Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How I Occupy my Retirement Time

I've heard some people are bored after retirement. Boredom has never been a problem for me, not during the days I trucked off to work each day and certainly not now.

My day begins by feeding the feral strays, dumpees, and tamed cats that eat at what I call our "smorgasbord" each morning on our patio. I'm the alpha female of this feline colony. Some love me, others fear my presence, but all quickly learn that no fighting is allowed within the confines of our yard. Two females are currently slated for spaying, if my husband and I can figure out how to get them into the pet taxi.

Housework. I often wonder now how working women manage to clean house. Half my time is taken up each day with shuffling and reshuffling the clutter that accumulates around my computer desk. Books, review notes, phone numbers and addresses jotted onto sticky notes, dates and times of trips or meetings -- all join the clutter I shuffle every day.

Reading blogs. I check certain blogs each morning. Most are on my blogroll, which is in serious need of updating. On Aston West's blog I learned that fellow writer Matt Dinniman was named Blogger of Note. Congrats Matt! I imagine one of my favorite heroic characters -- Aston -- is toasting you with Vladirian liquor as he zooms recklessly through deep space.

Over at K.K.'s Profound Thoughts, that long time friend shared her thoughts on turning 60 and not appreciating her mother in youth. Life is short and passes swiftly by. Our priorities change with age. Today I'm empathizing with K.K. because my mother died too young, also. Her loss more than twenty years ago changed my outlook on life.

At Tom Parker's Dispatches from Kansas, he took me on a lively journey to the edge of the world and beyond. My main whine about Parker's blog is that he doesn't have a new one posted to start each day. His writings are addicting.

Reading books and writing reviews of same: Some of the books I review are easy to read while others require extra time and concentration. I'm a volunteer reviewer, which means I don't get paid. :) People ask me why I devote so much time and energy to reviewing without compensation. The answer is complicated. One, I have always enjoyed reading and reviewing allows me that pleasure without having to buy books. Two, crafting a review is an exercise in writing. Each book and review is different so I try to capture the essence of the book and its author in my reviews. Three, reviewing introduces me to a wide array of gifted writers, their publishers and publicists. I've "discovered" many unknown gems in my tenure as a reviewer. Believe me, many talented writers never see the best seller list, which is a sad commentary on our times. I believe that the Kerouacs, Hemingways, Fitzgeralds, and Cathers of our time are mostly undiscovered.

So those are the highlights of this retiree's day. I'm never, ever bored because I don't have the time. Sometime soon I'll add "Starting on my fifth book" to the list and then for SURE my waking hours will be packed full.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Book Readings and Signings

I used to hate book signings, and shied away from readings. It's not that I'm bashful. Actually, I've been a public speaker all my adult life and can ham it up with the best of them....off the top of my head and without notes. Crowds don't intimidate me. But when it comes to reading from my own books, I flounder a bit.

Selling myself as a writer is hard. I'm more charismatic in print than I am in person. I've even tried to schmooze an attractive friend into making personal appearances and pretending to be me. Darn it, she refused.

In September a book reading is scheduled at the Blue Rapids Mercantile. My sisters call it "the Merc" because they enjoy giving everyone, everything, and every place nicknames. The Mercantile is a very cool place, with the personality of an old time general store. You could wander for hours there, checking out all the antiques, collectibles, and gifts on display. Blue Rapids is a small northeast Kansas town on the Blue River, nestled into a broad valley and rolling hills. I'll be reading from My Name is Esther Clara.

Esther Clara -- my grandma -- loved Blue Rapids so it's fitting that I'll be reading from her book there. I need to choose several interesting passages to read. Everyone likes the chapter where she burns the outhouse down at age five. Me, I like the time she and her siblings dyed their father's prize winning geese green, the time they "helped" the rooster get drunk on Pa's home made wine, or when she nearly killed the hogs by scraping pepper she'd spilled into the slop bucket. Reading those passages, I could ham it up big!

