Rebirth and Roots

Now that I can take time to look at spring, it sits next to my favorite of autumn. The rebirth of waiting seeds, plants, tendrils, and thoughts awakening after a winter slumber so to speak. This winter in Tucson, we sampled more days of frosty mornings, measured over two feet of snow on Mount Lemmon, day after day of intermittent rain, and a barrage of sleet all over the Old Pueblo than in recent years. The winds were persistently wearing, snappy and downright mean. As I mentioned last week, two and half days before the Festival of Books, this is what my backyard looked like. All the small bumps under the snow are wild California Poppies doing their best to root up for spring. Once the snow shook off, the poppies shouted and here they are, six days later with a few Lupine and Peri Penstemon.  

I also spent a bit of time in my potting shed (I plan to introduce the history of this gem another time). I opened the vintage French doors and six pane farm windows and sat in a yellow chair. I had the luxury to revisit several worn gardening books, whether essays, poetry, how-to, or decorating. What uprooted me out of the yellow chair was to get rid of all the book jackets, some of which were either tattered, soiled, or too many creases, and toss them in the garden bucket.  

What bloomed forth was a delicious array of spring tones with embedded lettering along the spines. Perfect for decorating in parts of the house; a few on the fireplace mantel and a short stack on the entry table with a large porcelain shiny green pear on top.

I will admit I get excited over tiny discoveries within my space. Whether it be in a drawer, hidden on a shelf, tucked behind pots, or in cabinets. I love to reassess, rearrange, and create a new look, even if for a short period that a new season contains. Nature provides consistent recommendations for action. So here I am, fudging and fiddling with the tuffs and petals of spring, all the while, uprooting undiscovered spaces for fresh writing. My writing mind is digging into the soil of words, repotting, and planting for growth. Greetings lovely spring!

Thus Far…

Saturday we were out my front door at 8:15 a.m. We needed to snag a spot in the parking garage close to the University Mall. After waiting our turn to enter the garage, we found a great parking space, loaded up our cart with wheels and trekked through the tents, crowds, and found help to locate our tent #252 and table. What an ordeal to get set up. I can only speak for myself but I am a people watcher and my husband nudges me constantly when out in public…”Would you quit staring?” I finally got my eyes focused on my tasks and was raring to go. 

This gorgeous Saturday morning was like broad doors swinging open to welcome everyone after days of high winds, sleet, and snow just three days prior. Hilary and Nancy, two of the main organizers for the Indie Authors and their assistants could not have been more courteous seeing to all of our wants. Hats off to that group!

The sun burst forth, opened its early March arms, and draped itself across hundreds of lookers, readers, writers, children, and the curious. Once again we met all of the above, made connections, sold books, gave away pencils, contact cards, and tons of smiles. Diana moved to the front of our tent and greeted anyone that gave a slight blink our way and handed them a bookmark. Flash conversations emitted all around and from side to side. What a joyful day.

We then had to pack up by 1:00 p.m. to allow the next round of Indie Authors to set up. Once again, we loaded our cart on wheels and dumped it in the car. All morning we couldn’t wait to walk through the tents, listen to other author presenters at selected venues, and, buy books! As we set off, we discovered how exhausted we were. We gave a half-hearted determined effort to catch a second breath walking the entire distance of the grassy mall. Standing on aching legs and feet, the thought of comfy jammies, a footstool, and a glass of wine dangled in front of us like a huge carrot leading us back to the car.  

After all, we still had Sunday for a third book signing event! Jackie will share that event this Friday in her blog. Lastly, I want to add a big shout out to our many individual personal friends who came over the three days of our signings, either with their copies or one to buy, for us to each sign and boost us with their support. You know who you are and we love you for it!

Just Around the Corner

Well readers, almost time! The Festival of books is just around the corner, this coming Saturday. Our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets, has been accepted and we are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  How many times can we mention that? Not enough apparently–point being—we are full of excitement and anticipation! Jackie flies in this afternoon from Colorado and will be staying at my house for the first few days, and then at Diana’s for the last few days.

We begin this chapter with a book signing at one of the two Barnes & Noble on Friday. Saturday The Festival, and Sunday a second book signing at the other B & N. Meantime, we gathered our books, pens, bookmarks, our poster, business cards, and each other for all these events.  

