Happy Valentine’s Day

My dad did not like a sentimental or romantic gesture. If he was feeling very fond of you he might rub or gently sock your shoulder in passing. He exuded strong feeling, but didn’t show it directly. Until as a very old man, after his stroke, he’d applaud when one of his children entered the room. That was a gratifying, if mysterious, change.
My mother liked holidays. She’d been raised in her father’s candy business and was fond of Halloween and of course Valentine’s Day. She gave us all elaborate pop-up cards. It was from the combination of my parents that I think of Valentine’s Day as a holiday more of friendship than of romantic love in any of its many guises.

And right now my household is focused more on our favorite shared holiday–Mardi Gras! Strange for two secular Jews, but there it is. We’ve been to Mardi Gras in cold environs–Red River and Cloudcroft (NOLA in our separate youths). We usually dance with the Hillstompers bar crawl. But not this year. This Mardi Gras is all about streaming live jazz concerts and trying to find Cajun-like takeout. And–later this week–go in search of the alleged Mardi Gras house right here in Santa Fe. (More later!).

One year, though, my father brought us all hothouse bouquets of violets. They were like corsages, with enticing hat pins in the stems. And they smelled extraordinary. What happened? Did he pass a florist shop and think of his children? Did my mother nag? I’ll never know.

Can I Be Honest?

I can be a bit of a social chameleon. After all, I was the president of my high school’s student council–which took a fair amount of floating between cliques. On my block I’m just a neighbor–talking about the weather and fruit trees. If Rich asks me a good philosophical question I’m off and running–reminding him I too was educated at a fancy college. Then I feel compelled to swear and say something sassy and dirty–after all, I’m also a Jersey Girl. Talking to a friend from high school I suddenly felt…more myself. Does this mean I’m not myself the rest of the time?
Usually these questions are in the background. But the pandemic has increased my need to not tell the whole truth. Am I in strict isolation, traveling, afraid of disease and death, boldly accepting mortality…am I watching television, gaining weight, losing weight, too cheery, too morose…Whatever I am, I know at least some of my acquaintances aren’t going to like it–or me. And that’s a bad feeling.
I’ve always been cautious about what I say to who (unless I’m writing–which is more “tell all.”) For example, I know from various experiences that women going through infertility do not want to hear about your charming toddler. The same way that when I was broke, a widow, and a single mom I did not want to hear about romantic vacations–or at least not at length. But now maybe I’m overdoing it.

How are you, Mir?
Uh, ok, you know, fine, not great. You know, bummed. Fine.
What’s new?
Not much. How are you?
Didn’t you just publish a novel, climb over archeological sites, and start planning Mardi Gras (food, beads, music) with Rich?
Uh, no.

I can tell I’m overdoing it because when a sympatico person I trust asks me how I am–once I start talking, I can’t seem to stop! I’m starved for self-revelation, and to hear the same. With close friends and in tight little groups I feel like myself, even when I’m not totally sure what that self is. But Facebook was becoming a torment in terms of self-reporting. Which is why I am basically off it for now,
Maybe I should stop worrying about what people think of me. After all, they can take or leave me, as I can take or leave them. The pandemic, though, has made the process of decision making more overt. Should I share my personal approach and protocols? I think not, unless I really feel like it.
My own judgemental nature is also high–and that is a burden. Once I settle down on fear of judgement, it seems I should address my own.

Dioramas

In the Mimbres River Valley, there are numerous archeological sites. But unless they are cliff dwellings, time has eroded the more homey construction. At Mimbres Cultural Heritage Site, little dioramas re-construct what the site looked like.

Pandemic Reflections from Three Women Writers

Susan Hull says:

I’m struggling to accept that it’s okay for me to enjoy isolation and self-absorption without apology. My interaction with the world, aside from my horses whom I visit for hours every day, has become mostly reading what people write, along with writing the occasional comment. I’m still hesitant and self-conscious about publishing my own writing, so it mostly stays in my head, but I did take a couple of online writing workshops and even liked what I wrote. In one of the workshops, we didn’t share what we wrote, which was a relief at the time, but now I notice myself wanting to share it. So all in all, having the freedom to isolate has allowed me to identify a desire to express myself. I don’t know if that would’ve happened without the isolation being sanctioned as a good thing and not an antisocial thing.

