Sunday, September 2, 2018

Bits and Pieces of Children's Writing

Bits and Pieces from the prompts in Children’s Writer’s Notebook
A.A. Milne
Inventing characters from your childhood and write a 300 word adventure
Brownie:  stuffed collie dog; Teddy: teddy bear; Oma: sock like toy; Mortimer:  Mickey Mouse toy; Lulu:  finger puppet
Location:  Reid Park, Tucson
It was a sunny day for an adventure at the park.  For three days it rained and the five friends were stuck inside the adobe house.  But the with sun reappearing, Mortimer woke and cried, “It’s play day.  Let’s go to the park!”

“Not before I brush my fur.”  Brownie stroke his golden ears with his paw.

“Let’s go somewhere to explore,” challenged Mortimer as he tightened his red vest and grabbed is black walking stick.

“Ohh.  Not some place too scary,” cooed Oma.  “And I need to eat my breakfast first.  I am a growing girl.”

“I say we make our breakfast a picnic in the park.”  Lulu hopped to the cupboard and began to pack up milk, apples and cheese.

“I’m with you, Lulu.  How can I help?”  Brownie pranced behind Lulu, wagging his tail that brushed against the door as Mortimer opened it. 

“I don’t need any help with the food, Brownie.  But you can grab a blanket for us.”  Mortimer was ahead of everyone, going out the door and into the sunshine.  

Brownie grabbed a blanket from his bed and carried it in his mouth.  He tried to bark but it came out with just as a puff of air, muffled by the blanket.  His brown eyes gleamed with excitement.  He trotted closely behind Mortimer.

Oma took her time, looking at the birds and carrying the basket of food in her arms.  When all of them arrived at the park, Brownie led the way to a shady spot under a mulberry tree and dropped the blanket on the grass.  Oma put the food in the center of the blanket and each of them ate their fill.

 As they wiped crumbs from their faces, Mortimer stood up and held his walking stick in front of him.  “Okay.  Now it’s time for us to explore the rocks by the waterfall.”

This was a challenge for Oma was did not like getting wet.  It took her a very long time to dry when she was washed. (337 words).

Roald Dahl
Naming Characters using an unusual first name with a surname that is a condiment or sauce
Gladys Worcestershire, Edith Pickle, Grover Dill, Archibald Gherkin

Pick one of the characters and compose a character sketch in a single paragraph
Gladys Worcestershire is a woman of her early 70s.  She dyes her hair jet black with a blue streak down the middle.  She wears her hair in a tight French twist.  She is bulky and short, shaped like the bulb of a turnip.  She works as a school crossing guard, wearing comfortable cargo paints in green with long sleeved yellow and white striped cotton t-shirts.  Her shoes are high top black converse sneakers with red ties.  She wears polka dot socks in red and white or blue and white.  She frowns at the traffic as she raises her stop sign for the kids who need to cross.  As they pass by, they “high five” her and smile.  While they are waiting at the curb before crossing, she spins off a tongue twister or knock knock joke.  She loves her day job.  

At home, she has two cats, Bogart and Bacall, who fight for their spots on the kitty condo or sleep under the bed while Gladys is gone.  In the evenings, they curl on her feet and she reads aloud to them from Robert Louis Stevenson stories and poems.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Heat Wave

"Ok, darlin'.  What's the plan for the day?"  My hubby was still in his pajamas.  We had turned off CNN after getting the latest analysis of T's roller coaster presidency--a ride many of us are on even though we'd rather be coasting in normalcy.  Breakfast dishes were put away and the cat was curled up inside.  At 9 a.m. the temperature was already 96 degrees.

"Well, I think we need to stay inside as much as possible.  I can do quick shopping for cat food and vitamins while you keep the car running.  We can go through a Starbucks drive-through and, depending on the heat, a short exercise work-out at the Y.  Maybe we'll get lucky and be able to park under the shade of a mesquite tree." 

I was trying to assemble my wardrobe options--considering the lightest fabric to wear with a dark t-shirt so I could skip the added layer of a camisole.  I had stopped wearing a bra except for rare occasions and when it's this hot, I would go naked if I could. 

Still, I didn't want to start off the day in negativity--CNN alerts aside.  As I wrote in both my journals today, I am grateful for my house and car, both air conditioned.  And most of the places I go have their a.c. cranked several degrees below what we do at home.  But I know that going around town today, as we do everyday, we will see men and women, sometimes with their dogs, sitting on street corners, begging for money.  Yesterday, I saw an aged woman in long sleeved blouse, long skirt, heavy white socks past her knees and in sandals, walking to a bus stop for shade. She was pushing a grocery cart (one of the rare ones that didn't lock) full of her belongings, so I doubted she was going to take the air conditioned bus for respite.

For those of us in first world situations, a heat wave is an inconvenience.  For people on the streets it can be life-threatening. 

As I turned on the computer this morning I saw that a horse racing in Del Mar yesterday died of sudden cardiac arrest, injuring the jockey who was riding him.  "I bet heat was a factor," I thought to myself as I reflected on the morning radio news that LA had several electrical blackouts yesterday due to overuse of the electrical grid during this heat wave.  Animals outside are at risk, too.  So are children left in parked cars.

What to do, what to do?  Writing is an action I can take.  And as the compassionate police chief used to say on the 1980s tv show "Hill Street Blues":  "be careful out there."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Making Room

In the past few days, I began a new morning writing practice.  This change took place after I made room for it by clearing a bedroom desk from other knickknacks, books, pens.  Just the act of making room for something new can open up my mind and clear space for creativity.  A small step with maybe significant results.

