From Mohave to Denver: Mar 5 to 8, 2019

March 5 and 6, 2019

 We left Mojave on March 5thand drove to Flagstaff; Then on the 6thwe drove to Santa Fe, then on the 7thwe drove to Denver.

(BH)

On the 6th, we loaded our car, got gas, and pulled out of Flagstaff, AZ.  A slight drizzle had fallen on the snowy roadsides, but the sky was clearing and the sun was out. Flagstaff’s elevation is 6,909 feet above sea level. So chilly, but now we headed out toward a lower elevation and flat desert on I40 East.  The surrounding mountains were fabulous colors in the morning light.  The variations of the strata flowed from subtle mauve to rich clay red to purple. The desert floor was sage with bushy yellow clover or mustard scattered in clumps.  I felt like I could drive forever under the rolling cumulus, so brilliant white against an ever-lifting blue.  As we crossed over into New Mexico the gas stations had enormous stores filled with First Nation turquoise jewelry, woven rugs, hand made moccasins and a zillion other unique items.  I thought of buying my mom some cozy lined moccasins, but getting the right size seemed too tricky.  Luckily we were on a tight schedule to arrive at Santa Fe, so I couldn’t drool over the earrings too long.  We sped through Albuquerque and arrived at The Sage Inn in Santa Fe just in time to have a bite at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian restaurant.  We didn’t have much time to see the sites as we were pretty tired from driving and the last leg of our Poets on the Road by car would need us up and out early in the morning to arrive in Denver to thank and take over from my Mom’s caretaker, Jacki, as she was needing to return to Truckee CA, where she lives. (MO)

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As the altitude started increasing, I started feeling a lack of oxygen.  I should have started taking chlorophyll and electrolytes the week before leaving the Bay area.  We drove through the mountains and across the flat desert in Arizona, the altitude almost always between 4 and 5000 feet.  For two nights I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t breathe. In my sleepless state, I kept going back to Brenda Hillman’s poems. Suddenly I realized what I needed to do with the project I am working on about my mother:  stand in places where Ferne Hostetter stood or lived in her photographs, and  write prose poems.  These will be the glue that will hold the project together. (That means more journeys to Detroit.)  Sleeplessness pays off sometimes when new ideas surface.

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Finally in Santa Fe at over 7000 feet, I coaxed myself into sleeping by propping myself up on pillows, taking all my herbs, and remedies and reminding myself that one always sleeps with shallow breathing. Instead of giving in to panic, I practiced breathing with a shallow breath and long exhales.  Hurray, I fell asleep and in the morning, I was rested enough to drive.  I am very thankful that Maureen did a lot more than half of our driving from Mojave to Denver. (BH)

(BH)

We packed our car for the last time in the parking lot of the Sage Inn.  It seemed amazing to think this was it.  A day of driving and we’d be in Denver.  As I partook of the excellent breakfast in the Sage Inn the weather report cautioned a day of high hazardous winds.  As we drove the wind did indeed pick up. I love to drive, but it took concentration to keep the Honda Fit on the road.  A truck pulling a trailer pulled over on the shoulder after bouncing around for several miles ahead of us.  The big rigs swayed back and forth as the wind took them.  By the time we arrived at Raton Pass I was a little concerned about navigating the curves at 7,000 and some feet elevation in such fierce gusts.  But luck was with us.  The wind was quieted some by the pass range, which was a little buffer against it.   Also the pass, which can be a tower of violent weather and low visibility, was sunny! with only scattered snow bits in shaded places.  It was the nicest trip through that pass I’ve ever driven.  When we stopped for gas at Trinidad just on the other side of the pass, we got out of the car and almost blew away.  The winds followed us to Colorado Springs and then let up slowly. Then traffic began stopping and we saw smoke and that something was burning up ahead.  As a highway patrol fellow directed our lane of traffic, we were suddenly right beside a car wildly on fire. I had my camera out, but when confronted by the inferno engulfing the car and starting the ditch grass on fire, I completely forgot about taking a photo.  All I could think of was it might explode any second.  With the burning car receding in the side mirror, we both hoped the occupants had gotten out safely.  (MO)

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What do I remember from the trip? As I was dozing off in the car I took a few photos.  The endless mounds of brown hills.  Flat land with a dust storm.  Wild winds as I ran to a restroom in Arizona; it seemed as if I might blow away or the car door might be ripped off.   I hardly remember all the motel rooms we have stayed in, one night after another, beds that hundreds and hundreds of others have slept in.  I always wondered, as I wrapped myself in my sheet, how that energy passes between us, from one to the next stranger. (BH)

(MO)

 

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(MO)

