I have a new book of poetry to share!

•July 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t written on my blog in a long time because I’ve been busy working on my poetry! 

Unwilling to Laugh Alone - COVER for web

And I am delighted to relay that my new poetry collection, Unwilling to Laugh Alone, is finished. Now I need YOU to make it a bestseller. This book offers something for everyone—to entice you further, I’ve included sample poems below and you can check out my bio, reviews of the book, and other poems via the link below to my publisher’s website.

Thanks to Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Unwilling to Laugh Alone will be released November 2015, just shy of my 50th birthday. It will sell for $14 cover price. BUT you can pre-order now for just $7.50 (plus tax & shipping) by following this link to the MSR Online Bookstore: http://mainstreetrag.com/bookstore/product/unwilling-to-laugh-alone/.

In case that link doesn’t work, please visit http://mainstreetrag.com/bookstore and go to “Coming Soon” and look for Unwilling to Laugh Alone.

Alternately, Main Street Rag does take checks. The price is a flat rate of $12.50 per book regardless of quantity, which includes shipping and sales tax. Let me know if you want me to email you the mail-in order form to pay by check.

Please remember your advance order gives you this fantastic discount, but you’ll have to wait to receive the book in November—just IN TIME for my 50th!  So, order now!

Thank you all!
Anne Kaylor

SAMPLE POEMS FROM Unwilling to Laugh Alone:


Just above my right ear—
where the trunk of this gnarled oak
branches out and my hammock ties off—
there’s a hollowed crook.

Filled with last night’s rain,
this rotting niche sprouts mushrooms,
gathers leaves, hosts a wily woodpecker
who shares its bath.

Notches carved into bark
mark my growth in youth,
but I regret these wounds
as age bends me, too.

I sway to the same wind
that pushes darkened limbs
and wonder if we’re kindred now,
each reaching for our last rest.

The oak turns to winter and, I fear,
the sleep from which it won’t rouse—
the crook is a thief silently stealing
my old friend’s time.


Bright Sky, Cole Night
   ~ For Charles Urrey, 1954–2014

His battered hands are bruised yet
never beaten. Kneading with need,
he molds honey-laced love, even as
his broken body grows too fragile
to touch.

Yet nothing—not even hours
preparing the gear nor single-digit
degrees—surpasses his desire to stargaze
tonight as the clouds part to reveal

By motorized chair, his fingers navigate
him in this rural setting where clarity of sky
matches a crystal mind. He begs to be lifted,
to gaze at his dark heaven, but his frame
betrays him.

His cognizance is caged by tongue;
sagging, his view clings to earth.
But inside, his own unforgettable jazz
blares a timbre acclaiming life and he sheds
death’s tainting touch

for one more day, his Stetson
firmly in place as we break bread,
heedless of the odds.


Without Ends

Without gets such a bad rap. We torture
the poor word with connotations—to be
without anything is to miss out on something,
to lose an opportunity. But what about being
            without warts

End is not much luckier. Though a solid word,
it’s not very pretty, easy to say but hard to do,
always telling us when something is over—
            the end of a movie
                            or a good book
                                            a bottle of wine
                                                            or the rest of life.

Yet happily ever afters come after
the end, and Jesus just wanted to end
our suffering. Funny how we attach
such meaning to so little, just two
small words make all our difference.

These words come together as if forced
by our gravity, drawn close by our need
to change the final chapter. But, with both,
we find we don’t have to finish anything—
             not our broccoli
                            or homework
                                           not the race
                                                           or last piece of pie

 And certainly—not ever—our love.

Valerie Macon, I apologize…

•July 18, 2014 • 1 Comment

…for the terrible way you have been treated by the North Carolina writing community.  I read much of what transpired on Facebook with a sick stomach—feeling like a train wreck was happening before my eyes.  What’s worse?  You weren’t the conductor of any of this.  But I am guilty of not speaking up and saying “THIS IS WRONG, FOLKS.”  For that, I am so deeply sorry.

I don’t know you, but as a poet and editor and publisher, I want you to know: I should have supported your nomination, and I would have supported and welcomed you in our community around Charlotte.

Okay, so the process probably was handled wrong by our governor (whom I will not address my personal views about here).

