Kaleidoscope - Poetry by Carole Anne Carr [Kindle Edition]
April is National Poetry Month! All month long we’ll be celebrating by posting some of our favorite poems for Poetry Friday. For our second Poetry Friday post, we chose Family Garden by Francisco Alarcón, illustrated by Paula Barragán from Poems to Dream Together/Poemas para soñar juntos.
in the backyard/of our home/there is a garden
all in our family/do our part/in maintaining
Mamá loves/to plant and nip/flowery rosebushes
Abuelita keeps/her mint herbs/in a small pot
Papá really likes/to come out hose/in hand and water
the lemon tree/the squashes/and the tomatoes
that my sisters/would grow/every spring
my brothers and I/in turn weed out/and mow the lawn
all in our family/take time to tend/each other’s dreams
even our puppy/knows how/to grow bones
in this garden/the sun shines/green smiles
What poems is everyone else reading? Feel free to share in the comments section!Add a Comment
“In this year on March 1st came at last the Passing of King Elessar. It is said that the beds of Meriadoc and Peregrin were set beside the bed of the great king. Then Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over Sea; and with him; it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf. And when that ship passed, an end was come in Middle-earth of the Fellowship of the Ring”.
Today is the final day of DC Entertainment’s New York office, long located at 1700 Broadway, opposite the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Beatles took America and Stephen Colbert will soon take up residence. DC will now be located in Burbank, near its Warner Brothers parent company.
After 18 months of slow, agonizing attrition, the final New Yorkers, those who chose not to make the move to the new Burbank offices, will turn off the lights, shove the last color xerox into the shredder and move on to their new lives. I understand that Mad Magazine is staying in New York, and Marie Javins is shutting down some convergence stuff before she to goes off to the Grey Havens, but this is really the end of an era.
Usually when I say someone retiring is the end of an era, I mean that the way that person did business is gone. In this case I really do mean it is the end of the era of New York publishing in general, and New York comics publishing in specifics. From its sleazy, pulp infused beginning in the offices of Harry Donenfeld and Major Nicholson Wheeler, to the shops of Iger and Fox, on through the legendary Camelot of the Marvel Bullpen, the confident smiles of Continuity Studios, the DC implosion, Marvelcution, the Crisis Era, the evolution of stats to FTP servers, from men and women with bottles of india ink bowed over pages of art to men and women with wacom tablets fixing pixels, New York was at the heart of the American comics industry.
Although by the dawn of the direct sales era, Marvel and DC were the only publishers left in New York proper, they still loomed large in the freelancer’s ambitions and the readers’s imagination. For decade, a visit to the city by an out of town creator might include appointments at both Marvel and DC, in olden days merely wandering the halls in search of a friendly editor; in newer times appointments, visitors badges and close supervision were more the order of the day. (I’m not sure anyone is actually allowed in the Marvel offices any more.) People still visit the offices of Marvel and DC—mostly movie stars and wrestlers, based on the photos I see on my Twitter feed—but for freelancers it isn’t the kind of cozy home away from home that made certain editor’s offices a hang out spot as welcome as the corner bar or coffee shop.
One of my first visits to the DC offices was in the 80s before it moved to 1700 Broadway. Hanging out in Mark Waid’s office he told me it was my lucky day because Steve Ditko was coming by to drop off some work a bit later. Needless to say, I hung out until the moment arrived, shaking the great man’s hand awkwardly. Ever the professional, Ditko dropped of his pages, mumbled you’re welcome and then left. Later in the day I stood in front of a wall of covers as some guy named Mike Mignola analyzed their compositions.
An earlier visit (I’m too shy to say what year) was to interview Marv Wolfman, who put up with my fangirl interrogation with more courtesy than he had any need to. During the ordeal, a tall, gaunt young man arrived to shoot the shit, introducing himself as Frank Miller. I think he had read some of my writing in the Comics Journal and as I stammered my admiration of Daredevil, he said he liked my writing. I definitely wrote all about that day in my diary that night.