In Santa Fe, I remembered 13 years ago living just outside of town in Tesuque.  I wrote Thirty Miles to Rosebud while living in a barely heated adobe house in the winter. I remember making a quilt while I was there and I sewed it together (on my sewing machine), squares and rectangles of different colors and shapes.  It was kind of ragged looking; I always lacked precision in sewing.  Later I gave the quilt to my daughter and then it disappeared, probably into the rag heap. While I lived there, I remember a frozen shoulder and driving my car with my arm in a sling in order to shop.  I didn’t know anyone.  Well, there was a young African American artist who lived across the way and she shopped for me (she worked at Trader Joes).  What an idea to move across country at 57 without knowing a soul.  Once I went outside the house (it was on a compound) and there was a bear going through the garbage cans.  Not enough time to visit Tesuque, but always enough time for memories.  On the road the next morning to Denver.  7 hours and 400 miles. (BH)

 

March 7-8, 2019

We arrived in Denver in the thick of rush hour, but got off on a couple of less traveled roads I knew since I live here, and arrived at my back gate.  I was really happy to see that gate. As we got close we had phoned my Mom’s caretaker, Jacki, to meet us outside and take our photo as we stepped out of our car on the Poets on the Road final major driving stop.  Then lots of hugs and happiness to see Jacki and my mom, who has been counting the days to my coming home.

(Jacki Brennan photo)

We arrived yesterday at Maureen’s little bungalow in Denver.  Small rooms, lots of  photos of family and art, pots and pans, stuffed chairs, a big dining room table and a small study with a desk and as many books as can fit in the room, floor to ceiling everywhere.  Maureen’s mother is 96 years old and she wears jeans and a scull cap and leads the way as we go for a walk in the park.  I love it when she reaches out with her hands to hold mine.  How lucky it is to have a mother for almost your whole life, especially a mother like Maureen’s: De is sweet and tough, and like Maureen, tending toward the affirmative. (BH)

Total miles that we travelled together in Barbara’s 2007 Honda Fit:  5547 miles.

Maureen and De at Harbard Gulch Park (BH)

Jacki leaving Denver to return home to Truckee.

If it were not for Jacki Brennan who stayed with Maureen’s mom and Sarah Morton who subletted Barbara’s apartment, this trip never would have happened.  Thanks to both of you.

Our final wrap-up reading together on this trip will be  on Tuesday, March 19th, 7:30 pm at the Mercury Cafe. We’ll be reading with  Crisosto Apache for “F Bomb Series”  The Mercury Cafe is at 2199 California Street in Denver.
https://fbombdenver.com

 

 

Sebastopol & Driving to Mojave: Mar 2 to 5

March 1-2, 2019

Friday morning after we packed up we met Gloria Frym for brunch in Berkeley.  Great to see her again! She couldn’t come to our reading at Moe’s the night before because it was her birthday and friends were taking her out.  The restaurant she was taking us to, Bette’s Ocean View, no longer had an ocean view as over the years many buildings rose up between it and the sea.  But it was certainly popular, too popular, with a half hour wait, so we went around the corner to another cafe for our brunch. We chatted various and then a lot about teaching creative writing in today’s economy.  Gloria gave us each a copy of her book, The True Patriot, from Spuyten Duyvil and we gave her copies of our books and our Poets on the Road pamphlet.  Then hugs and we were off.  There was an email from Pat Nolan and Gail King, our hosts, that roads might be blocked because of the rain and Floods.  (MO)

Pat and Gail decided to meet us at a place outside the flooded area.  Pat and I have been friends since I first met him years ago when he came to read in NYC at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project.  I have a treasured collection of his woodblock prints and hand made books he has sent me over the years.  And of his collections of the Renga writings he, Keith Abbott, Michael Sowl and I have collaborated on over the years.  The last time I visited Pat and Gail, my mother and I had driven down from my bother’s place near Santa Rosa.  We had a magical time, walking by the then peaceful, Russian River and sitting in the sunshine chatting.  It was a visit my mother often talks about remembering them both so fondly.  My longtime dear friend, Sandy Berrigan, came down from her place in Albion for our reading in Sebastopol and was staying with Nancy Packard, a longtime friend of hers nearby. So Nancy’s became our rendevouz point. Sandy is a poet and writer of Rengas, a Japanese collaborative form, with one in progress starring herself, Pat, Elinor Nauen, and myself.  Nancy’s house was full of music and musical instruments.  We thoroughly enjoyed meeting her. (MO)

See Pat’s blog at: https://thenewblackbartpoetrysociety.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/new-to-the-societys-shelves/  and  nuallainhousepublishers@gmail.com