But did poets in North Carolina really think it was okay to say, “Oh, I’m not condemning Valerie Macon, just the fact she was chosen and she is not worthy.”  That’s a crock of shit.  Shame on our community!  We ALL know better!  We all know that poets don’t make a living off selling books and have to work another job to survive.  And we all know that it’s really tough to get published as poets.

I always felt like, as poets, we understood, intuitively, how to convey our emotions.  Boy, was I wrong.  That whole “reputation” of actually feeling and understanding, I guess, is reserved for the poet alone.  Certainly, not in this instance, did many of “us” feel an ounce of empathy or even sympathy—even when the words were “couched” with phrasing appropriately so as to seem empathetic.

As NC-based publisher Scott Douglass posted today on Facebook:

I’ve watched and listened/read as the poet laureate issue played out because I didn’t think there was much to add to the discussion and, frankly, some folks were offering far too much and would have been wiser to shut the hell up for a while. We’re talking about a human being here in Valerie Macon, and some of the posts I’ve seen are absolutely insane. You don’t volunteer for this position; you are selected. Valerie Macon is a very nice person and—regardless of the credits—is dedicated to the craft. A lot of you folks ought to be ashamed of how your reactions reflected on her. This is a McCrory issue, a Republican we-don’t-care-about-the-arts issue. Vote better next time, so people like Valerie Macon don’t get swept away in the backwash.

Absolutely, Scott.  And while we’re talking about people who are too stuck in conservative views, just WHAT do you think all of you did?  First, you assumed (and speculated openly on Facebook) that Governor McCrory didn’t act the way he should because the process that “has always been in place” didn’t happen.

Admit it, folks.  The WHOLE THING is a political game.  We join writer’s clubs, have to belong to the prominent and recognized organizations, have to be professors, established, “toe the line” in order to ever be considered for a title such as “Poet Laureate” because those that came before us had to do it.  We cry, “foul” TO a political agenda on BEHALF of a political agenda.

Would it really have destroyed us to gather together and, instead of making a negative public display, said to Valerie personally, “Take my hand, and let’s walk through this process.  You are going to learn a lot and contribute a lot!”

Instead, we chose to divide as a community.  And Pat McCrory got more than he ever could have hoped for—a liberal community in-fighting and looking like a bunch of asses to the rest of the nation.

Like Scott said, if you don’t like him, don’t vote for him.  But don’t torture innocent individuals because you don’t agree with his politics.

So, yes, shame on all of us for not handling this situation better—for not standing as a community in support of our Poet Laureate, Valerie Macon.  We have blackened that title now, and I pray for the next individual chosen.

But, most of all, shame on ME for not saying this a whole lot sooner.

Anne Kaylor

Editor, Publisher, and Chagrined and Feeling not-too-proud-of-our-state Fellow Poet

What a weird strange trip it’s been…

•July 17, 2014 • 1 Comment

My brother, Ken, would be proud of me for actually knowing enough to quote a Grateful Dead song title correctly.  But, frankly, I had to look it up on google to make sure I got it right.

I’m not a fanatic fan, but no one can deny there were never truer words—and they certainly appeal to me right now, especially regarding the past year and a half of my life (which is about how long it’s been since I wrote on this blog).

To recap, I moved in with my partner, James, then WE moved into a new house and sold his, then Cheryl and I sold OUR house (she married Francis, bought land, and spends part of every year in Dominica; he spends time up here, too).  I got all the boxes unpacked about the time James had major surgery, then I took on the roles of caregiver and wedding planner—for our wedding.  (Oh, and I bought a new minivan.  I only remember that because the dealership just sent me a one-year anniversary card yesterday.)

Let’s just say… I’ve been a little overwhelmed.  Everything that’s happened has been the most incredible—and strange— journey, and nothing has been easy.  That day at the hospital when James had spinal surgery (he’s okay, btw) went on, LITERALLY, all day.  We arrived before 10:30 am.  I was there for 12 hours.  Giving all the details would bore you or bring you to tears (as I was at 10:30 PM when I finally got to visit him in his room).

The wedding planning became my life not long after that.  It turned out to be a full-time job, but well worth it.  All the planning in just four months—and all the wonderful people we worked with—culminated in my dream come true.  We were married on the beach, our toes (okay, my toes) in the sand, with all our siblings and many friends present.  That was definitely the happiest day of my life (that and every time James wakes up from surgery).

