Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Writer Conference Time

After a year away, I'm back to the San Francisco Writers Conference this weekend. I love this packed four days where I am immersed with my tribe of writers. Last year I missed the conference, after having attended annually since 2007. There isn't much writing that I do during this writer weekend. There is much networking, catching up with other writers, editors and publishers and an opportunity to update on trends in the publishing community. Just have to say though, how much I appreciate my spouse for always letting me spend Valentine's weekend away at a conference. Now, that's loving support.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You and Me Time

"We don't have enough you and me time," the five year old says with mournful eyes. So many emotions flood over me with those few words, not the least of which is the memory of my own mother telling me, "You'll miss me when I'm gone." Said after a particularly loud teen-aged angst filled battle one night followed by stomping from the room and a slammed door. Mom opened the door and quietly spoke those words to me and then quietly shut the door. I felt horrible. But not enough to come out of the room and apologize and tell mom I loved her. Why does this come to mind? Because I am conscious of creating memories for my children that are not full of discomfort but saturated with love.

And that brings me back to "We don't have enough you and me time."

Was this a genuine expression of longing for more mom and daughter time or a ploy just to go to her favorite frozen custard place for a sweet snack? Does it matter? She's accurate. We don't have enough 'you and me' time. With the kids in preschool and kindergarten, I don't see them all that much. We have dinner, we have after dinner time and then it's bedtime by 7:30pm. A couple conferences each year take me away for a few weekends. Rugby practice gets me home right at dinnertime three times a week and then there are a dozen or so games that take up Saturdays.

You and me time is pretty important, even when we spend just a half hour, just the two of us playing checkers or cuddling on the swing in the back. You and me time - something worth slowing down for.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

And Now - 2015

Is it just me, or does anyone else sometimes marvel at where the world is now from where it was when growing up? Sometimes I am amazed at how, at least in this country, there is so much possibility in comparison to some of the places I’ve visited traveling or during military service. I also consider some of the lost skills of another century that because I never learned or perfected them when I was a kid watching my parents, my kids just won’t be exposed to the same handed down skills.

I think sometimes I ought to take up cross-stitch, which I did a little of as a kid while my mom would knit and crochet, just so my kids will be exposed to handcrafts. I wish I’d been able to stay with knitting and crochet, so I could make the kids a blanket to take with them away to college, as my mom did with me. Not to say that these arts are nonexistent, there are scores of classes in community ed or recreation but if they don’t see these things at home, what will spark the interest?

I cook and can and make pickles in part, because I want my kids to have childhood memories of real food that wasn’t premade or out of a box. Maybe to encourage them learning the same. Also to make a connection with what they eat, that it isn’t easy as opening the fridge or cupboard.

Dunno. There have been so many changes in the first half century of my life, what will the world be like during the second half?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solstice 2013

The longest night and then the days begin to lengthen and the warmth of the sun move closer as the light returns. Soon, the year will pass and a new one begins. How did 2014 arrive so soon?

Looking back on 2013 with a few of our favorite moments.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Flag Retreat Honor at Disneyland

While at Disneyland, we attended the Flag Retreat, held daily. The Disneyland Security Force Honor Guard conducts this ceremony every day, and on most days, "Gunny" Ernie is the voice of Walt Disney's dedication to honoring America's veterans. We return to Disneyland a couple times a year and always attend at least one Flag ceremony. Gunny remembers veterans that return and Gunny remembered me, greeting me with warm hug. I shared with him that I had retired, after 33 years enlisted and commissioned service. I am grateful for how Gunny honored my service.

Gunny has been conducting flag ceremonies for 20 years at Disneyland. This year, he was honored by the California Department of Veterans Affairs. When given the opportunity to speak after his award, Gunny didn't talk about himself, he shared the story of Walt Disney and how the flag retreat came to be part of the daily ritual of Disneyland.

When at Disneyland, I encourage you to attend the Flag Retreat Ceremony, held at the flagpole on Main Street, in front of City Hall. Conducted usually at 4:45PM. The Disneyland Band plays each service's song, and all veterans and currently serving military members are invited to join around the flag pole for the ceremony. There are a number of locals who come just for the ceremony each day. Before the ceremony, Gunny comes out to the flag circle and greets those present. He takes a few moments with each and conveys in those few moments that the individual and his or her service are the reason for this ceremony honoring veterans and that person is the most important person there. And then Gunny gives the next person he meets the same level of attention as he greets those gathered before he retreats to prepare for his role in the flag ceremony. The Disneyland ceremony is a warm, honoring, and inclusive ceremony where every veteran is a welcome part. This is in contrast to Disneyworld, where cast members profile those entering the part to identify who the cast member considers a veteran based upon appearance, and that one individual is invited to take part in the ceremony. I much prefer the Disneyland experience and Gunny's heartfelt inclusion of all who've served.