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Pat and Gail live in a little enclave in Monte Rio, a village alongside the Russian River, a river that recently overflowed, damaging and destroying lots of houses. Twenty years ago their house was devastated by a flood and afterwards they had the house lifted up 8 feet above the ground.    This time, their basement was flooded and they only lost some furniture and a carpet. Many of the people in the community were much harder hit.  Mud covered the roads and big piles of ruined furniture littered the sides of the roads. We stayed with Gail and Pat for 3 nights.   Three days and nights full of talking about poetry and poets. Sandy Berrigan joined us on Saturday. We ate walnuts from the tree outside their window, played a  renku poetry game Pat and a friend had invented, ate tamales and lentil soup, looked at Pat’s wood block art and magazines and books he had published over the years. We all gifted each other with copies of our books. It was very comfortable staying with Pat and Gail, almost as if I had known them my whole life. (BH)


Walnut tree out kitchen window (BH)


Flood Photos (MO)


Gail, Pat, Sandy, Barb   Photo by MO

Besides being a prolific writer, editor and publisher, Pat was also a dispatcher for the fire department.  Gail is a substitute teacher and a school bus driver.  She feeds a tribe of feral cats who camp out under their cars, in baskets on their porch and under the house.  When I opened the door to go outside, they scattered. Whoosh! Two somewhat more domestic cats live inside.   They have a beautiful walnut tree on their property outside and the houses in their enclave are surrounded by tall redwood pines.  Gail told me that they are young trees; I was in awe of these trees towering along the curving two-lane highway.  The ground was mucky and the flooding was just receding; otherwise we would have visited some of the much bigger trees.  Gail showed me how many of the trees have grown out of old stumps.  (BH)

March 3, 2019

Our reading was on Sunday afternoon at the Iota Press Space, North Bay Letterpress Arts in Sebastopol. Pat and Eric Johnson had sent out many announcements and there was a large crowd at the reading.  Maureen’s brother, Pat, and his wife Laura were there; Carol Clavonne  (editor of Posit, a journal of literature and art) brought some of her friends from Santa Rosa. One woman who had gone to Bard came to the reading with a stack of my books she had collected over the years. There were many artists present; some who work and show at the letter press studio.  Maureen and I were both pleased that our last reading on-the-road, was such an upper. (We are reading in Denver, but that’s Maureen’s home town).   The crowd was exceptionally warm and welcoming and they asked deep questions about our writing.   We are grateful to Pat Nolan and Eric Johnson for all the pre-work they did to make this event a success, especially since we arrived right after the flood. (BH)

Here’s a website for the letter press:  https://www.northbayletterpressarts.org

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I was delighted that my brother, Pat, and my sister-in-law, Laura, were able to make it to the reading. I rarely get an opportunity to read with them in the audience.  It meant a lot to me to have them there.  Eric gets a big “hats off” for his fabulous presses and letterpress type on display and running such a terrific place.  Many who came to the reading were artists taking letterpress classes and printing beautiful pieces several that were on display.  He also created two stunning little broadsides of a poem each by us.  (MO)


Pat Owen, Maureen’s brother is holding our books. (MO)

 


(BH)

 


Pat Nolan introducing (BH)


(MO by BH)


(BH by MO)


Bill Vartnaw, Gwynn O’Gara, Nancy Packard (BH)


Gail & Sandy (BH)

 


Eric Johnson describing his print shop (BH)


(BH)

I was very happy to finally spend time with Sandy Berrigan.  We had written each other in the past and exchanged books, but I had never met her before. We talked about our shared histories with Pat, all three of us growing up in Detroit.  Her uncle had owned Sam’s clothing store downtown and her mother owned a children’s clothing store in the Fisher building at a time when few women worked outside the home. Pat lived in Detroit from the age of 13 to 17; his father was a tool and die worker who relocated them from Pat’s birth place in Montreal to find work.  Sandy, Pat and Gail, so good to be with them for these few days—and Nancy, too—I hope our paths cross again (outside of social media and the US post). (BH)

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After the reading a group of us trooped over to a nearby restaurant that was a hold over from the days of Foster Freeze soft ice cream.  The place had actually been a Foster Freeze stand back in the day. I remember as a kid growing up in Monrovia/Duarte that getting a Foster Freeze was a big treat.  Nancy offered to buy me a glass of wine to celebrate our last “on-the-road” reading, but I asked for a cone of Foster Freeze instead. It was just as delicious as I remembered it.  (MO)

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After the reading a group of us sat around a long wooden table munching on tacos and talking about our lives and projects—Pat and Gail, Jizel Albright, Sandy, Nancy, Barb and Maureen.   Then at home, Pat gave us special paper to copy two of our poems in long hand for Bill  Hawley, a collector and a wine-maker who traded bottles of wine for our poems.  Thanks Bill, we’ll think of you when we’re home in New York and Denver, drinking your special vintage.

