Tomorrow Bob and I will travel out into the countryside to McClelland, IA, to the home of SCOLA, a non-profit educational organization that receives and re-transmits TV programming from more than 140 countries in more than 170 native languages. It was started by the amazing Father Leland Lubbers, S..J. at Creighton University. Bob and I were lucky to be students there at that time and we got to know him. The first thing I heard about him was that he studied in Paris at the Sorbonne. That impressed me. Still does. He was the first avant-garde person I ever met - a priest and artist who did kinetic sculptures from junkyard pieces. Big sculptures with hidden meanings. It was the enthralling opening to unlimited possibilities for my mind. And that's what college should be.
Much later our production company did a video to explain and show what SCOLA did. I remember especially watching Russian newscasts come in. That technology showed me how small and close the world could be.
Father L. died in 2008. Tomorrow is a special memorial and the dedication of one of his sculptures - Smashed Axle - on the SCOLA grounds. I can hardly wait to see it.
First thing, I must remember to take a picture of it.
2nd thing, I must remember how to post it on my blog.
Wish me luck.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Looking out my writing window.
In my bio, to seem like an interesting writer to readers, I say that Bob and I live next to a secret pond in Omaha, NE, visited by mink, fox, grebes, a Great Blue Heron and other lurking wildlife. I thought perhaps it was time to show blog, face book visitors and readers that my magical window was real and not a figment of an imaginative mind. Called secret because not too many know about this unusual city neighborhood, we found it only because our daughter is a real estate agent. There's a handful of townhouses and three single dwellings built around four interconnected ponds. If I look over my left shoulder, I see the view above. In the future, I'll post other shots of wildlife as they stroll by. Previously I wrote two photographically illustrated nature books, so this was the perfect place to be. In Tucson, we left a house set between two washes that functioned as roadways for all kinds of desert wildlife. I was worried the move from AZ to NE would take me away from nature, but looking out inspires me to write any and everything, including a quirky mystery.
Monday, April 20, 2015
IT'S NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and as I think of my mother, gone for many years, I remember the blank verse I wrote below and later, published in my poetry book - cover above. The book later had a different cover, but this morning, I use the one with the goose, in honor of the mother goose who lost her nest and eggs a few days ago, a nest near my writer window. I'm sure it was removed by the organization or a resident unappreciative of the wild life drawn to our ponds. Bob and I had watched her steadfast care of the nest, sitting tight during wild rainstorms and a snowfall that occurred. My heart broke the day the nest was gone, because we were going to enjoy a perfect view of her goslings and their growing up. She and the gander are still here, so we've sent our sympathy to them. Here are the words written some time ago after my mother died in a nursing home.
Sacred DaturaOne day, before dawn, my blind, independent mother, died at age 94. Afterward. I walked the desert, thinking of her life, so intertwined with mine. Down the road, in a sloping ditch, I stopped by a blooming Jimson Weed, flower of mystery and power. Also called Sacred Datura, Southwestern Native Americans use it for ceremony. This day, I gathered strength from the pureness of this early morning offering of Jimson Weed. Soon, the heat of the sun would close the flower against the intense light of the day. Back home, I wrote memorial words for my mother, as writers feel the need to do.
Fragile soul so close to sleep, so near to dreams,
Enclosed in life’s deepening shadows,
You too, become translucent in the morning light.
The sun shows hot through your thin petals.
Shines and burns through your thin skin,
Cuts through a mind uneasy
Until prayer transforms to angel song.
Like feathered wings now reaching up.
