A Warrior for Love

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Snowdrops in Mississippi / Photo by C.Hamrick

“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”
― Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar”*

*One of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever.

Hot Reads for June 24, 2015 + My Latest Published Work

 

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The days are hot and languid and I find myself reluctant to go out past 11:00 a.m. I get up around 8:00 and do my outdoor chores: feed the cats, water the plants, do a few snips and sweep in the garden. I walk the dog around 9:30 through the silence of a neighborhood where most people have gone to work except for retirees and the occasional stay-at-home parent. Even the kids out of school for the summer are either still in bed or sent off to some camp or other by their frazzled parents. It’s a 20 minute walk that I look forward to each day. A time to think, to observe, to absorb the little treasures like the pink rose blooming in one yard, the little black dog who greets us with a bark through the fence, the Vietnamese lady pruning her hydrangea. Little moments that make up a life that so many never even see or think about but are like food and water to me.

From eleven-ish to five-ish is my  time for running errands or doing housework with little breaks for reading, surfing the net, and sometimes watching a movie or series on Netflix. Below is a list of awesomeness I’ve read online lately I want to share but first I want to mention two online journals that have published my work recently. I’m very happy to have poetry in Mad Swirl and, more recently, in the latest issue of Olentangy Review. Big thanks to the editors of these two fine publications which have published my work in the past, as well. I will also have poetry in an upcoming issue of The Miscreant and will post a link when that happens. Thanks to Amanda Harris, the publisher, for accepting my work. I recommend all of these journals for the fine writing they offer and I’m happy to be a part of them all. Also I was recently a guest columnist for Editor’s Eye on the Fictionaut website where I chose six stories or poems by the Fictionaut writing community for special mention. I hope you’ll read it.

Now for my picks of some other fine writing. I hope you all will follow the links when you’re ready for some good reads.

Wigleaf released its annual 15 Top 50 in Flash Fiction earlier this month along with its Long List which included Susan Tepper’s “Dear Petrov” in Literary Orphans.   I mentioned this piece in another post and I’m so happy it made the Long List. Susan also has five other Dear Petro “ flashes in the Summer edition of Changes Seven Magazine and they are mesmerizing. Don’t miss them!

Also in this issue is a creative non-fiction piece, “We Learned to Pronounce Prokofiev”, by Kathy Fish. It’s such a sweet story and, as I said in comments, it makes us realize how lucky we are to have people in our lives like the teacher she talks about in the  piece and writers like Kathy to remind us of them. There’s really good writing in this issue.

Another Flash Fiction piece that I really liked is “Doctor” by Gary Moshimer on Fictionaut.   This piece is so skillfully written I felt like I was watching it instead of reading it. I’ve become quite a fan of Mr. Moshimer’s writing since I found him and mentioned his piece, “The Heart”, in my Editor’s Eye column.

Sally Houtman, a New Zealand writer I’ve gotten to know via our exchanged emails, is a very talented flash fiction writer. She was recently interviewed by Radio New Zealand, in conjunction with NZ’s National Flash Fiction Day, where her exceptional piece, “At Barrett Reef”, was read. Click here to listen to the podcast. You’ll love it. Congrats, Sally!

And then there’s poetry. I highly recommend reading:

“Our Neruda” by Mike Bove in Rattle

“Bluetooth Headset” and “Magic Cell Phone” by Aaron Samuels in Amethyst Arsenic

“Hunger Family” by Laura Kaminski in Luna Luna Magazine

“Jealousy” by Mona Dash in The Lake  (scroll down)

“Jollity” by Gary Glauber in Burningword Literary Journal

And, finally, for a good laugh go read “I Have Been Sitting on Manspreaders for the Past Month and I Have Never Felt More Free: by Cassie J. in XO Jane. It’s a riot and I say good for you, Cassie!

That’s it for now, readers and writers. Have a great reading week!

June List of what’s Going On in My Reading and Watching World

 

I am shocked it’s June. I feel like it should still be February or thereabouts. Spring, my favorite time of year, is virtually over and the sun’s heat envelopes me on my morning dog walks. Sitting on the patio drinking coffee isn’t an option anymore. But, I won’t complain (much) because I’d rather this than winter cold.

So, it’s June 6 and I feel like a list even though I really hate them.

June List of what’s Going On in My Reading and Watching World (with a little bit of May thrown in)

Reading:

Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies for Modern Life by Sakyong Mipham because modern life goes too fast and I want to slow down.

every_kiss_FINAL_storeimg_400wEvery Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith – I started this a few months back, in fact, I may have written about it.  I pick it up from time to time, stretching out the stories because I like it that way. I read my favorite one so far last night, Whiskey and Ribbons. Every story in this collection gives you something to ponder. I guess that’s why I like to stretch them out instead of reading them all one after the other. These little flash fictions just sing!

Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio because I’m sliding down a writing slump and I can’t see the end. Actually, even though this book has some great advice and suggestions I’m procrastinating about reading it. When I think about picking it up I always find something else to read or something that needs doing. It’s not the book’s fault at all – I think it’s just that I’m in this slump and I’m just not interested in writing. It’s all about the reading, for me for now.

untitled Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – I just started this today. I’ve read great things about this book and so far it’s a very sweet story.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – Yeah, I’m on the late train reading this one since I found out a whole thing has sprung up from this book. A movement, as it were. I read an excerpt when it was first published that completely intrigued me and I finally bought it last week. I bought the actual book instead of ebook because I think I’ll be doing a lot of high-lighting and referring back. I have high hopes this book will get me motivated to tackle the attic and a couple of closets. There’s stuff in there that hasn’t seen daylight in years. I mean YEARS. I haven’t actually started it yet but I will very, very soon. Really.

Watching:

I love Netflix, especially when there’s nothing on TV except reruns, like now. But I’m not a binge watcher, nope. There’s no way I can sit in front of the TV for 6 or so straight hours despite how much I like to watch it. Besides, where’s the fun in that? I like to stretch out a series by watching an episode 2, maybe 3 times a week. Right now I’m watching:

last_tango_in_halifax_1&2_600 Last Tango in Halifax – I love British TV and this seems to me to be a series about the quintessential Brit family. Well, two actually. It’s just a good, solid family drama with characters that are so real that I feel like they could be my friends. It’s messy, funny, sweet family life and it’s never, ever boring. Great writing, great acting. It doesn’t get any better than this. And I’m only on Season 1! I have 2 more to go!

The Fall – I finished this British crime drama last month but I have to tell you it’s the best crime series ever. No one does crime as good as the Brits and this is a shining example. It stars Gillian Anderson and who didn’t just love her in The X Files but, OMG, she’s even better in this. Don’t wait another minute – go watch it!

Grace and Frankie – So. A Netflix original starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston. Great cast, not so great show. I’m watching it but after every episode I wonder why. What should be funny is predictable, what should be touching is kinda cringe-worthy. But, there are spots of goodness here and there. So far I think the first episode was the best but I’ve only seen four so, who knows, it could improve.

Orphan Black, Season 2 – SciFi at it’s best. A Canadian production! That airs on BBC America but the first two seasons are on Amazon Prime Instant Video. Tatiana Maslany is amazing in this series portraying multiple and all very different women. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like the unusual, this series is for you. orphan-black-season-one-dvd-cover-59

I’ve watched a couple of movies recently that I’d recommend, as well:

11179969_ori The Shipping News is great if you haven’t already seen it and A Thousand Times Goodnight starring Juliet Binoche (whom I love!) and the gorgeous Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who I understand is in Game of Thrones but who was new to me – thank you, Jesus.

All of these books, series, and movies are great for whiling away a hot summer afternoon. Trust me. You’ll be happy.

Sweet Peggy Sue

A while back I wrote a post about my poodle, Peggy Sue. I was excited because I’d found a recipe for homemade dog food online that would support her compromised kidneys. That’s what I like most about the internet, that you can find a community or maybe just one person who has been thorugh whatever it is you’re going through and can offer help and support.

At the time, Peggy appeared to be  friskier than she had ever been since we had her. We adopted her from our local SPCA in September 2011. They said she was about 6 years old but I think she was closer to 8 or 9. She had a microchip to a poodle rescue in Texas but when the SPCA called, there was no address or info attached to the chip number. She had been waiting for her forever home here in New Orleans for over a month. Peggy was calm, sweet, and low key. She was never a moment’s trouble except for when it rained. She was terrified of rain, I expect from her time as a stray.

After she began treatment for ehrlichiosis, she really perked up – as I said, she was friskier than she’d ever been. Even though she was virtually blind now, she trotted around with a big grin on her face, she played with the other dogs, she gave more kisses than usual, and she ate well. For about 2 – 3 weeks she was a very active, happy baby. Unfortunately, after one of the antibiotics was finished, she slowly began to slow down. She wasn’t as frisky, she started being a picky eater, she slept a lot. Then one day last week she began breathing very rapidly. She collapsed when I took her out to do her business. My husband took her to our vet, who is wonderful, and he recommended we take her to the clinic where she had seen an internal med specialist a few weeks before with the ehrlichiosis. This was on Friday. She was having cardiac hypertension but the cause was unknown. The doctors there did all they could but she passed away around 4:00 Sunday morning. Even though she had been sick, this new development took us totally by surprise. We never imagined we’d lose her so soon.

She was the best and I miss her so much.

Here’s a little video I have of her and the other two dogs from last Christmas. I’m so glad I have it. Be aware, there’s butt sniffing and pillow humping in it. They are dogs, after all. :)

Morning Meditation 5.12.15

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Still Tuesday morning

walking through the neighborhood

I decide tank tops are a required

dress code for New Orleans humidity.

Creamy magnolias nod amongst fat

green leaves looking like globs of whipped

cream in pistachio pudding. The lazy hum

of a buzz saw ignites imaginings of flying

away on the wings of a honey bee.