September Recap

Okay, so the weekly book reviews this summer didn’t quite pan out. The best laid plans always have a way of sounding better on paper than in reality. And having regular days for regular posts didn’t work so great either. I guess I just blog when I have something to say! But my new idea, is once a month to do a regular post of my kukai submissions/results and another of my writing accomplishments for the month. That much I think I can do. Here’s a list of my September writing accomplishments, in a nutshell:

  • Submitted three haiku to the September/October Sketchbook “fall trees” haiku thread.
  • Submitted to the September “leaves falling” Shiki Kukai (still awaiting results).
  • Took 1st place in the 17th Caribbean Kigo Kukai with my “bluebird” haiku.
  • Had a short essay appear the Oregonian special Komen section and on OregonLive, along with a (even briefer) quote on OregonLive.
  • Had a tanka  entitled “love” appear in the Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo anthology.
  • Won 2nd place in the Write On! Online Summer Challenge with my fiction story “Love at 30,000 Feet”.
  • Had a post “Without Pay” appear in the summer 2010 Oregon Humanities magazine.
  • Had a poem “End of Year Blues” be selected for the Top Ten list in the Poetic Asides monotetra challenge.
  • Was selected as WOW! Women on Writing Facebook Fan of the Week. (Bio and accompanying photos to appear this Sunday.)
  • And put plenty more writings into the pipeline, including submitting to a haiku contest, a query contest, a haiku journal, a hint fiction contest and  an essay contest.

All in all, a good month for writing!

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Poetry Wednesday

There’s some great poetry going on today at Poetic Asides. I guess some prompts just speak to us more than others. The prompt was to write an “emergency poem” and immediately my mind went into flight or fight mode. I was going to tackle something heavy about losing my mother, when I read a couple poems (which I almost never do before I write my own, so I won’t be influenced unduly by them!) which made me smile. And immediately I wrote this. (My husband’s been out of town for a week– can you tell?)

Laundry Emergency

My breakfast untasted,
my email unread,
I knew I should
have stayed safe in bed.

The cats are purring
at my feet—
I know, I know,
they want something to eat.

But I’m sure it’s going
to be that kind of day
when I see my son
has something to say.

There’s tension on his face,
there’s friction in the air,
when he tells me
“Mom, I have nothing to wear”.

The Doors are Closing

This week’s Big Tent Poetry prompt (which I almost missed, due to being so busy this week I forgot to check the Monday prompt until today), is to write a travel haibun. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at haibun. It combines my favorite two literary elements: prose writing and haiku. So here is my very first (and definitely not last!) haibun:

The Doors are Closing

This is an eastbound train to City Center and Gresham. The doors are closing. Past cars on the freeway, suddenly plunged into the darkness of the tunnel. Riders with iPod buds in their ears, behind newspapers, dozers. Metal on metal, shrieking in protest. Washington Park. Doors to my left. The doors are closing. And suddenly we emerge again, like moles, blinking into the sunlight. Past The Real Mother Goose, past Brooks Brothers, past the Galleria. This is a blue line train to Gresham. In the priority seating area, you are required to move for seniors and people with disabilities. Sun gone, now threatening rain. A man huddled in blankets on the sidewalk looks up at the sky with dead eyes. A woman snubs a cigarette out on the sidewalk. Skidmore Fountain. Doors to my right. The doors are closing. Over the steel bridge, the Willamette still and sullen. I stash away my notepad, take a few wobbly steps to the door, clutching the pole for balance. Rose Quarter Transit Center, Rose Quarter Arena, and Memorial Coliseum. Doors to my left and right. Exit, breathe city air, shoulder my backpack. I’ve arrived. Behind me, the doors are closing…

early fall-
the maple drops
a single leaf

Know Your Facts

Today was Day 1 of the Health Expo for the Portland Race for the Cure.

I volunteered at the Komen booth. People spun a wheel and answered one of 8 questions about breast cancer facts to win prizes. How well do you know your breast cancer facts? Take this quiz and find out. Then click on the link at the bottom for the answers.

  1. What are the two best steps to take for early detection?
  2. What should you do if you find a lump?
  3. True or false: 85% of breast cancer cases are NOT hereditary.
  4. True or false: The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer if caught in the earliest stages is 98%?
  5. True or false: The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer if caught in the latest stages is 26%?

Okay, and I must be seriously tired from my long day, because I’m drawing a blank on the last 3 questions. If I think of them, I’ll add them later. 🙂

Here’s a link to the answers.

Aha, I discovered today at the Health Expo, that there were actually only 6 questions in all, which means I only forgot one. That makes me feel much better!

6. True or false: 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

August Kukai

This was a good month for Kukai contests for me. I’m starting to get the hang of them. The 17-syllable, one long sentence format that I grew up with is now outmoded, and it’s taken reading and writing many haiku before I began to adjust to the new style. The Haiku Handbook was a wonderful place to begin, and a resource I constantly refer back to.

In the Caribbean Kigo Kukai #16, I tied for second place with this haiku:

after the thunder
stillness…
then birdsong

In the Shiki Monthly Kukai, my kigo haiku came in 7th:

August moon
how silently
the owl flies

And today in the July/August Sketchbook Kukai, one of my haiku took second place:

lingering heat
the dogwood’s leaves
curling inward

On to next month’s Kukai!



Getting My Life Back

Each year, in conjunction with the Komen Race for the Cure, The Oregonian asks a question and invites breast cancer survivors to answer the question. A sampling of responses appear in the special Komen pullout section of the paper the week before the Race. For the third year in a row, my response was published. This means a lot to me, because as I’ve had some time (four years to be exact) to put my cancer experience in perspective, my hope is that my words will help others, especially those who are newly diagnosed.

The question this year: “How did you get your life back?”

My response can be read on page 10 of the Komen special section of today’s Oregonian and also on OregonLive.

The 2009 question: “Be it as a patient, or a survivor, or as a family member or friend of a patient or a survivor, what have you learned about yourself, about others, about life, from breast cancer?”

Click on this link, and scroll down to read my response.

In 2009, I also wrote a My Turn essay that appeared both in The Oregonian, and online at OregonLive.

And finally, the 2008 prompt: “Let us know why you do the Komen race.”

My response:

“I participated in my first Komen Race for the Cure in the fall of 2004 to honor my oldest sister, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer weeks earlier. Since then, my middle sister and I have joined the ranks of breast cancer survivors as well.

I walk not only for ‘The Three Sisters,’ as we like to call ourselves, but for all who face life courageously after a cancer diagnosis.

Looking around at the sea of pink that surrounds me at the event, and hearing the cheers as I cross the finish line reminds me that I am not a victim but a fighter and a contender in my battle against cancer.”

2010 Race for the Cure

Hard to believe that we’re already almost halfway through September. And with September comes the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Yesterday I was invited to talk with the Lake Oswego chapter of the National Charity League, on behalf of Komen. And as I stood on the stage, in my pink survivor T-shirt, it occurred to me that four years ago, I never could have imagined that I would be addressing a crowd of maybe 300 mothers and their teenage daughters and talking to them about  breast cancer. In fact, four years ago, it was hard to see past the current day. I promised myself that once I got through treatment, and back on my feet again, I would help educate other women about their risk of breast cancer. And yesterday I was finally able to do just that.

I will be volunteering at the (free) health expo this Friday and Saturday at the Oregon Convention Center (Hours: 10 am – 7 pm Friday, and 10 am – 4 pm Saturday), as well as walking the Race for the Cure on Sunday. Hope to see many of you there!

I am also fundraising again this year. Please consider supporting Komen by making a donation on my behalf. Every bit helps!