NO LIFE BUT THIS: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


It is biographical fiction based on the life of Emily Warren Roebling considered to be the first female field engineer and highly instrumental in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.


http://atbosh.com/authors/diane-vogel-ferri/

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Kirkus Review of No Life But This: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/diane-vogel-ferri/no-life-but-this/


NO LIFE BUT THIS

A NOVEL OF EMILY WARREN ROEBLING

BY DIANE VOGEL FERRI ‧ RELEASE DATE: DEC. 10, 2020


Poet Ferri offers a historical novel about the life of real-life Victorian engineer and women’s rights activist Emily Warren Roebling.

After the sudden death of chief engineer John A. Roebling in the summer of 1869, the ambitious construction of the Brooklyn Bridge fell to his son, Washington. However, only a year later, the younger man would be incapacitated by caisson disease, leaving him physically unable to oversee the project in person. As a result, Washington’s wife, Emily, rose to fame as a devoted defender of the bridge and a skilled engineer in her own right, acting as liaison for her husband and handling daily supervision of the project. In this decade-spanning novel the author delves into a tumultuous period of American history as well as the mind and heart of her narrator. Ferri focuses on Emily’s internal life as she navigates the expectations placed on her as a wife and mother as well as intense public scrutiny over the bridge. She also bears witness to the inequities of women throughout American society, observing abuses as well as the disproportionate favor that’s placed on those in positions of privilege. Throughout the novel, Emily is beset by bitter discontentment over legal and social constraints, but she persistently reinvents herself and becomes a vocal advocate for women’s rights. Some sections involving invented characters or events can feel saccharine or overly convenient, but Ferri’s prose does a marvelous job of highlighting her protagonist’s exceptional mind and the restrictions she faced. Emily is shown to be loving, compassionate, insensitive, and bullish, by turns, resulting in a well-rounded and empathetic portrait of a woman whose ambition was greater than any single life could hold.

A sensitive and comprehensive exploration of an exceptional historical figure.


Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62613-300-6

Page Count: 415

Publisher: ATBOSH Media Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021

Review Program: KIRKUS INDIE

Categories: HISTORICAL FICTION | LITERARY FICTION

Article about No Life But This: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling


https://www.cleveland.com/community/2021/02/solon-authors-biographical-novel-highlights-feminist-ahead-of-her-time.html

Friday, January 29, 2021

So I Write

 So I Write


I’ve always loved this quote by Stephen King: If God gives you something to do, why in the world wouldn’t you do it? So I write. 


Does Stephen King think we need yet another book in the world? I guess he does because he’s still cranking out dozens of them.  Does anyone need a book, poem or work of art from me? I don’t think so, but I do have a strong sense that God gave me these things to do. So I write. I love the writing and hate what comes afterwards—the months of sending out queries, the rejections, being ignored, feeling like I had wasted my time—every writer knows this feeling—except Stephen King, of course. 


Whenever something I’ve written is published I think of my grandmother. She raised six children, lost much during the depression, and became a widow in her sixties. I remember her dwelling alone in a small apartment above a hardware store across the Ohio River from a steel mill. She wrote novels and some poems. I relate to the need to create and accomplish something once your children are raised and you finally have the time. She dreamed of being published but her dream was never fulfilled and so sometimes I feel like I’m living her dream or at least doing it in her honor.


Long after she was gone all of her handwritten manuscripts were found in a relative’s basement. She was so short on money that the words were crammed on every page from top to bottom, front and back, to save paper. I set about sifting through the thousands of pages, some out of order or missing, and put together six complete novels and some pieces of others. They were full of good people struggling through life, just as she had. There were also letters from “vanity presses” expecting large amounts of money in exchange for publishing her work, which was an impossibility for her. I put them in 3-ring binders, and after re-reading them, I presented them to my mom. So much for the dilemma of what to do with them—until my mom died and I was left to clean out her home of sixty years. 


At that point I laid them out at a family reunion and offered them to my cousins. They took them all but it made me think about all the unread copies of my three novels and three poetry books (so far) that are languishing in my house. What to do with them? Will one of my children have to throw them out at some point or should I make a bonfire in the backyard and do that now? Because, you see, even though my books are published they are not in demand. Yes, I feel the sense of accomplishment and I am proud of all of them, but all I ever wanted was for them to be read—maybe by more than my family and friends, too. 