My brother will also be flying in from Illinois this evening. He is coming to hang out with my hubby while I am in and out like a typical Arizona dust devil. They will be plenty busy detailing our 1969 SS Nova to get it ready for upcoming spring Tucson area car shows and begin building another hot rod engine. This is my husband’s 2nd love, next to me of course.

I will be posting pictures, extravagant tales of our newest adventures, and experiences with our exposure alongside our book. Please wish us the best!

Healing Moments

I am in my space, please do not talk to me. In June 1998, I attended a weekend workshop called Solstice Retreat. Each of us attendees was given a piece of red yarn. We were to lay it out when we were writing and did not want to be interrupted. Since one of the instructors was a poet, and the other non-fiction, images were used to springboard our writing. I adore imagery. Diana recently brought memories through images of grandparents, and Jackie uses memory and images of farms and animals quite often.

On a hot and sunny afternoon among the boulders and cactus at Picture Rocks west of Tucson, and using the tools given for a quiet writing morning, I laid my piece of red yarn across the top of my notebook. I took a deep breath and went back to a memory of when I was nine. One can write a piece using several memories formed into one tidy ball of yarn. All to be valid.

I stood on the wooden porch, stomping my booted feet. The fire from within steamed the door window pane and caught the colors of the stained-glass border. I drew a kitty with a happy face and long fluffy tail on the glass. Grandma opened the door, rushing me in so the late afternoon cold January wouldn’t invade her warm family room. I kicked off my rubber boots and the snow and mud immediately began sliding into puddles on the newspapers. I tossed off my wooly gloves and Grandma shuffled me in front of the warm stove.

A bucket of wood with a few lumps of coal sat in the corner next to the recently vacated chair. Grandpa, whom we called Pop, usually sat there stoking the fire, keeping the door open against Grandma’s wishes. He liked to flick his cigarette ashes into the stove. A habit Grandma tolerated. His stale smell of whiskey hung in the air and mingled with the ashy mustiness of the black coals. This habit she quietly fought. 

My hands warmed and I rubbed my sock toe over small burnt craters sprinkled across the linoleum. I smiled hearing Grandma say, “Lee, now you keep that door shut or you’ll burn the house down.” Twice Grandma had come downstairs in the middle of the night to find bits of clunky ash smoldering on the floor while Pop dozed with his head bent over on his chest. She’d give him a swift kick with her small foot and help him to bed.

Each time I came to my grandma’s and stood before that stove, I would count the new little craters that tattooed themselves into the worn linoleum floor.

Sometime after Pop died, the stove was replaced with a floor furnace, and a new carpet was laid. Grandma was so humbly proud. Yet, each time I looked, the corner seemed so large and empty and not quite as comforting, or interesting knowing a threat or thrill no longer lingered in the evening shadows.

Her house still stands. When she died in 1982, her house was left to her three daughters and one son. All had long been settled in their own homes and properties, yet Grandma’s home would be kept in the family. An older cousin, a granddaughter, did want the two-story house and lives in it still to this day. The original colored beveled glass remains on the doors and over the picture windows, and the kitchen and downstairs bathroom remodeled along with minor upkeeps and major when needed. The gingerbread facia in all the peaks of the roof has been carefully redone and beautifully in place. Wild blackberries and raspberries still climb and produce lush berries and her favorite daffodils still come forth each spring. I am always looking in a corner, climbing the stairs, or picking and plodding in her garden. In my heart and mind’s eye, these images continue to bloom and produce whenever I choose.

Images are like a salve for writing.     

…to perceive the extraordinary within the ordinary by changing not the world but the eyes that look.” Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World.

Turn Out the Lights,

Another sports season comes to a close. Yes, the party’s over until next year. I loved pro football in my late teens to early 30s. My team for years was the NY Jets. I will admit, it was Joe Namath. Totally. Not only did I not miss one of their games, but I also watched all other teams during each season. There were great quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive ends, and linebackers during this era of football.

Namath in his 4th year took the NY Jets to the Superbowl in a stunning win over the favored  Baltimore Colts, 16-7. It was amazingly exciting! One of my classmates, Vicki, was caught up in the football fever as much as I was, and we teamed up to watch the games on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. I had a pair of neon yellow bikini undies that I would gleefully toss in the middle of the living room and yell, “Offsides!” or “Holding!”, all of which would put her into hysterics.

