Friday, December 4, 2020

Another Long Silence Because I'm Writing


            Well, actually not writing, but re-writing a collection of poems I wrote about Galicia. (Although, "rewriting" can sometimes feel like writing. Some poems have been entirely revamped. Picture me at this desk, huddled over my computer, deciding on words, then redeciding.) 

I want to finish it sometime next week. There are forty poems altogether, and I have five left. My Storytellers Writing Group has valiantly critiqued many of the rewrites, after they and two poetry groups I attended before Covid-19 had critiqued them the first time around. At times like this shut-in period, one truly appreciates the Internet. 

So, I really don't have a lot to say right now until I finish this project. I've tons of pictures taken in my walks around town that are out of season, now, since the last ones were taken in October and early November. Still, when I finish the collection, I'll post them anyway—beautiful murals on public buildings (another of Sacramento's beautification projects, this one called "Wide Open Walls.")

That will have to be in my next post. And that will be in a couple of weeks.  Till then, wish me luck on finding the right place to send this collection. My husband and I both love and miss Galicia, Spain, as well as Braga, Portugal, and these poems are from the heart.

If you are a writer or artist or love to garden or scrapbook, I hope your own endeavors are going well. And if you are a reader, I hope you have been enjoying some wonderful reads. (I have.) Whatever you love to do, I hope you are able to do it during these Covid times. 

Take care, and stay safe and well. There will be light at the end of this tunnel. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020



We moved to small condo downtown at River Front Plaza from our beloved midtown home of 22 years. And if you don't think moving even just 2 miles away is disruptive, think again! For about three months leading up to the move, all we did was cart things to Good Will or Friends of the Library, and call friends to see if they would like certain pictures and momentos, since we were downsizing from a three bedroom, two bath, plus basement and garage to a two bedroom, one bath with a parking space below the complex. Then there was the move. Then unpacking and finding a place for things. Here I am at our front door, masked, of course. Below, I am unmasked, proof I still look like a real person. (In that pic, I'm taking pictures for a "guided tour" I gave on Facebook, lol.)


Before I move on, speaking of masks and such things, how are you weathering the Covid challenges? I hope none of you have been ill or lost someone. (We haven't lost anyone, but we learned three of our relatives in India were hospitalized with it. Thankfully, it was not fatal and they are home, now.)  

I'm not doing a guided tour here. Instead, I want to share with you some of the fun things I've seen on my walks. I love street art (well every kind of art), and I especially like murals. In midtown,  there were many, and I'm afraid I took them too much for granted to take pictures. But there are many here downtown, too, and here are two of my favorites:

  Aren't they lovely? Each So different, but they give me a lift. I especially love the mother and child to the left.

Then there are the painted utility boxes! I had noticed a few in midtown, but usually I was usually on my way to somewhre and didn't wonder too much about them. But there is a project all over downtown and midtown called the Capitol Box Art Project. Various local artists paint one of the utility boxes, and on all sides. Here are some samples from my walks: 

Cool, right? Here is their link if you want to know more about the project or the artists: 

On another note, in the months I've been away (since April!) things seem to have changed in Blogger's layout. I'm going to have to study the changes, because, frankly, these pictures are much more spread out than I wanted them to be. Sorry.

But it's great to be back!

How about you? Do you like to take walks around your neighborhood and look for special sights? Yard art? Beautiful trees? Lovely gardening by someone who loves plants? Did you enjoy these painted utility boxes? Do you find moving disruptive? 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Making the Most of Staying In

That sounds like I've been productive, which I haven't been at all. Rajan and I spent a whole morning improving our home-made masks, which we finally found viable. Here they are:

Rajan took an engineering approach and came up with a clever pocket where he can insert a new coffee filter every morning for additional protection. I stuck with the original plan but just modified it so that I could fasten it in two places and pull a bottom layer over my chin while keeping two thicknesses. Both are washable.

