An Appointment with my favorite Dr.

The kids are making new things at the Morean Art Center. I think the summer programs have started, and I’m hoping that means I get to see different things every Saturday I go there for my writing class.  ( Is it a writing class?  I don’t know – I learn new things every time I go, so I think it is.)  This week their work was inspired by Dr. Suess.  I’ve heard that Dr. Suess didn’t really like kids. I don’t believe that’s true, I don’t think I could love Yertle the Turtle as much as I did as a child if the man that wrote it didn’t have some kind of love for children.  Was he intimidated by them?  I get that.  I don’t have kids, and have very little exposure to them, and yeah sometimes they are a little scary.  They are a bit wild, untamed and that can be as frightening as it is beautiful.


What  I like about Dr. Suess is how subversive he was.  Horton Hears A Who?   Yeah, that’s about how America needed to support a post-war Japan.  Theodor Geisel, or beloved Dr. Suess,  was very, shall we say ANTI  on Japan till he made a visit to the country that changed his heart.

Yertle the Turtle?  Yeah, Yertle is Hitler.  The last lines of the book,  “And the turtles, of course …all the turtles are free. As turtles, and maybe, all creatures should be.”  The maybe is in there on purpose because he wanted his young readers to think “OF COURSE  all creatures should be free!” Also when Mack, the turtle on the bottom, burps – it was the first time a burp was referenced in a children’s book.  Very. Big. Deal.

His messages for adults weren’t always so hidden.

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WOW.  I don’t think I really have to say anything

And here’s something interesting, Becks, we might have this book to thank for having one of the greatest writers in children’s literature.


His 4th book about the Seven Lady Godivas, obviously for adults was a flop, and that is probably influenced him to stick to children’s books.


The girls were always naked because they were themselves and felt no need to hide it.  Something  I think is a good lesson for all of us.







The Key to a successful road trip to  Arkansas is avoiding Memphis.  I  get it, I was raised in Tennessee, I love Memphis, it’s inspired some of the best songs in country music, don’t believe me, listen to this and tell me it’s not three kinds of awesome. I could listen to that song all day.  So much history, so much music, so much barbeque, all in Memphis.  Oh, and there’s Elvis.  So yeah, Memphis is great unless you have to find the St Louis exit, on a pretty shitty road, and white-knuckle the next 20 miles because the whole thing is too much.  On the way home there was something that I wanted to see, it would take me a couple hours out of my way, but that is road tripping is for, exploring – and it was a good way for me to avoid Memphis.  So off to Rohwer Arkansas I went. Things did not go as planned.

Rohwer Arkansas was once home to one of the Japanese Internment Camps in WWII.  In fact, George Takei spent a year there when he was a little boy.  He talks about traveling to the swamps of Arkansas, and how remote it was, and he’s not kidding.  It’s still remote, and it took me 4 hours to find the memorial.  The sensible side of me said, “Marika get back on Prison Road, pick up a nice hitchhiker and settle down, you don’t really NEED to see this place.”  But honestly, the truth is I did need to see it, even if I still don’t know why.  Finally, after being told I was indeed on the right road, and it was just another 5 miles, I drove another 12 and there was a sign.  I turned left, I crossed the abandoned railroad tracks that brought George Takei and 8,000 other Japanese Americans to the camp, and there was a memorial, down a gravel road and hidden in a clump of trees surrounded by a cotton field.


The only thing left is the cemetery for the people who died while being held there as well as two memorials made of concrete.  the one on the left, with the eagle, was made by the people imprisoned there honoring all their dead. The other honors the men from the Rohwer camp that died while serving in the 442 infantry, the most decorated soldiers of WWII – they also had the highest casualty rate, and boy does that say something.


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Rohwer is a sad place.  It’s wrapped in a silent sorrow.  What made it worse to me, is that there is this monument made to honor heroes that gave their lives, regardless of what was being done to their families, and the flag depicted on the obelisk isn’t even painted.  It’s faded, much like our memory of this place.





Outside the cemetery, there is one more little headstone among the trees, I, of course, built a story around it.  I just imagined a child wanting to honor his or her best friend and someone being kind enough to help them.  It amazes me it is still there.


There are little kiosks set up around the memorial, and when you push a button Lt Sulu will tell you a little something about the camp.  It’s a little weird having him explain it, considering that after being imprisoned here, he went on to serve on a spaceship with a crew made up of different races, alien and otherwise.