In 1971 I wrangled around and bought tickets for a game in St. Louis (two hours from where I lived) for the Jets vs. the Cardinals. I was beside myself with anticipation, plus anxiety knowing the folks, myself, and a cousin were driving to Colorado Springs for a vacation. I begged and pleaded, using every trick in the book of promises with Dad to wait one day, just one more day to leave so I could go to St. Louis to the game. No sir, we had to leave that Monday morning, no, not Tuesday, but Monday morning. That night I sat in Colorado Springs holding the tickets with huge tears in my eyes. Another chance meeting blown to bits.


But wait! Now living in Arizona, an exhibition game in Phoenix came to town with the NY Jets and Minnesota Vikings on August 9, 1975. Guess who was there besides Joe? Me of course, and only a few rows up from the Jets sidelines. I spent most of the time holding onto the chain-link fence watching Joe, a few feet away, warm up, chew bubble gum, and oh my gosh, was it a heated aspiration, or did he truly look over at me once, very briefly, and wink? It didn’t matter, I was already a puddle of wax.

But wait! A good friend of mine was in the Coast Guard and living in Alexandria, VA. In July 1976, I flew out to visit. Karen and I bought train tickets to NYC and stayed at a friend’s small apartment who happened to be Howard Cosell’s stockbroker and also knew Joe Namath. My friend was kind enough, with a lot of wrangling on my part again, to give me a letter of introduction to the doorman at Joe’s apartment. Karen and I went shopping, I had my hair cut into a fashionable current Dorothy Hamill style, and off we went in a taxi that dropped us in front of the tall apartment building. I strode right up to the doorman with Karen lingering in the background. I just knew I could get his autograph and a photo with him. Just knew it.

The doorman was friendly, read the short note, and took off his hat. “I am so sorry to say, Mr. Namath is in Montreal at the summer Olympics.” “Oh, rats,” I said thank you and turned around. Karen rushed up, “Well, well, well?” I simply replied, “Joe does not realize what he has missed.” So much for that.

When Joe left the NY Jets, so did I. Even though he played his final year in 1977 with the Rams, it was just not the same. I bemoaned for some time, closed up my scrapbook, and shelved it.

But wait! Star Wars hit the big screen in 1977 and as I sat in my seat bemoaning once again, and how much I disliked Sci-Fi, suddenly Han Solo appeared and I perked up and whispered, “Who is that guy?”  

No Essay Today

In our book, Chapters 1, 2, and 3, are filled with stories, poems, and thoughts stimulated by our prompts. We love writing prompts to get juices flowing, be relaxed, have fun and see what nuggets arrive on the page that yes, we can use in longer versions of story and memoir writing.

This prompt came from Diana during the onset of covid as we zoomed our writing group meetings and I want to share in both aspects, the thought it takes to come up with a prompt, and how this can incite creativity.

She chose Scene: A busy neighborhood café on the outskirts of Paris. Two elderly men each alone at their table eat peacefully by themselves. One picked up fries with delicate fingers as the other spooned an ice-cream sundae into his mouth, both protected and seemingly immune from the surge and retreat of customers around them. How long had they been coming here, months or years? Did they know each other, even a little bit? What are their stories?

This is my response to the prompt:

The elderly gentleman picked at another frite. His gray eyes behind the black horn-rimmed glasses seemed unaware of the flow of people, the cars, and the pigeon man across the narrow street in the park. The sign on the nearest corner read Rue Saint Lazare. The petite serveur asked if he would like more coffee.. non. He gazed at nothing, attaching himself to the feel of the midafternoon. 

            Nearby at a separate small table, sat another gentleman, his back turned. To see him from behind, his shoulders hunched a bit over the table, a mustache curled up on each end, a newspaper still folded at his left elbow. He held a thin piece of black charcoal and drew light sketches of the flow of people, the cars, and the pigeon man. The petite serveur approached him and sat a tidy saucer of ice cream in front of him. Merci. 

            After a bit, the one gentleman having finished his sundae turned slightly and said, “Georges, I’ve been thinking for some time, perhaps we should do a book together.”

            The other gentleman, Georges wheeled around in his chair and threw back his head and roared with laughter. The pigeons across the street abruptly took flight, leaving the feeder man as barren as a tree in midwinter.

            “Frederick, we have sat here back-to-back once a week for nearly forty years, not saying a word, and suddenly you want to collaborate on a book?”

            “Well, I dare say It’s taken me this long to get over the fact you stole my wife.”

            “Mon Dieu, I did you a favor!”

            “How can you possibly say that?”

