Sunday, January 19, 2020

Talking to Myself Five

Judy, photo by Emma Tobin

In One Day Five January 19, 2020

I’ve had very few successes in
my book publishing life. So far,
twenty-four books, twelve mysteries, 
seven of poetry, four non-fiction,
and one, my grandmother’s diary,
which I annotated. I wanted to
understand her better. She was
bi-polar and spent too much time
in mental hospitals. I used to say,
“If I didn’t write, I’d go crazy.”
Lately I’ve begun writing more 
and more often, and I’m publishing
two or three books a year. But one,
the eleventh, won me praise I had
come not to expect. My writing
skill is called deft; with more plot
twists and turns than a bakery
box of pretzels. I’ve never seen
such pretzels, but they must be 
impressive. I was stunned by the
praise of the Midwest Book Review.
It lifted me up out of my quiet
life, reading, writing, cooking, 
learning how to strengthen my legs 
and body core. Then, in the same
day, Friday, January 17th, a newspaper
friend came to interview me. His
questions set off the story of my life.
I am as amazed as he is.  By all
the things I’ve done. I worked behind
the scenes most of the time. At that
women’s gathering which we called
“Tell Me a Story That’s True,” I stood
before six hundred women and said,
“Your stories are important. Women
need to write down the stories they’ve
told no one.” I took my own advice 
and I’ve been doing it, too. After
my friend left, I felt the familiar urge
to write. I’ve written so many books,
so many poems, so many pages in my
diaries. My words are there and will
be kept in a major women’s collection
at a major university, and I’m still 
writing, still putting on paper 
the truth I experience: my very own
truth. In one day I learned that 
my life mattered. I crossed some 
boundary, and my story began to be
known by s world of new people,
strangers, those unknown to me,
who will laugh and cry with

 my words ringing in their ears.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Talking to Myself Four

My garden peas in early spring, a few years ago.

Talking to Myself Four January 12, 2020

It’s not easy to let go all those things 
I used to do without debating. When
the hens found their way into the
garden, I didn’t mend the fences.
Next thing I knew, they were living
in the backyard. When I took out
the morning feed, they came on
the back porch and followed me,
sometimes coming in with me, 
sometimes staying out. I always
had a garden. This year I haven’t 
ordered seeds. I practice walking
with a cane and not shuffling–
a way to prevent my body from
running. My new shoes are a 
little too long, but with thick
socks I manage quite well. My
glasses got bent when I fell, but
I’ve postponed getting them fixed. 
Am I lazy now or simply being
wise? With my son for backup,
I walked again at the dam. It
went well, and now I practice 
my cane walk in the front yard.
It doesn’t take long, and it goes
more easily. I’ll see my doctor
in two weeks. She always cheers
me and makes me laugh. I got
through that time of healing,
which went so slowly. What
is it I need to say to myself?
Do all you can do. Rest when
you’re tired. Don’t give up yet. 
You have years to go, 

one day at a time.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Talking to Myself Three

Zinnias on my kitchen table 


Talking to Myself Three January 5, 2020

When did it begin? I was thirteen.
I loved that teacher. I saw the 
beautiful flowers our neighbor
had in her yard. I wanted to take
my teacher flowers like those–
zinnias they were. In our backyard
we had a big oak tree. I planted
zinnia seeds. I watered them
and waited. Nothing came up.
Someone explained: for zinnias 
the soil has to be just right; then
plenty of sun. I still plant zinnias,
and now their brilliant colors
rise up, and if the wind knocks
them over, I know they’ll turn 
their stems and go up again.
I take them to our postmaster,
and all the workers and customers
like them. The word spread about
my zinnias. I got a call: could
her friend come and pick some
for a wedding? I said yes and 
watched them pick “as many
as you like.” There were many, 
and they took a generous number.
With zinnias, the more you pick,
the more there are. Give zinnias
away, and more buds appear.
They’re still my favorite flower.