I have to wonder: why do we take only one day to celebrate a wedding, one of the most pivotal days of our lives?  Those 12 hours in the waiting room at CMC felt like forever; those 4 1/2 hours for the wedding and reception felt like a split second.  I can remember each of those agonizing 12 hours, yet I struggle to remember the many great moments of my wedding day.  I’m mostly grateful that my friend and photographer, Lisa Ellis, did such a great job of capturing my memories for me.  Kudos to Will Weaver, too, another friend, who took so many special photos of the whole event. And thanks to Donna Hart, my friend who I begged to video the event and gave me some priceless moments to laugh at forever.

So, what am I writing about in this blog?  I’m writing about being grateful and NOT being dead.  Blunt?  Yes.  True?  Absolutely.

Life gives us lots of opportunity and lots of hardship.  How we deal with it is completely our choice.  Sound cliché?  That’s because it is, but it’s STILL true.  We weren’t prepared, after James’ surgery, to have a wedding.  But we’d known for a long time we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives, so waiting to say so was silly.  Every day is about waiting, and every day is about acting on what is truly important to us.

Right now, I have a husband who loves and adores me—and I love and adore him—and we relish in all the moments we spend together, especially when we’re both working 10-hour days more often than not, and weekends, too.

Basically, I’m reintroducing myself to you.  I am officially Anne Kaylor, and I am absolutely proud to be so!

And I’m offering the idea that I’ll be back.

Best to anyone who still occasionally visits here!

Anne (Hicks) Kaylor

P.S.  I’d love to promise you I’ll be back soon, but I’ve done that before, so you shouldn’t trust my promises any more than I do concerning this blog.  The good news is that my life is TOO FULL to take much time out for blogs.  Unless the inspiration hits me…

It was the BEST of Times; it was the worst of times…

•February 4, 2013 • 5 Comments

Okay, sometimes other folks have already said it better … and I’m being a bit melodramatic.  But not too much, I think.  You can judge for yourself…

I just returned from Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic; Dominica is the island where Johnny Depp was filmed running from the aborigines in “Pirates 2”), where my BEST friend of 30+ years got married this past Monday (we go back further, but that would make me even older if I told the truth  ;-)).

If you are a fan of my (infrequent) blogs, you know Cheryl and I have been friends since childhood.  Our families know each other; we grew up together.  I really have two sisters—Janet by blood and friendship, and Cheryl not by blood but absolutely through friendship.  In 1990, I moved to Charlotte from Indiana, shortly after I visited Cheryl and became enamored of the city and the promise of being reunited with my friend.  Cheryl and I have been housemates ever since.  So, you can just imagine how watching your closest friend in the world get married might just shake a woman a little—or a lot.

If you are a ‘friend’ on Facebook, you’ve already seen some photos of the wedding.  It really was as perfect as you get.  All Cheryl’s work pulling together place settings—our runs to every fabric, consignment shop, and party store in town to get just the right ingredients thoroughly paid off.  And we went above and beyond on the 1000+ cranes to give Cheryl and Francis good luck (James and Tex hung them; Cheryl, Jeanine, Laurie, Ali, Syd, Andi, and so many others I can’t name, folded them; and Cheryl, Beth, James, and I strung and packaged them on New Year’s Eve.  And Jessica and Ashley and Sheila, in Dominica, really pulled together everything to make Cheryl’s day the greatest ever).

Beautiful decorations and venue aside, it really IS about all the people who moved me—the native Dominicans who love Cheryl and Francis combined with the 18 or so of us Americans who love Cheryl and Francis and ventured there (some for the first time/some of us already knowing why Cheryl wanted to get married there)… that’s what made the wedding extra special and memorable.  And, of course, the sunset like no other added to the total ambiance.

A long-winded way to say… I’m deflated.  Yes, Cheryl is married, and I’m so very happy for her and Francis.  Yes, James and I are engaged, and I’m so very happy for us and ready to spend the rest of my life with him.

And, I’m sad … not because I’m saying goodbye to a friend (that will NEVER happen between Cheryl and I, mark my words), but because a time and place has passed—a lifetime has passed between us, if you consider most married couples nowadays don’t last nearly as long as we have.

