End-of-Year COBBLER Cheer

Special highlights of the SUPER-newsy end-of-year issue included an update on our bullying workshops, fun with sports and pastry, some quotes about me by my husband, and some quotes BY me in an article ABOUT me.

Then there was another great link to a Moya Stone article about The Souls of Her Feet.

And some sad and silly goodbyes to my dear friend and dog-daughter, the lovely, elegant goofball Maddie Moose Maddyson Maddog von Caven. Or however she spelled it.

A.k.a. Mad-tilda, Madison Square Garden, Madagascar, Madeline Albright Caven.


They Can't Take Maddaway From Me

Love song for Maddy Caven, 1997-2013 ~ apologies/gratitude to George & Ira Gershwin

There are many, many crazy things
That we’ll always love about you,
And with your permission
May I list a few?

The way you’d get the cat.
The way you’d run so free.
The memory of all that -
No, no - they can't take that away from me.

The way you’d fill the bed.
The way we fixed your knee.
The way you’d shake and shed.
No, no - they can't take that away from me.

We may never, never meet again
On that bumpy road of life
Still I'll always,
Always keep the memory of...

The way you filled my lap (do-do-do-do do-do).
The way you’d lick your pee.
The way you changed our life.
No, no - they can't take that away from me.

No, they can't take that away from me.


Coco Crisps + Reddick Whip = Victory Pie!

Happy #museday!

I was raised to raise my nose at spectator sports. Our family would DO things while others were sitting on couches, drinking beer, drooling, screaming in unison like an idiot choir. We'd garden, draw, hike, read, or go visit grandma. But I married a sports fan, and in loving him, I have learned to love the ball seasons in my own way.

This weekend, I made a video based on my Walk-off Pie recipe from last year's streaky baseball season. My son, the aspiring filmmaker, was a very useful Techie. He helped me figure out how to turn the kitchen into a studio, held the camera on the tricky shots, and did a great a walk-on at the end.

The most annoying thing was not the way batteries ran out on the second-to-last shot, but the clicking noise the expensive fancy HD video camera I borrowed made a clicking noise when it zoomed. It was a tough call but in the end I took my own advice not to be a perfectionist but to get it out there. Life is short.

There were a few best things... the magic of editing (thank you, Adobe Premiere), being creative with my kid (his favorite scene was the table-clearing...), and the best surprise of all: THE PIE WAS DELICIOUS! We left it in the freezer and ate it the next night as the Broncos whipped up and up on the Raiders.

My crazy cook friends and I have always dreamed of doing a variety show. Maybe this is my opening salvo. (Mmm, salvo.)

Oh, and here's one more factoid. The shirt I'm wearing is homemade, too. It's a relic from our early days of parenthood, when I couldn't afford the licensed variety for a father's day gift. To avoid complete licensing failures, the child-sized one said "A-Ok-land" on the back. This one, which my husband has kept, says "Auckland A's" on the back, since Oakland doesn't start with an A....


The Bullying Antidote COBBLER

In SUMMER, 2013, Hazelden published The Bullying Antidote, culminating a 2-year writing adventure with my mother, and kicking off another one: publicity.

Writing and publicity require two opposite states of mind. One is introverted and quiet; the other is extroverted and chatty.

Here's a link to the Zorgos blog, where I'm chatty about bullying a few times a month.


98 Degrees and No Lemonade Left (a story about ‘membering by the Membership Chair) | California Writers Club — Berkeley Branch

A creative writing piece enticing members of my writers club to renew their membership:

It was a sultry July afternoon, and I sat reading the New Yorker, fanning myself with the California Literary Review. No, it was definitely the other way around. I’d been so busy after a year of unexpected, life-changing crises and opportunities that to sit, just to sit and read, was a delicious pleasure. Flies circled lazily in the middle of the room, having found a cooler place to do their romancing with all the windows and doors to my house open wide. My lemonade was long gone, and the ice clicked as it shifted, melting, in the glass. A puddle formed on the coffee table and I thought about putting a coaster under the glass. There was something I was forgetting though, something really important from my list of a thousand things. Now, what was it?

My eyes wandered over the cartoons, but I didn’t laugh. It was just too hot. I should have submitted come cartoons. My first New Yorker rejection was such a trophy; every writer should earn one for their “at least I tried” file. I didn’t even get a rejection letter from the Literary Review for the essay I sent in. Did I actually remember to submit? Yes, it was before all the trouble. I’m sure I did.

Was it a meeting? A trip to the vet? Something in the back of my mind was distracting me, keeping me reading the same paragraph over and over again. I should have done something last month. Things were so busy, and now it’s just too hot. “Typically, cars whoosh past asworkers…” Did I really just read that? Oh, it’s a typo.

I remember the first time my work was published in a CWC publication. I felt so understood, so welcomed. I’ve become more accustomed to that honor. I flip through the pages and notice how many stories are in first person. The sign of an immature writer. We’re all immature until we mature. My essay was in first person. Was that my mistake?

The dog paces into the room from the open door, her long nails clicking on the hardwood floor, her tongue dripping mouth-sweat, and falls on her bed with an elderly thump. What did I forget, darnit? Dog day afternoon goes through my head. My dog looks like a bull terrier from this angle. Bull terriers, the only good kind of bully. Bullies… oh yeah, my book is in bookstores now and I should be working on my newsletter. But that’s on my list. There’s something else I’ve forgotten…

An hour later, I’ve been through joyous births and tragic deaths. I’ve felt wonder, grief, anger, and everything in between, as I’ve walked through a Japanese classroom, danced at a prom, gone to war and hung with a Mob boss. I’ve been treated to the fiction, poetry, essays and drawings of dozens of my peers—those creative and inspiring and hard-working writers, members of the California Writers Club.

