Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Book Social: Good Idea, Good Time!

Last Tuesday evening (4/21), at a friend's invitation I accompanied her to her monthly "book social," held this time at a nice Italian restaurant.  Not quite knowing what to expect, as I'd been told this was not the same as a book club or book discussion group, I brought along a copy of Madeleine Albright's Read My Pins, a book I'd read several years ago.  The Bellevue Arts Museum is exhibiting her touring collection of pins and we were planning to visit the next day.
It turns out that a book social is exactly that:  a social gathering where the members talk about books they have read, books they want to read, books they loved, hated [Elegance of the Hedgehog], or felt neutral about -- all in a cozy setting of wine and companionship.  Several people returned borrowed books and lent or borrowed others; one woman talked about her current writing project.  There were inquiries as to absent members, and updates on everyone's activities.  All the members of the group, except me, are volunteers for the Friends of the Monroe Library, which is how they found each other.  At the end of the evening, I concluded this seemed more relaxed than a group focused on discussing just one book.

I'd love to hear from bloggers/blog readers who have experienced variations on the traditional "book club."  Maybe you are starting something new in your neighborhood, for the love of books.  Read on!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Poem Is Born (and published!)

I am pleased to announce the publication of my poem "Advice for the Newcomer" in Whidbey Life Magazine.

Here is the backstory.  Back in August 2012, I was interviewed by Betty Freeman about the publication of Write Wing Publishing's new anthology, "Surrounded:  Living With Islands."  Betty related that when she had been a newcomer to Whidbey, she was worried about getting lost.  She was promptly reassured by friends and locals, don't worry, you're on an island.  To my ear, this belonged in a poem.  And so, "Advice" was born.  Thanks, Betty, and thanks to WLM for publishing my poem.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back: Some Bad, Mostly Good

It's that time again -- when one reflects on the year gone by, and considers what might be coming in the New Year.

November and December on Whidbey Island have been stormy, with the December 11 windstorm so strong it scared us, as well as ripping our greenhouse out of the ground from its 12" stakes, and flinging it against the cherry tree.  This was on top of the damage to our cabin roof and tool shed roof from a huge maple tree falling down on November 29.  The crash came at 7:15 AM and shook the ground.

This morning my husband and I spent a couple hours combing through the rubble, trying to find the cap from our stovepipe that also blew off on December 11.  We found it lying underneath some fallen-over lattice pieces that had been leaning against the house.  In brilliant sunshine (although 29 F.), we enjoyed a moment of celebration.  Today is our 20th wedding anniversary, and we are spending it clearing away branches and broken pieces so the contractor can begin repairing the roofs.

I think we are experiencing some consequences of climate change.  After all, there is no reason to think any particular region of Earth will be spared the effects of human ignorance.  As I struggle to shove negative thoughts out of my brain, I replace them with memories of 2014 highlights:  our trip to Amsterdam and Bruges in May; a fun three days in Whistler B.C. with my sister in August; a week at Seaside, Oregon in September; a visit to Arizona for my mother's 93rd birthday.  She is in good health and still enjoying life.  Trivia parties with wonderful friends.  My smart, healthy, beautiful daughter.  So much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to.  There will no doubt be more storms to come, of both the physical and metaphysical types.  With grateful hearts, we will weather them.

Happy New Year, everyone, and may you enjoy health and happiness in 2015.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Inspired by Elizabeth George

Yesterday (29 May 2014) my husband and I attended a seminar at Camp Casey here on beautiful Whidbey Island.  It was called "Leave a Legacy for What You Love," and featured talks by various residents and financial experts regarding how to best give gifts for furthering the work of one's chosen nonprofits.  The seminar was a joint venture of Whidbey Camano Land Trust, Good Cheer Food Bank, and the Whidbey Institute (once called "Chinook," for you old-timers).

The highlight of the day for me was the concluding talk by Whidbey author Elizabeth George -- probably because I discovered that her leading interests/motivators were so similar to my own. George listed her criteria for giving in this order:  (1) the creative process; (2) love of animals; and (3) preservation of land.  She supports the creative process through gifts from her Elizabeth George Foundation, with funds going to support writers.