Many years later—after I had actually become Marv’s assistant for several years, sitting in an office in Burbank not far from where the new DC offices are located—I actually got a job at DC Comics itself, and 1700 Broadway became the daily destination of my commute. I’m not going to lie, the brief three years I worked at DC were miserable, definitely as much for the people I worked with as for me. But there were fun times, despite it all. Crashing Letterman rehearsals with Martha Thomases. Listening to anime soundtracks in Andy Helfer’s office. Working with incredible creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson, Rodney Ramos, Devin Grayson, John Bolton, Sean Philips, Dylan Horrocks, Philip Bond and many more. Giving some people their first notable jobs, like Pia Guerra and Giuseppe Camuncoli. My first assignment there was editing the Space Ghost Coast to Coast comic, and I got Andy Merrill who wrote it and did the voice of Brak, to record the outgoing message on my answering machine. That was fun and I wish I had a recording of that recording!
Even when I worked there, 15 years ago, DC’s 1700 office space already seemed to be some kind of throwback to a previous era of corporate life. Every other place I’d worked had open plan cubicles and doors with windows for all but mega boss level execs. At DC even assistants had a solid door that could be shut for total privacy, creating a little world where you could tear your hair out over late freelancers or office politics. (Sometimes the doors didn’t shut enough; on one of my early, journalistic visits to the office, through a door left ajar I was amazed to see someone—Joe Orlando?—taking a full on nap, face down on his desk.) A stat room—outdated even when I worked there—adorned with an 8-track tape was one of my particular favorite places. A hallway leading to the ladies room near the Vertigo offices was what I called “The Hall of the Failed Imprints” with the logos of Impulse, Piranha, Helix and more in a stately parade. A giant framed cover of a book called Leave it to Binky with the image of a man mistakenly kissing a fish suggested that humor comics had once been popular and I theorized that they could be again, but I was seemingly alone in that belief.
The years I worked at DC happened to coincide with the lowest depths of the US comics industry since Wertham. Sales were awful and morale was low around town—Marvel was coming out of bankruptcy and had some good stuff in the Marvel Knights line, but that was an outlier. I was convinced that graphic novels and the alternate esthetics of the indie comics world would help rebuild the audience that had fled in droves following the speculation bust earlier in the 90s, but finding a way to actually put that conviction into action wasn’t easy in an industry where risking any money whatsoever was a pipedream.
But I survived, comics survived, manga brought in a whole new readership, Bill Jemas’s daring moves at Marvel perked up the interest of some new and lapsed readers; DC figured out how to get the Wednesday crowd totally committed with events like the original 52, and movies starring Spider-Man, Batman and the X-men proved that the characters had legs outside the pages of deconstructed periodicals.
And a new boom was made, much of it coming out of the offices at 1700 Broadway.
I’ve written a lot about the politics of DC’s New York offices over the years, but the short version of the story I always heard is that Warner Bros. always wanted to move it to the West Coast, or at least had an inkling of wanting to do it. And Paul Levitz, the Gandalf of this particular tale, knew it, but always stayed one step ahead of those plans. When Levitz left all the way back in 2009 and Diane Nelson took over, moving the offices to the West Coast was once again considered—and a whole west coast office that was staff-ready was already built— but Levitz, or someone, had signed such a long lease on the offices that to break it would literally have cost more than the move. So it took a few more years before the plan could finally be announced, in the fall of 2013.
And then the long goodbye began.
I think the last time I was actually in the DC offices was five years ago, to see the late Jerry Robinson talk about his iconic Joker art he was selling. Over the last few months, I had a lot of plans to go up to DC for one last visit, but I could never bring myself to put it on my calendar. I guess it would have been too sad to actually see in real life. My Facebook feed has been sad enough over the last few months, with questions about Los Angeles real estate, then photos of packing, goodbye parties, and status updates located at LAX. The new DC looks to be an interesting place, with a lot of new attitudes and definitely some changed procedures. I’ll put up all the speculation I’ve been saving up about the future of DC in a later post, but for now, it’s time to end this era.
