Friday, June 01, 2018

Judge a Book by its Cover. Please.

The publisher I've signed with is willing to look at up to two possible designs for my book--a Lyme Disease Murder Mystery set throughout New England, from Cliff Island, Maine, to Berkshire County, Massachusetts, as well as in Southern Vermont, Concord, New Hampshire, Boston, and other points in Casco Bay, Maine.

Would you pick up any of these designs? Which cover most entices you? Please cast your vote via a comment here or on my Facebook post. Thank you!
Anchor Chain
Casco Bay Lines Ferry
Snowy Bucket
But how will we feed the children?
(My daughter.)

Thanks to Black Rose Writing for its belief in my story. And to Canva, where I was able to create these possible cover designs. Maybe even to Lyme Disease, which has hit me FOUR times and continues to challenge me now, but which has helped me to slow down and appreciate the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) times with family and friends.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Koan for a Spring-Like Day, 2018

As she hung the sheets on the line strung between the fence and the peach tree, a songbird landed on a branch above her, seemingly there to watch the middle-aged woman.

"Don't poop on my sheets!" the woman said.

"Tweet, trill, chirrup!" the bird sang.

"You're right. I can wash them again." And in that moment the woman knew she'd taken a giant step toward enlightenment. To celebrate, she threw the sheets to the ground, stomping and dancing on them as she sang at the top of her lungs a silly tune she'd learned as a child.

When she was at last exhausted and her sheets brown with dirt and green with grass stains, she looked up at the bird. It met her eyes, holding briefly on her gaze before flying off.

The woman gathered up the sheets and headed inside to wash them again. More enlightened or not, she knew the sheets were not going to wash themselves.

She was glad for the task.

# # #

Today's meditative writing eventually took the form of a koan. Or at least my attempt at one. I've been reading daily from The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, edited by Florence Caplow and Susan Moon (Wisdom Publications). I originally discovered the book and information about the authors via Natalie Goldberg's website listing of her 2018 Workshops. The three of them are hosting a weekend workshop I would dearly love to attend in September this year at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Sante Fe, New Mexico. While I probably won't be able to get away, I will continue to enjoy my daily dose of koans followed by the insights of modern-day women teachers. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Meditative Drawing

Today's meditative writing session included a sketch assignment: Put down the book and sketch something you see now or everyday.

Using my reMarkable tablet, I drew our shower stall, complete with the shark sticker that our daughter created years ago. And dots of water droplets from our morning showers. 

Draw what you see/write what you see. Either way, we're painting a picture. Thanks to Natalie Goldberg for that lesson in her book Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing.   

POTUS-proof shower. Thanks, Sharkie!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Living Landscape

Flocking, frolicking juncos scratching seeds in frosted gardens;
roiling, boiling, crackling, cooling lava blanketing the landscape.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Batman Works for the CIA

Mother recently told me about a childhood friend,
A boy I’d played Caped Crusader with
Nearly everyday after kindergarten.
I was Robin to his Batman.

At his house we wore towels for capes, and
Were actually permitted to jump from
Sofa to coffee table to chair in pursuit of
The Joker or, my favorite, the Penguin.

At mine, our capes were mimed as a
Backyard plum tree provided the obstacle
To climb, dodge, and drop from as we narrowly
Escaped injury in time for PB&Js dunked in milk.

Our mothers kept in touch through the years
As we moved about the country,
She and her husband still in that cozy northern
Ohio home a block or two from our first house.

“Apparently he works for the CIA now,” Mother said.
Since learning this news, I’ve envied him. At first for
Becoming what I’d only ever dreamed of. But as I grow older,
I am jealous he can return home to a place he knows well.

My family continued to move, finally depositing me
In a New England college town like sediment left  
Behind by an iceberg on its travels; the rest 
Eventually migrated to Southern California.

In the year before he grew ill, Dad was accompanied
Everywhere he went by a new security guard. Mother
Would complain that the guard was eating with them
Again and sleeping in their guest room again.

