Aug 18

Can You Feel It?

Authors — We creak and groan and click and clack. Our words are hopefully brilliant, but often they fall and thud until we make many, many revisions, until tears are shed and arguments are waged and stories are changed until they are just right. We work hard on what is called our “craft.” The thing is that it’s just plain hard work. From the start of a swirling idea, to a finished book in the hands of a reader — that reader expectantly opening it like a bird would open its wings just before flight — a writer works hard to entertain, to illuminate and invigorate, to keep their story alive.

With that in mind, I introduce All the Dancing Birds, available now on in Kindle and hardcover and at Barnes & Noble in hardcover. You can also just click the buttons on the home page here and … voila! … there you are.

Thank you all for your interest and care. So many of you are readers with an Alzheimer’s family member. I love you. Many of you are just interested. I love you too.

Please feel free to poke around this new website format. There is (somewhere) a form to contact me. I’ll receive it. I’ll answer.

I promise!

In the meantime, my heart to you as readers and (especially), I give my love to you as caregivers, loved ones and friends.

Jun 19

So Very Soon …..

Now here I am, a small flickering light, sputtering softly in my chair, shifting, winking on and off. I’ve been trying to think my way out of this paper bag of a morning, but so far, I’ve only come up with the notion that, somehow, my mind is structured slightly differently than it was yesterday.

I’ve turned oddly forgetful.

Thus, begins the story of Lillie Claire Glidden, a mid 50-year-old, wine-drinking, fan-fluttering poet, widow and mother of two grown children.

Due out mid-August, All the Dancing Birds will speak to anyone who has ever taken care of anyone else, or anyone who has ever been sick. Let Lillie Claire take you on a guided journey through the mind of  Alzheimer’s. Let her charm you with her Southern manners and ignite you with her Northern California sensibilities. Above all, let her show you what life looks like when words have all disappeared and love is the only thing left.

May 28

Sitting in our Straight Chairs

We sit in straight, hard backed chairs, knee-to-knee, hand-in-hand. My sister wears light blue hospital scrubs—she’s apparently graduated from wearing gowns. Her face is thin; she’s lost a good deal of weight, but her lower legs are heavy with edema, her knees swollen, like grapefruits.

I’ve brought her a candy bar. She knows me and smiles.

For the past month and a half, she’s been mostly unable to speak, to get up from her bed, to eat. To engage. New medication helps her now—for the most part. Still heavy-lidded, she speaks little. She tells me several times over that she doesn’t remember anything. She’s forgotten my visit two days earlier, when we sat for two hours in our straight chairs, our knees together, our hands knitted together. She doesn’t remember how she got from her bed to the dayroom. She’s forgotten what she ate for lunch two hours earlier, or that she’s mentioned her forgetfulness several times.

It doesn’t matter.

We simply sit in our straight chairs, knee-to-knee, hand-in-hand, and let the moment shine.

May 08

Flinging into the sky

It’s nearly done.

All the Dancing Birds is in its later production phase. Maybe sometime in June … or perhaps in the heat of July … it will be available for readers. For anyone who might wonder why I wrote such a brave and unconventional work, maybe this will explain:

This is how it goes:

You inch onto the edge of the world

And with nothing more than

A narrow kite of words

You step into thin air

And you write things that desperately need

More than a few cloth strips tied together

And a length of string and a triangle of

Color in a tumbling sky

You write for the passion …

You write in case you die

Auburn McCanta

May 06

Life in the midst of a Super Moon

Even if you’re not yet in focus, this is for you:

Over Here

Are you fierce enough to fall with a startled

Tree, to curl then inward, unleafing in the rain, to

Lie silently devoted to a dark thrumming forest,

Derailing itself one grove at a time?

Are you strong enough to follow the

Black ant’s trail, mining that tree inwardly,

Bite by bite, creating its cottage industry with a

pointed mountain of soft dust?

You are.