What else have we been doing?

Rajan has been going over his negatives and printing some with his enlarger. He's also been doing the grocery shopping. And he starts the day reading news.

I've been reading news (signing petitions), perusing social media, checking on friends and loved ones, and doing a lot of reading.

Both of us have been doing experimental cooking, cleaning up the back garden, taking walks (keeping a social distance), and doing a lot of talking. Somehow the time drifts by. I keep thinking I should feel guilty about not writing. When I told Rajan I'm actually enjoying just day to day living, he said, "It's called retirement." And he has a point: When I retired from full time teaching years ago, I still subbed for friends, I volunteer-taught an after- school art class once a week, went to conferences, took writing and art classes and workshops, wrote and sent out stuff, and got five books published as well as several poems and stories. I didn't really retire.

And I know I never really will: Pretty soon, my fingers will be itching, my plot points will clarify, and I'll be writing away with new energy. But for now I really am following that old 60s phrase, go with the flow. I'm going with the flow.

One of the benefits of walking is seeing all the neighborhoods in bloom: I particularly like dogwood. When we lived in Georgia 38 years ago, I was smitten with the abundance of dogwood trees, both pink and white. There is something about those blossoms and the way the branches layer . . ..

The pink one here is my neighbor's tree. It hasn't reached its full bloom yet.

The white one is a couple of streets away. I took this one a few days ago.

Other things are blooming, too: Daffodils, Irises, Tulips, Lilies, all the bulbs, in fact. (I haven't always had my phone.)

                               One of the places I like to walk is around the garden that surrounds Sutter's Fort, which is spread out between K & L Streets and 26th and 28th Streets. On the K Street side, there are two little ponds with fountains on either side of a low bridge, and walking trails that let you walk through the park to the other side. It is so restful to walk through there: The sound of falling water is one of the most peaceful sounds to hear.

         I do have to admit that yesterday, Easter Sunday, we were a little tired of cooking and tired of leftovers. So we decided to order an Easter meal curbside pickup at one of our favorite happy hour places, Piatti's on Fair Oaks Blvd. They had the perfect selection for us, which we went and picked up: Vegetarian Quiche, roasted potatoes, and a bottle of wine, all for a reasonable price. To that, I added a toss salad. (We are not big eaters, which makes for happy restaurant bills). We set the table with roses from our garden and a candle. I don't have pictures of the meal, but here is the table:

I know the purple pattern looks like a rug, but it's actually a tablecloth we've had for years.

And so, today we were back to normal. Or what my godmother used to call, "getting back to not normal." Soon it will probably be hard to be cavalier about staying home.

I am mindful that if I were younger and not retired, I would not have the luxury of being laid back about staying at home and would instead be chafing about rent/home payments, salary loss, unemployment, health coverage. So, while I am making the most of it at this point in my life, it's another reason I stay informed, sign petitions, call my reps and senators, etc., and I truly worry about all the healthcare workers and front line workers that are bearing the brunt of things.

But I hope, in light of all they are doing, everyone will stay home, stay safe, and stay well.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A School Visit Before the Coronavirus Struck


So much can happen in a month! I had the good fortune to read from Carnival of the Animals at Elder Creek Elementary School, on February 28th, and March 2nd of this year. The              school was celebrating Read Across America. On Friday, I read for two morning assemblies, one primary, and one intermediate. On Monday I read for 4 individual classes, 1 kindergarten and 3 first grade. Then after school I sold some books!

For the assemblies, I read from Carnival, as I did for Monday's 3 first grade classes. For the kindergarteners on Monday, I read from Dragonella. All of the kids were just wonderful. So attentive and involved. I have always loved reading to Elder Creek kids. I've read there several times from my various books through the years. I used to teach at Elder Creek, and I've basically adopted the school,

I don't have pictures from the assemblies. The principal took some and was going to mail them, and then Sacramento schools, like so many schools all across the nation had bigger things to think about — Covid 19. Our schools are closed for the rest of the school year, and the teachers and students are having classes online — a brilliant solution, although I can only imagine how much work for the the teachers and school administrators, not to mention parents. Let me just say, I would definitely find it daunting and I applaud how they are all stepping up to the challenge.