When we were younger, Cheryl and I tried to explain our relationship, then we just gave up and let people think what they wanted. We were never a couple; but everyone found it easier to explain us that way.  We’ve gone many years with folks not knowing our “sexual status” … but that was just because most people can’t conceive of friends so close, of women so focused on careers and adventure, of women enjoying each other’s company so much.  I envy (in a nice way) my friends, Laurie and Jeanine, because they ARE blood sisters and best friends, so they just get to say “we’re sisters” and have the last name to prove it.

After the wedding, after the reception, after the cruise in the bay (including stars you’ll never see if you don’t venture beyond this continent), I found myself back at the hotel (once everyone had gone to bed), sitting on a patio with a view beyond the horizon, and I cried.  I cried for the beautiful view I don’t know when next I’ll see. I cried for all the love I felt from the people present at the wedding, Dominicans and Americans alike.  I cried in joy for my friend’s best night of her life, the smile on her face and the love in her eyes for Francis, and the complete love in his eyes for her.

And I cried for that passing of time.  That moment I looked at my best friend of all these years and knew we were saying goodbye to what we were in order to embrace who we are.  I know, in my heart, it is where we are meant to be, but it still hurts just as much to say goodbye to all we’ve had, all we’ve been.

Just want you to know, Cheryl, I’ll still be the old, crotchety lady sitting next to you in the nursing home one day or—even better—on some beach in Spain reminiscing about all the adventures we’ve had… together and apart.  And I’ll still try to ‘one up’ you but know I can’t.  Your spirit is too strong, your thrill for life too deep.  No friendship can ever compare to ours.

Sometimes, the hardest thing to hear is the best thing to hear…

•November 15, 2012 • 2 Comments

I restrict most of what I write on this blog to my personal observations.  I strive not to make it about me as an editor and publisher.  I have at times, though, and today is one of them.  It’s still personal, so I encourage you to read it as such.

I was struck hard, where it counts, when I read Scott Douglass’s newsletter (publisher of Main Street Rag and many individual authors, including me) for this month, and I am both appalled and completely in agreement with Scott on what he had to say about authors who live in an ideal world of “egocentricity” that negates how hard publishers (especially those of us who are independent) work to get their writing into print and out to the public.

Today, I consider myself extremely lucky.  Almost all of the writers who submit to moonShine review appreciate the opportunities and support us greatly.  To all of YOU, I sincerely apologize for the marginal few I reference in this blog.

Scott speaks of a publisher who recently died.  And the response from many authors was concern for their own well-being—they were already abandoning the ship in favor of a someone/anyone to take on their contracts.  Granted, that is valid, but I think most of you would agree that’s way down on the list of priorities when someone dies.  Publisher Robert Bixby gave a lot of himself and that should be his legacy.  Yet, from Scott’s well-said observations, it appears the rats are jumping ship as fast as they can.  I can’t help but think if they had their minds focused in the proper perspective, the life boat would wait for them.  The powers that be recognize give and take, good and bad, wisdom over selfishness.  The rats who abandon a man’s legacy at a family’s weakest moment deserve to drown in their own egos.

I sound harsh because I mean to be.  There’s no place for absolute ego in this world of writing.  We support each other or else we all go down.  Those who think they are above the rest have yet to appreciate the network of allies they could have.  I can’t speak to all the big-name publishing houses, but I can speak to the many devoted independent publishers I have met over the years.  We all want the same thing—to give you, the writer, a chance to be heard, to show off your talents, to have credits and move beyond us to major book offers and more.  Every publisher I know is also a writer; we know, intimately, what you are experiencing.  We experience it, too.

We are also contributing our efforts every day to push your writing—in my case, through my own pocketbook because I love being a publisher so much.  I encourage and forward writers in every way I can.  I stress that moonShine review is my own volunteer publishing endeavor.  None of us, not my staff nor I, get paid to produce this journal, and I pay to produce it.  We do it because we love what it stands for and the many worthy authors and photographers we’ve published.  (I thank those who purchase, since that’s what keeps us going.)

To those writers who have submitted to moonShine review and felt “slighted” by my comments and responded with “much to do about it,” I just have to say … get over yourself.  You never have to take my feedback, but you should remember to always respect publishers’ comments and write in a professional manner when addressing anyone (email is not an excuse to rant).  I truly believe that most of the contributors to moonshine would agree I have never written an unprofessional email in response to any one of you.  How some have taken my words is another matter.  I respect every last one of the writers I have received submissions from over these past 8+ years.  I do not respect a response that entails denial of my effort or words that convey I am “obviously stupid” because they’ve been accepted elsewhere, therefore they are “perfect.”