            “You met and have had the delightful Beatrice for the past thirty-eight years! Our dear passionate Magritte ran off with the son of the butcher after only three months with me. Alas, I shan’t complain, I have gotten very accustomed to cats and began my notable writing career.”

            “Precisely.” And so, with a few slight adjustments, Georges Simenon, the author, and Frederick Franck the artist, reopened their friendship. 

One of my favorite coffee table books.

I do hope that some of you readers are taking time to write whether alone or with someone. I would love to hear in the comments or email me. Thanks!

Mise en Place

Cooks know there’s something called a mise en place: You read the recipe, if there is one, and assemble your tools and ingredients. It’s a way of cooking, a preparation of sorts before you begin the actual process. On my one visit to Paris, I bought a small cookbook and worked hard at translating to make some of the recipes. This took time, effort, and the right place to prepare.

The same thing is true for writing. The writer’s mise en place is in fact a place. In this blog we three authors have declared our writing space, shared our desks, and relayed our ‘spots’ that draw us to the page. A private office is wonderful, but it isn’t essential. Jackie loves coffee houses, and Diana thrives in her private corners loaded with books where some of her best writing begins at 3 a.m.

Like a chef/cook, I set out measuring cups, spoons, and ingredients needed for a certain dish or dessert, have veggies cut or diced, or my tangerine KitchenAid in place with the correct beaters, and whipping cream poured and chocolate slowing melting, and create in whatever ordered sequence necessary to get the end result.   

I correlate this same method with writing. As in cooking, I feel the urge for a certain taste, a meal of flavors to form into a beautiful plate of food, and know that I am going to prepare this just so. As in writing, the urge leads in the same way to that particular desk or chair instead of a kitchen counter and cookbooks. There needs only to be a tacit understanding that this is my creative retreat. It should be my “creation space,” so when I go to that special table or corner or armchair, my body knows, even before my mind does, that I am about to write. I have my ingredients; pencils to grab, colored pens to write, and a notebook ready to open beside my laptop. They are always measured and ‘in place’. 

I love that rush, the alacrity that sets in suddenly, and the moments following to take chase, and then give pace to the outcome. Memorable meals do take time and so does writing. Each has its place, and both give great enjoyment. Do you have a place where you can think, where you can dream, and explore? Experience le plaisir!   


Yesterday morning while having coffee with my husband our conversation rounded the corner to the last time it snowed in Tucson at our house. Currently we are experiencing a ‘cold snap’ and much snow sits prettily on the Catalina and Rincon mountain ranges. Why wouldn’t snow conversation float over the steaming cups of coffee? At that very moment, I noticed one of our cats sitting on the screen porch, her back to me. Her dark silhouette alluded she was keenly aware of something I could not see. I finally leveled my eyes in one spot and noticed something like ash in the air. Rising from my chair and moving closer, it was snow flurries! We all stepped outside.

Snow four years ago from our front yard.

If you are following our blog, you will see that our book has been accepted and included in the upcoming Festival of Books! This is a great pleasure and privilege. Attending this event will create numerous lists for presentation, coordination, what to wear and what jewelry to match. I say that because Jackie loves her jewelry of all sorts and chooses all in great taste. When we traveled to Steamboat Springs to a writing conference, in June 2003 (story can be read in Chapter 3), her biggest piece of luggage was her jewelry case. Her laptop was second. I relentlessly ribbed her of this treasure chest. While on breaks in the afternoons to work on stories, I would stand up to stretch and find myself aimlessly staring at this collection jumbled into her case and think she must have packed in a flurry.

Flurries come in many shapes, sizes, movement, and thought. Mine now is of course the Festival, Jackie’s arrival, and plans for the three of us to buzz about and present ourselves to a very large audience. I am anal enough that I want my compartments to be in order, and ready to fly as planned. But if a flurry comes along, I will step out and enjoy…stayed tuned.

Let’s Dust

As I look out my studio window, the sky is downcast like a slight frown, a bit lost and gloomy. It is to be this way for a couple of days, then nights in the low 30s, enough to cover several of my plants. When winter showers sweep through, the charcoal cold skies cages our bright sunshine and I can feel myself wither. Not that I do not enjoy rainy skies, but when accustomed to daily sunshine, my body immediately reacts. The weather change then drives me toward the internal action versus the external. Therefore, I look for my duster and see what I can shine up during this indoor space of time.