I’m facing the same dilemma with my mother’s art. She was prolific and spent over forty years creating beautiful and unique works. She entered many shows and won awards but she never made much effort to sell her work. Everyone in the family chose pieces when she died and many are being displayed, but, you guessed it, the rest are all stored in my house and in my sibling’s houses and none of us know what to do with them. Some of the work was experimental, class work, or unfinished, but can I just throw them in the trash? Not yet. But neither do I want my own children to have to do it. (I like to paint also, but I hesitate to put another piece of unwanted art out into the world at this point.)


I acknowledge that I have a deep need for self-expression—sometimes I envy people who do not—so I know I will continue to create. As infuriating as the internet and social media can be, the upside is that there are multiple ways to publish and share all types of creative work. This is something my grandmother could have never imagined. 


During this terrible year of a world-wide pandemic those in the arts have had to be especially creative to get their gifts out into the world. It seems like everyone is vying for attention for what they do to stay relevant and unforgotten. I am thankful for all that is available to me. Writers can self-publish now without stigma and, if they’re good at promotion, they can do quite well. Personally, I stink at self-promotion, but I will do the best I can for this new book and if God gives me another one—-I’ll probably have to write that one, too. Oh well.


Monday, January 18, 2021

No Life But This: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling

No Life But This is based on the life of Emily Warren Roebling, considered the first woman field engineer and highly instrumental in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. It is the perfect time to bring this remarkable woman's story to light in an era when women continue to fight for equality and to be included in STEM careers. 

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Musings of an Author in Search of a Publisher

 April 24, 2020

Talking to myself about publishing my third novel, which is biographical fiction:


As of this date I have been rejected and/or ignored by 124 agents and/or publishers. They have each been well-researched ahead of time to assure that historical fiction was of interest to them. I have received a number of positive responses and comments, and asked to send more chapters, or the whole manuscript quite a few times, but no one, ultimately, accepted my book. (Meanwhile someone else has published a book about my main character after her story has been ignored for 100 years. Grrrrr. )

At the point when I began sending it out to very small publishers I realized they could not do much more for my book than I could do myself. They would only put it on their website and on Amazon.

I spent 6 months researching and writing the book, had it professionally edited, and have spent over a year submitting it. It is such a worthwhile and timely story, and biographical fiction has been popular for several years. 

Recently, I began researching self-publishers. Self-publishing is much more widely accepted than it was when I self-published my other two novels. It is a legitimate way for authors to be read, and even make money, especially on Amazon, whether paperback or ebook. It is cheap and relatively easy to self-publish on Amazon, although it is not globally distributed otherwise. Amazon has a number of ways to promote books, especially ebooks, that I could not do myself.  I stink at self-promotion, so this is a plus.

Am I ready? Getting this book out has been hanging over my head for over a year. I’m ready to move on to something else. Rejections, although expected, get old. I am not a trained fiction writer. I did not intend to ever write fiction again, but this story was too good to pass up. 

Questions: 

Am I okay with only my kind-hearted friends and acquaintances reading my book as with my other ones? (If not, I will obsessively ask myself what it was all for?) 

Did I love writing it? Yes. 

Am I proud of it? Yes. 

Do I want it to sit in a 3-ring binder on my shelf forever? No.  

What do I have to lose?


APRIL 25 - One day later

In counting the number of agents/publishers I had contacted I noticed the name of someone who had expressed interest but never got back to me ––Jared Bendis of Atbosh Media in Cleveland.  I thought, What the Heck, and emailed him one more time. He responded and asked for the synopsis. I felt a twinge of hope but he had responded twice before and let the communication die.  He emailed later and asked when we could chat! I sent my number and told my husband I didn’t think he’d call–––but he did that same evening.


We talked for a half hour and he explained his whole process, the contract agreement and what he could do with the book. He said he would send me the contract that night if I agreed. What? Of course!  Then the email didn’t come that night. ( But it did show up the next day. I’m pretty sure he’s a night person because it was sent in the wee hours of the morning. 


It’s been two weeks since then. We’ve exchanged a couple emails and he says he’s putting the mock-up together but he doesn’t commit to a timeline so I must be patient.  Lou took some outdoor photos of me for the head shot and it is on his website. I signed a contract so I know it will happen eventually.  I thought this time of quarantine would be perfect for working on marketing and getting the book out there etc. We’ll see. 


It seems like one more surreal and unbelievable occurrence right now, just like the rest of life. But I am thankful, relieved and proud. 