The wedding was beautiful, she said.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Talking to Myself Two

Judy by Hydrangea Bush Summer 2019. Photo by Doug

Talking to Myself Two December 29, 2019

I used to do it a lot–all the time.
My own soul was my last resort. I do
listen now, but I still consult my
good sense, my deeply lodged intuition.
I’ve trusted it more than anything else.
If It insisted I go to Russia, I borrowed
money and I went. I was never sorry
that I listened to my own voice first.
What other voice could I trust more
than that? As I age, the other voices
grow more insistent: I should listen
to them, trust them, but take my own
consequences. I fell days before I was
to fly to Russia, but the doctor said
I was fine. Good to go. I went. My
back healed, and I forgot about it.
I never break any bones. Now I 
have to get back to my walking. It 
keeps me heart-healthy. I fell nearly
six weeks ago. Time to climb back
on the horse. Practice putting my
heels first, use the cane. Why not?
Practice walking slowly until it’s
routine, normal. I don’t like the cane, 
but it does help me keep my steady
pace. No more running and 
then falling for me.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Talking to Myself One

Winter solstice night,  December 21, left to right, Terry Hogan, Tim, their son, and Judy Hogan. Photo by Virginia Ewing Hudson

Talking to Myself One December 22, 2019

It’s a priority now to talk
to myself first. People I love
want me to do as they say,
but I hold them off. “First,
I have to talk to myself. Say
whatever you like, but first, I
must talk to myself.” Funny,
how my authority dims as 
I add years. Sometimes I have
to stand up and fight. Then go
off in a corner and think what
I’d better do. My plan worked
out. All that money went to
fix my car. New tires, new
hoses, new steering column
fluid. $800 gone in a flash,
but my truck works again.
When my ex-husband came
to visit, I got quiet. I’d been 
miserable in that marriage.
He said his family did too
much harm so he would
stay away so he couldn’t
do any. I never knew he
felt that way. He seemed
happy to meet his grandchildren,
to see me and offer to help.
“What can I do?” “Nothing. 
Make yourself at home.”
But as I gathered plates,
he took them out of my
hands. He wanted to hug me.
“I’ll be gone when you come 
out of the bathroom,” he said. 
But he was still here as they
set up his phone to get him
back to his motel. Maybe
he wanted to get lost. The
grandchildren want him to

return, and maybe he will.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Late Years Sixty

This photo taken in April 2017 as we celebrated Judge Fox of the Superior Court ruling in our favor.

The Late Years Sixty December 15, 2019

For John W., Keely, Therese, Donna, Dean, Sara, and Zack 

My plan did work. Steve agreed
to repair the steering column fluid
problem, and I got my truck fixed.
Nearly four weeks I’ve spent healing.
I still tire easily and sleep a lot.
My former husband is driving to see 
his granddaughter graduate from
college a semester early. She plans
graduate school to get her master’s.
She wants to be a therapist. I’ve
been one without the degree. So
many people I’ve comforted and
reassured, told “You can do it.” or 
“You’re okay.” I will learn to live
with my body and its whims, watch
for warning signs. Even Friday the
thirteenth became benign. Our judge
ruled for us this time. In 2016 she
ruled against us. She finally 
understood. Maybe she learned of
our losses: three treasured ones
died of cancer. They did all they
could. Only three of us came to
the November meeting; only I from
this little town; the rest in despair.
The next week eight people came,
mostly from Lee County. We were
locked out. We came here, crowded
around my dining table; laid plans.
December 6. A week later our judge
ruled. Not against us this time but 
for us. How rare is justice any more, 
but it found us this time: eight of us.  
We didn’t mention God, but He or She
was there.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Late Years Fifty-Nine

Photo of my mother's mother, Grace Roys in China in 1913, In her lap, Richard, by her, my mother, Margaret.


The Late Years Fifty-Nine  December 8, 2019

Each day darker and colder. We enter 
Saturn and Saturnalia. Last November
seems so far away. I drove that flock
to Clayton and arrived, despite getting
lost. Drove back in pouring rain, got
rescued by the grandmother and then
scolded: “Don’t you have a son?”
“He’s at work.” “A grandson?” “He’s
in school.” She drove to find me and 
I followed her back. It was pouring rain. 
They wanted cash. I barely had enough.
On the way home I lost a windshield
wiper, but the hens were processed. 
This year’s flock is unmanageable. They
sleep outside at night. They are weeding
the garden. I fell a year ago, also in
November. I’m recovering again. Slowly.
More afraid of falling. She recommended 
P.T., and then I fell because my body 
wanted to run, and I didn’t. It took weeks 
for my black eye to heal. I have to remember. 
People do help me. I rarely expect it, and
then they do. A lesson worth learning. 

More than I deserve, yet it helps.