Soon it will be time to close,
A coda from the pale, white tips,
As another frail, old soul
Escapes toward the sky.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Years ago in Tucson, three women, Joanne, Ruth and I met to talk about all sorts of things, arts, literature, music, philosophy, ideas, family and friends. One day the subject was erotica and we admitted our curiosity. The next day I dashed off to Bookman's Used Books and asked the college age clerk if they carried that category. I told her I was a author, who liked keeping up on all kinds of writing. In excitement, she grabbed another young woman to escort me to their expansive selection. The two showed me their favorites and I left with two anthologies. Above is an image of the books I bought. Imagine my surprise at home, when I opened the first one and found Emily Dickinson. In the Table of Contents, I also found Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, as well as George Eliot, George Sand, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Anais Nin, and Sappho. It made me realize how the meaning of words changes through time and cultural shifts. I knew one day these volumes would be a valuable resource for a book I'd write. And though it took a decade, the words of these classical women authors kept whispering in my ear until the book was finished and the print was dry.
Friday, April 3, 2015
Tulips blooming. Forsythia too. Even a clump of William Wordsworth remembrance appeared outside my writer window. Do you remember? Daffodils - I wandered lonely a a cloud. Our 3rd grade class in Wagner, S.D. memorized it and the words echo in mind whenever I see those flowers. What poems are filed away inside your head?
Anyway, it's a beautiful spring day and one for me to be grateful to the Story Circle Network, one of the most supportive women writers' organizations I've encountered. It's a not-for-profit with international members and chapters. Dedicated to women and their stories. Posted on their website www.storycircle.org/index.php are the words of Susan Wittig Albert. "Storytelling is healing," from her book Writing From Life. They have a newsletter, publish a Journal, feature a writer competition - the Sarton Women's Literary Awards for women's memoir, contemporary and historical fiction, have a conference. And offer reviews of books by women, for women. Yesterday, my cozy mystery was featured in the review section and you're invited to take a look.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Who'd guess I'd be nostalgic over prickly things? Last weekend the Omaha Branch of Pen Women, actually the American League of American Pen Women - NLAPW, visited the 4-room glass house conservatory at our city's Lauritzen Gardens. Our March monthly meeting, set around the coming of Spring, was expressly chosen to inspire the creative work of our members who are professional artists, authors and composers. What a trip to the Mediterranean and Tropical Zones it was. Rivers of vivid colored cyclamen wandered along the first pathways. Fountains sang water music along the paths. Magnolia trees and blooming bushes invited us to linger. But I was drawn to the cacti and succulents. I admired the Teddy Bear cactus, so soft and cuddly looking you wanted to reach out and touch it. But it's a cruel April Fool joke if you do, because its spines are tipped with multi-points that embed in the skin and are almost impossible to remove. I remember not being able to resist the impulse to see how it felt. Oh my! Never did that again. As I looked at the hardy examples of cactus, I remembered my first days in the Sonoran Desert, strolling the yard, then walking the wash, learning the names and nicknames of plants growing on our property. Night Blooming Cereus. Jumping Cholla. Hedgehog. Barrel. Staghorn. Bunny Ears. Pincushion. Beaver Tail. Darning Needle. Fish Hook. Horse Crippler. One thing for sure, the persons who came up with these cactus designations had a sense of humor and a most eloquent turn of phrase.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
In February, I attended the PubWest Conference in Pasadena, CA. The participants wore name badges with their company or other designation. Mine said - Author.
I discovered this brought about lots of conversations with people not attending the conference. As I rode up and down the elevator of the hotel, up to my room and down to the meeting spaces, someone would note the badge and say, "Oh,you're an author. What have you written?" The perfect query for me to launch into a sentence or two about my quirky, cozy mystery THE EROTICA BOOK CLUB FOR NICE LADIES. The title always brought a smile and usually a question about the plot, which I was happy to answer.
Later I remembered a term I thought was used primarily for promoting movie plots but now applied to all kinds of projects.I found out it's credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, while he was editor of Vanity Fair. The term came from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator - and trying to make a lasting impression. Now a variety of people, project managers, salespeople, evangelists and policy makers commonly rehearse and use this way to get their point across quickly - from 30 seconds to two minutes is suggested.
Unplanned and unknowingly, I'd made several "elevator pitches." I wonder how many books I sold.