Friday, December 18, 2020

Under My Mask

 Under My Mask


there is no lipstick 

on my pale thinning lips

under my mask

no celebration of birthdays

or summer

we are bleached out

beached out like whales

who have lost their way

there is no deep breath

into my aging lungs

under my mask

no fireworks 

or tricks or treats

we are as weary 

as a mother of babes

and there is no rest for the weary

there is no singing

from my silent throat

under my mask

no community of praise

or writing on the calendar

for a future together

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Poem for November 3, 2020


If tomorrow comes

and we, who love the world,


whose vested interests are in the stranger,

in liberty and justice for all,


we stakeholders who yearn for decency, 

empathy, even propriety—


if tomorrow comes and we are soul-crushed

it won’t be because we are the losers,


it will be for another human who has lost a choice,

a job, a loved one, a physician, a civil right, a home,


it will be for the mother who fled from danger

and the imprisoned child who did no wrong,


it will be for the flooded homes and incinerated towns.

If we, the stakeholders in this game of chance


are given a harrowing verdict, we will carry on 

because God brought another baby here today, 


because people will still teach, heal, and donate,

people will still protest, hope, and pray, because 


time will pass and the world will keep turning 

and evolving, because restoration is possible,


and our love for humanity and creation

can never be voted out.

Friday, October 23, 2020

I Voted Today

 I voted today. I voted for common decency, respect for all human beings, and compassion for those less fortunate.  I voted for the principles we learned in kindergarten and the virtues we taught our children. I voted for the common good of all Americans—not just my best interests, not my 401K or my stock portfolio or my personal religious beliefs.  I voted for kindness and truth and love.


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

For the Children



At some point in our lives we have probably all learned about forgiveness. The lesson is that the one who has hurt us may not deserve it, or be sorry, but forgiving them is something we do for ourselves. We understand that what we hold inside hurts us more than it hurts them. We forgive to let go of the power that pain has over us or how it consumes us.
 


The same principal applies now. I think we need to let go of the power the stress, anger, and frustration with our country and the pandemic has over us right now. We can’t let it ruin the good things or the relationships we have worked for with our families and friends. We all have reasons to be angry, but personally, I feel like it is consuming us on most days.


When I speak to friends and family we are having the same conversations over and over. We still can’t believe this is happening. We have no control over our lives and do not know when this will end. We don’t understand what happened to our country. We fear for the future of our children and grandchildren.


Here are some things that I feel outrage over almost every day: the mishandling of the coronavirus and what it has taken from all of us, conspiracy theories and lies, outright hatred between Americans, continuing systemic racism, the election vitriol, social media comments, climate change, the widening division of America. 


Sometimes we talk about nothing else. It’s all negative. It’s all frightening. The children are listening. This is their childhood, when they should feel safe and look forward to their future. I am angry and sad about what the year 2020 this has taken from them. Not just school, birthday parties, and playdates, but stress free adults in the background talking about whatever it is we used to talk about—sports, music, movies.  All they hear now is politics, masks, protests, people ranting.


How do we block it all out once in a while? How do we stop caring about what is happening in the world? How do we take a break from being informed and aware and give our hearts a rest?


Winter is coming and I think we should prepare. We should treasure being in our homes with those we love. We should focus on our health and safety and know that there are millions of humans who have lived through worse than this. I worked with children all of my life and I don’t entirely agree with the notion that children are resilient. In some ways this is true, but their psyches can also be damaged in childhood by seemingly small events or words or things they don’t have the capacity to understand. Children get their emotional cues from the adults around them and if we are constantly raging, eventually they will feel the same—they just won’t understand why.


Give the children a break. Give your heart a break. We cannot completely ignore the mess we are in now, of course. But we can try to contain its control over us and not let it ruin our otherwise beautiful lives. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

What If You Need Medical Attention Now?

This week my husband became very ill. Immediately, we were afraid of Covid-19, of course.  I was frantic with worry since I’d spent the previous day with my small granddaughters. I laid awake at night imagining everyone that could be adversely affected by our plight— like a row of dominos.

My husband was so sick that I needed to make arrangements for him. I went on the Cleveland Clinic website and found multiple options that were unclear and confusing. (Why isn’t there just one phone number to call?) Getting an appointment with your primary care physician appears to be almost impossible now.  Only virtual and phone visits are offered. 


