Monday, October 22, 2018

Artist Dates and a Blog Hiatus

Today, I need to share two things with you: my artist dates and a blog hiatus.

In my 10-14-18 posting, I explained the concept of the Artist Date from Julia Cameron’s books. I’ve been on three now. The first was to a $ store where I purchased $25 worth of items that brought forth childhood delight. Among my purchases were four “I Draw” booklets that will help me learn how to draw dinosaurs, animals, horses, and sea life. Also, I got a book to teach me calligraphy.

In addition, I purchased several sheets of stickers. (I use these to decorate my morning pages.) Finally, I bought tissue paper in which to wrap gifts for the next year. 

That date was totally satisfying.

My second Artist Date was to Swope Park in Kansas City. The 1,805-acre park is heavily wooded. Located in its midst is a zoo that I hadn’t visited since graduating from grade school in 1950. The changes there represent the enlightened view of animals and their needs that many of us have come to in the intervening years.

I went to the zoo with three friends and enjoyed myself immensely. We rode on the African Sky Safari—some 35 feet in the air! Then we took a tram ride to see elephants and a train ride to view kangaroos. I was happily tired by the end of our three-our visit. Here’s a photo of a friend and me—monopolizing the camera’s view! —in front of the polar bear area.

My third Artist Date took place here in my own home. From the public library, I got a DVD of a Gene Autry movie. All through grade school, my brother and I enjoyed a cowboy matinee movie each Saturday. Our favorites were Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid, and the Lone Ranger. My all-time favorite was Gene!

So I got the DVD and settled down in my recliner, munching my way through the movie with a veggie burger, mayo, onion, and pickle sandwich; a bowl of Progresso lentil soup, a Mound bar, an Almond Joy, and a bowl of strawberry ice cream. Two cups of hot Earl Grey tea accompanied my repast! Gene and I fought the “bad ‘uns” and won the day! And I spent some nostalgic time reminiscing about seeing those cowboy films with my brother all those years ago.

So those are my Artist Dates thus far.

Secondly today, I want to let you know that I won’t be posting again until Sunday, November 18. Nor will I be reading your blogs. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I have compromised vision due to my glaucoma. The pressure of 59 in my right eye and 56 in the left back on December 9, 2015, severely damaged my optic nerves. (Normally, one’s pressure is around 15.)

I must do everything I can to protect those nerves from becoming even more defective and ultimately being so diseased that I become blind. One of the things that affects the optic nerves is dry eyes. I put in eye lubricates between 7-10x a day to help with that. (I use glaucoma drops 3x a day.) But things just keep progressing.

So between now and November 14, when I see the glaucoma specialist again, I am having to limit my time reading large-print and e-books, watching TV, and using the computer. These all demand focusing on one spot. These limitations mean that I’ll mostly be listening to audio books and that the brief time I spend at the computer will be an attempt to complete a novel I want to publish next year.

The November appointment is an important one as it will determine if these restrictions need to continue. I’ll let you know what happens. I know all of you will say a prayer or send a healing thought my way when you finish reading this. I thank you for that from the deep center of myself where Oneness dwells. I won’t be responding to any comments this time, but please know how dear you all are to me. Thank you for your friendship.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

How I Began Artist Dates

Sometime in the past, I mentioned that I do “Morning Pages.” I’ve done so—off and on—for twenty-seven years. This writing exercise is from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Cameron wrote the book to free those of us who felt “blocked” in our creativity. That is, we’d lost the impetus to create in our own way. It was meant for anyone who had a passion for something, be it planting a garden, photographing birds, crocheting, baking bread, enjoying sunsets, writing a short story, quilting, visiting all the baseball stadiums in the United States, painting watercolors, etc.

Cameron asked readers to commit to twelve weeks in which they’d do the following: write, in longhand, three stream-of-consciousness pages each morning; enjoy an artist’s date each week; and read one chapter of her book each week.

Then—if this appealed to the reader and helped her or him renew the passion that gave renewed meaning to life—Cameron encouraged readers to continue the Morning Pages for as long as possible.

So for twenty-seven years, I’ve done them. I get up, feed the cats, scoop the litter, brew my tea, and then sit down at the kitchen table to write. The stream-of-consciousness writing usually takes about forty-five minutes and helps me clarify my thoughts, make decisions, and come to resolution on things that are niggling my mind.