Members of the California Writers Club? That’s what I’ve forgotten! I have to remind members to pay their dues! I care about this club, and I want it to be strong. There is an exciting year coming up, starting with our Annual Picnic just a few weeks away, and we need everyone to come back and get involved making our club the Premiere Writing Society in the East Bay!

I swirl my ice, suck down the watery remains of the lemonade, wipe the the cool condensation from my palms, and think. It’s been a hard year for me, and for most of the board members. But back when I first dove in to the cool, fresh waters of the membership chair job, I got a fresh new system going. All I really need to do is send out a link (http://cwc-berkeley.org/about/join-us/) and remind members it’s $45 a year (plus $2 if they use PayPal). That’s it! All I have to do is tell them they can renew online or send in a check by the end of July. (I must not forget to tell people they can also choose the auto-renewal option – so each year they’ll renew automatically – but can also cancel at any time.)

But now I want to go back to reading my magazine. And maybe let my eyes close, and listen to the fan beat the air. And maybe, as I drowse off a bit, say a little prayer that my letter will inspire someone out there to contact me and say they’ll take on some membership chores, since I don’t have a successor yet. I can relax now, for a little while. I’m glad I remembered, and hope all our members re-member, too!


Kristen Caven
Membership Chair Emerita (almost)



A Flurry of Spring Cobblers

In February 2013, I launched an Indiegogo campaign (it'll be easy, right?) with a crazy, wraparound story about my musical, The Souls of Her Feet.

In March, with a small side-track into a movie cameo by Renaissance Woman that wasn't, the novella, The Souls of Her Feet, was born. It had gestated as a blook for nearly a year.

In April, three versions of the book were launched, and in May, there was a huge and successful writing retreat with my partner Michael, funded by our friends and supporters!

Thank you to everyone who donated... you know who you are!


Happy Earth Day, Walk Barefoot.

Happy Earth Day, Walk Barefoot. | Kristen Caven | Blog Post | Red Room

I'll be blogging all week with book giveaways on Redroom. Here's the first one... anyone remember clodhoppers?

I remember reading this wonderful Sci Fi series when I was high school about Thomas (Somebody) and The Land. He walked barefoot on the mountain trails, and could feel what was happening with The Land, which was being killed by boot-wearing armies with plots of their own.  As someone who had consciously worked, as a child, to build up callouses on tender spring feet so I could go barefoot all summer, I GOT it. I read this book at the time people were wearing  “clodhoppers”  with flannel shirts… and when I laced mine up, I could feel the senses of my soles becoming benumbed by rubber.
And there was something about Cinderella’s feet that intrigued me so much I had to write this story. Here she is, a scullery maid who, like the poor, like the indigenous, is earthbound. You really don’t need shoes to feed chickens, to clean floors. There is something good for your soul to have your soles touching the earth. And there is something about shoes that can separate you from your essence.
When you read my book, you will think about shoes in a way you haven’t before. Harry has quite the philosophy about shoes that he spouts in the song he sings to Ashley. But I just thought of something new about Cinderella’s shoe that I wish I’d put in the book. Maybe it will have to go into the musical: A glass slipper is like a window on the sole.
I’m doing book giveaways all week to celebrate the book launch of The Souls of Her Feet. Today I will give a book away to anyone who can tell me the name of that story about Thomas Something and The Land.  OR anyone who can provide a link to the Clodhoppers I'm talking about - they just don't come up in Google Search!! 


Forward on Climate Change!

I went to the Forward on Climate Change rally Sunday in San Francisco.

I thought about all the things I should have done to promote my pet project, Idle Free Oakland, especially since the excitement these days comes from Idle No More, but with so much on my plate this spring, I couldn't get myself quite organized. But I'm so glad I went! It was the largest climate rally ever, and I'm hoping my presence might make a difference.

It was lovely. Well-organized, peaceful, fun, and short. Native Americans opened with prayers, the air smelled like sage, and there were cute dogs everywhere. We really have to stop Keystone XL, and here's why.

The rally was sponsored by 350.org, which is the organization that's giving us the best leadership on this terrible worldwide problem. It's about science, and it's about math, and they explain it so simply:

  • Our climate is changing because of too much atmospheric CO2.
  • The safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350 parts per million.
  • We currently have 394 ppm (this changes; see the carbon calcuator in the column on the right>>>)
  • We need to get BACK to 350. Like, asap!

Stuff I liked:

  • A polar bear
  • A "Leave it in the Ground" sign
  • A high school senior who said, "You guys are always talking about a better future for your children and grandchildren. Well, I'm a kid... and I want a better future for myself!"
  • These kids with their cool signs
  • Speakers who really believe we can get back to 350 in our lifetime.
  • San Francisco's upcoming resolution to divest and ballot option to go all green energy.
  • A guy who is trying to educate folks about Thorium, which looks like the answer to nuclear energy.
  • Another speaker recalled learning about climate change in school in the 1970s. "We've wasted 40 years of inaction in 'debate'." Idle no more, right?

This guy with the mask and the sign says it all.

Can you stand up with me and millions of others and and tell the guy "NO KXL?" Here's a petition. Here's another.


Catch-Up Cobbler

My Last-Minute Cobbler of 2012 showed up in inboxes in early January, 2013.

It was so very long that I couldn't get a clip of it, but the main thrust was:
  • I'd been writing a book about bullying all year
  • The blook had been publishing to an audience of 52
  • My websites and blogs all had makeovers, and
  • Lots of bad crap happened to me in the fall.