Archive for August, 2019

Delectable Review of Eating the Sun

August 30, 2019

Rachael Ikins, Central New York Branch, NY

Eating the Sun: a delicious love story

Reviewed by Treanor Baring, Bayou City ii branch, TX

ISBN 9781947653580

Clare Songbirds Publishing House Eating the Sun © 2019 Rachael Ikins

To order a copy of this book, or others by Rachael with Clare Songbirds Publishing:

Imagine an independent bookshop on leafy Anytown square, sun dappled sidewalk, geraniums in full bloom, the large bay front window filled with whimsical children’s books and must-read political thrillers.

A postman arrives with a weighty brown carton. The shop clerk slits the lid, anticipating the pleasure of unpacking the newest shipment from her favorite independent publishing house. The kind of publishing house that scoops up the best emerging authors. She pulls out multiple copies of thrillers, biographies and the latest diet cookbooks. These are quickly distributed throughout the bookstore onto their respective genre shelves.

Then, the last book in the box: Rachael Ikins’s Eating the Sun. Mmmm. Not so easy to place. Memoir? Poetry? Cookbook? The clerk runs her hand over the front jacket. Lovely. Opens the book and begins to read. Smiles. Nods. Wipes away a tear. Holds the book to her chest and looks up to heaven. Thank you, she mouths. Rearranges the front window and places Ikins’s book front and center with a hand-cut arrow pointing to it that reads “straight from the heart.”

While Ms. Ikins latest book is indeed genre-defying, that is not to say it isn’t unified in its vision. It is a love story, not plain or simple, but transformational. From the first line, “Think back to the first time you met the love of your life,” to the recipes and poems, and eventually to the very last line, “Do you?” Ikins connects to her subjects and to the reader through every day actions. She gets real, and quick. “No writing about my husband would be complete without a section on mushrooms,” she states at the opening of the Autumn section, and from what we’ve already read, this makes sense. As do later developments, even though we may not want to see them coming. She never shies away from the vulnerability of the age difference between her and her husband, her own struggles as a poet, and his failing health. I won’t rely on the cliché that the finale is a triumph; I don’t feel this book is meant to be a grandiose chronicle of challenges overcome. Its driving motivation seems more elemental, and much more dangerous: to find what is true and let it be known. Ikins finds a truth worth the telling and the hearing, inspiring us all to value the real in our lives as well.

Girl Interrupted

August 27, 2019

The New Diningroom Table

August 25, 2019

Gone Dogs

August 22, 2019

With my poem Memoir of an Elderly Dachshund from Lowrider’s POV finally is available and my copies arrived in the mail. His sweet face ❤️🐾

Backstory of My Mother’s Cookbook interview

August 18, 2019

“Poet” photo essay by Rachael Ikins

August 18, 2019

Coming to America

August 18, 2019

Rachael Ikins

The whole idea of ICE, caging people and ejecting them, and revising the poem on the Statue of Liberty all of that is, for me, the stuff of nightmares. The final season of Orange is the New Black tackles these issues graphically and head-on.

Meanwhile I wonder what would’ve happened.

1929 my grandfather was young married with a little daughter. Born and raised in Germany he fought in WW I and refused to talk about it with me when I was old enough to ask.

Listening to the news of this guy Hitler and his speeches and early activity terrified my grandfather. By the time 1929 arrived he was convinced he had to take his family and leave the country they loved because a maniac was heading that country for disaster.

They came to the United States—I still have photos he took from the ship’s deck cruising into port at Ellis Isalnd somewhere.

Germans were not popular (due to WW I) in the US, and he suffered a lot at the hands of American bosses. Including a month long stint in Bellevue Hospital in a strait-jacket. My grandmother was so homesick and spoke so little English she would send my 5 year old mom to the corner bodega for groceries and during the Depression when they were broke. When I was a teen my mom’s dr. discovered an ulcer scar from her childhood. Anxiety. As a teenager when her class had to write a paper about origins, my mother only put “somewhere in Europe.” Finally my grandfather took his family back for business maybe? And my grandmother fell to her knees in the Frankfurt airport and kissed the ground. Most people don’t leave their native land lightly.

Opa was a mechanical engineer who eventually founded and ran his own business and had extensive contracts with the military and big corporations like General Electric and Firestone.

I wonder, going back to 1929, if ICE had existed then and the current admin, if this family of hopeful immigrants fleeing war and dictatorship had been forced to go back would they have survived? my aunt would’ve ended up in a detention center as an infant, my grandparents and mother gone.

My grandmother’s two siblings in Germany who had children were forced to send their toddlers who were my mom’s cousins to live in very rural farms, and when bombers flew over, the people caring for them hid these babies under huge mountains of cut hay.

My aunt was the first born in the US. My mom became a citizen when I was 7 yrs old. They took me out of school to go to the ceremony at the courthouse in Syracuse then out to dinner.

I really can’t remember if Opa and Oma became citizens formally. All I know is they died loyal, voting Americans.

Who elected himself God to determine who coming from war-torn—pick a name— Syria, Venezuela, China/Hong Kong—any country—fleeing war, dictators, starvation should be allowed to stay and what these hopeful and desperate immigrants might contribute? How many of any reader’s health care professionals have brown skin and speak with accents? I pray that my cardiologist is safe from ICE. My dentist.

I wouldn’t be sitting here on a sleepy Sunday morning listening to crickets with the windows open as I type if Opa had been sent back to Germany.

The first night I heard on the news that ICE enforcers were going to be out in communities arresting people, I said a prayer for my neighborhood. I don’t know a lot of people well here, but we all smile and wave and some of my neighbors have darker skin than mine and speak with accents. I prayed everyone would still be here in the morning.

I still pray. And some nights I have nightmares.

A Room

August 3, 2019

Of Her Own

My Girlie pencil drawing

August 2, 2019