It comes down to this: I have never been unkind (except in this particular blog), and I never mean to be that kind of publisher.  Obviously, there are plenty of publishers/editors out there who are very capable of being so.  I lament they feel the need or lost that personal connection.  For me, it’s all about the personal connection and experiencing my authors’ writings as much as my own.

My final say … give thought to this great independent network you have before you.  Don’t take it for granted.  And don’t tell us “we’re stupid” if you don’t hear exactly what you want to hear.  Don’t insult us.  DO respect this ultimate circle created that you have/can partake of.  And, you might remember, we talk to each other.  What one publisher hears from you, the rest eventually know, too.

And bless those who have passed now but endeavored to do so much … for you.
Blogger, Writer, Editor, Publisher, and more

No one is defined by a mere title…

I’m in(to) “Glee” … but, sometimes, I wonder why I blog …

•August 7, 2012 • 4 Comments

… then it hits me.  Despite how many months I go without writing on my blog—I need this; I need your feedback.

Always, you have been kind, and I thank you.  And, tonight, I struggle and need that reassurance that you still “check me out from time to time.”  And I have to ask the question of all of us: how do we juggle the everyday with the creative side that longs to grab hold?

I have a hard time finding that creative inspiration.  And I’m not sure what I most want to relay to you—the greatest pains of my life that spur me to write or the greatest Pandora mixes I’ve discovered that inspire me.  Odd as it sounds, I’ll try to do both fairly succinctly…

My plight?  I’ve been reviewing good writing from others—it’s my job as an editor and, yes, I know I’m lucky—but, I have to say, it inhibits my own appetite for writing at times.  Plus … Cheryl, my best friend and housemate of 20+ years, is getting married in January and we’re planning her destination wedding in Dominica.  James, my fiance, and I are striving to sell his house so we can find our home.  Work is crazy good but overwhelming.  My mom is in a “space” so she hasn’t spoken to me in nine months and I’m stalled on that count.  My sister is dealing with marital issues, and my brother is just wiped out dealing with Mom,  my “off-center” 90-year-old Uncle Arthur, and all the rest of the family.  And my Godfather Uncle Kenny died last week.

Thus, the crux.  I’m inspired to write.  But time is another matter.  How do we write when we are inspired but just too tired?  Where do we find the energy?

I’ve gotten into Pandora lately (hey, new phone/new realization), at first just to have background noise while I was working.  Then I thought about plugging in my guilty pleasure—“Glee.”  Okay, so I was not a fan or watched the show … until lately.  Cheryl gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and “Glee” showed up when I was playing around in the Netflix free zone, so I decided to check it out (sue me, I was curious).

What did I have to lose?  Turns out, nothing, actually.  I found out: (1) I LOVE the show and music, and (2) I’m not SO OLD I can’t relate to what it feels like to be a “loser.”

So, I plugged the “Glee Cast” into my Pandora and, surprisingly, the resulting songs got me into a writing groove—a real mix of angst-slash-feel-good-groove-slash-new-inspiration mode.  To be honest, this “podcast” came just at the right time.  I’m not sure—six months later/earlier—it would hit me at all.  But, right now, I needed a reminder of things past and how hard the struggle “was” (as opposed to is).

I’ll admit it fully; I’m a sap.  I actually gain writing momentum from watching this show and listening to the music.  Yes, it’s about teenagers, and high school, and prom—and life and death.  I’m still not over any of those moments; my guess is most of us aren’t.  And that’s really the reason I have to suggest this for you.  (If you don’t agree, look up the “Rumours” episode or “Prom”—watch them then respond.)

If you like the rock group Journey, you’ll enjoy plenty of this show; if you love musicals, then you will feel really good;  and if you hate Lady Gaga, you’ll have something to respond to, at the very least.  (You’re allowed to laugh, but still try it and tell me if it actually works for you.)

Just one more promo … “Defying Gravity” is the song that, typically, pops up within one of the first three in the “Glee” Pandora mix.  Well, I can only think, “That’s what I want to do/who I want to be!”  TOO telling (the song is from “Wicked”—I read the book/have to see the musical now).