Visiting a publisher’s offices is a boon to a freelancer’s career. It makes you a face, not merely a name attached to an e-mail. You get so much more accomplished in the same room, rather than via electronic means. Assignments result from those visits; bumping into an editor in the hall can bear more fruit than a stack of pitches.
I was offered the writing gig on “Superboy” when I was up at the office, the editor essentially saying, “Hey, we need new, regular ‘Superboy’ writer. Do you want to do it?” I said yes, and started on it shortly thereafter. It was that simple.
Dan DiDio had some of the best packing up photos of all on his FB page.
Computers for the last remaining New York employees were removed Wednesday, just leaving more clean-up, as wistfully chronicled by Vertigo’s group editor Will Dennis, who is not making the move.
Life goes on, and I’m sure we’ll look back on all this as an exciting new era for DC in years to come. Eventually people who remembered DC being in New York will be vastly outnumbered by people who only heard about it, and Will’s Roy Batty quote will be entirely accurate. I send my best to those who are leaving their jobs, and to those who took the move to the West. In the movie “Wild” there’s talk about coming to a “fork in the road” in life. This fork was more corporate than most, but instead of dreaming of a thrilling job at a New York publishing house, kids will now dream of a thrilling job at a small division of a movie studio. And Batman will still throw up his Bat-signal.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have a Lord of the Rings quote for every occasion, and here’s the one that kept going through my mind as I wrote this, from the end of the chapter “Lothlórian”:
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At the hill’s foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree; but in his hand was a small golden bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he beheld things as they once had been in this same place. For the grim years were removed from the face of Aragorn, and he seemed clothed in white, a young lord tall and fair; and he spoke words in the Elvish tongue to one whom Frodo could not see. Arwen vanimelda, namárië! he said, and then he drew a breath, and returning out of his thought he looked at Frodo and smiled.
`Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth,’ he said, `and here my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I. Come with me! ‘ And taking Frodo’s hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.
|A highway like this "improved" my 1st neighborhood|
|San Anto was the military's playground|
|Projects like where we lived|
|Marie B's were shorter than this|
|like the coach who "taught" me|
|Real pic of my high school|
|Everybody knew your grades|
|I could write a book: How Chess Can Pay for Your Lunch|
|Berkeley radicalism my best friend's parents saved him from|
|last time I returned to San Anto, for my novel|
|Not mine, but maybe...|
|Not one of mine.|
|Definitely not gentry|
As Christmas draws near, and the dark cold evenings become longer, a number of people will have a foreboding about being alone, creating a sense of loneliness. Is loneliness something to anticipate with anxiety? Or even fear? Should we avoid being on our own, and seek out companionship? On the contrary, I will argue that approaching loneliness and giving it focal time can enhance your wellbeing.
Loneliness has many faces. Sociologists distinguish two types: social loneliness, missing relationships with friends and family; and emotional loneliness, the missing of an intimate relationship, like a partner. Anthropologists have also observed other types of loneliness, such as existential loneliness, the feeling of being lost in the world. In practice, social workers and health care professionals tend to view loneliness as a condition, to be countered or cured. Although there are therapies for loneliness as a condition, they seldom are sustaining in the long term. They view loneliness as an aberration that needs to be treated, and not as a transient part of life.
Being alone has its advantages, offering time for reflection on your life, including the people within it, and most poignantly, those people whom you miss. It offers time to take distance and renew oneself, to step aside from the hectic, running pace of daily life and pause, to have time to yourself, time to muse, digest and cherish more deeply the thoughts and memories that surface, and to view your life with a different perspective.
The French novelist Patrick Modiano, the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, has sketched out the beauty of being alone in many of his books. Loneliness is a recurring theme in his oeuvre, where protagonists spend more time in their thoughts and memories than in physical action. His characters wander often alone, approaching their loneliness and longing for other people they have met and with whom they have shared meaningful experiences as balanced parts of life, reflecting and offering positive and negative feelings, not as a condition to be avoided, or feared.