I sent an email to his doctor, and later in the day a nurse called. My husband was answering her questions for 15-20 minutes. Mind you, he had fever, chills, headache, dizziness, lack of appetite, and fatigue, and that didn’t appear to be enough to warrant a Covid-19 test.  If he was offered a test it would take 5-7 business days for a result. 


What could happen in 5-7 business days? He could deteriorate and need hospitalization, he could have something else being untreated, I could be careless and spread it to someone else since surely I had been exposed (I had kissed him goodbye that morning), we would not be able to inform people we’d been near if they were exposed and they could possibly spread it as well. See the problems here?  It also makes sense to me that if someone appears to have Covid-19 that the people they live with should be able to be tested as well. That’s definitely not going to happen.


Meanwhile, his company let him know they were under contract with a laboratory that could do the test the next day.  I drove him 30 minutes to the laboratory the next morning. After a lot of paperwork, waiting, and questions, they gave him the nasal swab. The results would be 5-7 days as well. We left, but while on the highway they called and said they’d just noticed where he worked and that he could get the saliva test and receive results in 1-2 days. We drove back and were then informed that neither the company or our insurance would cover the $225 test. We looked at each other and agreed it would be worth it to find out sooner. I said, “How lucky we are that we can afford it—unlike most people in this country.”


A day and a half later we learned that his test was negative. While I was relieved and grateful, he was still very sick and had spent four days not being treated for anything. I had spent a lot of time trying to navigate all the different options and talking to family members about the situation. People were calling, giving advice and showing concern. Why? Because this pandemic has consumed our lives—all of our lives. Even if we have not had a loved one sick or die from it, we live with the stress and fear everyday. 


So now my husband has spent four days not being treated for anything and he’s still very ill. I spent another frustrating hour on the phone trying to get help from a doctor or get lab tests ordered. After 15 minutes of questions I was mysteriously cut off from the appointment person on the other end of the phone. I had to start all over with an email that may or may not be seen by the end of the day. A nurse called and I went over all his symptoms again. She had to get the doctor to order lab tests so she had to call back. She did and also arranged a Zoom meeting with a physician (not his). Later, I took him to get lab tests that took 30 minutes of waiting even with an appointment. 


He received another call before the Zoom meeting to repeat all the information once again. The nurse wanted him to take his temperature and blood pressure (we have a BP machine). When he got on the virtual meeting with a doctor they chatted for two minutes and the connection went dead. She called back and it was another 15 minutes until she said there was really nothing she could do for him—he could go to an urgent care. Really?  What would they do? My husband said it had all been a waste of time and she laughed. 


I used to feel sad about all of this, but now I just feel angry. A government exists to protect and guide its citizens in times of crisis and the current administration has failed us in every way. Eliminating a pandemic team in 2018 was only the first mistake. When a new one was formed under the vice president their only tact seemed to be to push off the responsibility on the state governors. What do governors know about pandemics and viruses? Nothing. It’s laughable to think that a virus can distinguish state borders and somehow each governor will do the right thing.  Experts were our only hope and they continue to be disparaged and ignored.


We all know the “hoax,” the “downplaying,” the political division. We’ve all heard about former White House officials who’ve said the president doesn’t care about the 200K Americans dead. I blame him for this disaster. It has affected every part of our lives and there is no end in sight. Even one of the best hospital systems in America can’t get it together, in my opinion. You cannot even see a doctor when you are sick now. The nurse told me he should be “seen” by a doctor, but that meant over a computer screen. I guess they have to save themselves. Many reports say people are not even trying to get medical help because they don't want to deal with all of this or enter a facility.


Then my husband found out that the saliva test was not accepted by his place of business. So were we scammed out of $225?  When the nasal test comes back it will go to his doctor, which will send it to his company before he can go back to work. He already missed two weeks of work because someone he worked with had symptoms and exposed co-workers anyway. I, too, had to stay home for two weeks that time, of course. 


Well, that’s just one tiny story in a million of much bigger tragedies and losses. Just remember that because of this out-of-control virus you may not even get medical attention when you need it—so take care of yourself.   



Thursday, September 3, 2020

Of an Aesthete


Of an Aesthete

For love of the Cleveland Museum of Art


What the museum is not—

crowding, touching, breathing sometimes,


just free easy looking,

distancing and whispering.


But my back won’t concur 

and there is nowhere to sit now,


no place to contemplate

the overwhelming proof


of God on every wall, every

gallery a devotional to creation.