I also continue to push myself to engage with my community, beyond my comfort zone.  Yesterday, I volunteered for our local Humane Society and walked a sweet dog, Snugglefoot.  She kept looking up at me as if to ask, "Am I being a good girl?  Do you like me?"  "Yes and Yes",  I would say to her as I patted her head and scratched her ears.

A few days before, I had a Bunko night with other ladies.  As I threw the dice, lost a few games, won a few and shouted "Bunko" four times, I observed myself.  I was ill at ease with the banter and lightness of conversation.  But, as I made myself participate in it, I heard myself being funny, even a bit silly.

Interesting experiences and I will keep up with them as I learn more about different parts of myself--making room for summer growth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Not 750 Words

Definitely not doing 750 words every day or maybe even today.  So much of life gets in the way. 

There is the mother bird and her baby finally leaving the loosely knitted nest they made in my son's flowering lemon tree.  We watched her and her mate build it, weather the desert winds, wondered if a baby or two were beneath her wings.  Then, just a few days ago, s/he  popped up when mama had flown for food.  And not too long after, the baby bird's trial flight agitated our son's kitty, Basil.  A young one herself, this new world of windows, trees, flowers and birds are enchantment to an apartment-raised kitten. 

So the baby bird flew up and down and Basil followed its movements around the patio, her golden eyes widened in anticipation.  But the drama from the nest is gone now.  Instead, gutters are removed and painters arrive to restore our son's new home to a place that demonstrates new and first ownership pride.  For Basil, the tradesmen, who come and go, are not the kind of movement she likes, so under the bed she flees.  Only to be coaxed out by a treat or two.  Then back into the dark again, where all is safe.

I share her sentiment to a certain degree.  While I have breakfast of bananas and peanut butter on toast, sip my tea latte and close with a mixed berry nut yogurt, I read the news, particularly the comics.  I write, long hand, in my Higher Power journal, and then my daily mini collage ritual.  I ask for guidance from my HP and state my intentions to be "thriving today."  Then, I'd like to be like Basil and, if there are no birds to watch (fortunately, since I feed them daily, they often are still fluttering outside), I'd like to return to the safety of the bedroom where it's still and more shaded that the rest of the house. 

But I don't retreat.  I stretch, and shower, take a walk around the neighborhood and chat it up with neighbors and yard workers.  I think I know what's ahead in the day, but the unexpected may occur and so adaptability is necessary.  Limited political news is a regular distraction and today, I wear "red for ed" as our Arizona teachers prepare for a strike.  Walking out or walking in on issues is a choice I make every day.  To stay in the nest or to fly.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two new Erasure poems

You may recall that I am a follower of Austin Kleon and often use his posts, tweets, and books (Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work)  for inspiration.  Specifically, he introduced me to "erasure" as a poetry form.  He suggests blacking out all the words from a newspaper article to reveal the remaining words as a poem.  My variation is to circle the words or phrases I want to use and then reconstruct them into a poem.

Here are two I wrote yesterday 4/22/18.  Sunday newspapers can be a treasure trove of images and words.

Down this Road (Az. Daily Star, Sports)

Down this road,
I don't have any worries
about what that looks like
when we show up.

The lines can
get a little blurry.
when we did
what we wanted to do--
we were good.

Ready to Embrace (Az. Republic, Lifestyle)

Ready to embrace
a seductive sense
of style
twin chandeliers
from the

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Much about Spring

Much about Spring
has already been said
by poets greater than I am.

So, I only want to ask this about Spring:
how does a mother dove
make a nest
to withstand
wind gusts
of over
per hour?

And when
it blows
why does
she risk
her life
to rebuild

I know:
she is

Sunday, April 8, 2018

More than an Obituary for Ginny Dobbs

More than an Obituary for Ginny Dobbs (based on the 4/8/18 obituary of Genevieve “Ginny Dobbs/Steed-Gideon, Arizona Daily Star)

Ginny and Tom had a dream and ran a motel by that name, Dream House.  Still located on Miracle Mile, back in the late 1940s it pulled in a steady stream of road trippers.  Maybe a few babies were made on the bed sheets Ginny washed and dried; maybe a few lovers hid behind the curtains she sewed.

When the freeway was built, the motel income faded along with the bed sheets and curtains.  So Ginny and her husband turned to other small businesses; they always ran them smart.  Tucson was a growing town and folks needed furniture and cars needed repairs.  When the repairs couldn’t keep cars running, a wrecking yard stocked with vehicles, broken concrete and spooled wires was the next venture for Ginny and Tom.

Gifted with a business mind, bouncy smile and sparkling eyes, Ginny could warm the hearts of customers and sometimes charm them with freshly baked goods.  After her Tom died, Ginny kept busy with cooking, sewing, and tending grandchildren.  Never one to be idle, she managed the family businesses and became an admissions clerk at St. Mary’s Hospital.

She lived a long life of ninety-four years.  Probably not a remarkable woman in a large sphere of life, but her face in the local paper’s obituary column pulled me in and my eyes set on the pearls in her ears, and the pearl strand around her neck.  Maybe her husband gave her that matching set for an anniversary gift.  I can see her touching them like a rosary before she put them on for church or special occasions.  They would be precious to her for decades, but now they lie in a green velvet box, in a drawer, covered, like a shroud, by one of her pressed cotton handkerchiefs.