Modiano is often called the heir of the French novelist Marcel Proust, who wrote his magnum opus In Search of Lost Time a century ago. Although the books of Modiano and Proust are very different, they share similarities of theme and attitudes about the appreciation of involuntary memories, which offer their protagonists new insights and perspectives on the situations they are experiencing. These memories are often evoked by the passing impressions of a sound, a visual image, taste, and most of all by scents.
Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the most capable of evoking intense emotional memories. Psychological and neurological studies have shown that memories triggered by scents are more emotional and evocative than those elicited by images or sounds, although there are little differences in the level of detail or vividness of the memories.
The involuntary nature of these scent memories means that they become difficult to control; a scent may pass by you and suddenly intense childhood memories are evoked. In this situation, the best response is to be open, to be aware of your environment and not to close yourself off to the scents that are spinning about the air amid your daily wanderings. The protagonists in the books by Modiano and Proust are often alone or absentminded in a crowd or society when, by chance opportunity, they encounter their best memories.
Besides being involuntary, the scents that evoke special memories are personal and situational, and as they layer and fuse become ‘autobiographical perfumes’, as I have coined them. Everybody can have several autobiographical perfumes that evoke these memories, and for each person, they are different. For one, an autobiographical perfume may be the scent of a special variety of fresh baked cookies, while for another it may be the scents of a church interior. People share common scents as well, especially when they are of the same generation or region and they have encountered the same kind of typical smells in their childhood. Think of the smell of local food, pastry, herbs, and spices; scents attached to familiar landscape and spaces, such as farmland and forest, bars and churches; and each of these experiences enhanced, amplified, and extended by new scents indicative of the holiday season.
And so I present to you the idea of a ‘perfume for loneliness’. This is not a perfume, comprised of chemical or natural extracts, or a medicine as one might expect, against loneliness. It is not a formula that works for all, and is not available to purchase in a shop. It is a perfume for you, personally to discover and create for yourself.
Begin by exploring what kind of scents trigger childhood memories for you. Gather these scents physically, and compose your own personal autobiographical perfume. When you are alone, in a time of reflection, consciously inhale these scents. They will create space to facilitate you to approach and understand your personal feelings of loneliness better. They will evoke special memories that, just like opening a gate, can lead you to deeper reflection on your life, and a richer understanding of the people who are absent and missed. As you inhale, be comforted by this sensory experience, and be at peace with the knowledge that loneliness is not a feeling to avoid or fear.
Headline image credit: Ocean view. CC0 via Pixabay.
When the embers of a special event are dying, I find it wonderful to sit in their glow with the family and recount fond memories. I hope you have evenings that resolve in this manner. I am not overly sentimental, but I adore hearing my girls laugh at scenes they pull from the recesses of their minds. Sometimes I remember them from my own point of view, but many times I have no recollection of them at all.
So it was that we sat on the evening of my eldest’s graduation from high school talking about the good old days. They willingly lay down their electronic devices to discuss vacations, birthdays, special times around the home, and many other things past that held a luster for them. I mostly listened as they took turns – at times I was a minor character in their stories and sometimes I had main stage. So contented and relaxed, I felt like a player in a Dickensian novel with my shoes kicked off and feet resting warmly on the fender.
My interest was piqued when the graduate took the floor with what she described as her first memory. I, unfortunately, held the title role for that one. To set the stage for her recollection: it took place on the second floor of our previous house. She was a toddler, mother was away, and I was watching her. It seems she walked into the hallway to see me relieving myself in the bathroom at the other end of the hall. The next thing she remembered, she fell down the stairs, bumped her head, and I ran to help her. That is all her mind retains. No resolution. No happy ending. No idea if I pulled up my pants before valiantly diving to catch her at the bottom of the stairs.
I started to dispute this as poppycock until I realized it actually sounded quite plausible. With the stern admonition from her protective mother to watch her like a hawk, I can absolutely believe that I left the door open when I peed. I mean, I can’t leave her alone even when nature calls, right? I wouldn’t think it would adversely affect a two year old to see that from the back…unless she remembers it forever.
