Sunday, February 23, 2020

Talking to Myself Ten

Aleksei Belikh in fur hat, brown fur coat with neighbors and snowman, Kostroma, Russia, after a big snow.

Talking to Myself Ten February 24, 2020

First sleet, then snow, surprised us, although
it had been predicted. We didn’t think it would
be cold enough. Tim kept the woodstove
burning I watched the sleet changing to flakes, small
but insistent and sticking. He saw to getting the
dogs out and back in with snow on their coats.
That was Thursday. By Friday afternoon, it was
nearly gone, and we only lost power for two
hours in the night. Tim set up candles. I slept
through it. I didn’t want to risk falling, so he fed
the hens and kept the fire going. He stayed home 
from his morning job but went to his afternoon
one. The dogs loved the snow; the chickens
hated it. They thought the ground had disappeared.
I was timid until I was sure the ice was gone.
Our friends stopped by Wednesday night but 
continued south on Thursday and missed our 
snowstorm. The road outside was quiet in the
early morning, and then the long-haul trucks
returned. By Saturday I could see the snow 
was gone, and ventured out.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Talking to Myself Nine

My son Tim with my hens a few years ago when he was visiting.


Talking to Myself Nine February 16, 2020

I give myself lectures and reminders.
I write walk! In my appointment book
and sweep. I think I could mend the fence
between the backyard and the garden.
I could plant zinnias and tomatoes, if
nothing else. I could keep the hens in
their run. I could clip their wings so
they wouldn’t fly. Soon I’ll walk at the 
dam again until I do half a mile. I’ll
use my cane and walk heel first.  I
rarely shuffle now. They said I should
be fine, but keep doing my exercises.
Sometimes my left leg hurts when I
first wake up. Then, once I’m moving 
around, that goes away. My small health
problems haven’t returned–only one
small nosebleed. I’m good to go, as
they say. Everything is easier, but 
I am careful not to do too much.
I sleep when I’m sleepy and get up early.
The house is quiet. The bird clock
ticks. I bundle up to stay warm until
Tim gets up and makes a fire. We’re
having a warm winter. The daffodils 
and peepers are shouting “Spring.”
Sometimes our mornings are cold, but
the sun warms me, especially when it 
beats on the back storm door. I live
a slowed down life, and my memory 
sometimes eludes me, but generally I

sleep and eat well, and my days are light.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Talking to Myself Eight

Up close daffodils in my flower garden; next door Robert and Emma Smith back some years. I still miss them.

Talking to Myself Eight February 9, 2020

I often ask myself: How am I doing?
Some days lately, the answer is spectacular.
A stunning review. Am I that good? Yes.
Or an article in the local newspaper. He’s
pleased. I’m ecstatic. He listened so well.
Other days I’m glad I managed to make
quiche. We love it so. Or more daffodils
open. I tell Tim, even if they’re encased
in ice, they’re fine when the ice melts.
There are disappointments, too, but there
always were. I haven’t quite given up
on contests, but I haven’t won any so far.
I try a new one. I can think of so many
things I’d like to do and want to do, but
I hesitate. Maybe later. When I’m stronger.
Inch by inch. Step by step. One thing for 
sure, words still rise up from the deep 
pool in my mind and speak themselves

to my ear.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Talking to Myself Seven

Judy Hogan in 1976 at a Cosmep (small press) conference in Austin, Texas. I was the chair, and 39 years old.

Talking to Myself Seven   February 2, 2020

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” said Dr. K.
My blood pressure was normal, even ideal
for a woman of eighty-two. My black eye 
had finally faded. I was learning to walk 
heel first, and I had healed. My body worked 
its own miracle. It helped that I slept a lot,
and rewards I did not expect came: a Midwest
Book Review of pure praise. Then a front page
story about my writing life. Over seventy years
of it, back to age seven when I lived in bed.
I wrote stories. I was happy. The stories 
continued, and then I wrote poems and kept
a diary. I tried novels and plays, and an epic 
of my own life. My husband showed my
diary to his friend, who called it pure fiction.
Not to me. It was my heart’s truth, but was I 
a real writer? Finally, I answered my own 
question. “A writer is one who writes.”
I read Anais Nin’s published diary. Sometimes
I published part of my diary. Later I published
my poems, and my friend Paul and I started
a poetry journal using underground presses
in Berkeley. We bought an offset press, which
changed publishing, at least for us. We named
it Hyperion, the light god. We wrote and
published against the Vietnam war. We found
so many new voices. Paul was in Berkeley. 
I was in Evanston. We published writers in 
Alaska and California, and later in North
Carolina and Texas. I understood the women
writers better, and he, the men, so we each
had power. We won National Endowment
grants. In North Carolina I found Jaki 
Shelton and others who came to my open
readings. Lots of new women writers.
Then I started my own press, Carolina Wren.
I even published a street poet, Michael 
Riggsbee. He would sell his book for $2, 
or for fifty cents if that was all they had.
Amon Liner found me. I barely understood
his poems, but he didn’t care. He explained
them to me. I put Jaki in print, and she’s now 
our state’s poet laureate. I gave up Carolina
Wren but began publishing my mystery
novels. Twelve now, including one amazing 
review and a front page article. Seven
decades of writing, and people begin
to notice. I celebrate quietly, and
my heart is happy.