Afterward, Monte and I sat down on at the picnic table, and ate some kiwi and watermelon and enjoyed the shade and the stillness.

The camp closed on November 30, 1945.  It was the last internment camp to close.

Road trip

So here’s the thing.  I love a road trip.  I love driving down a highway, not an interstate mind you, you don’t see much on the interstate, but on a highway, you get to experience the country.  You find fruit stands that sell peaches and watermelons, you can eat at diners and rib joints and it will remind you of why America is so great. There are commemorative plaques and markers and sites to visit that you may have never knew existed.  I love to explore, and a road trip is a great way to do that.  Sometimes a girl has to hit the road with her best friend.


Always giving me side eye, that one.


Of course, there are dangers.  I have unofficially renamed US 65 South  Prison Road.  You have no idea how many times I saw this sign.


And it gave me some ideas …

A tale of two dogs.

There are some things you never get over.  Dash is one of those things. I miss him.  Sixteen years is a long time to have a dog, and I know I should feel lucky, and I do… we got a lot of love in, but losing him broke me.   I still think about him in some way every single day.

When Dash and I roamed the streets of New Orleans, we lived across the street from a rather famous artist Amzie Adams.  He was doing a series of paintings of all the houses on our block. When you have an amazing artist like Amzie right there, you have to ask if he’ll paint your dog with the house. And that is just what he did.  I gave the painting to my mother, and she is sending it home to me.  I think he captured Dash perfectly, his handsome smile and his wild heart shines through.  I tear up a little when I look at it.  And I will be eternally grateful to Amzie for showing me this kindness.


And I gave something to her.  A painting of Monte.  I’m not Amzie, but it’s not too bad and my Mom loves it.  Monte is nothing like Dash,  he needs me in a way Dash never did, and I’ve always felt that Dash brought us together.  I love him with all my heart.  How have I been so lucky to have so many good dogs in my life?


At the Arts Center

I spend a chunk of time every Saturday at the Morean Art Center and I love to see the different exhibits that pass through, right now there are some beautiful paintings on the walls, and it seems like every time I pass through there is always something I want.  I have a dream to be able to buy something original, a just for me piece of art one day.    This was easily the most thought-provoking piece, at least to me on display.



I think this should be a permanent installation somewhere in downtown St Pete.  Now that I live near the gulf again, I’m much more away of what we are doing to our oceans.  I try to be more aware and think before I buy, I recycle and I’ve gone straw free, which I gotta confess wasn’t so easy – till you see that video of what straw can do to wildlife, then it’s an easy choice.

Let’s get Grimm

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love fairy tales.   I always have. They were the first stories told to me, the first stories I read, and the first movies  I saw.   A friend treated me to the opening night, and I mean the very first performance of Beauty and The Beast before it went to Broadway and it was amazing, I felt like a little girl in a magical world. Even though that friendship has faded it truly was one of the best nights of my life, and maybe the best gift I have ever received.  So yeah, fairytales, I dig ’em.

When the offered a class on fairy tales at KeepStPeteLit I  had to take it, and I learned a lot, in that I knew it, but never knew it like that kinda way.  I learned about the flatness of characters, and how Fairytales, at least the ones I grew up reading, tell don’t show, which is exactly what we, as writers today shouldn’t do.  It’s always show, don’t tell, right?  When you read a fairytale, you believe that magic is normal, of course, there are bears who have built a nice little house in the forest, naturally, the animals talk, and we use our imagination to fill in a bare-bones story.  We were given 15 minutes to write our own fairy tale and I thought I would share mine.

There was a girl that went into the woods every day to pick raspberries. One day a fox was caught in the brambles and the girl carefully helped him out of the bush and pulled all the thorns from his paws.  By the time she was done, it was dark. She had gathered no raspberries and returned home with an empty basket. Her mother was angry. She used the berries to make jams and cookies and sold them at the market. Tomorrow there would be nothing to sell. She told the girl that she would have to pick twice the amount she usually gathered the next day. That morning when the girl awoke, she discovered two baskets filled with berries, jams, tarts, and cookies on the front step. Little pawprints led from the door to the forest.  Every day from then on, the baskets would appear by the door. The mother was very happy the girl had a kind heart and helped the fox because now she could send the girl into the woods to gather blueberries, offering a wider variety of product, doubling her inventory and sales at the market. She prayed her daughter would come across a wounded bear while picking blueberries.  Then the cash would really be rolling in.