There is a Facebook page about the Disneyland flag ceremony.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Write Vicki Write

Money is the fuel for what is important to each of us in life. That's all. Fuel to create lives that are sufficient, not lives constrained by scarcity. Money comes and goes, what we invest the fuel, the energy in, is where we make a difference. In our own lives and the lives of those we value, and in the lives of the community around us. Please invest in me as a writer, a poet and a voice for those who cannot yet speak their stories. What I write more often than not, revolves around answering the question, "What was it like?" This summer I am excited that I've been accepted for two writer residencies - The Veterans Writing Workshop and the Napa Valley Writers Conference. In each, I'll spend one week in residency participating in workshops and seminars with an established poet and other emerging writers. I am the stay at home mom and the challenge I face with these two significant opportunities as an emerging writer is the added child care costs (about 80 hours in total) and tuition and housing registration for one of the residencies for the two weeks I'll be away. This is where your investment in me as an emerging author and poet will make a significant difference. Your gift will give me the freedom to create new work, network and gain greater skill as a poet in dedicated week long communities of other writers, without the worry about how things are going at home. Any funds collected above the goal will be used for child care costs for future workshops or conferences. Thank you for your interest and support. Please share this in your own social media and web pages. Update: In June I attended the Veterans' Writing Project Retreat hosted by the University Writing Program at George Washington University. Read about the experience on my website in It Begins and What a Week.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

DOMA is DEAD, Long Live Love

Wednesday was a historic day. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined in federal law that a marriage was only between a man and woman has been ruled by the highest court of the nation, the United States Supreme Court, as unconstitutional.

This means that my wife, married in California during the brief window when such marriages were legal, must now be recognized as my lawful, legal spouse.
We've been married nine years, four months. But yesterday, June 26, 2013, was the first day of our married life as far as the federal government was concerned.

Happy married day two, my beloved!

Yesterday was a momentous, tumultuous day. I wanted to write this then, but was caught up in following the SCOTUS decision discussions across the internet, catching up across the world with other military lesbian and gay couples via Facebook and the reality of kid wrangling as the stay at home mom. We attended the Hella Oakland Decision Day street party and when the Bug asked whose birthday party were we at, I could barely speak that it was no one's birthday and that I'd explain later, let's dance. I spent the day in joyful tears of relief and wonder.

Last night I wrote a letter to each daughter in the journals I keep for them telling them about the day and why it was of such importance. Birdie won't remember but Bug may, being now four years old but all she might remember is lots of music and dancing and playing with her bestest bud, her half sibling, and a friend from preschool and maybe, just maybe, dancing with mommy in the street.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Remembering My Dad - William Roy Hudson, Jr.

Today I'm remembering my dad who died in 2007. We had a tumultuous relationship for much of my life though in his later years and by his end, much improved. What I recall most about him was that when I was a kid, I believed he could fix anything. As an adult, I reflect back on how that simple belief gave a sense of security even in the unpredictable environment of living with a father who was unpredictable in his anger and rage. I still harbor a belief that my dad could fix anything as a comforting blanket of confidence about my father and that seems part of my own foundation and perspective on the world that things will work out for the better. Seems a strange juxtaposed set of beliefs but for me they seem tied together.

I don't know a lot about my dad or his growing up or him as a person. I know that much of my life he felt like I was not his daughter. A stroke addled brain will say whatever it feels. I look as much like him as look like my mother and as his second wife told me - that she thought that was just silly since he and I bore such resemblance. I know that he and his father bred cocker spaniels and when emptying his childhood home, found a framed certificate of a champion bloodline dog they had bred. He'd been an accountant when I was born. He was a teacher when I was growing up. He died a small business owner having over several decades grown a successful campground from nothing. He was funny, in a dry, unexpected manner and I've inherited his sense of humor. As a parent, I am not like him, and perhaps his greatest gifts to me were what and how not to become. I think he grew up in a difficult time. (He was born in 1930.) I think he would have been a wonderful grandfather, so unlike the father that he was as his best traits grew more apparent as he aged and gained the lessons of what people around him could give to him. He declined in health in his last years, yet gained so much and seemed to grow so much as a person during that time.

I'm sorry that he never knew his granddaughters. I wish that he could have lived to enjoy their laughter. I wish I could call him to ask him how to fix something or about a common homeowner problem I might be considering or just to remember our long drives cross country when I was growing up.

I believed my dad could do anything when I was a kid. The best thing he did though, was become my dad and my friend in the last years of his life, when despite a stroke that made it harder to speak, he was so much more able to communicate.

I miss you daddy. I love you.

(The picture shows my dad with his two sisters, Mary in the middle, Betty on the right. This is the only photo I have of my dad.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Time Flies When Kids are Little

Spring is already here - where does the time go?

Baby number two has discovered locomotion on her own. We've nicknamed her Birdie, perhaps inspired from her incessant upwards attention whenever anyone is eating anything. She has her sister's same determination to get what she wants, this most evident when she is not happy with where she is sitting when mommy is not right next to her. This is how we discovered she had figured out the difficult movement synergy for crawling. Returning from a quick trip down the hall and into the bedroom resulted in turning the corner upon the return almost to stumble over little Birdie, nearly to the bedroom door. The baby is mobile. She's been on the move for about a month now and we still are not quite re-used to closing all the baby gates.