To my horror, this nugget set of a volley of stories about times they had stumbled upon me peeing with the door open. Some were old, some were far too recent. I promise, I’m not an exhibitionist. I simply fail to consider all of the viewing angles that mirrors give. I also forget how mobile my family members are and the sheer number of them – all female. While most of the time, they insist I am guilty of leaving the door open, they would have to admit that the door to our bedroom is one they feel free to open without knocking at any hour. You don’t knock, you get what’s inside! That’s my motto.
I also subscribe to the belief that one of the best things about being a guy is that The World is Your Bathroom. That sounds so cavemanish and outdoorsy, I really like the thought. My girls chuckle when I say stuff like that…but still wish I would learn to close the bathroom door.
I'm sifting through an experiment. I got my first smart-phone in late November, and I put down my Nikon D-40 for four months. I've just learned (maybe this is a new blogger thing) that I can work on my laptop and access my phone photos here... very good! Google has done some silly stuff with animated gifs and an end-of-year doo-dad that's sweet, silly, and confusing, as I don't know a couple ofAdd a Comment
And so begins my blog anew, retooled and with a new focus on things that make you lose your breath. Moments that make you stop and say to yourself, “Yes–this is what life is for!” And all that mundane stuff in between.
Renaissance means starting over, refresh, reboot. So it’s only fitting that it’s that time of year again: Renaissance Faire time! I know, technically it’s always that time of year somewhere, but here it happens throughout May. Sadly there has been so much rain that we have not yet dragged my nephew off to the land of jousts and turkey legs and the king’s roasted nuts, but there’s time yet.
Gentle readers, in the spirit of the Faire, I ask you: have you ever attended? Participated? Do you think it’s ridiculous? Do you go every weekend?What is your favorite part?
I have two favorite Faire memories–from the first I ever attended and from the last.
The first was in Deerfield Beach, Florida, and it was magical. My friends are crazy, and they love to make costumes. I call this crazy because I cannot sew and would never deliberately make myself an outfit that involves boning in any way. But they are amazing, talented individuals, and they love to dress up, so we all put on their incredible handmade costumes and went to the Ren Faire. The weather was perfect, the dill pickles were icy cold, and we stayed until the sun set over the lake at the edge of the Faire grounds. And as we took emotive pictures together against the pink-orange sky, an old drunkard came up and attempted to urinate in the lake. (That isn’t my favorite memory, by the way, that is just the fittingly inappropriate end to a lovely day at the Faire.)
The very last time I went to the Faire, I went with a different group of friends, including D. Some dressed up, and some did not. Once again I found myself in borrowed bits and pieces, because I like to immerse myself. D showed off his axe-throwing skills, and attempted to climb this tricky rope bridge, and I swooned appropriately. Then he got dragged up to dance (because there are never enough willing gentlemen) so of course I had to join him, and we shared our first dance. It rained and it poured, because apparently May is the rainiest month of the year in Tennessee, and we got soaked to the bone and ditched our friends to change clothes and watch movies all afternoon.
I would love to hear about some other favorite Ren Faire locations and memories, so be sure to leave a comment! Tell me what takes your breath away?
Long, long ago, I was a seven year old girl waiting anxiously for my baby brother or sister to be born. It was a warm evening, and I had already put on my pajamas--yellow polyester ones with white eyelet trim. I wandered outside to look at the planting beds around our split level. Most of the tulips in my mother's garden had already bloomed and fallen apart.
Then came the news: my sister was born, and I could go see her! I insisted on clipping the last two tulips out of the garden. I remember one was yellow and the other was red with orange streaks. It's funny; I don't remember which adult was with me. My grandmother? My father? I do know they tried to convince me to let the tulips stay behind, that my mother would want to see them when she got home from the hospital. But I insisted.
After that argument the adult-in-charge likely didn't want to take up the issue of me wearing pajamas. So, clutching tulips and wearing a coat over my pajamas, off I went to the hospital.
They weren't supposed to let me into the baby ward--I was too young. Likely too germ-ridden. But someone sneaked me in--a pharmacist friend? A doctor friend? I don't remember that either, not exactly. I do remember he was kind and he said those tulips were beautiful. And so I got to give the flowers to my mother.