The Christ Child sleeps alone in heavenly peace

on a bed of marble, obeying the rules,


his illustrated life surrounds him,

from angelic innocence to piercing agony.


What would we know otherwise

if not this promise of preservation


in this stone pantheon, light swelling

through the open-sky atrium, so near, so eternal.

 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Are You A Victim?

The constant belief in or search for conspiracy theories is a victim mentality. If there are forces or organizations whose sole purpose is to deceive you, cheat you, or keep essential information from you, then you are entitled to be enraged all of the time. You are entitled to take less personal responsibility for your circumstances in favor of blaming others for depriving you of something you need. 

Victim mentality is what Fox News thrives on. It's what keeps viewers coming back to hear more outrage and blame. The network frequently reports inaccurate information, let's it spread, and then occasionally apologizes for the falsehoods. But too late, it's all over social media. They got what they wanted---ratings. 

If Alex Jones convinces you that twenty children were not brutally murdered at Sandy Hook by an assault rifle then you do not have to feel guilty about not wanting them banned. You don't have to imagine that you put the right to own a weapon (that is good for nothing but murder) above the lives of innocent children.  

If someone can convince you that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for Covid-19 and it is being withheld from us then you do not have to comply with CDC standards for safety. You can do what you want because you have no responsibility for the fact that millions of Americans are sick. (If you believe that to begin with.)

Believing in conspiracies also dismisses you from believing the media or scholars on the subject. You can just say something is a hoax without any concrete information to back that up. You are free to believe anything you want.  You can also be comforted that you are not, in any way, to blame for anything. It's the government, it's the mainstream media, it's experts who have spent their lives studying the issue who somehow are out to get you.

So ask yourself why so-called experts are out to get you. Why have so many organizations and individuals spent years plotting just to deceive you. What is the pay-off for them? Do you actually think so many people have devoted their lives to something just to trick you?

A couple years ago a friend told me that Obama was going to take her guns away. This was after Obama was no longer president. I mentioned that he never said that and it never happened. She said, "but he was going to." She was still outraged about something that was misinformation to begin with, and something that never could happen. What a waste of emotional energy. 

I often watch network news. I have never detected an effort by them to convince me of something. I understand that they choose what to air, but the facts are presented with little commentary. They are accused of being strictly liberal but they interview many conservatives and do not argue their points or rant or call them names as I've heard on Fox News. In no way are they forcing you to believe something or make an effort to scare you. 

Believing in conspiracies is living in fear and this is what I told my friend when she insisted that "they" were coming to get us. I don't believe in living in fear. This friend lives in a safe area and her life has never been threatened in any way so where is she getting this fear from?

(I do realize that many Americans living in poor areas have reason to be fearful but it is not because the government is coming to "get them" or take what they have, it is because of gun violence and crime and I do not minimize that type of fear.) 

Absorbing scare tactics that you hear but have no actual experience with is just living in fear. It's paranoia, it's a way out of blaming yourself for anything. It's being a victim.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Do You Really Care About Others?

The same principle can be applied to all of our current issues: Do you care about other human beings?  If you answered yes then you must be able to distinguish the importance of people over inanimate objects like monuments, Chief Wahoo, the Redskins name, or Confederate flags.

Those things hurt other people but it does not hurt you in any way if they vanish.

If tradition is more important than the way those things negatively impact other Americans then you actually don’t care about those people.  You only care about your sentimentality and "the way things have always been," which doesn't make them right.

If you call yourself a Christian then you are to follow Jesus’s example of unconditional love for others. If he could die for others then you can give up mere symbols for others.  

The Protestant church does not believe in the worship of or need for symbols.. They are seen as being akin to idols. As a Protestant, my church has no statues or symbols of Jesus and yet I do not forget Him.

I do not need a monument of Hitler to remember the horrors of WWII. I can read about it in a book or remember my father's service to his country. Nothing can erase the past. 

Native Americans and Black Americans have been the most mistreated people living in this country since Europeans arrived—and are the poorest as well. How about we give them a break?   Really, it won’t change your life in any way.

This can apply to other traditions like saluting, the National Anthem, the American flag, putting you hand over your heart—-they are just symbols---nothing more. 

Wearing masks is in a different category but the principle is the same: Do you care about other people more than your convenience? Either you do or you don’t.