I know because I saw you fall; first when your

Marriage toppled, then when you had to stitch

Your breast back on with a pink ribbon tied to your

Shirt and ridiculous pink laces threaded in your shoes.

All the while, you kept a noisy gong going with

Sticks of wood and all that pressing

Downward and inward until you were

Strong and cocooned in winter’s first snow.

You did.  I saw you.

Now here I am on the occasion of my own falling,

Shuddering into the names of diseases that

Sink me into bed and hide me away from the

Mirror, not yet ready for ribbons, pink or otherwise.

I’m still leafing through medical pages, still feeling

The bite of needles, still watching the stitches mend.

The forest is a long way off and I can’t hear the

Tumbling trees; only my voice calling,

here i am.  here i am.  I’m the moon!

over here.

Auburn McCanta

Feb 09

On Sisters and Very Big Storms

Breaking. People are breaking around me, dropping pieces of their bitter selves at my feet. What am I supposed to do with these pieces? They’re sharp. If I pick up the pieces, they’ll cut my hands. My back will break under the weight. My lips will turn to prunes as they hold words back. Words like, I don’t want to, or, I don’t have that day open. So, I make the day open. I make myself want to be there for my breaking people.

I don’t know what to do. I’m established. I’m busy. I’m not yet breaking, or sick, or pulled apart like clouds in a dark sky. Still, all these breaking people want me to join them, and I don’t know which dance card will get my name written across each line.

Who will get me?

There’s my sister: she is dark and insistent. Her eyes are lidded, made heavy by worry, or medicine, or both. I’m not sure she comprehends what I’m saying. Her eyes watch me with intention. I think she understands, and then she says she doesn’t. There is some sort of concern about electronic medical transmission. I explain—again—that medical test results are transmitted that way now. It’s okay, I say. She turns her head and closes her eyes, as if there is nothing left of her, nothing to keep her eyes from shutting down. Pieces of her spill out like light from behind a closed door. She could open that door if only she could find the key deep in her pocket. But she doesn’t know how to reach for it any more. Reaching is beyond her years and I can’t find it for her. I can only try to notice her elegant grace as she lumbers through this day.

Then there are my grandboys. My Teeny Tiny Boys. Their father seems to have abandoned them and their mother. My daughter struggles to provide. When they are with me, they throw their arms across my neck and say, I love you, MeeMee. I melt across the floor. They are babies and I am their MeeMee. We play Spider Man and Iron Man and the three-year old makes his voice sound like PeeWee Herman. I. Am. Iron. Man. The four-year old is more delicate; he is a snuggler. We watch movies and eat Mac & Cheese and try not to notice the deepening shadows that consume my daughter’s twelve-hour work days.

Finally, there is My Dan. He’s like a star just recovering from lung cancer and before that, prostate cancer. He is my love, my husband, my forevermore. Now he’s scheduled for a bilateral kidney angiogram. Seems he has a kidney artery thing that might be compromising his blood pressure, and they might need to do a stent thing or something-or-other to fix it all. We’ve decided that will be the end of that. The end. The grand Taa Daa! Then we shall live out peaceful days until we quietly slip off into whatever future is ours. We decided that on our way home from the doctor’s office. We decided that.

So, it seems that if I can manage to make it through the next couple of months, we’ll be better. My sister needs convincing to move to a place where folks can care for her. My Dan will have his kidney artery stented or tented or whatever it is that medical folks do to narrowed arteries. And my Teeny Tiny boys will continue to hug my neck, and we will all be inspired by the bravery of Spider Man.

And then, maybe somewhere between it all, I can slip off to somewhere cool, with tall trees and grassy meadows. Maybe Seattle or Portland. Or somewhere Northeast or Southeast where I’ve never been. I’m entertaining suggestions. Maybe I can even find a hurricane to huddle beneath that would remind me of what I might be missing.

And that’s the way it is today at the old Bloggybirdry.

Dec 30

New Year, New Life, New Word!

