a wife with an iPhone). But I didn’t want to overly annoy him since he was the one driving.
We drove all over Long Beach and Signal Hill. The beauty of Signal Hill is that they have the best city views. But could I get a photo? No.
I saw an oil refinery; it was big. And the largest USPS distribution center I had ever seen. Then a huge warehouse for Office Depot.
So I’m apologizing that I don’t have any of the good pix, but here are a few of what I did take. Southern Cali, last week:
Some of the buildings could be vacant–or not.
And there are oil derricks everywhere, as if it’s Oklahoma. Now the truth is that I don’t know if this equipment is the derrick or the pump, but isn’t the derrick what houses the pump?
A lot of oil was discovered at Signal Hill. But don’t take my word for it. Here is a photograph from 1923. Look at those oil derricks. I happen to know those tall scaffolding-looking towers are derricks. Click on the photo and slide to the side to see the whole view.
We did make it to the antique store where I like to look at vintage photos of anonymous people.
I was surprised to see this antique photograph of a cast of a woman’s face. Someone wrote her name, the names of her children, and the name of the artist on the back.
What is her name? Can you read it? I suspect that she died and left no photographs, so the family had a cast made of her face and this photograph was taken to memorialize the woman. What is your theory?
My husband collects soda pop signs and memorabilia. This is a dispenser for the syrup of a drink called Lemon Crush.
In southern California, we also saw limes.
Lots of limes. I even picked some.
Now I have to keep reminding hubby to make limeade. He’s the limeade maker in our house.
On the way home, Border Patrol had a large, makeshift border stop set up with dozens of agents. A dog sniffed every single car. We weren’t sure if it was for drugs, bombs, or a kidnapping. I looked online and at their website, but I couldn’t find anything about the stop. My vote is for bomb materials. Since I value my freedom, I didn’t even pull out the iPhone at the border stop.