We all find inspiration in the weirdest places … and I’m not afraid to say I’m hooked on whatever gives me inspiration.  Hope you are, too.

Keep writing, keep sharing!


Change is good, especially when it comes to “family”

•December 29, 2011 • 6 Comments

Wow, what a year it has been! WOW, what a December it’s been!!! I don’t think even wordpress.com provides enough space/memory for me to write it all down—and I think even my most devoted blog followers might give up if I tried. 😉

(But I do have to plug that I’m posting two blogs, so please check out both!)

For this blog, I’ll focus on the one topic I’ve attempted to write about several times and never actually published … family.

Everywhere I turn, family pops up. The most recent issue of moonShine review is all about family. My friend, Leslie, is about to publish a book, and it’s all about family (see an earlier post). My fiancé’s life this year has been all about family. And my life, always but especially this year, has revolved around family.

This year, I reconnected with some of my mom’s side of the family. My 90-year-old uncle lives by himself (his wife died two years ago), and he was recently diagnosed with cancer. I visited and found him to be a great guy—sound of mind and sweet as can be and tells the greatest stories (more than once, yes, but I don’t mind). And I visited an estranged uncle and aunt who I spent a large part of my childhood with and always loved so much. We had a wonderful time, and I realized I missed them so much!

Meanwhile, my sister has reunited in much the same way with other relatives. And, credit to my brother, he has always been connected, especially to my dad’s side of the family, and still is (and he visited our 90-year-old uncle recently, too).

In other words, we’ve been bridging family relationships and doing it in all sincerity and with good intention. But you know what they say about “best intentions.” Yes, all of it has backfired on us.

I’ll be honest. My family is screwed up. My father died in 1993; my mother can’t let go … and she tortures us because of it. Well, mostly she punishes “the girls” in the family (my brother is often exempted, but he is her caregiver and works hard to keep her happy). Right now, Mom’s not answering my phone calls (last week she hung up on me). My uncles are fighting with each other and with us. My sister is in tears and can’t sleep.  Personally, I’ve been there; done that. I’m upset, but I won’t let it wreck my life. I love them all, but I also realize if love is not enough for them, then I can’t let that take over my life.

So, as you can see, even before this issue of moonShine came together, family was on my mind. But then I saw that it was on everyone else’s mind, too. All the stories in this latest issue are about family, and many portray the dark side, the tough stuff. In my publisher’s note at the beginning of this issue of moonShine, I expressed my views on family, and I’d like to share and expand on that.

To me, “family” is the most complicated concept in our culture (obviously, given my own experiences). Even though we’ve come a long way in our understanding of the definition of family, we’ve got a long path ahead to complete the journey. We all have the family we grew up with. Whether we’re still part of their lives or estranged, they are part of us. Then we have the still-favored traditional family to strive for—the husband with wife and 2.5 kids. But we also have what society calls “alternative couples” who hammer away at antiquated laws and bigotry to gain the freedom to marry and have a family. And we have career women, like myself, who have chosen to forego family until later in life—even if it means giving up the idea of children and maybe not finding that someone with whom to grow old.

For me, and many like me, we’ve made our circle of friends our family, depending on them as we would a sister or brother and, if we’re lucky, choosing wisely and gaining family members who truly love and support us for who we are. (Personally, I’ve been very lucky. My circle of family bears and bolsters me beyond what I ever thought possible. And, though I won’t have the two-legged variety of children at this age, I have my forever love, I have my four-legged kids, and all my friends’ kids, too!)

I truly believe—even in the midst of strife with our own blood, even in the midst of struggle with society itself to define who we are—we are challenged to accept all these definitions of family. We are called to break the patterns that bind us and to revel in whatever makes family meaningful for us. We are challenged to be wiser than previous generations. We are called to expand our definition of family to friends, partners, four-legged children, and more. We are incited to welcome siblings beyond blood, siblings of mutual experience and understanding.

Today, we are pushed to look beyond birthright to see not only what our parents made us, but also all that we can embrace beyond. Parents bear us, but we create who we are.

I wish for each of you everything you strive to accomplish in the coming year. And I wish for you to find family in the way that supports and loves you the most.

Happy New Year,

P.S. THANKS to all who check on my blog and really want to read when I post. Your comments always make my day!

Goodbye, my Jewel

•December 29, 2011 • 3 Comments

I imagine, in the beginning, she was a shy pup amidst the other greyhounds.  Perhaps she already knew, because she was black, that she was less desirable.  Black greyhounds are not wanted or well-liked on the racetrack or once off.  They are the hardest to find homes for.  But Jewel excelled.  She became a winner.  Then she became a mother to litters of potential winners.

When Jewel came to us as a foster dog at the age of eight, she’d been “off the farm” for one week.  We were told Jewel hadn’t eaten in three days.  We picked her up and drove around the corner to Wendy’s.  We bought a hamburger for her, and she ate it all, meat and bun in two gulps.  That evening, our old dog left his bowl, and Jewel moved in before we realized it and ate her own plus his, then moved on to what the other greyhound had left.  Okay, so she could eat just fine.

At the time, we had a houseful of four-legged kids.  Harley was our eldest—a true hound who moved slower but still maintained his Alpha status and occasionally scared us to death when we let him off-lead (that boy could run in his day, even if he wasn’t a greyhound).  Ladybug, an earlier greyhound rescue, was our carefree “I’m the center of the universe” girl who was too distracted by her adoring human fans to ever be a good racer but ended up stealing the hearts of everyone she ever met.  Cleo, our calico kitty, was and still is the bravest and sneakiest in our household (she’s taught more than a few greyhounds not to mess with a cat).  And Bijou, the female golden tiger kitty, was (and also still is) the most loving cat I’ve ever experienced, right up-in-the-face all over you if you can take it (the claws are something else, but the love makes up for it every single day).

Given the full house, we believed we were capable of fostering vs. adopting.  Then we got the first call about a home for Jewel—no fence.  Nope, we were sure she needed space to run, even if she was eight.  Another call.  They didn’t have any other greyhounds.  We knew that wouldn’t be good enough for Jewel.  She needed other greyhounds more than she needed us.

As the weeks passed and we received call after call of possible homes for Jewel, we came to realize that no home was good enough for Jewel … because she had become our Jewel.  Yes, she was skittish.  In the greyhound world, we call them “spooks” because they’ve been so hurt by what they went through that they don’t trust humans fully, no matter what we do.  But she fit with us.

Jewel never fully got over all that happened before she came to us, but she overcame much.  She embraced our four-legged family, and she loved Ladybug from day one.  Ladybug literally was her world.  She learned to love us, too—the humans—as much as she loved her animal friends.  And I still wish I could have captured on camera the way she stood there patiently while Bijou rubbed against her and snaked around her long legs.

We lost Harley first—at the age of 17, four years ago on the day after Thanksgiving.  Last year in the spring, we lost Ladybug to cancer—and endured that sparkle going out of her eyes.

I think Jewel might have passed away sooner, but she knew we needed her.  We even adopted an abandoned 12-year-old Italian Greyhound, Twiggie (for us, for Twiggie, whose human mother died, and also for Jewel, who had no dogs left in the house).  And Jewel treated the “new kid” like a baby and loved her with all her heart.

She held out as long as she could, supporting us through our own grief.  But Jewel was fourteen and a half years old.  She had the equivalent of Alzheimer’s, her back hips were shot, and she was still lonely, pining for her babies and her Ladybug.  She told us it was time.  We had raced with her to the end, and we had to let go.  It was peaceful for her, perhaps the first time she had truly felt that way since Ladybug passed.  It was devastating to let her go, but I know our beautiful Jewel had friends waiting for her across the Rainbow Bridge.

I know she still holds us dear to her and wishes us the best … especially now that she’s winning every race up there, somewhere, and playing with her dear friend, Ladybug, once again.

I wrote a poem a while back when Jewel wasn’t doing too well.  I rewrote it upon her passing … my legacy to her.

Black Gold
                —For Our Jewel, Who Passed

I would like to have seen that lithe black
body hasten the wind in the trees, to watch
that sable frame run with pure grace.

Jewel, named Black Gold when she raced,
is fourteen.  Today, she stumbles, the harness
she wears her only support.  She cannot stand.

She cries, confused.  She can’t sleep, and I don’t want to,
feeling every minute is her last.  Just one more is enough,
I think, knowing better.  But today is her day, the last.

Is there such a thing as black lightning?
She raced three years—one-hundred races.
Three quarters wins but still no freedom.

They wouldn’t let her go, had to make more.
It was Jewel’s lot to breed winners.  Now she babies
toys that don’t breathe or talk back, always the mother.

Born black, she was expendable.  That’s the way,
even with greyhounds.  Ironically, we never learn.
But these days the gray covets her black, and all is equal.

Jewel loved her own, misses them and searches
in vain, moving in the rhythm of her aching body.
More medicine made it tolerable—for a little while.

She’s not a complainer, never has been, despite the pain.
Jewel’s my special miss.  My right old girl who forgets
the day. No longer can eat.  Her bones show.

She doesn’t remember me most of the time,
but she’s my Jewel.  And she taught me so much.
I only hope someone will see me this way someday.

Color her black again.
Watch her run.


Once again, thanks for “listening.”

Keep writing; keep sharing.



•December 13, 2011 • 1 Comment

My long-time friend and colleague, Leslie M. Rupracht, has a book of poetry soon to be released—Splintered Memories.

I have had the privilege of reading much of Leslie’s poetry, and am familiar with many of these pieces.  But not until I viewed this entire manuscript did I understand fully the magnitude of Leslie’s accomplishment.  She has chosen poetry as her art form, and what this book becomes is much more than a collection.  This is a holistic chronicle, a biography and autobiography, crafted by emotion and presented with unerring honesty and insight. The progression of this mother-daughter story finds voice through vivid sensory details—as in the poem “The Art of Taste”—as well as starkly portrayed loss—as in the poem “What She Bears.”

You don’t need to love poetry to connect with this book … you just need to love a mother.  This is a must read for the holiday season!  You can preorder your copy now at discount by visiting http://www.mainstreetrag.com/LRupracht.html.

Congratulations, Leslie!

Just One …

•May 20, 2011 • 7 Comments

… something special … is all we need.  Just one moment—each day.

I require inspiration to write my blogs.  I’m not that “write every day or even once a week” disciplined kind of gal (so you’ve noticed).  But when it comes, it truly does inspire me to say something.  Tonight, that something is rather small, by outward appearances, but big to me.

I’ve had a day of ups and downs—like most days for most everyone.  Then I received some notes from a friend who had a very bad week of physical and emotional turmoil.  And I talked to my love, who doesn’t sleep so much and hurts most of the time.  Then I talked to my mom, who is 85 and lives in pain every day and never sleeps, it seems.

I couldn’t fix their pain.  I couldn’t give them palpable relief.  Despite what I couldn’t do, I do know I gave support and, perhaps, a little comfort to each of them by knowing that I care, that I love them.

I work in a world of PC’s and Blackberries.  I’m used to being alone, communicating mostly by the magic of the internet.  At times, I chide myself for not socializing enough or having enough face-to-face time—with clients, with friends, with family.  Today, I was blessed with a little magic of my own, I think.  I don’t know how or why, but I was attuned to the “nature of things” and realized who and what needed my attention.

I also realized that attention didn’t mean being physically near someone in order to be with them.  And having distance from someone tangibly didn’t mean I wasn’t with them when it counted, when they needed me.

It was simply being there that mattered.  I talked on the phone to my love this afternoon.  I sent instant messages to my friend throughout the night.  I had a two-hour, long-distance conversation with my mom.  I did what I could, and sometimes that really is enough.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not applying for martyrdom just yet.  I have plenty of negligent moments (as past blogs can attest).  But today I did okay by others.  I felt what to do and followed my instincts (aka “heart”).  And I feel good about that.  Yes, it’s a small thing, but I have hope I can multiply it into a bigger thing … tomorrow.

Just now, as I am contemplating my selfless giving, my felines remind me I have not paid attention to them in months (it would seem), for they are vying for my complete devotion—crawling over my keyboard, nipping at me, nudging my arm to create typos.  If you knew my cat Bijou personally, you would laugh—Bijou craves attention every day as if she’s been denied it for months.  If you knew my other cat, Cleo, you’d call me a liar because she never asks for affection (but she does, late at night, when no one else can witness it).  Truth is, I have been very busy, and the dogs get more attention as a rule than Cleo and Bijou.

Appropriately, I am humbled by my cats.  My apologies to them.  Obviously, being attuned did not apply to everything or everyone today.  I will close so they can have my full attention.  And so I can sleep.

Still, I wish you a moment tomorrow when you find someone in your life who needs you—and you respond.