On our Home Page, we have a new feature and in case you may have missed it, here is the link to the most recent article:

 Three Writing It Real Members Publish the Story of Their 24-Year Writer’s Group – Sheila Bender’s Writing It Real

We have never kept Sheila Bender a secret and she is a fabulous poet, essayist, and instructor and has been large in our writing lives. Please take time to read and peruse her newsletter. We thank her grandly and graciously for beginning the new year of 2023 with our book and journey to publication.

Us gals are working on bookmarks and ordering the right pencils for giveaways at upcoming book signings. Such good advice and tips can be found from the experiences of other authors on how to showcase and bring people to the table. We just want to dress up in feather boas and do a bit of dance along with it all. If allowed, we may just try that in the pavilion at The Festival of Books this March! Please note updates on our Home Page as we move closer to the Festival dates and for all those who are local, or wintering in Tucson, please make an effort to join this outstanding book event.

Our winter break gave us all a bit of respite, time to regroup and contemplate the new year. Diana, Jackie, and I have returned weekly on zoom, writing from prompts, laying out former and new plans for marketing, visiting the local bookstores that are selling our books, and keeping up with our contacts.

I want to mention along our blogging hike, we are meeting wonderful and supportive writers from Australia, Europe, our west to east coasts, and other beautiful areas in this global park of writing. Please take time to put on your backpack and trek along. We shall keep you notified of our sunsets and horizons and the wide range of vistas we see ourselves in.

Oh, and one more add-in, we want to thank each of you who have bought our book and for reading our blogs. Thank you for those taking the time to comment and click the ‘like’ box. And one last sweep of the dust cloth…we ‘welcome’ new ones!

Beep – Beep

 Last week I read a heartwarming post at Writing Near the Lake (A Treasure That I Have Lost) that reminded me of a project my son, at the age of twelve, and I did for his grandfather. Vicki in her post shared an experience of making a quilt with her son for his grandfather. Her son was twelve at the time and picked out a fabric with airplanes since his grandfather owned a small private plane.

When my parents moved to the southwest in the early 70s, Dad immediately became enthralled with the Roadrunner. The only one he had ever seen was on Bugs Bunny and he laughed his head off at every cartoon. ‘Bobby’ as everyone called him, was always on the watch for a roadrunner and each time one was spotted he would shout, “Look, a roadrunner!” Often if conducive, he would stop the car to pull over, or if on a walk, follow as closely as the gangly smart bird would allow. Mom bought a beautiful set of coffee cups with a roadrunner on each and of course, one was Dad’s favorite coffee mug. He saw many over the next thirty-plus years. And his voice still rose several decibels at each sighting.

My son and I came up with the idea to paint a picture of this renowned bird as a gift. I laid out watercolors, heavy-duty paper, various brushes, and set to work sketching the bird. My son watched as this serious speedy bird in the taxonomic genus Geococcyx and a member of the cuckoo family took shape. Dad thought this family relationship to be hilarious (no doubt reminders of his own) and that is how he always referred to one as a ‘cuckoo’. My son drew out the landscape and we both added cacti. I showed him how to mix certain colors and the painting began.

We took turns painting together and found that in the quiet secret space of our work, stories of my dad surfaced. It was in those afternoons that I began to tell stories when I was small, Dad laughing because I wanted my own ‘hammo’ instead of a hammer, close calls of losing the ‘big one’ on fishing trips, squirting milk from a cow into kittens’ mouths as they sat on their haunches, and many things which made my dad chuckle. Things my son could not see unless through some ones vivid memory. I shared stories of before I was born, stories I was told. We also made lists of words about the roadrunner, its temperament, and remarks Dad said about it when he noticed one and wanted to work those into a poem that rhymed.

            By the time the last feather was painted and the last blossom on an ocotillo was brilliant orange, we had worked up the poem and painted it with the help of a ruler to keep the lines straight across the paper. Dad wanted that painting on a wall at all times and so it hung. Wherever they moved, the roadrunner found a spot to be noticed per Dad. When he passed at ninety, it was in his bedroom and remained until Mom passed two years later. At that time, I removed it from the bulky frame and brought the painting back to Arizona. I carefully slipped it into my portfolio until I read the blog from last week and pulled it out yesterday.

            I smelled the wet watercolors, heard the chuckles, the stirring of water with a paintbrush, stories that were heard for the first time shared with my son. That silly bird made my dad laugh every time.  

“Beep-beep Bobby, beep-beep.”