The most interesting part of the talk, for me, was learning that George was inspired by the English author Beatrix Potter, who lived much of her life in England's Lakes District.  When Potter began to achieve writing success through her Peter Rabbit stories, she used her money to purchase farmlands around her.  She arranged for her estate to donate these lands to the National Trust, to be forever preserved and not developed.

George had lived in Orange County, California in the 1970s and had experienced the drastic landscape changes through over-development there.  She vowed she would not let that happen to Whidbey Island and, indeed, has been a staunch supporter of the Whidbey Camano Land Trust ( for a long time.

I came away from the conference with a renewed sense of purpose and place.  A key point made by the presenters is that one need not be a millionaire to be a philanthropist.  Small gifts count! Volunteerism counts!  Although we already donate to several nonprofits on the Island, I feel we could do more, and this morning I am checking out volunteer opportunities.

Love where you live -- get involved.  By loving the land and the animals who live there, we also honor our fellow human residents.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's Not Too Late ...

to celebrate April, National Poetry Month.  One anthology you'll want to check out is Ghost Town Poetry, Vol. 2, published by Chris Luna and Toni Partington of Printed Matter Vancouver.  This lively collection celebrates ten years of open mic readings (2004-2014) at Cover to Cover Books in Vancouver, Washington.  The book is available at and features vibrant collage-style cover art.

To further feed your poetry appetite, take a look at Write Wing Publishing's second anthology, edited by Sheryl Clough and titled Through A Distant Lens:  Travel Poems.  The book features 45 poets from all over the U.S., and one from Australia.  Here is the link:

Take a walk, shoot a photo, sing a song, write a poem, attend a reading; whatever you choose to do, make National Poetry Month your own and ENJOY!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

THROUGH A DISTANT LENS: TRAVEL POEMS finished & available now

The beautiful new anthology Through A Distant Lens: Travel Poems from Write Wing Publishing is finished, and is receiving rave reviews from early recipients.  Representing the work of 45 poets from all over the U.S.A., plus one from Australia, this collection celebrates the joys, pitfalls, and surprises that come along with traveling.  The four thematic sections are illustrated with black-and-white photos from diverse locales including Bhutan, Costa Rica and London.

Plans are afoot for a book launch party and reading to be held on Whidbey Island.  In the meantime, the book can be ordered at

OR, order directly from the publisher:  Write Wing Publishing, 3795 Hubble Court, Clinton, WA  98236.  $15.00 per copy includes the mailing cost, and the editor will sign your book upon request.  Gift wrap is also available at no extra cost.

I'm in the process of mailing contributor copies to all the poets and photographers -- this process should be complete by March 10, 2014, so if you haven't received yours yet, please be patient. Thanks to all those who contributed to this project, whether by writing, photographing, encouraging, or suggesting.  You know who you are ...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Write Wing Publishing Announces 2014 Poetry Prize Winner

Write Wing Publishing takes great pleasure in announcing CAROL ALEXANDER of New York, NY as the winner of the 2014 Poetry Prize for her poem Piazza San Marco, 1980.  Carol has been awarded $50.00, and her poem is published in the brand-new anthology Through A Distant Lens:  Travel Poems.

Here is the photograph used for the anthology cover art:

This is from a mural on the wall at Small Town Coffee in Kapa'a, Kauai -- if you get the chance, stop in and try their fantastic breakfast bagels.

What a difficult task:  to choose one winner from among dozens of graceful, eloquent, inspiring, funny, evocative, etc. etc. poems -- the experience caused me to re-think the morality of giving a cash prize at all.  So many of the poems published in this book are deserving of notice and reward.  However, when I called Carol on the phone to give her the good news, she quickly vanquished my inner arguments against prize-giving.  She said something along the lines of, here I sit, writing all these poems, and wondering am I just talking to myself here?  I know on the occasions when I have been paid for my writing, it is sweet vindication for all those hours of brainstorming, drafting, revising, proofreading -- well, you all know the drill.

Congratulations, Carol -- and congratulations to all 46 of the poets who are published in this exciting new volume, now available from CreateSpace at: