Archive for March, 2014

So How to Start Letting Go? My Seediness Goes First.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 24, 2014 by drycreekherbs

In the past year I have been compelled to purge so I can lessen my load when it is time to MOVE ON…..I more or less became involved in the Lenten 40 Bag effort and truck loads of clothes (in multiple giant sizes…the smallest being a 12) have been hauled off to Scott & White’s Hospice Thrift Shop. Here’s what it boils down to: I don’t want to be nuts at the end of my road over stuff. AND I don’t want to be just barely cooling off when Len calls Max to take my dollhouse to the landfill. I want to be in control of my own Alzheimer’s—however that may look. image brothel.jpg

So, due to disintegrating cognitive skills, I cannot remember how the idea came to me to look for a museum kind of place for Katie Sue’s Social Club. I would like to take credit for the idea, but I am thinking Susan L had something to do with some or all of it. She’s as smart as I ever wanted to be! Anyway, I do know that I Googled the key words and dang, if I didn’t find Miss Hattie’s in San Angelo. I sent an email using the provided contact information. Stephanie was visiting this past November when I received a return phone call from Mark Priest, the owner/director of Miss Hattie’s. I explained my idea about donating the house and asked if he was interested. Yes….and we determined to talk later. So over the past 4 months we concluded that this would be great for both of us.

I tried to figure out how to transport it since it is 42” tall. It wouldn’t fit in my van or Belinda’s; it was way to expensive to rent a truck. Mark kindly volunteered to pull a motorcycle trailer to pick her up. That happened yesterday. I had all kinds of anxiety about how to get it ready and how it should be prepared for the long ride to San Angelo. After a night of sleeplessness, I figured I should forego a massive spring-cleaning for the house. After all, it was bound to be tousled in the move—then I recalled a giant roll of stretch wrap film that’s been in my possession for years. It was perfect.

Mark and his wife, Laura, arrived yesterday about noon. Len and I had good chemistry with them and I look forward to going to San Angelo soon to set all the furnishings in their correct places—and a good dusting too. Laura and I wrapped the house with yards of film so nothing would be lost in transit. Mark had huge panels of 2” thick foam and additional blankets for padding. Len and Mark carried the house to a dolly and then on to the trailer. With careful padding, bungee cording, and other stabilizing they pulled out about 1:30.

Both Mark and Laura were astonished at the detail and very excited to have my treasure for the museum. I wish Miss Hattie’s were a non-profit organization so the house might have a home for many years…. Stop Susan. I can’t start over-thinking all this. Katie Sue’s is gone and more people will see it than have in the past 25 years. I did shed a couple of tears as they pulled out–I reallllllly know that this might be the most difficult of the personal treasures to let go. I tried to give them the huge armoire in the guest room but they didn’t have space for it in the museum. BUT I did give them my research books on brothels, a huge black-feathered boa, and all the remaining miniature supplies. This is good; this is very good. This is also self-talk.

So upward and onward. I can enjoy feeling forward-minded and just a wee bit in control of my own transitions into Alzheimer’s, Ft. Sam National Cemetery, or Trapeze School, which ever comes first. Now I have a nice little table for Mah Jongg and maybe jigsaw puzzles. Yes, all that is true but I did let go of a big chunk of personal history. Just a few more miniature tears are in order, I think. I love my journal—it is such a great emotional hidey hole.

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Katie Sue’s Social Club: The History

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 24, 2014 by drycreekherbs


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Yesterday I had teary farewell to one of my prized possessions—my bordello dollhouse, aka Katie Sue’s Social Club. This was, to my way of thinking, the epigenesis of a purposeful iconoclast. Too bad I can’t take credit for the idea. My father-in-law, Leo, built my first house. I furnished it, and in my imagination, it was the cottage of an Episcopal priest and his wife, Obedience. This little abode just whetted my creative juices. Upon completion, Nell, one of my THS colleagues suggested a little whorehouse. The fire was lit.

I was so obsessed….My passion was aligned on my lifeline with graduate school at TAMU. This massive endeavor was perfect therapy for relieving all the anxieties about how I was not a scholar and how I would soon be discovered to be an imposter, an intellectual dust mite…so when I wasn’t trying to look and act smart, I was feverishly researching the life and furnishings of houses of prostitution. I should have written my dissertation about cathouses or as also known, cribs, bawdyhouses, houses of assignation, houses with red doors, and dens of vice. My committee would have been far more interested in my topic!

Len and I were in San Mateo, CA where I found a miniature shop that had the perfect ‘kit’ with “Minor assembly required.” Len immediately knew then he was going to be miserably involved in another one of my projects. So, Len put it together and I don’t remember too much anguish on his part. What I remember mostly are the years of joyful decorating. I mean it…this was an endeavor of love—I finished it right before I graduated. Jay and Dan, our bestest decorator friends contributed more hours consulting than either wanted or so they said. However, I would receive art catalogs from the Dallas Furniture Market that they would find for me…full of miniature nude ‘paintings’ for sale albeit in large sizes. These little pictures immediately were framed and ready to adorn the house.

I put in flooring, electrical wiring, light fixtures, and wall paper; I hand made draperies, teenie weenie Impatien blossoms, and bedding, This was absorbing, mindless work…wonderful and as engaging as anything I have ever done. I could be in a state of flow with nothing in my head for hours. A perfect state of mind…all Zen.

The hunt for miniature treasures took me to out-of-the-way streets in London, Dallas, San Antonio, Rothenburg am Tauber, Sausalito, Auburn, San Francisco, etc. To Len’s credit, he would drive for hours so I could buy a ½” teapot. Jay and Dan developed a keen interest in my anatomically correct cowboy I just had to have—they even drove me miles to Olla Podrida in northeast Dallas to pick it up. Then seemed mildly disinterested as they looked him over! ☺.

Len took the mini chess set to work and set it up as if in play…With his enormous peg-like fingers it was a big deal to set the pieces in place with tweezers and wax. Susan L. crocheted an exquisite afghan for the chaise lounge upstairs. Dan’s mother’s quilting club made me a 100 pc quilt!

loved this house, the furnishings, the exterior, the made up stories Susan L and I used to dream up, and the landscaping! I proudly had the house on a rotating base right smack in the middle of every living room we had for 25 years. One day, out of the blue, Len asked me, “What do I do with that house after you die?” He likes to plan ahead! I ignored him but the seed was planted—-can it have another life?  

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Other Great Moments in San Miguel

Posted in Out and About with tags on March 16, 2014 by drycreekherbs

IMG_9660.jpgOne of the first days in San Miguel Larry, Dennis y Gaye and I went to Ron y Fred’s house for Ron’s birthday party…another special house in a new neighborhood…new to me! There were lots of folks but not so many that I knew. I can’t remember where Camie was…maybe a writing class or? But it was a nice birthday party. I also saw G and D one night for dinner with Larry and Camie….Very reasonable comfort food…I remember that Larry had lasagna but I have no idea what I ate…Dennis told me about a book he and Gaye edited…While cleaning out his grandmother’s attic, he discovered her notes about her grandmother, Levenia. D y G edited the notes, self-published, and now it is a well-thought of book in mining circles. I am eager to read it….he asked me to do a review when I’ve finished reading it. It is called No Wealth for Levnia. I think there is no e at the end of Gay’s name.

IMG_9814.jpgIMG_9813.jpgIMG_9798.jpg I also saw Gay at their book club—their book selection was Flight Behavior. No surprise I came on like a real blatherskite….a very cool word, I think. Since Camie and I had been to the butterfly reserve we had lots to contribute. There were about 7 women there….Leslie and Camie and Fr. Michael’s son’s mother-in-law. Very curious interactions. I didn’t have any clean jeans so I wore my PJ bottoms! They look like yoga pants…but still and all I think I may be getting just a wee bit eccentric. Not so much as Barbara P who wore a tiered feather skirt to the literary conference for a keynote presentation…sort of reasonable since she was on her way to a 60’s party afterwards. Back to the book club. These events are interesting no matter where they are….DYNAMICS are so intriguing. Fortunately I don’t believe in trying to be too smart there at least….and a good thing too! Lolly used to say when she had no idea what either Susan L or I was talking about—“You are soooo deep.” Ha!

We had lovely meals prepared by Larry, who I am nominating for some kind of Man Award. Larry cooked for us and took us out to dinner several times. He is my banker (giving pesos for checks), shoe advisor, National Geographic TV colleague, and travel agent. I loved giving Len reports on Larry’s hospitality as broad hints—Len said he would be happy to cook gruel for anyone. Gruel is his specialty…always hamburger, onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes—all stewed together for hours….he has been known to throw in fish sticks for variety!

While I was in SMdA, Diane sent me an email invitation to dog/house sit again in September. Len advised me to decline the offer….I agreed, it is too much responsibility and rather expensive to be the exclusive caretaker and to come only when she chooses. She suggested we have breakfast at the Instituto..one of my favorite places for green juice and other breakfast goodies….Jake came and was appropriately glad to see me…and also tried to tear the leg off one of the waiters. He doesn’t like some men. This means vigilance is required when walking him. I am glad D and I had a chance for face to face…I told her why I was declining the offer and consequently she modified the fee to only expenses which I think means phone and extras…

The Killeen chums have expressed an interest and almost a commitment to go for DoD in October. They want us to all be in once house so I guess that means renting and not participating in the Community Church tour. I think they would looooove the events but I don’t even know if it will happen this year. Well, I suppose we can go to La Gruta or the other spa, maybe go on a house tour with the Biblioteca, shop, have a cocktail party, maybe get in the Catarina parade…who knows…I must put my head to this with Camie. I am so sad with her—two days after I left SMdA, Camie’s Mom, Marilyn, suffered a fatal stroke. Cami’e been there for a couple of weeks and maybe Larry’s there now. I am prayerful that all proceeds softly. In addition, Barry, her brother is just starting some very mean chemotherapy.

Back to reflections…one night we went to see Monument Men at the shopping mall theater….so very American except fir the subtitles in Spanish and English and German! We had so many naps….very good for me there but when I get home I am ruined. Andy, Dusty, Daisy, and Cat Stevens were often my nap mates. They flattered me indiscriminately for treats. I like that trade off. IMG_9846.JPG

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So that is an incomplete recounting of SM….Oooops, wait. Another highlight…when I am lucky, I get to go to Casa Verde…this being the second time and I go alone…I am such a big girl—certainly wearing the big girl panties. OK, Casa Verde un Oasis de Arte is run by a couple of arty/artists. Bea and Steven produce art and they present regularly scheduled lectures in a little theater in Colonia San Antonio. Béa gave the lecture I attended, Desire and Voluptuoness: The Representation of Women in the Victorian Era! Those stoic and staid men….turned them in to hounds from hell on the dark end…Jack the Ripper, etc. All those innocent, languishing sirens just fanned the fires of the art patrons! Damn good lecture. Béa’s web page states, “After savoring this eye-candy self-indulging, superficial tour of delicate Victorian erotica, I then looked more closely at all these women, and noticed an insidious melancholic, depressive mood, which made me feel ill at ease and startled my curiosity. I couldn’t stop thinking of their state of mind in an era during which which women were objectified, used and abused for the pleasure, comfort and security of a deep anchored patriarchal society.” Whew…then she brought in a lot of sociology and history. Well done to the packed house—we gave her a standing ovation.

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Books I Purchased in Mexico

Posted in Out and About with tags on March 2, 2014 by drycreekherbs
  • Dancing at the Shame Prom edited by Amy Ferris & Hollye Dexter
  • In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Travels with Alice by Calvin Trillin
  • Are the Keys in the Freezer by Pat Woodell, Brenda Niblock, & Jeri Warner
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  • No Wealth for Levinia by my good friend, Dennis Mayfield!

The Beauty of Low Expectations—

Posted in Out and About with tags , , on March 2, 2014 by drycreekherbs

I can’t exactly say why I had such fuzzy, low expectations for this Mexico trip–but I did. I spent the week before my departure in bed in a fetal position…thinking I had something life threatening. Not exactly, but I did feel very puny.

I know this for sure…. I won’t fly in or out of San Antonio unless I am flying Air Tran for the cheap fare…San Antonio was complicated to me. But lessons learned and I am home now and trying to think creatively about my writing….after all I have been to a writers’ conference. Sloooooow down, Suz.

So, I had a maaaaarvelous time. I have discovered that when I come back from a trip, I am reluctant to write about it because that makes the experience seriously over. I need to take my computer with me so I can write as it happens….I am much more in tune with events that way…problem is that I don’t have time to write there because I am so enjoying each and every minute. Camie keeps thinking that I will lose my SMdA enchantment–but it never seems to go away. I just love it there.

With that thought in mind, I am going to try to dissect the magic. When I am there I don’t have all the home prompts laying around. I don’t see the laundry piled up in the closet; nor the drooping plants to water; nor the unfinished knitting; no cat vomit for Len to clean, etc. Instead, I am just totally in the moment waiting for the next amazing sunset, or the next ginger margarita, or the next chili relleno, or the next hysterical story. It is just all good. In San Miguel I am insulated –and from what I wonder, since I have an amazing life.

After a good night’s sleep after our bus ride, we were up to register for the Literary Conference…I think about this time Camie discovered that the first day was just registration and that only took about 10 minutes…I can’t say what I did with the rest of the day…I am sure a siesta was included and perhaps some earring reconnaissance. Really, I can hardly recall one day from another so I will just hit the hot spots.IMG_9674.jpg

HOT Spots:

There were several nice events on the grounds of the Hotel Real de Minas…a reception, lunches with napping blankets and pillows provided, big airy tents for the workshops, a book store where you could buy books, and only three vendors—However, I did manage to purchase a spooky looking journal that I will never write in because it has no lines. IMG_0100.jpg The full conference package included breakfast and lunch, all speakers and workshops, and a round table discussion with one of the keynote speakers. The people watching and chatting was worth the price–plus some.

Wellllllll, how to summarize the conference? Probably everyone I know learned all this literary hoopla in college…but I am a Home Ec and Art girl so the only old learning for me was about writing recipes for cookbooks. The other food writing focused on critiquing restaurants, food history, and food blogs. This is not the kind of writing I will pursue. It is difficult to score big in the critiquing department for The Shed and other Salado eateries—mostly coffee shops and Tex-Mex in gas stations.

I went to these workshops. There were two others that I didn’t make because of a required siesta.

• Just Add Water: Instant Experimentation in Creative Nonfiction (I did some writing exercises here but did not read aloud.)

• Fiction: The Life of Your Fictional Character: The Back Story (I did some writing exercises here and read aloud.)

• Write What You Eat: A Workshop for Food Lovers (I did some writing exercises here.)

• Pleasures of Reading: Chronicling Women’s Lives from Ms. Magazine to Post-Fifty Posse (by Levine, former editor of Ms. magazine for 40 years)

• Reading Literature About Mexico by Authors From Both Sides of the Border

• The Art of Memoir: Women Write Their Lives

• Righting Your Life by Writing Your Life (I did some pedestrian writing exercises here but did not read aloud.)

The workshops were very interesting—interesting, after I recovered from my anxiety that I might HAVE to read my writing exercises. This is the prissy me. In the first class, The Life of Your Fictional Character: The Back Story…for our writing exercise we were asked to write no more than 10 lines….I was chastised by two writers sitting next to me because I didn’t know how to shut off my keyboard clicking on my iPad. Imagine my distress! So I slunk to the back of the room, where a young, charitable woman assisted me. I wrote like a demon. The teacher asked for volunteer readers after discussing big plot – little characters. The readers would introduce themselves and tell their publishing experience. Then there were no more volunteers, so as a former administrator with an aversion to silence, I raised by hand. I told them right away, I was not a writer, rather a reader. Then I read my vignette:

Swan.

Swan. Were Swan’s parents ornithologists, or druggies, or what? I mean, who names a kid Swan? She was neither delicate, elegant, poised, or for that matter a good swimmer. Swan wasn’t the ugly duckling either. Of course, on Sundays she was frumpy. Swan wasn’t a churchgoer other than The Church of St. Mattress. So on this particular Sunday she wore her regulation tea-stained sweats and day-old pigtails. Her turquoise nail polish was often chipped. Swan needed a good scrubbing.

I think Swan could be a series–She falls in love with a ventriloquist’s dummy. Maybe not. Inspiration for this back-story came from me rewriting my conference name tag. I scratched out Catherine and hurriedly wrote Susan. Later that day, a conference worker was trying to talk to me and looked at my name tag, she then addressed me as Swan. I love that.

So back to the story and slap my Mama! They applauded and gave me only compliments—“You are a writer! We can see your character. Fun, and Now you need a big plot to match your big character.” Man alive, I was downright giddy. I felt like Erma Bombeck! AND, after class the teacher and a stranger came to visit with me. The stranger asked if I would be her long distance writing partner. She is a California girl. A hippie, I think. The teacher told me to keep writing.

The keynote speakers were amazing—Calvin Trillin, Yann Martel, Laura Esquivel, Kathi Diamant, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I’m sorry I missed hearing Ellen Bass. Her talk, Like a Beggar: Poems about Sex, Death, and the Human Comedy sounded interesting, but if it isn’t a limerick I don’t enjoy poetry. I expected they would talk about their books….all but one did NOT…rather… each spoke of some personal passion. Scintillating.

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The conference organizers also offered a Fiesta, receptions, and a variety of excursions. Next year I will go on the bus trip to Atonilco. The Fiesta was really good—catered using awesome street food; donkeys traipsing around with tequila shots in baskets; margaritas and cerveza stands; entertainment- Ballet Folklorico de Mexico; Aztec dancers, and a torch singer. I went by myself and had a great time.

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IIMG_0118.jpgIMG_9701.jpg   really enjoyed the author’s roundtable with Yann Martel, author of The Life of Pi. Because I purchased the “Whole Enchilada” package, I was able to join 5 others for an interactive 2-hour chat with this author. Wow, I loved it. Camie likes saying that Yann and I were buddies—we did have good chemistry.

Shazaaaaaam. It is pouring outside! Oh God, pleeeeeease let it rain all day.

OK. I want to go on and on and on about the conference but I don’t know that I can capture it all. The learning was grrrrrreat. Not because I know it to be TOP Quality—because I can’t swear to that…because I am such a neophyte, if even that. I am a reader who learned more about the craft…I have a better appreciation for what it takes to write a book. I learned that publishers hardly do a thing any more. They expect an author to come with a fully developed platform and distribution. There were four professional agents there where authors could pitch their manuscript. Only one out of hundreds was accepted. Self-publishing has changed everything.

I learned about Transactional Analysis approach to writing. Write like a child—inspired, playful, fun, and joyful….I write like this. The adult does the research and the parent does the tough love editing. These latter two are not for me. Luckily I write for me only. So scrap those superfluous (Ooops, an alliteration and that is bad too.) articles, commas, dashes, clichés, adjectives and adverbs. Dig deep. Wretched shame revelations are the ticket….Do not try to disguise your disgusting shame into a novel. No, spill your guts. There was a writing exercise in this workshop and I was stunned! Participants cheerfully raised their hands to purge publically. NOT ME. I wrote about having friends that I don’t necessarily like and who don’t like me. That should draw some attention in my small life. But big shame, no way I am writing any of that. Mattie Lee Edmundson told me never to write anything you didn’t want read in court. That made an impression on me. I mean this, participants liked doing this…sort of literary self-flagellation. The workshop teacher was one of two editors who just published Dancing at the Shame Prom! They invited 25 of their best, writer friends to write an essay about a never-before-told secret. Talk about brave. Naturally, I bought the book and I am hoping for some miserable shame. This will make me feel better about having friends I don’t like.

My writing/reading partner in the Shame workshop was memorable. She wore a beautiful lavender Harem outfit …She introduced herself her name is Chipper. This is not new; she has always been Chipper. She wasn’t saying much so I shared my minor shame of having friends who I don’t like and who don’t like me. Man that opened her up. She was fascinating and smart as a whip, I think! She told me all about ‘upgrading and downsizing your friend list.’ Wow.

Camie and I had such good laughs about this shame idea. I said I didn’t have any good sharable shame…but suggested I would collect essays under the title In Quest of Shame. We really had fun with that. Her first submission for my consideration, “I Let Dusty Hump Cat

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Stevens.” Dusty is her schnauzer and Cat Stevens is her old cat. We laughed till I cried. I hope CAT STEVENS doesn’t sue.

It was as good as a Moonie Conference…curious. I saw every color of hair, gorgeous women, outrageous costumes (Yes, Sally, this is my observation!), lots of extremes-facelifts, mostly non-descript men, and all kinds of trademarks…and only a few tattoos. One woman was so plain in her dress and grooming but she wore the same tiara every day. IMG_9728.jpg She read her writing exercise about aromas…about a penis! I nearly fainted…My Mother would have taken a whip to me if she knew I listened to that. Now this is not to say that all were on the edge but enough to fuel my creativity. I was just plain stimulated.

OK, this IS NOT good writing but I want some of my ideas down on paper or up in the clouds. I know this now. I am deeply shallow and mostly happy about it. I need to do different things to keep my fires going…where to next?

I HOPE THE TEXT ISN’T TOO SMALL.
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