Then I got to see the baby who has become one of my very best friends: Patty. She was so little and red and already she had so much hair. I'd never seen such a beautiful baby. I couldn't wait until she came home and I could hold her.
Since then she has been my playmate, commiserater, confidant, bridesmaid, and critiquer. My sister is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me. Even if she DOES have hair that is twice as thick as mine.
Patty celebrates her birthday in a few days. Happy birthday, Pattyricia! For an early present, I decided not to post any of the excellent family photos I have of you screaming your baby head off...maybe next year!
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Oh little Peepsqueak. This picture of you reminds me of something that happened to me when I was little. We were visiting an aunt in Washington. She had a rope that dangled from a tree in her backyard. She also had a big DOG that came running into the yard barking at ME! I jumped on that rope and UP, UP, UP I went! I did not even know I could climb a rope! I just did it! ha ha!
Most of my art comes from my imagination, but it is also from my memories and from my life experiences. All that being said, I think I can still climb a rope!
Karey Lucas-Hughes 2011
I took a walk this afternoon. A park sits just to the west of the school stadium, and a nature trail winds through the woods of the park. Years ago, when I taught Emerson and Thoreau, I would walk my English classes to the park and have them sit and experience "nature," journaling about their experience.
I hadn't been on that path for years. It had changed a little. A few taller trees, a little less water in the pond thanks to our summer drought. A felt a moment of nostalgia, but the moment passed.
Earlier this week, I took another walk. The top 10% from our senior class were honored at KU's Memorial Union, and after the ceremony I strolled around the campus. I have very few memories of the campus from my years as a graduate student. I was also a new father and full-time teacher, so most of my memories are blurry at best--not to mention 75% of my classes met in Kansas City at a satellite campus. Most of my memories stem from other times, some distant and some very recent... some slightly bittersweet and some strong and good.
Here's what I've learned about place and memory: time passed isn't as much a factor to how I experience a place as the time in my life when I revisit it. The lenses I'm wearing now shape how I tell the stories of my memories, and memories without stories attached are just vague things without much form or shape.Like ghosts of feelings which, like other ghosts, can haunt.
Visiting those places often exorcises the ghosts and leaves the story. I want the story. The ghosts can stay behind.
For years, I used to feel sad when we left my mom's place in Clay Center. It was a deep, chest-squeezing sadness. I grew up in that house. My formative memories hold it at their core. Earlier this fall, as we drove away from the house for the last time, no sadness came. I was done with that part of my life--I knew it, and this part, where I am now, has no need for that old house. The lack of feeling almost surprised me, but it also reminded me that this is how it should be.The ghosts don't need to haunt us.
I have countless stories from my childhood--countless stories built from memories of that house, my neighbors, and the small town which raised me, but I don't carry sadness anymore. Stories are good, wholesome things. Human things. And I count myself lucky to be able to tell them.
This entire month of blog challenge, dealing with family, led me to yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Obvious, I know. I knew that at some point I was going to have to speak seriously about my mother, and I knew how difficult that would be for me.
The stories I’ve written this month have taken me to places where emotions have near drop-kicked me on many days. This one will lay me out completely and I know it. I was going to write it yesterday. I just couldn’t force myself to do it. I wasn’t ready yet to drown in all of those feelings that had been swirling for a month, just under the surface where they would swallow me at the slightest provocation.
Let sleeping dogs lie is the old adage that covers this situation, and I’m about to begin poking that big brute that lives below the waves. That being the case, I’ll share a part of my mother that has less sorrow for me.
Mom loved kids and animals better than anything else in the world, family excluded, of course. She was a natural mother, who could sooth any child, tame just about any creature, and generally get along with the world regardless of circumstance.
From the time I was about thirteen or so, old bird cages, boxes, baskets, etc. shared Mom’s kitchen with us. Inside those cages, boxes, baskets, etc. were babies. Some were birds, some baby bunnies, or any number of other wild things. She definitely took after her mother in that regard.
There were orphans that stick strongly in my memory. I came home one day to find baby groundhogs nestled inside an old towel in a cardboard box on a chair beside the stove. They were two of the sweetest little creatures I’d ever seen; all brown and cuddly, rolled up into balls keeping warm against each other. Someone had found them abandoned and had brought them to Mom.
I don’t remember how long she had them before the groundhogs were released, and I don’t know that it matters now. I do know that there were few weeks during spring or summer when orphans didn’t come to our house.
Dad brought her the baby bunnies. He was mowing the yard and didn’t realize that one of the local cottontails had made her warren near the edge of the driveway. The rabbits were tiny things and terrified. Dad knew that the mother would never return to the nest warren after it had been disturbed.
On another occasion, a friend brought her a pair of silver fox babies to tend for a few weeks, until they were weaned. He bred silver foxes and needed a surrogate mother for them for a while. Mom did her thing and they soon went back to their rightful home.
One wet, cold spring day, Mom went mushroom hunting. Keeping her out of the woods during mushroom season was unheard of. Having her come home with a baby Great Horned Owl, though, was different. The wee thing had fallen/or been pushed from its next.
She heard it, found it, and scooped it up. It was in shock; its down feathers were soaked, and it couldn’t stop shiverinDisplay Comments Add a Comment
When I was young, our local bookstore was a Waldenbooks that took up one corner of our Fred Meyer shopping complex. There a bookseller suggested I try LJ Smith’s Night World series while I wiled away the hours browsing the shelves as my mother shopped for groceries. It was at this store that I met the woman who would one day lead me from the reading world into the bookselling one, giving me my first job.
Waldenbooks became part of the Borders empire in the mid 90s when Borders left K-mart. The stores were re-branded as Borders Express, but even rehabbed they were the first closed when Borders began to experience financial problems several years ago. My store, my final store in my bookselling history, was one of the first closed. Now the rest of Borders will be shutting down as well. On Monday the company announced that they will seek approval for liquidation. Soon 399 stores will close and 10,700 people will lose their jobs.
When our Borders Express closed back in 2007, it was clear that the company was having trouble.
“Why are you closing?” customers would ask as we filled their bags with 50% off books. “You always look so busy.”
We were profitable. We were out performing our plan, but it wasn’t enough to save us. “Over-expansion overseas,” we’d reply. “We don’t have the online presence.”
Funny how those were clear even then.
Despite what some claim e-books were not the cause of Borders' downfall. E-books weren’t even on the horizon. The first Kindle would not be released until November of that year.
Closing a store is heartbreaking. Not only do you have the lead up, where the feeling of something bad shadows ever move, but then you have the after. You have the weight of the questions asked - “Why? Where will you go? What will happen next? Will you discount even more?” - along with the boxes you will have to fill and the books you will have to strip.
Those Borders stores will be stripping a lot of books - romance, mystery, any genre where paperbacks are the size of choice to drop in your purse or tuck in your computer bag. As the New York Times points out “Borders was known as a retailer that took special care in selling paperbacks, and its promotion of certain titles could propel them to best-seller status.”
With Borders gone the print runs will be smaller and the market for new paperback titles will be reduced. The loss will be far-reaching.
But right now, it’s about the employees who have held on for months hoping for a continuance even while they knew the end was coming. It’s about the relief that they can finally cry openly about they changes they will need to make in their lives. It’s about the realization that some of these customers they have grown to care about will no longer be part of their daily routine.
When you close your store you want to believe you’ll stay in touch, that the heartache and sweat that went into those last few days will find you together. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t.
But you’ll always have books.
I would like to believe that everyone remembers their first bookstore, and for the generation that has enjoyed Borders it will live on forever. For me a Borders always meant an escape from life’s pressures thanks to well stocked shelves and friendly people. A Borders in whatever city I was visiting meant a familiar place to go.
Thank you, Borders, for seeing me through the hard times, for giving me a job, and for being a place I could always find something to r
One of my upcoming books, Finish Her Off (pub date Fall 2012) is about a girl who wakes up and doesn’t know who she is - and then has to figure it out before the men who are trying to kill her succeed.