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

~ Bill Vaughn

I always get flustered as each year turns. This year is no different, and may even possibly be worse than normal. 2011 was certainly interesting around the old Bloggybirdery. Many plusses, lots of stay-the-courses, and certainly one last-minute event that could be looked upon from either an optimistic or pessimistic viewpoint, depending on the moment and the angle of shadows or light across the day.

Dan is recovering from lung surgery. Slowly.

I’m relieved. Joyously.

While you are all—perhaps—wildly making New Year Resolutions, may I offer this thought? Instead of worrying over lists of things to improve upon, I’ve decided to locate one word to incorporate to define how I’ll view the the coming year.

I offer that finding your word for the coming year is well more fun than making lists of deprivation and strident improvement.

Here’s my word for 2012: Certainty!

According to Voltaire, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

I don’t mean to contradict the likes of Voltaire, but still … Au contraire!

With certainty, I welcome the New Year, with its promise of more turns and twists than a Hitchcock mystery—how fun is that? With certainty, I give myself over to the Joy! of another year with all its promise of  new adventure and blissful life.

I like my word. I placed my new word over my desk. It’s my Word!

If you were to have a word, what would yours be?

Dec 14

Alphabet Soup

In response to a blog request from my dear friend and extraordinary poet, Drew Myron, here is my very small offering located in her comments section :

What do you want? My Dan asks.

An Answer, I say, or at least another Aperitif.

Bananas for your Blood

Count, maybe. I’ll take that.

See? I’m Dusting things

For your lungs to breathe Easy.

Your Energy is low, I notice.

Frightened? Yes.

I’m still Gathering Hints Into Jewels

Of why this happened.


Cancer? Lung cancer?

Not even Maybe.

Not possible. Non smokers.

Not. Not. Not.

Oh, Oh, okay, Perhaps that one year

In your mid-teens, when

Performance equaled Quality,

And Risk equaled Sexiness.

Turn to now. Unwind. Unwind.

One small year inhaled.

Vexed? Of course, there’s no answer all these years later.

Why? Don’t ask, don’t Wonder.

X-Rays will say all gone, and

You will keep on, and you will become old.

Why? We will never know.

But, when we are old, and if I go first,

I promise to greet you,

In niche 22 at St. Mary’s Cemetery, next to

The statue of St. Francis of Xavier.

That is, of course, if I leave

This Zenith first. If you are first, however …

All bets are off.

Dec 04

A Little Magic in My Morning

Maybe life seems hard because we assume it should be easy. We fashion ideas of how things should be and we pin those ideas to our hearts as if they belong to us. They don’t, really.

What we do have is the morning, with its promise that something magical might happen that day. Actually attaining some sort of wonderful day doesn’t really matter—it’s the promise that helps us practice our daily measure of hopefulness.

Things are decided in the morning.

Take this morning’s coffee, for instance. My cup was full, steaming with a good measure of chocolate and creamer to make it extra yummy. Dan sat across the table enjoying his own coffee. His was black. We chatted about the news, laughed over a YouTube video, poured a second cup of coffee. Birds chirped and danced about on the patio. The dogs snoozed. Everything was sweet and delicious, just like my coffee.

Then in a blink, it struck me that for all those long minutes I had forgotten about the mass of cancer that squats on the floor of Dan’s left lung.

In two days, Dan will receive a lobectomy, and that nasty spot of cancer will be removed. I expect his surgery to be followed by many years of more delicious magic spent over cups of coffee and morning sun coming through the window. For all the other notions that may have flitted through my head this morning, the understanding that each day holds a promise that is unique to any other day, was the highest and most important thought.

Like a fingerprint…or a snowflake…each day is its own.

And that’s what was decided this morning!

My best to you all as your own day unfolds with its promises and magic…and maybe an extra cup of coffee to linger over. Whatever it is for you, I hope you’ll find the loveliness of your day. I know Dan and I found ours.