While I don't have assembly pictures, the teachers in the classrooms were kind enough to take pictures with my smartphone. (I just haven't gotten around to downloading them before today.) I hope you enjoy this little sprinkle of the experience. First, the kindergarteners:

It was great fun to read from
Dragonella again! I missed
that little dragon!

You will notice the students have their back to the camera. That's a policy in many schools now, so that kids aren't easily targeted by strangers who troll the internet sites, including blogs. (A policy I totally approve of.)

Then, it was on to first graders and The Carnival of the Animals, and I had a lot of fun acting out the stories that I read.

So today is a little bit of "catching up" with my blog friends. Next, I'll go visiting blogs that I've missed this month. I've meant to post and visit before now, but somehow house and yard projects have kept me busy, as well as spending a lot of time contacting friends and family to make sure they are safe and well from this Coronavirus. Luckily, my husband and I are faring well so far. We take all the precautions, and we do take walks (being careful to maintain social distancing). How about you? How are you using your indoor time, as we wait out the dangerous period? And how is your health and the health of your loved ones? Do take care and stay safe and well.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

February! Where Did Last Month Go?

Well, January went to a lot of literary activity. That's where it went! I had a book signing at Time Tested Books for Deadly Vintage. It was a small crowd (it was the Super Bowl playoff Sunday, and also a lot of worthy programs were going on to celebrate Dr. King's inspiring life), but those who attended were attentive, and after the reading, we had time to interact more personally than usual: One couple said the excerpt and my lead-up convinced them that their next trip has to be to Portugal!

The gentleman with the camera and the woman next to him
are the couple who now want to go to Portugal.
Here are a few pictures:

Me, reading.

Neighbors, writing partners, and a few total strangers!
Writing-group friends.

Also, this morning, Kings River Life Magazine, a California online magazine full of great information about books, writing, events, news, etc., highlighted a nice review of Deadly Vintage. Here is the link to the magazine.   And Here is the link to the review. Check it out. They are also featuring a giveaway for the book for those who live in the U.S.

Then I firmed up an order for copies of my poetry chapbook, Saudade, Thirty Poems of Longing, which is being released February 14th from Finishing Line Press. ("Saudade" is a special sentiment or emotion that is typically Portuguese.) This is the first print run, and you can order a copy directly from them here: You can also read some nice blurbs about the chapbook by other poets. 

At the same time, I firmed up two school visits to read from my story collection, Carnival of the Animals, at a school where I used to teach. I will be speaking to an assembly on February 28th, and then reading excerpts to individual classrooms on March 2nd. (For those who want to know more about Carnival, you can go to my interview with Craig Briggs, here and order the book here.)

Aside that, I've been going to writing groups and poetry workshops, and beta-reading a friend's book. I've also been reading a tone of good books, some mystery, some historical novels, some poetry. Pretty soon more book reviews will be coming.

And last, but not least, last night I went to an even called Stories on Stage, here in Sacramento, where Pam Houston was one of two featured authors. The event is structured so that the author is present, but a person with good stage history and background reads the excerpt and dramatizes it as they read.  Houston's book, Deep Creek, is a memoir. Her other books were for sale, and at the break, I bought Cowboys Are My Weakness, the book that launched her so to speak. I had never read it, and the wonderful writing that showed through the reading made me realize I needed to read more of her terrific writing. So far I've read two of the stories, and, frankly, her writing just grabs me, even if the lifestyle doesn't. 

Speaking of reading good books, what books have you been reading this month? Any good mysteries you want to share? Any poets? Story collections? I mostly read books recommended to me these days, so . . . any recommendations?