The guard even traveled with Dad to his new
Destination of China and places around the region.
We wondered why Mother was no longer invited
To journey with him as she had so many times while

He visited the English plants that he managed from
This side of the pond, the German manufacturers with
Which he often did business, and his Italian relatives
With whom he was pleased to finally become acquainted.

None of us knew why he was suddenly sending us selfies 
From the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, yet saying 
Little about his new Far East adventures other than they 
Were equipment-purchasing forays from retired mills.  

In an office desk drawer, which Mother thought
Was jammed as, upon his death she cleaned out
His personal effects, and which my brother
Successfully jimmied open, was a handgun.

“He was a decent shot,” said the guard who
Suddenly darkened the threshold, there
To retrieve the weapon. But we knew
Dad could not possibly have been. After all,

We’d seen him shoot his 22, balancing the butt of
The gun in his armpit as he used a hand to cover
His eye and the other to pull the trigger because
He couldn’t blink. How could he possibly sight a pistol?

Apparently he’d been trained to work around his
Odd handicap. He’d had to learn for his own
Protection. Not even an undercover CIA operative
Posing as the new head of security could protect

My father twenty-four-seven from the 
Hit that had been placed upon his head 
By a foreign government. Perhaps all his
Training had been for naught after all.

When he suddenly fell ill with stage-four 
Cancer—dying five months later—he often 
Said cryptically that it probably wasn’t 
Natural causes that got him in the end.

Dad had been spying for Congress. Foreign steel had
Flooded the marketplace, purchased illegally by unscrupulous
Businessmen who dared blame their shady dealings on legal
Loopholes that allowed them the luxury to shun domestic steel.

A contingent from a country south of north had allegedly taken a
Contract out on my father. Either they or natural causes—
Or perhaps all those chemicals he’d been exposed to over
The years—got him before he could deliver his expert testimony.

He’d spent many more than Malcolm Gladwell’s ten
Thousand hours earning his reputation for greatness
In the wire mills of the world, and could easily identify shifty
From legal, frugal from dangerous, and strong from fragile.

He also knew how to recognize working mills from
Reportedly retired ones, which may have been the
Final nail in his coffin—
Or cancerous tumor in his spine.

My father had worked undercover with the CIA
As a super-secret agent for our government,
Giving me yet another reason to admire him.
I wondered if he and my kindergarten Batman

Ever worked together, feeling a sudden pang of
Jealousy if they had. But as time continues on,
What I most envy is that my childhood friend is 
Still able to return home and visit with his father.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dad of Steel

This morning as I fill and flip an
omelet, spread probiotics over the
dogs' breakfasts, measure chicken for
my husband's lunch, I half watch a
public television travel show host tour
the country ruled by a government that
years ago took a hit out on my dad.

That is one place I'll never go, I think.
Until he ends with a celebration of
Buddha's birthday and a chance meeting
with the American ambassador and his
dog out for a stroll and breakfast supplied
by the myriad of street vendors.

My father's slight against that country's
leaders was recognizing a trade
imbalance; they were dumping illegal
steel into the American marketplace.
Hired by our government to spy,
trained and protected by an agent
of the CIA, my father instead
succumbed to an aggressive cancer.

Within a few months of its discovery,
he was gone. Once in conversation with
my mother he apparently hinted at the origin
of his illness--wondering if it was natural
or planted, while also recognizing it may
have simply been the multitude of chemicals
his professional life was built around.

In our current age of political madness with
a commander in chief who, during a debate
with the other party's candidate, bragged
about using illegal foreign steel to construct
some of his buildings, I now understand
how money drives maniacal power.

And I wonder if my father's death was
a convenient coincidence for the foreign
powers, or a plotted timeline that cut him
down before his scheduled expert
testimony before congress.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas without the ha$$le

For Christmas this year,
Our family has decided to
Exchange handmade gifts.

Spices neatly wrapped,
A cake freshly baked,
A poem, a picture, a whittled spoon.

It doesn't matter the form,
Only that we are together
Making memories and sharing love.