https://www.eventa.us/events/sebastopol-ca/poetry-reading-barbara-henning-and-maureen-owen

Mar 4-5, 2019

We set out driving south, adding an extra day to our trip, but thereby avoiding snowy passes on I80.  We planned to drive 400 miles a day for 4 days. As we drove along, the hills were a bright lawn green color.  Stunning, sloping hills that almost seemed manicured.  So green from the rain with black cattle and sheep grazing. Maureen said she had never seen them so green before.  Then on I-5 there was one blooming almond orchard after another and orange orchards, the trees heavy hanging down loaded with fruit.  A sign I saw along the road: “Farmers Use Water To Grow Our Food.”


(BH)

Finally the last 70 miles on Mar 4th, we were on C54 heading to Mojave.  It was dark before we got to our motel and the gps told us that we had arrived while we were still on the highway between two dark brown towering mountains with nothing else for miles around. Hum.  Maureen called the hotel and they told us which exit to take. Must remember that some addresses should have “Business” in front of their addresses.  Business Highway 54.

Then in the hotel room, we started cooking tofu, zucchini, kale and buckwheat noodles. It’s a tight squeeze cooking on a bathroom counter.  With my elbow, I knocked the bottle of olive oil and it splattered all over the floor.  Dang. How can you make a stir fry without olive oil. Maureen talked the clerk into giving us a handful of butter packs.  (BH)

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(BH)

The next morning when we first left our hotel and started driving through the desert toward the mountains, a vast hillside of the wind turbines appeared spinning wildly in the wind. They created a pattern against the mountain, like a network of giant pinwheels.  Finally just before arriving in Flagstaff, we stopped and washed our car back window so we could see better.  As we got into the mountains by Flagstaff, suddenly our sunny afternoon turned into winter with snow on the mountains.  Two more days until Denver and the temperature there today is 24 degrees.


(MO)


(MO)

 


(BH)

 

San Francisco State University & Moe’s Bookstore: Feb 28, 2019

Feb 28, 2019 – Reading at San Francisco State University

In the morning, we headed to San Francisco over the Bay Bridge and met Steve Dickison at Rosso’s Cafe across from the Humanities Building at San Francisco State University.


(MO)

Steve Dickison (BH)

Then he took us to the poetry center where we looked at the vast library and signed many of our books for Steve and the center.  We then moved on to Steve’s classroom for the reading. We were especially happy when Norma Cole and Susan Gevirtz came to the class to hear us read.

Steve introducing (MO)

Norma Cole, Susan Gevirtz, Steve Dickison (BH)

The students had already read and discussed the poems in our pamphlet.  We both read from the pamphlet.  Maureen also read from Erosion’s Pulland Edges of Water; and Barbara read from her novel, Just Like That, and from A Day Like Today.  Then we answered questions from the students. Some of their questions were about Maureen’s titles, why we use space and punctuation the way we do, where we get our ideas from, how to get published and how one includes political ideas in poems. Afterwards, we signed books; then we sat outside at Russo’s and ate sandwiches before heading back to Berkeley.

(BH)

(MO)

Reading at Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley

That night after a brief rest, we drove over to Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue.  Joyce Jenkins and Richard Silberg from Poetry Flash arrived with boxes of our books that they put on display.   Richard introduced us with a lively take on our poems in Poets on the Roadpamphlet.  We were especially happy to read for Steve Emerson and his wife Gayle, Alan Bermheimer and Ted Pearson, among others.

Richard Silberg Introducing


Alan Bernheimer (BH)


Alan Bernheimer’s head shots

 
Ted Pearson and Maureen (BH)


MO & Joyce Jenkins (BH)


BH & Joyce (MO)

Joyce reminded me that she lived in Detroit in the 70s.  As we talked, we discovered that we were both in fact living in the Cass Corridor a few doors away from each other and we had hung out in the same clubs, Alvin’s and Cobb’s Corner Bar.  We surely must have known some of the same people and passed each other on the street. We might have sat across from each other on Sundays in the cafe in the Art Institute, reading The Times and drinking coffee. (BH)

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So enjoyed talking to poet friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  A nice surprise was meeting Steve Emerson’s wife Gayle, who like myself grew up on a farm out on the mid west prairies.  She’s from North Dakota and I’m from Minnesota.  We had such similar memories of mothers and grandmothers tending and depending on big gardens and canning produce to make it through the winter.  We talked about living far out of town in those remote places and being closely knit with family.  Our growing-up lives seemed like mirrors of each other.  (MO)

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