Lucy Moore reports:

I am not as extroverted as everyone, including me, thought. I suspected that it would be fine with me to cut out the bulk of the coffee dates, lunches, cocktail hours, dinner parties, book clubs, and board meetings. And it is. I don’t mind at all. So, if you read this and your feelings are hurt and I tell you, “oh, no, I don’t mean you – you’re my best friend and I miss you dearly,” please believe me.
·         I need to be busy. I have yearned for more free time for all those projects – creative, home maintenance, life organizing, etc. – and yet here I find myself frantically busy with work, busier than I’ve been in years. The first few weeks were fun. Everything was cancelled, the world was quiet, the contrails were gone, the bunnies, the deer, the birds were celebrating. My husband and I made dozens of masks for friends in Navajo country, him designing and cutting, me sewing. I read The Iliad and Jane Eyre. I cleaned out one closet. And then that was enough of that. I jumped on each work opportunity that came along and soon was loaded with little time to think about the state of the country and the world. Aha, now it makes sense.
(I’m a huge fan of her blog–https://lucymoore.com/category/blog/)

Karla Linn Merrifield answers some questions:

How has the pandemic affected your writing?
It’s given me more time without many distractions to think more and write more. I’m disciplined about my writing normally and that habit has served me well to use “newfound” time.

Is there any advice you would give to young writers during this time?
Show up. Do it. Even if it’s only a sentence or a paragraph/stanza every day.

Read the entire interview here:
https://www.kaylakingbooks.com/blog/2021/1/6/pages-penned-in-pandemic-with-karla-linn-merrifield

Very Excited To Be Hosting The Haiku Event

Haiku from Home
A Reading by the Broadmoor Haiku Collective
Hosted by Miriam Sagan
Sunday, February 28, 2021
7:00 pm EST

As a haiku group who met for seasonal nature walks, or ginko, we wondered how to adapt to the new realities of 2020.  

Please join us to hear a bit about our approach (which we’ve dubbed Zoomko) and to hear some haiku generated from our virtual gatherings. We look forward to sharing with you.

Brad Bennett, Alan S. Bridges, Judson Evans, Kristen Lindquist, Hannah Mahoney, Jeannie Martin, Paul Miller, Tom Sacramona, and Mary Stevens

For the link, RSVP to Miriam Sagan, msagan1035@aol.com

Color Theory: Poem by Miriam Sagan

A friend and I are taking an art class together, each on zoom, and ended up having a fascinating conversation about color. I’ve always used color to express emotion in poems, but not super symbolically. Wallace Stevens of course is the master of blue–Lorca of verde.

Color Theory

In the Thirties and Forties
Manhattan glitters
diamonds on blue velveteen at dusk
although each afternoon is gray
shearing towards rain
the felt brim of the fedora—
also gray—
turned down

I’m born into my mother’s house
her box of colors
sturdy browns and olive shades of the Fifties
her lilacs, rose, dove gray, moss green
cultivated colors of domestic flowers
dusky blue wallpaper print
never saw her wear
orange or yellow

The Sixties
neon green
hot pink
zebra stripe
pink zebra stripes
electric blue
yellow submarine

Today’s palette
zinc sky, snow shading into violet shadow
white hoops
for the unplanted
garden bed
but my own sheets
are apricot
although the fruit trees are bare

The lines on the map
should be blue
to reference veins,
what leads back
to the heart…

The child let go
of the balloons
didn’t mean to
pollute the air
but the lightness
of helium
was too much hue
for you

It was either
the balloons
or something
more personal

A private feeling
also multicolored

I’m told
to pick my palette
and stick to it
the peeling white metal bedstead
in the abandoned beach house
the violent sprawl
of orange day lilies
I’ve left that place

And you in it…

The schooner’s red sails…

Don’t tell me
the sails are white
who
is in charge
here?

Who gets to say?

I remember you
and as you
have forgotten me
I get to pick
the color