As I think back over all these years, several important decisions with which I’ve grappled stand out:
·      quitting the writing of religious curriculum
·      ending a friendship that was dysfunctional
·      getting a home-equity loan to do a remodeling of my Stillwater kitchen and bathroom
·      writing a cat-fantasy trilogy
·      moving from Minnesota to Missouri
·      ceasing to compare the two states to the detriment of Missouri
·      deciding to stay here
·      writing a convent memoir
·      building a screened-in porch here in Missouri
·      deciding to self-publish
·      staying positive about my health and vision.  

Each time I grappled with one of these concerns, the Morning Pages helped me make a decision. So I am committed to them.

Back in 1992-93, I did the Artist Date only for the first twelve weeks of my reading of The Artist’s Way. After that, all I did was the Morning Pages. For the Artist Date, Cameron wanted the reader to do something creative, interesting, entertaining, life enhancing once a week. Her belief seemed to be that we spend most of our time with other people. She wanted her readers to take time for themselves—about an hour each week—so as to discover once again the wellspring of child-like delight within ourselves.

That first year, I had twelve artist dates in Minnesota. Of those, I remember the following:
·      I treated myself to an English tea with scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, and several types of tea at a “shoppe” in Stillwater.
·      I visited a 5-and-10-cent store and browsed all the many items available there.
·      I played miniature golf.
·      I visited the Art Institute.
·      I sat on the bank of the St. Croix River and watched sailboats.

I’m telling you all of this because I recently bought Cameron’s latest book. It’s for those of us who have retired: It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. She still recommends the Morning Pages and the Artist Date. To that she has added two 20-minute walks a week + the writing of a few pages of memoir that will help us look back over our lives. She provides stimulating questions to get us started.

In the next few weeks/months, I’ll occasionally share an Artist Date with you. Next week, it will be Date #1: a visit to the $ Store!

Photographs of St. Croix waterfront in Stillwater, Minnesota, and St. Croix River from Wikipedia.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

New Editions of Dulcy's Books

Today’s posting is about two books that many of you have already read. Both are about Dulcy, the cat with whom I lived for 17 ½ years. She died of kidney failure on July 6, 1989. Two days later, she began to give me the story that ultimately became the book A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story.

In it, she shares the depth of our relationship—how we met—how she trained me—how we both came to treasure Bartleby who came to us as a kitten—and how we became essential to one another’s happiness and contentment.

Crown first published the hardcover of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story in September 1992. Eight years later, a small press published the trade paperback. It is that paperback that some of you read way back in 2011, when I first began to blog.

Now, I have self-published—with the help of my niece—a twenty-fifth anniversary edition of A Cat’s Life. Its format has been modernized, but the major difference between this edition and the earlier paperback and hardcover is that I’ve added an Introduction.

In that intro, I explain how the book was given to me by Dulcy; how I searched for a publisher; and how it came to be published—without an agent—by Crown. The Introduction covers the detours and disappointments that accompanied both the book’s journey to publication and my journey to introducing the sweetness of Dulcy to more than 14,000 readers.

If A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story interests you, please click on the top icon to the right of this posting. It will take you to Amazon where a paper copy is available as well as an e-book.

I have also recently self-published Dulcy’s second book, entitled A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Companion Book. Wayman Press published it in November 2011, and many of you read it at that time. This second edition has a new cover as well as a refreshed format.

This second Dulcy book contains twelve habits that Dulcy shares with kits and cats who seek the bliss of a relationship with a loving human. For each of those habits, which she describes in an anecdotal story, I write my own anecdote about how the the habit influenced my life.

If A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Companion Book interests you, please click on the second icon to the right of this posting. It will take you to Amazon where a paper copy is available as well as an e-book.

You will note that there are three icons on the right side of this blog. Each takes a reader to Amazon where the two Dulcy books as well as the convent memoir that I self-published in March of this year are available.

I want to thank all of you who have read these books in the years between 2011—when I first began to blog—and today. I’m hoping that those of you who are just now learning about Dulcy’s books will discover for yourselves the wonder of the relationship she and I shared. A relationship that you, too, may share with a feline.