I am so happy to announce that the 2019 Evening Street Press spring issue contains my short story, “Margrethe’s Winter Coat.” Follow this link to read it.
This story is loosely based on my paternal grandmother’s life. She always scraped our teakettle clean when she came to stay with us where I grew up on an Iowa farm in the 1950s. She was just a little bit of a woman, but buckets of determination were to be found in the way she bore down on the inside of that teakettle to free it from lime and calcium deposits from our well water. I love the remembrance of her doing that so much, I wrote a poem about it and named my writing business Gritty Teakettle LLC. You’ll find a gritty teakettle in this story, too. I welcome comments.
There’s something about solstices and equinoxes that turns my creative mind to nature. My talented husband Ron DeKett wandered with his camera down the steep path behind our house to Love Creek at the bottom of the ravine we call ours. He found beauty. (And below is a poem to accompany it). Happy Solstice!
Fellow writers, this summer, I am learning to respect and admire people with disabilities even more than I did before. I have a friend who has muscular dystrophy, lives in a big city, and succeeds in taking a city bus to work every day. I’ve been reminded of her pluck every day this summer while I am wheelchair-bound with a broken leg and compression fracture in my back. What challenges she faces for the rest of her life! I only have to survive this for 12 weeks.
Of course, one of the biggest challenges is mental. Most of the time, I have the eight walls of our living room and kitchen/dining room to look at. (My husband moved a bed into the living room for me).
Yet, there are blessings. My confinement presents its own entertainment. I have time to read books. A chipmunk’s antics viewed through our dining room window delights and inspired me to write a children’s story. When my accident happened and I came home from the hospital with a metal plate and screws holding my tibia plateau together, people emailed me—you’ll have plenty of time to write! The thing is: it’s really difficult to use a laptop lying down, and my painful back allowed for only very short sitting time. Only now, after 8 weeks, can I sit long enough to use the laptop for an hour or so. But, I learned I can still write using pen and paper. I wrote the chipmunk story in a small journal a good writing buddy gave me.
I’m discovering the fascinating world visible from our kitchen. There’s a little spider living in a windowsill that I have struck up a friendship with. He crawls around on the screen while I’m standing at the kitchen sink on one leg brushing my teeth.
But most exciting of all – I was sitting in my wheelchair staring out the window daydreaming when I saw a plant grow!! My grandson, Little Dude, and I had started flowers from seed in my sunroom early this spring. Some of them are morning glories which we planted in window boxes under the kitchen windows. One had been curling up tall enough to be visible from inside the house, and as I watched, it popped taller! I saw a plant grow! Maybe as much as a half inch.
I saw that as a miracle.
And it is one that never would have happened if my 80-pound granddog hadn’t crashed into me running full speed and laid me down on the ground on Memorial Day weekend.
So, I am grateful for miracles, and my friend who is spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair—my hat is off to you!
Will you rise to the challenge of writing a poem a day during April? So far, five of us are in—Adamy Damaris Diaz, Jacquelyn Weddington, Cindy Carver Hosea, Cathy Zellmann and me. Choose a theme (which can be changed up to mid-month). Adamy is looking at “Memory Lane.” Cathy may choose “Places.” I’ve already changed mine—as a warm-up exercise I’ve been writing a poem a day and discovered I can’t keep to a topic. Instead, I need to write what the Muse inspires, so I’m thinking of changing my theme from goddesses to something less specific. We’d be happy to consider publishing the poems you wish to share here at mooingaround.com. Happy writing!
This New Year’s Eve I second-guessed myself about writing to you. I immediately thought, “Why should I write something? Who cares what I think on New Year’s Eve or any time? Isn’t it egotistical to think I have something to say?”
But is this the plight of all creative people—writers, parents, painters, farmers, caregivers, musicians, business folk—all of us here together on this small planet? We are insignificant and our work is insignificant, but at the same time, we are important and our work is important. It’s one of the great paradoxes. We liken individuals to grains of sand on the shore, yet each of us is unique and together we can build magnificent beaches—resting places for the soul and peaceful spots for storms of emotion, even fear and doubt that batter our sands, and also love and joy and hope that burn in our hearts.
Did you see the full moon on Christmas night? My husband, Ron DeKett, and I saw it rising orange and magnificent over the pine trees at our daughter’s subdivision in southwestern Michigan when we were going out to our car after a day of feasting and present-opening. We knocked on their living room window to invite our daughter, Jennifer, and five-year-old grandson, Eli, to come out and see the moon. The next time a full moon graces Christmas night, Eli will be age twenty-five. It was splendid when I first noticed it, but became even more beautiful when Ron’s eyes fell upon it, and we shared it with our family, just as he is sharing this spectacular shot of a full moon gleaming upon Yellowstone on his trip there last October.
Creative pursuits are like that—splendid when we are going about them alone, and when we share them, they become all the more meaningful.
Please enjoy this winter solstice reflections piece by Judy Cassidy, a new contributor to MooingAround. We’d love it if you’d comment at the bottom of her piece—no need to register to do so. Click on the title to read: homage to the goddess.
I am happy and so grateful to Book Editor Lucy Walton-Lange of femalefirst.co.uk for this review:
“I am ashamed to say it but Moo of Writing is the first self-help writing book I have read and I wish that I had had a copy when I was studying my masters.
It is tempting to think of writing as a single activity; however Nan Lundeen shows you that there are so many things to channel into good writing from exercise, to mediation and science.