Now you can call me a snowflake, but if this offends you than you are a snowflake, too, since the term refers to someone's oversensitivity to another persons needs or viewpoint. It’s not an insult to me.  It means I care. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Blossom

My last post was April 14th––over two months ago––and nothing much has changed with the pandemic. It is still raging and cases are rising again in America as people refuse to believe science, experts, and advice to wear masks to protect other citizens. There has also been racial unrest and protests of every kind.
So this poem is about a very small, innocent pleasure I am missing this summer among all the tragedy and needless suffering. In northeast Ohio we have a large outdoor concert venue called Blossom Music Center. Every famous band and musician has been there over its 50+ years, but it is also the summer home of the world famous Cleveland Orchestra. I sang in the Blossom Festival Chorus behind that orchestra for over fifteen years.


Blossom

What I will miss the most
is the grass checkered with blankets,

the light dimming with each movement,
crystalline sounds, the bows slivering

the stage into tiny shards of aural wonder
until they disperse into the night.

Then the moment of silence before the 
eruption of the crowd, like thunder 

under the shelter of wood and sky.
How my eyes will fill from the beauty,

how I will recall all the years on that stage,
one cog in a triumphant musical chorus.

I will even miss the long and slow walk 
back to the car among thousands of others,

pulling our coolers of wine and cheese,
blissful and sated under a tiara of stars.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

April 2020 - Has Time Stopped?



Even as a girl I sometimes wished that time would stop. I was afraid of missing things, of not appreciating the world, of getting caught up in the day to day requirements of life.  I have always had a strong compulsion to never waste time. Even though it makes me efficient and productive, it is a characteristic I have often regretted. I believe it has kept me from developing stronger relationships with others in my rush to get on to the next thing.  As a teacher I would be one of the first ones out the door at the end of the day. It wasn’t that I didn’t work as hard as the others or complete my duties, it was that I worked quickly and often viewed standing in the hallways gabbing with colleagues as a waste of time––which it wasn’t. When I was in high school I usually walked home alone rather than spend precious time waiting for the bus.
One time I asked my mom about when my children were small. We were together a lot in those days. I asked her if I had rushed through their childhood, if I’d not appreciated it. But she said no, I enjoyed every minute with them. I thought I had too, but was relieved to hear it from her viewpoint.  If you have left your youth behind you are well aware that time seems to accelerate. It can be frightening how fast the weeks and years pass and there is nothing we can do about it. There is always a moment when you realize life on earth is much shorter than you expected it to be.
But now it seems like time has stopped in some ways. There is no urgency to the day, no requirement to get up at a certain time, no need to accomplish something that could be done tomorrow. I have felt small waves of depression when I have wasted one of these days during our country’s lockdown, when I just don’t feel like doing any of the activities available to me. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for those who suffer chronic depression or anxiety, who are completely alone, who are in unsafe situations with no escape.
Not only do these days blur together and often feel unproductive, we may feel helpless.  We can only do the things that can be done on a computer or phone to help others or communicate. I usually don’t enjoy talking on the phone, but now I welcome a call from a friend. We suddenly yearn to hug or touch another person. We might be appreciating our jobs and our freedom and learning about all the things we can do without. 
It has always been difficult for me to do nothing, but over the years I have learned to sit on my deck in the summer and just gaze at God’s creation. I can sit at my kitchen table in the morning and watch the birds at the feeder, and it doesn’t feel like wasting time anymore.
In a way time has stopped in its schedules, activities and socialization, but my new granddaughter’s weekly developments have not stopped. I can only hear her first laugh or see her roll over on a video. I have purposely visited and played with all four of my grandchildren every single week of their lives and now that effortless joy has been broken, and I feel some measure of grief over that. 
I have nothing to complain about though in this weird and surreal time in our lives. I have everything I need and am among the privileged. I go to church online, I read a book to my grandchildren on apps, I can even tutor my adult students over the telephone.  Even though I have learned to slow down a bit and not berate myself as much for a wasted day, I can still learn from this experience.  After all, no one else cares what I am doing every day in my home, if I have produced something worthwhile or not. Most of us have discovered that many of our anxieties and fears are brought on by our own expectations, and we truly have no idea what to expect of our world right now.  All things are not equal, but in that respect, we are in this together. 