The lack of growth is no longer the huge worry it was. She remains a very tiny baby, barely doubling her birth weight even at nine months. She is growing tall though and in the top 25th percentile for height. This apparently balancing the barely on the bottom three percentile for weight issue that had the doc considering tube feeding a few months ago. She did lose some weight the first month Other Mommy returned to work, but once she figured out how to eat actual food, that is no longer an issue. Open up the deli drawer in the fridge and she is one happy bouncy baby.

Where Bug developed a special relationship with Callie Cat, Birdie seems to be BFF with Bella Bear. And a more tolerant dog just does not exist. Let's not forget, Bella was one of the her first words. She hears Bella coming up the steps and gets all wiggly, squeally excited, hands flapping. She had figured out how to pull back when the lick monster is in her face only to lean back in to explore the furry face with her fingers.

Once a week, Other Mommy sends in the Nanny so I can get some writing done. This is such an appreciated, much needed action. Means on Thursdays I get most of my writing for the whole week done. Just like Bug, Birdie won't start preschool until she is two and then for only a couple part days.

My current writing this month is focused upon the Pulitzer Remix Found Poetry Project. Eighty-five poets writing found poems from each of the Pulitzer fiction prize winners. My book is the 1970 winner, The Collected Stores of Jean Stafford. Visit Pulitzer Remix for one poem from each participating poet published daily. You can find the earlier poems by looking up the books or listed by the poet. I hope you'll take a few moments to visit the project and check out mine and some of the others. Each day I also post on my web site a note about the poem published that day and link to the site.

Bug is almost four now and entertains herself, and us, with songs of her own creation. Her own version of found work - she takes her inspiration from what she sees outside the car window.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Farewell Charlie. The Fight Continues

Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan died today, February 10th, 2013 after a long battle with cancer. She left with dignity and grace, survived by her wife Karen and their daughter Casey. Charlie and her family were plaintiffs in one of the challenges to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. That is how we met. While last week it was announced that outgoing Secretary of Defense Panetta would extend benefits that are not bound by DOMA, he has not yet done so and will leave office as soon as his successor is confirmed.

Charlie's fight for recognition of her family was more than courage and the honorable choice to do what is right in the face of systemic wrong, this was also a fight for her family's future. A battle to ensure access for Karen as her spouse to each and every benefit a surviving spouse of a military veteran and in Charlie's case, a serving Soldier, should receive. Her fight was about as simple an action as Karen having access to the military base commissary and freedom to buy food for their family, being able to enter a military installation not as a visitor, but as one who belonged, one who is part of our greater military family. That her earned survivor benefits would be paid to her lawful spouse, Karen, enabling financial security for her family.

If I had to go to war, I would want Charlie Morgan in my foxhole as my battle buddy. I don't know of a greater compliment any Soldier can pay another.

Farewell Charlie, our comrade in arms. Go in peace. Your battle buddies will look out for Karen and Casey.

OutserveSLDN's statement on the passing of CW2 Charlie Morgan.

From the Washington Post, November 22, 2012 - Soldier's Last Wish: Let DOMA Die Before I Do.

From the Washington Post, February 10, 2013 - Soldier dies of breast cancer but her widow won't get benefits.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mommy Slumber Pary

The bug is almost four years old now. She sleeps through the night, goes to bed usually at her bedtime about 7 and wakes about twelve hours later. Now and then she tries to delay the usual kid way - "I'm thirsty," she'd say. So she has her own cup of water by the bed. Instead of fighting about staying in bed, we let her have a short while "reading" some of her books by the rather bright night light. Often she puts herself back to bed but sometimes we have to tell her times up and time to stay in bed. We do breathing and say goodnight to the many body parts. Sometimes she wants to just have mommy there to hold her hand while she slows herself down and falls asleep. Sometimes she just doesn't want to be by herself. "I'm lonely," she'll say.

What do you say to that?

With the new baby still up most of the night, the last vacation we took meant the littlest bug was with other mommy and I was in with the original bug. We called it slumber party with mommy. A week together and she loved it. And there is no better way to stay warm in a cold winter night than a furnace toddler cuddled up next to you. Just have to deal with the constant changing of body positions and tendency to sleep horizontal, kicking mommy in the kidneys half the night. Then vacation ended and it was back to the usual arrangement in her own room. Started to hear "I'm lonely," much more often.

Now slumber party with mommy is a reward for going to bed on time and staying in bed all week. Now and then a weekend night is offered as a reward and she gets to have slumber part with mommy for one night. This means I get to bed earlier than usual, no late night forays into Azeroth or blog updating on slumber party nights. We usually watch a video after dinner, read some books for our usual bed time story time ritual, and then she gets a little while with mommy's read in bed light while I finish up some work on the computer. Then she's tucked in, I curl up with my nighttime reading and she falls off asleep in nothing flat.

This won't last forever, she won't want to cuddle with mommy and the only slumber parties will be with giggling peers. For now though, it's nice to cuddle with the bug. She is a hot sleeper so it isn't too long before she moves away to her own little section on the bed, but then one hand or foot will reach out across the void between, she must make contact. The tiniest of touches while she softly snores her way to dreamland. No, it won't last long but while it does, it is such a treasure.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Noah St. John: NPR Snap Judgment Performance of the Year

Storytelling - Noah St. John