Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.




Near Big Sur on Coastline of California
photo by Elizabeth Munroz

with Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar
August 4 - 9, 2013
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA

There is a world inside each of us that we know better than anything else, and a world outside of us that calls for our attention. Our subject matter is always right with us. The trick is to find out what we know, challenge what we know, own what we know, and then give it away in language. Mainly this will be a writing retreat—time to explore and create in a supportive community. Though we’ll focus on poetry, prose writers who want to enrich their language will find it a fertile environment. For more information, click here.

September 28 - October 5, 2013
La Serrania, Mallorca, Spain
In this small, intimate workshop, you have the opportunity to create writing that is more vivid, more true, more complex and powerful than you've been able to do before. This will be my seventh year teaching at La Serrania and it's always a deep pleasure to return. La Serrania is remote, gorgeous, and inspiring. If you'd like a chance to sink deeply into your writing, enjoy delicious food, go to sleep in a simple, yet elegant room, wake to sheep bells, this is the place. For more information,click here. For information about La Serrania, visit www.laserrania.com. To register, contact La Serrania. If you have questions, you can email me.



Today the limping is not so bad. I don’t feel it is noticeable to others. But the pain is there just the same. Today the pain is in the front of the left thigh radiating down past my knee and the side of my calf; pain level #4, tolerable, and able to ignore. I’ve been functioning in a daze. The migraine meds I took in the middle of the night still have hold of my brain. The headache was the worst I’ve had in a long time; Up to a pain level #8. But, now the temporal artery is only swollen and throbs when I walk in the heat. Doctors say that migraines run in families and that they start at an early age. They’re right about the first part. I was a bit disdainful of my relatives when they complained of migraines until I had my first at age thirty five.

I digress.... back to the thigh. Today the thigh, yesterday, lower back, day before that--I forget. Sounds like a hypochondriac. Right? I used to hate my body for being weak, for hurting me like this. I questioned my sanity, too. How real is all this pain? Why does it fluctuate, and change so? Could I just be imagining it? As a teenager, I only had to worry about the hereditary bone-bumps (benign tumors) all over my body, as being unsightly and nothing more. Time has taught me what scientific research has revealed: that muscles, ligaments and cartilage were not designed to wrap around these cauliflower-like growths without stress and strain, thereby resulting in a chronic condition very much like a cross between arthritis and fibromyalgia. Most of my family has inherited this condition, too. Mine’s a little different. One of my bone bumps became cancerous and I’ve had numerous surgeries over the years beginning in 1967, to try to keep it at bay. I haven’t had a recurrence since 1980. But, the damage is done. About one quarter of the pelvis has been removed. That includes the right pubic ramus and right ischium, all the way from the center to the hip joint with no prosthetic implant to hold things together. Doctors said I’d never walk again. What do they know? I forgot what they said, and walked, albeit with a limp.

But they never told me that one half of my pelvis would flap in the breeze like a hinge on a gate without a lock. They didn't tell me of the years of excruciating pain while the bones rubbed against each other until they wore down the cartilage and began to fuse together. They didn't tell me that the muscles on the side, without the support, would shrink and spasm and need constant stretching. They didn't tell me about a lot of things. I’ve had to find out for myself. Its not too obvious to most people, this gaping hole in my anatomy. Even doctors who don’t know my history, don’t really understand the long term effects. Occasionally, I’ll run into a really good Physical Therapist who documents all the bio-mechanical reasons for my difficulties. Then I produce those records to any new doctor I might have and get some understanding. I’ve made it a point over the years to survive without being drugged. The first couple years I lived in a not entirely pain free stupor. It wasn't worth it. I’d rather feel the pain, cope with it the best I can, and feel alive. What annoys me most are the judges of my life, well meaning friends, family and strangers, alike, not living inside my body, who, when I have made monumental effort to climb a flight of stairs without wincing, say something like: “You look like you do just fine to me. Maybe you’re over-reacting!” I never know whether to cry or strike out in rage. I usually do nothing. I’ve often thought if we were all born with a simple purple dot on the forehead that would intensify in color indicating increasing pain levels everyone would know exactly how everyone else was feeling.


What's in Your Garage?

How easy it is to come up with reasons why we are unable to let go. The older we get the more stuff we accumulate, it seems. A group of us were having a cup of coffee at my local Starbux the other day. We began to talk of trying to minimize our lives.... getting rid of stuff.

"We did that clearing things out once, but, and there are so many things I need--like my pressure cooker and canning equipment" This said by a woman whose grown children have moved far away and no relatives live nearby. I wondered how much canning she does these days. "Not as much as I used to," she said. "But my garage has enough jars of home-canned pickles.... And has never seen a vehicle."

We then got onto the subject of chock full garages and how much money we would make if only we'd get out there and have a garage sale!

Another friend said he and his wife had been forced to minimalize because they sold their 10 room house and downsized to a 5 room house with garage. They had two auctions and several garage sales. And gave some stuff free through freecycle. But once they moved in, they found it easier to leave the boxes unpacked and they are still sitting there stashed away in the "guest" room.

When I open the garage door, I get overwhelmed and just turn around and go back into the house and attempt to clean out a kitchen cupboard or two.


A Day in the Life

Big day today. Went to pick up free herb plant (Epizote) from Freecycle friend. It is supposed to help with gastrointestinal issues I've been dealing with for much too long. I hope it works.

Then off to Starbucks where we ran into a group of Impala enthusiasts. They were all wearing Impala Bike Club T-shirts. Lots of kids were there with their bikes. Adults were there with their classic Chevy Impalas. I love old cars and had to take pictures. Struck up conversation with a lovely young lady, Alexandra, and hope to run into her again, soon.

Afterwards we ran into our friends, Rob and Lisa, and Rob's new pooch, Anna Banana. He reminded us of Patty's big yard sale, so we gave her a call to find out if she was still "open" and went over to hang out. It's amazing the amount of wonderful stuff she had... lots of china, silver, glassware, copper, art and other collectibles. One of which is something my grandson, the pilot, might find interesting, a print of a painting of a 1936 Spitfire done by artist, Jim Mitchell. (the photo does not do it justice)

It's been a long day. I was pretty dizzy and lightheaded throughout most of it. Really wondering how much is due to low blood pressure. If so, then what's causing it? Or is it due to the recent bouts of pancreatitis I've been experiencing. I have some GI tests on Tuesday and appointment with the doctor on Friday. If all of this is due to leukemia and my chemo, I don't know how I will cope if this is how life is going to be.

I hope whatever it is will be treatable!