Each chapter addresses each one of these areas in bite-sized chunks so you can learn and then apply your new knowledge in a practical way.
The book is a great investment; you can finish the chapters in one sitting but it allows you to make notes and gives you exercises throughout to break away and try new things to give yourself and inevitably your writing a chance to evolve. Some of which you might want to revisit and try again at some point, so it’s not a book you read and then pop back on your shelf- it’s an ongoing process.
The book talks about everything a writer is concerned with- most importantly self-confidence and how to overcome our inner demons who prevent us from moving forward and encourage us to hang onto negativity. As we all know, this can make or break a writer- so having new ways to tackle this is vital.
The thing I liked most about the book was its flexibility. Lundeen offers many different suggestions and scenarios that will cater for a wide readership and she doesn’t assume anything. In reading it, it didn’t make me feel abnormal for having a new approach to something or a different point of view. It’s welcoming and chatty and certainly doesn’t exclude any writer whatever their genre of choice. Lundeen has a background in journalism, story writing and poetry so her own experiences are varied and this shines through in the book.
There are no right or wrong answers here. Lundeen is a woman whose passion to help others with their writing emanates from the page- and that is all we can ask for from a book of this nature.”
Why do you write? Moo of Writing: how to milk your potential, recommends a writing exercise—”I write because . . .” So, I sat myself down on this cool, sunny, green morning early in May and assigned myself this exercise. When I’ve thought about it, my conclusion was: because it’s what I do. As my four-year-old grandson Elijah would say, “But WHY?” Here goes stream of consciousness—I write because I always have. Because the world is indecipherable and I feel a compelling need to make sense of it. No, not so much to make sense of it but to report what I’m experiencing, as if someone needed to know this information. Here I am a 71-year-old woman living in South Carolina, USA, in 2015, and I’m reporting bird song. Repetitive bird song. And sun-washed leaves, freshly green on sweet gum and poplar trees lining the creek outside our back door that sings its own song over rocks day after day and through the night when the window to my bedroom stands open and the world presents itself as indecipherable again—even more of a mystery—in dreams.
Comment below if you’d like to share why you write. You needn’t register with this site to comment.
Hey, writers, do you hate to market? I’ve heard the old saying that writers hate to market and aren’t very good at it. That’s kind of off-putting. Actually, I’m discovering it can be fun. The reason? There are lots of nice people out there eager to help. Marketing is about building relationships. For instance, I made a cold call at Joe’s Place, an intimate used and new bookstore downtown Greenville, SC, and instantly made new friends after I read them “The Redemptive Red Bra” from The Pantyhose Declarations. Since then, they invited me to read there with two other poets and will host the launch of Mooof Writing 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 3. Penny Padgett at The Book Shelf in Tryon, NC, is offering Moo of Writing at the Lanier Poetry Festival this weekend and will stock the book, along with my poetry books, on her shelves. As the Page Turns in Greenville carries my poetry. Lucy Walton-Lange, book editor, at femalefirst.co.uk is considering a Moo book review. She said I’d been her first blogger. Visit the site, put my name in the search column, and you’ll find a bunch of Moo columns. Another UK editor, Jonathan Telfer of Writers’ News and Writing Magazine, graciously wrote a blurb for the book cover after he ran my “Find Your Moos” article in the magazine. Many wonderful friends and former Moo of Writing workshop participants plan to come to Moo’s book launch May 3. The next step is to expand the circle online. The book is available through Amazon and Ingram, and this weekend I’m submitting it to Publisher’s Weekly. They’ve started doing book reviews by self-published authors. Yay! They may or may not accept it. They may or may not like it. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, Twitter, here I come!!
To the Goddess of Compassion as we celebrate spring. Please click on the title here –“she of many names“– to read the poem. If you like, leave a comment below sharing where you find compassion in this world.
Trucker stalled on expressway being interviewed on NBC news during snowstorm: “You gotta take what the road gives you. Go slow, be patient, and you’ll make it through.”
I’m sure there’s a country-western song that says, “You gotta take what the road gives you,” and if there isn’t there oughta be.
Do you have couldas and shouldas you’d like to join me in burying? If you’re willing to share, please comment at the end of this blog.
At this stage in my writing life, I look back now and then and wonder at my choices. My love of poetry started in my Iowa childhood when I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses to my mother while she milked cows. In grad school, poetry saw me through tough personal times. Throughout a long journalism career, it gave me an outlet for my artistic freedom, denied by the rigors of objectivity and fairness. My task was to blast out inches to fill newspaper columns. “How many inches?” was a daily question I asked my editors. At times, I felt like an automaton.
When I went freelance for a time, my mother admonished me not to try to write fiction because I’d never make a living at it. Maybe I shoulda been an English teacher? Maybe I coulda been something better than I was?
Now in retirement, I remember a few things I did as a journalist that were useful, such as a series of stories in Michigan revealing contamination of local residents’ well water by a county-owned landfill. Public water lines were laid for those whose wells were polluted. The residents sent me flowers, which I had to give away, of course, but I remember how welcome they were.
Yes, maybe I coulda, maybe I shoulda, but I do know that I dida at least that one thing that was good, so I’m burying the couldas, the shouldas, and I’m happy for what the road gives me. Just today I received an email from a reader I don’t know who asked permission to use one of my poems from The Pantyhose Declarations in a Becoming Women of Wisdom group. She made my day! Here and now, the road gives me a sustaining community of writers and artists who help me believe every day my life is worthwhile.