Maybe I have learned that having time stop is not all that desirable, after all. 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Dear Coexist Blog

Dear Coexist Blog,
Well, I have neglected you once again. You were born in September of 2007, and you were a brand new thrilling way to have a voice in this world. (You came along before Facebook.) There were many other bloggers out there and we constantly encouraged each other and seriously considered everything the others had to say. We consistently wrote thoughtful comments to each other.
     But after a few years of glorious self-expression, I realized that other bloggers were the only people reading my posts. I also realized that I only read theirs so they would read mine. This made me sad. No one was truly considering my deep thoughts, reading my sappy poems, or otherwise caring about me as a writer. They were racing through the post to write what might pass for a significant comment––just like I was––so I would read their post.
      So, I got discouraged. I got distracted with writing novels, poetry collections, and essays. I spent time taking classes and learning about the craft of writing.  I retired from teaching and had time to volunteer, help with grandchildren, and write to my heart's content.
     I would like to let you go, dear old friend, but you are all over Google. If someone (like a publisher or agent) Googles me to see what I've written recently they will be disappointed at this old blog. I've had essays published and two poetry books. I've written my third novel.
       My poetry is SO much better than in 2007. My writing is SO much better than in 2007.
     
So what do I do with you? I want to rant about politics and climate change and the 2020 election and the horrible state of the public schools and on and on.... but no one wants to read that. Opinions and rants and complaints are rampant everywhere you look, thanks, in part, to social media. On some days I slam my laptop shut with anger over everyone's self-righteous (and often uninformed) opinions on Facebook.  I'm sick to death of opinions even though I have so many myself.
     I have a Facebook Author Page for news about poetry readings etc. I try not to post too much on Facebook, but when I do it is very clear what my stance on the subject is. So I don't need a place to vent opinions any longer, do I?

I guess I'll try to pop in once in a while and write something thoughtful–––just in case someone is out there.
   

Monday, September 2, 2019

Music I Missed

I think I missed a lot being a good girl. I grew up ensconced in the safety of a church. It sat at the top of my street and it gave me music, friends, and a deep love of God. There is nothing wrong with any of that. I was happy, but I missed a lot of good music, and maybe some coming-of-age experiences I should have had then––not later.

In the 70s it was James Taylor, John Denver, and Seals and Crofts. I went to their concerts at the Coliseum and Blossom Music Center. At Blossom, James Taylor was so popular that we sat in my car in the parking lot until 1:00AM just trying to get out. Seals and Crofts was so popular that we parked all the way out by the street on the grass, walking for 20 minutes to get to our car. John Denver was so popular that he filled up the Richland Coliseum––something very few artists could do today (especially since the Coliseum no longer exists).  So I wasn't alone in my love of these artists.

In the 60s it was definitely Motown. In the 80s it was contemporary Christian music all the way––especially Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. I was a youth counselor at my church and we constantly took the kids to concerts of "famous" CCM artists like Petra, David Meece, Steve Taylor, Randy Stonehill, Kathy Troccoli, Phil Keaggy, Sheila Walsh...whatever happened to all of them? I lived and breathed that music. I sang solos of their songs in church. We taught the youth group their songs. It was a lot of fun. My kids still hear Amy Grant every Christmas morning at my house. It's all good.

I always liked the Beatles, of course, also Elton John, the Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash. But what I never listened to was Pink Floyd, The Who, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Doors,  Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, Santana, Genesis, Deep Purple, Allman Brothers....

In Cleveland that was WMMS––never listened to it. 

But here's the strange thing. I LOVE this stuff now. I married a man who went to all of those concerts. When we met he was puzzled by my lack of classic rock knowledge since I am a bit older than him.  I'm learning to appreciate all this innovative and amazing music now, when I'm old! Even weirder is the fact that I have had the opportunity to go to the concerts I never saw forty years ago!

The first concert I ever begged to go to was The Monkees. I'm sure it's a big surprise that Davy Jones posters hung all around my bed. My parents felt I was too young to go and I was devastated. I still have my diary. I wrote: "Today is the worst day of my life because Mom and Dad won't let me go see the Monkees." (That turned out to not be true.) However, I saw Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork at a small venue of other 60s idols. (Gary Puckett was even creepier as an old man singing "Young Girl.")

But in the last decade I have seen: Elton John––I missed the goofy costume era though, Eric Clapton––really fun to hear Layla,  Roger Waters–– the Pink Floyd concert I never saw, including the laser pyramid, Paul McCartney––I cried shamelessly, Diana Ross––still fabulous. We've also seen Greg Allman and Bonnie Raitt, and next week I'm going to see The Who!

