I’m sad to announce that my 107-year-old grandmother, Madeline L. Taylor, passed away last week. When my dad saw her last, she’d been sleeping peacefully. A peaceful passing was what we’d wished for her.
She led a long, full, and interesting life. If you’re curious, you can read an Oral History report I did on her life for a class at University of Washington Tacoma several years ago. I made the report into a small website, so that Grandma’s life could have a presence on the internet.
She was much loved and will be greatly missed.
This afternoon I sat in the sun and finished reading California Calling: A Self-Interrogation by Natalie Singer. Natalie was one of my fellow students in Graduate school, so it’s exciting to see her book in print. It was just released the first of this month. Those of us in the MFA (Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics) program were able to see much of the gestational process of Natalie’s book. I feel like I saw this book take shape from it’s earliest embryonic forms through it’s formation into a portion of her Graduate thesis and now into its fully formed incarnation. I’m so proud of her! And I highly recommend her book, especially if you have any familiarity with California, or if you just find the coming-of-age journey from immigrant to hometown California girl fascinating to explore.
While finishing California Calling today, I was struck with how similar many of the themes Natalie deals with in her book are to themes I’ve been wrestling with in my own writing the past couple of years since we graduated from the MFA program. It almost makes me wonder if something about our studies, readings, and discussions triggered similar thought processes? I’ve been doing the background work on a creative look at my family’s history from Puritan immigrants to New England, and then migrating over the Oregon Trail, and eventually following the fishing industry to Seattle. While Natalie’s family history focuses mainly on her life, my intended project will focus on my ancestors’ journeys, but their lives will be viewed through the eyes and sensibilities of their modern day descendant, me. I’m not sure yet what format the work will take. Short stories? Novel? Poetry? Historical fiction? Hybrid genres? It’ll be interesting to see how it comes together over the next couple of years.
I plan to take a physical trip to the locations where my ancestors lived as they moved West. I have a very place-based sense of history, so I want to immerse myself in the sights and sounds and scenes of the parts of the country that were home to my ancestors. Although the places will have changed, probably beyond recognition, I feel a deep connection with places when I know some of their history. Anyway, I’m looking forward to my travels — not sure when it will happen. Need to get the funds together to be able to afford what will probably be a two to three month journey.
I’m still not posting on this blog as much as I want to, so I think I’m going to just start posting shorter things like this as I think of them. Does this shorter off-the-cuff format work all right for any readers out there? Not even sure how many folks are out there reading regularly. I know it’s not thousands like it was in the heyday of my books and newsletters, but even if it’s only ten readers, it would still feel worthwhile for me to keep at it. Actually, even if it’s only one or two, getting in the habit of writing regularly is a good practice for me. So I guess I need to do what works best for me, and if anyone’s out there who wants to come along, you’re welcome to join me. 🙂
And with that, dinner’s calling ….
(Maybe that’s a title for a future book — Dinner Calling?) lol