So you know how when you buy a new car and you realize suddenly that everyone drives that type of car? It’s the same thing with book ideas. Must be something in the water. So far I’ve read four books with a plot revolving around memory loss.
Before I Go to Sleep: A Novel. A huge international hit. Christine’s memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Every day she wakes up thinking she’s a 20-something, and is shocked to wake up beside a 40-something stranger - and to discover that she’s married to him and she herself is 40-something. She starts keeping a journal to help her keep track of what’s real - and what’s not.
I was totally looking forward to this book, but a) it’s not a real condition, b) you have to get past the idea that she writes a lengthy journal by hand full of sensory descriptions and detailed recaps of events, and most importantly, c) I didn’t believe the solution. Plus the ending is really rushed.
What Alice Forgot. As the publisher says, “Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.” This is a chick-lit book with a lighter tone.
I enjoyed this, although you have to suspend disbelief that in 10 years someone would have completely changed their habits and personality. And while someone who has experienced a head injury might forget a day or two before the event, I don’t think anyone has ever forgotten 10 years.
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. A man wakes up on a beach, naked. Nearby he finds a car with clothes that fit him - and a gun. He realizes that he must be the man who owns these things - a man named Daniel Hayes. And he begins to realize he may have killed his wife.
Like a lot of books that begin with a good twist, the explanation for the twist is a tad strained. But fugue states (when the victim can’t remember anything ab
Tap into your childhood memories by completing the following sentences.
1. The first thing I ever remember was…
2. The things that made me mad as a child were…
3. I hated it when my mother…
4. I loved it when my mother…
5. I hated it when my father…
6. I loved it when my father…
7. I wish I’d learned how to…
8. My favorite food as a small child was…
9. The foods I hated as a small child were…
10. The foods that I loved as a pre-teen were…
11. The foods I hate when I was twelve were…
12. The foods I loved at 17 years old were…
13. At 17 years old I hated eating…
14. When I was a child I hated…
15. When I was a child I loved…
16. My best freind made me mad when…
17. As a small child it really bothered me when…
18. When I became a teenager it really bothered me when…
19. As a small child I was really scared of…
20. As a teenage I was really scared of…
21. The things I loved about where I grew up were…
21. The things I hated about where I grew up were…
22. What I loved during reccess…
23. What did I hate about reccess…
24. The things I liked and disliked about high school gym were…
25. The saddest thing that ever happened to me was…
26. What was the happiest moment you can remember from childhood…
27. The things I loved about winter were…
28. I hated winter due to…
29. The fun things I did during summer were…
30. Every summer, I hated…
31. The worst things about spring were…
32. The best things about spring were…
33. The best things about fall were…
34. The thing I hated most about fall was…
35. When I was young my parents made me…
36. The most fun thing I did with my grandparents was…
37. My best memory of my brother and sisters…
38. The most iportant adult in my life other than my family was… why?
39. My favorite pet was… because…
40. The games I liked to play when I was six were…
41. The games I liked to play when I was twelve were…
42. I didn’t like to play… when I was six.
43. At twelve I really hated playing…
44. The things I worried about as a child were…
45. The most embarrassing moment in my childhood was…
46. Sometimes I felt different because…
47. I would like to be able to do over from my children these things…
48. My favorite books were…
49. As a child my favorite TV and movies were…
50. My favorite friend was… and why?
Write as much as you can. Stop and try to bring back the memories. They might make good additions in one of your manuscripts.Display Comments Add a Comment
Head over to Every Day Fiction to read "The Long Walk to Never" today. As always, comments and ratings are appreciated.
Here's another blast from the past, Coffin Hoppers: Ghost Floats, a fun drink with a spooky pedigree. I offer it word for word as it was in the original text, The Little Witch's Black Magic Cookbook by Linda Glovach.
by Lane Smith Roaring Brook Press 2011 A boy fondly remembers his great-grandfather through the topiary garden he has built over the years. There's something missing here, something I can't quite put my finger on. Or maybe something off. We have a boy, ostensibly the main character, going through the garden and explaining the meaning behind all the various animals and objects hisDisplay Comments Add a Comment