Guess I'll think about it some more. Wish me luck with the reading.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Moonflowers and templates

Over at KK's Profound thoughts, (she's on my blogroll) she wrote about the moonflowers growing along her back yard fence. Her blog reminded me of the moonflowers growing under our bedroom window in a previous home. The fragrance is beyond description -- lush, exotic, spicy, sweet -- and I swear the huge white blooms glow in the moonlight at night.

The blooms often come out on cloudy days too. Hummingbirds love them. I can't get them to grow where I live now, but I'd love to have a huge bed of moonflowers to scent the night air.

So far only two readers have commented on changing my current blogger template. In addition, I've received five emails on the subject from people who either did not know how or preferred not to post a comment. Sorry Cash, but the vote so far is against changing my template to gray or anything else. Maybe the readers who knew me as a nurse, and know me as a writer, think I'm more a peach orchard purple person than gray. I'll continue to take comments for awhile before considering a template change.

Now, go plant some moonflowers for inspiration and an unequaled perfume.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Bellowing Ark

Look: I build my bellowing ark to the best
of my love as the flood begins...
Dylan Thomas
I had heard of Bellowing Ark the journal, and had even reviewed a book released by Bellowing Ark the publisher, but knew very little otherwise until visiting their website. With one brief pass through the website, I understood their philosophy. The Dylan Thomas quote above explains their mission as I see it, from strictly my point of view: Life can be noisy, scary, and messy, so we offer hope and love wherever we can find it.
My adventure began when CarrieAnn Thunnell, a poet and journal editor from Washington State, suggested I visit the B.A. website and read "The Conversations: Unchain the Power of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution." As an editor familiar with my poetry, she also thought I should submit samples of poetry for consideration, something I rarely ever do.
I don't have the time or energy for this! was my thought at the time, but I dutifully checked the B.A. website. B.A. Editor Robert Ward's "Conversations" were not at all what I expected. His commentaries and responses from subscribers hooked me, took me back to childhood to a time of hope in a flood of happy memories. His words inspired and intrigued me, so I sent off a response to his commentary along with several poems. I'm delighted to report that Mr. Ward printed my response AND my poems and even solicited more. When my complimentary issues arrived, I discovered poetry, prose, serialized novels, commentaries, and interviews featuring known and unknown writers, all in a roomy newspaper format WITHOUT advertising.
Robert Ward and I have communicated numerous times since my initial visit to the Bellowing Ark website. Some of my poetry is too dark for his journal's philsophy, lest you think he accepts everything I submit. But I understand his goals. This is an excellent journal, presenting hopeful thoughts and concepts to a world staggered by war, disease, greed, and depletion of natural resources. We have too many dark spectres shadowing our world and Robert Ward is determined that Bellowing Ark will not add to that darkness.
If you enjoy a variety of poetry and prose and need a dose of hope and courage, check out www.bellowingark.org. If you are a poet or writer, gird your loins and send Robert Ward a submission. Or if the "Conversations" spark an opinion, send him a response whether you agree or not.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Klyd Watkins' The Time Garden

I should be doing shameless self-promotion, hawking my books, but I'd rather talk about interesting people and websites today. Klyd Watkins and his website The Time Garden are favorites of mine.

An interesting and diverse group of writers, poets, and musicians pop into Klyd's garden from time to time. In fact, that's where I discovered some of my favorite contemporary poets. I never know whose work will be featured when I visit. Christina Pacosz, Sharon Doubiago, David Pointer, Charles Ries, Charles Potts, and Dan Powers can be found in a multitude of journals and websites, but I read them first at TTG.

Watkins is a humble gardenmeister who hovers proudly in the background as his guests enjoy the poetic flowers and sometimes lively discussions or commentaries. "The Great Duckweed Debate" is a personal favorite of mine, where Reed Richards and Klyd Watkins square off poetically. Yours truly has even been known to comment.

The Time Garden is unusual, the ambiance casual, much like the man who tends the garden. Watkins and his visitors prefer it that way. If you enjoy poetry or music, check it out at www.thetimegarden.com. Check the Poet Index, the Theme Patch, and the Fresh Produce Stand to get an idea of what Klyd's Garden is all about.

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I enjoy good writing by writers and poets who are not famous. My mother said I was born a hundred years too late. The older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

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