Nov 212016
 

It’s the week of Thanksgiving. I am thinking lately of all the things I feel thankful for. I’m thankful for my husband who is an amazing partner and hands-on dad. I’m thankful that we are (generally) healthy (despite the constant daycare colds lately). I’m thankful that Logan is a happy, healthy baby. I’m thankful for friends and family who have always been there. Those are the things that matter–especially in tough times.

Something else I’m thankful for is that we went up to Seattle in August so that both my grandmas could meet Logan for the first time.

Last week my grandma, Mary, passed away.

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I can’t say it was a surprise. She had been unwell and living in her nursing home for a few years due to many strokes. There were many times when my parents would call and tell me that the doctors thought “this was it” and I’d prepare myself. Then she’d bounce back and improve. When the time finally came, there was no notice, she just passed quietly in her sleep a few minutes before my dad arrived to visit her.

When I got the news I was kind of in shock, even though we all knew it would happen. She was very, very frail and ill due to the stokes. I guess even if you’re expecting it, you never really expect it.

Then I thought about how thankful I was that we visited her in August. It was a lovely visit. My parents, me, Michael and Logan were all together with her and she got to meet her great-grandson. Her face lit up when she saw him. Her eyes got big and she smiled and she was SO happy! Babies have a magical power if you ask me!

I am so glad we were able to brighten her day. Even though she couldn’t communicate well because of the strokes, she could get out a few words and she understood what we were talking about. Out of the blue she managed to say “birthday” –it was my dad’s birthday that day! She just knew it and she managed to say the word. It was quite surprising! And she tried to show off her great-grandson to the other ladies in the common area of her nursing home. She was proud and happy.

So that’s the memory I had when I got the news and it made me smile, in spite of the sadness.

Another memory I have is Christmas. As a kid we went to my grandma’s house for Christmas dinner — where she cooked the entire Thanksgiving meal because it is my dad’s favorite food. And it was SO good! The turkey, the mashed potatoes and gravy, the black olives on your fingers, the stuffing and sparkling cider. We all looked forward to that meal and she loved to cook it for everyone.

It’s hard being far away from family when something like this happens. I’m not sure yet when the memorial will be but my brother is thinking about flying home for it, which would be nice. At least everyone will get to be together again to remember her life.

Nov 152016
 

I recently had the pleasure to read a book of poetry and interview the author, who is local to Portland. I was sent the book by the publisher but I enjoyed the book of poetry so much I wanted to write a post about it and hopefully turn on some readers to it.

Here is an excerpt from my favorite poem in the book:

Beside the Sea

It’s peaceful here beside the sea,

Where waves crash on the sand incessantly.

The sand just sifts and throws them back

To echo in the mist.

 

The ghostly moon throws shadows faintly

Upon the phosphorescent crests,

Silently weaving endless thought

As to and fro it pulls the mind.”

The reason the above poem was my favorite in the book was because it made me immediately imagine the Oregon Coast. I grew up in Seattle and as a kid we spent summer vacations at Rockaway Beach every year. I grew up feeling home whenever we were at the beach. I’d wander the dunes, dip my toes in the thick, wet, soft sand and feel the wind on my skin and just feel content and happy.

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What I loved about the book was that each poem was a different little story and the author was very good at evoking so many different emotions with each poem. What I found as a common theme through most of the poems was love. And I’m a sucker for a good love poem.

Donald Elix is a local author, which interested me further, and I love supporting local people. Here is the link to his book:

Poetry to Challenge the Senses by Donald Elix

Poetry to Challenge the Senses explores life, death, love, solitude, relationships and nature, and their meanings from his perspectives. Elix connects thoughts from his imagination and applies them to the real world, offering an array of insight on subjects like self-discovery and family.

“The book explores various historical places and time periods, in both the past and present, through brief yet thought-provoking verses,” Elix said. “My hope is to spark inspiration in those who are looking to explore life’s meaning and learn and develop from other’s experiences.”

I was happy to interview the author because as a writer myself, I want to know what the process is for other writers. What inspires them? Where do they write? How do they stay focused? Here is that interview:

  1. How do you begin a poem?

    I usually begin a poem by first selecting a title and writing to the title.

  2. When did you realize that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

    I realized that creating was absolutely something I had to do, when I wrote a poem in 30 minutes in an art class to submit in the English class that came next, while in high school. That poem titled “Spring” was published in the national high school poetry book for that year.

  3.  What kind of creative writing routines or rituals do you have?

    I am establishing new creative writing routines and rituals to get back to writing, as I have not done much for awhile. My plan is to disappear to a quiet sport for 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday to allow for creative thoughts to flow as I did several years ago.

  4. What are you reading right now?

    Richest man who ever lived.

  5. What’s the worst advice you’ve heard authors give to other writers? What’s the best advice?

    Your book will sell itself, don’t stress out about it, is the worst advice I’ve heard authors give to other writers. The best advice I’ve heard authors give to other writers is to keep writing, keep publishing, and stay in touch with your readers.

  6. Who inspires you?

    I’m inspired by people who are positive, who work hard and have varied interests.

  7. Love seems to be a common thread in your poetry. Do you find it easier or harder to communicate these emotions in your poetry vs. real life?

    I don’t find it easier or harder to communicate love emotions in my poetry vs. real life, although when face to face it is more inspirational for me to express love than with pen to paper.

  8. I love that you are a local author. Are there particular places in Oregon that bring you the most inspiration?

    The Oregon coast is the place that brings me the most inspiration, although the forest and the mountains are a close second.

  9. One of my favorite poems in your new book is “Escape to Imagination”. What was the inspiration for this poem?

    The inspiration for “escape to imagination” was scenes remembered from my homestate of Ohio and visits to mountain areas in Oregon. Additional inspiration was derived from the need to escape urban areas that I worked in, both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

  10. As a writer I know the habit of starting and stopping something, putting it away, coming back to it, maybe never finishing it. How do you know when a poem is finished? How many half finished poems do you have stashed away?

    Most of my poems were done in one sitting. I may have a half-dozen poems sitting in the file unfinished. They are there mostly because I found I didn’t have a good title. I know a poem is finished when the ideas cease to come to me. I do not stop writing in a sitting until ideas to continue cease to come to me.

I really appreciated the author taking the time to let me interview him and share his process with me and my readers. I’ve read his book several times now, relishing the poems and finding different meaning in the poems each time I read them.

I hope you check out his book!