Who would have ever thought I'd be seeing these icons in the 2000s? 

So, yes, I missed the true era of classic rock, but as long as these rockers are still alive there is always the chance that they'll come to Cleveland, and I'll try to experience what I missed––so long ago. 


Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Life of a Book

There was a wonderful and inspirational author named Madeleine L'Engle.  You may recognize her as the author of A Wrinkle in Time and other imaginative and symbolic novels for young people.  I know her as a writer of great faith. In my years of searching, when I was much younger, her adult non-fiction books, taught me that faith, art, and science are all gifts to be used. She led a practical Christian life and claimed that all types of art could be inspirational whether they used words like "God" or not, which I found comforting at the time.  I recently pulled two of her books off of my bookshelf and found something I'd underlined long ago:

The writer does want to be published; the painter urgently hopes that someone will see the finished canvas; the composer needs his music to be heard. Art is communication, and if there is no communication it is as though the work had been stillborn.

 I spent five months last winter writing a novel. It is my third one. The previous two novels were self-published. It was disappointing to have resorted to that, but I desperately wanted to see them as a book, not just a stack of paper or a words on a screen. They would have been dead, stillborn, if I'd done nothing with them.  Their lives would have been like my grandmother's novels––pieces of looseleaf paper in cardboard boxes for someone to find after she died. 

I have no formal training as a writer beyond local classes and critiques by various authors and writing groups. However, I've written a novel of historical fiction based on the life of a real person. I had no intention of ever writing fiction again, but it was an idea I couldn't resist. Oh, how I want to see it published. I know this one is better (or maybe just the query letter is better) because it has had the attention of several agents. Some wanted to see a portion of the work and two have asked to see the entire manuscript. This, in itself, is exciting and encouraging. The agents who have read portions of it all have had something positive to say about it, but...it just didn't grab them quite enough. 

I have been told that the satisfaction should be in the creative process, the journey––but no, that is not true.  A book is a part of you, a piece of your soul, and contains, in some way, everything you believe in. This holds true for all manner of art and creativity. 

All of my life I have a deep desire and urgency to express myself through writing, singing, painting, crafts and playing instruments. I'm sure that will continue no matter whether this new book finds life and breath or not. The most ubiquitous advice is to never give up. I will try not to.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Nationalism vs Patriotism

From This America by Jill Lepore:

"But by the early decades the twentieth century, with the rise of fascism in Europe, nationalism had come to mean something different from patriotism, something fierce, something violent: less a love for your own country than a hatred of other countries and their people and a hatred of people within your own country who don't belong to an ethnic, racial, or religious majority.... but hating immigrants, as if they were less than human, is a form of nationalism that has nothing to do with patriotism.

"Patriotism is animated by love, nationalism by hatred. To confuse the one for the other is to pretend that hate is love and fear is courage."

The current president has proudly announced that he is a nationalist at his rallies and we are seeing the results of this now.


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Are You Really Pro-Life?

Twenty humans dead in El Paso, Texas and 9 in Dayton, Ohio, dozens more injured, possibly fighting for their lives, all in one weekend in America. The tweets and messages of politicians with thoughts and prayers are useless. Flying the flag at half-staff means nothing. It will not return those people to their loved ones. The current president has vilified Muslim people and immigrants as dangerous, but none of the shooters are either one. None of the shooters in recent years have been either. They are white supremacists who have been encouraged by the president to hate, to blame, to exclude people unlike themselves, as he does publicly every single day. They are people who should never be allowed to buy a gun, let alone an assault rifle.

In church this morning I wept as the pastor asked us to form a circle, hold hands and pray for our country. But God will not save this country because God does not do what we can do for ourselves. So we pray for the hearts and minds of our lawmakers, that they will choose American lives over guns.  Those same politicians claim to be pro-life.

HERE'S THE THING LAWMAKERS: IF YOU DO NOTHING ABOUT SAVING AMERICANS FROM GUNS THEN YOU CANNOT CALL YOURSELF PRO-LIFE.

I cried as we prayed, I cried when I saw my daughter post that she was afraid to go to a public event today, a place where she makes her living, in a time she is carrying her second child within her.  I weep for the future of my grandchildren.

When we traveled through Italy, and someone discovered we were American, their comments were invariably: TOO MANY GUNS. Other countries have figured it out. They must truly be pro-life. They must value their citizens far more than we do. 

I thought this was supposed to be the greatest country in the world.