Particularly Touching Hometown Poet gives me hope

A Backward Dream’ by Jim Turner

I am too old for this, nose dripping on books, itching, scratching for words that happily rhyme with love.

I have forgotten the taste of kisses, among the promises of softened eyes, huskily whispered yesses, soft as a dove.

Nowhere then near my lusty mood were mournful birds or distant years, rushing unkindly upon me far too soon, with balding head and slowing blood.

Dear, lost memory, I need to know not your name, but that your golden hair is loose, your laughter light.

So do not be surprised tonight

To find yourself in my dream.


Exactly one year ago today I was released from the hospital.

During the entire month of June 2011, I was hundreds of miles away from my safe and happy little hometown in a Lakewood, CA hospital bed with a life-changing illness. I’ve debated whether or not to write about this— it’s not because what I have endured is some sort of secret. It certainly isn’t; I’m very forthcoming with my struggle. I think I am apprehensive about writing this down because it makes it feel more real, more permanent— if there was such a thing as more permanent with this.

I’m infertile.

In June 2011 my journey with infertility came to a fork in the road. My then-husband and I had been trying to conceive for over a year. We had done medicated cycles, tried force ovulating, we had done everything basically. The next step was to undergo an HCG test, a radiological test in which dye is put through a woman’s fallopian tubes in order to determine whether or not they are blocked.

Unfortunately, my fallopian tubes were blocked— the septic fluid inside causing my body to basically shut down and succumb to peritonitis, an awful infection that can cause death. I suffered pneumonia. My body was failing me so badly that something drastic had to be done. Eventually, my fallopian tubes had to be removed.

Without fallopian tubes, I will never be able to conceive children naturally.

This journey has affected my life in so many different ways.

For one, it broke up the marriage I was in. I’m still too raw to write about that part of this whole thing. But, if there is something that I have learned from this is that “God blessed the broken road…”

Secondly, experiencing something as trying as this has really led me to believe that yes, my family really is there for me. I knew it before, deep down. Now, though, my love for them has blossomed into something unexplainable. Throughout everything that I have been through, my entire family has been there for me. My parents sat with me in the hospital for more than six hours each day making sure I was comfortable and not lonely. My grandparents gave me a great place to live. My uncle provided me with more freelance work. My aunt has made sure I’ve had lots of fun and have been emotionally supported. My friends have been there with me through the anger, tears and curses.

I’m certainly not alone in this struggle.

Last Independence Day I joked that I would be so thankful I was free from the hospital while watching the fireworks. This Independence Day my freedom goes so much farther than that—

I’m free in the sense that I have a career now.

I’m free because I have come to terms that my offspring will be acquired in a more non-conventional way.

I’m more than just free— I’m INDEPENDENT!

Happy Independence Day, ya’ll! It’s my favorite day of the year.

PS: To all of our former and current military members. Thank you for your service. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Photo Set

It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

Flash Forward Friday!

Weeks have flown by without me even realizing that I haven’t written here. Busy with my job, family and friends— I’ve had little time to write, which is distressing. As a Writing & Literature major at California College of the Arts, a small boutique art school with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, I got into such a habit of writing poetry and prose that I found it to be a therapeutic experience rather than an assignment.

Nowadays, with little time to even have a few quiet moments to myself before I go to sleep, I feel like writing is really missing from my life. Without it, I feel like I’m wound a little too tight. Writing is a way to document all of the good that has happened to me in the past six months. It’s a way to process all of the “bad” that has happened to me to. “Bad” is written the way it is because I have such a mental block against change. I know it’s necessary, I really do— it’s just so hard to deal with it while I am in the process of metamorphosis.

I’ve already written here about my desire to own my own home. Someday, I can picture myself in a little bungalow or Craftsman cottage somewhere in Downtown Lodi behind an antique desk with a typewriter and a Moleskine journal. Written on the pages in front of me are stories about my life— love and loss, happiness and healthiness, excitement and enlightenment. It sounds picturesque, doesn’t it?

Maybe I’m being a little idealistic. I just think it sounds perfect.

Above: pictures around Beck Farms at different times of day.


A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

Such a beautiful day in the neighborhood… I busted out the Instagram app on my iPhone once again today, when I spotted these fluffy clouds as I drove to Stockton from Lodi.

Sometimes I feel like Lodi is a picturesque little town. Our downtown is quaint and fun with its brick walks and old buildings. There is a house on my way to work with a white picket fence around it and a Golden Retriever who lays on a perfectly manicured lawn chewing on a bone most mornings. Mothers push prams to parks where they push their pudgy little babies on swings. It’s a modern day Mayberry most of the time.

Yes, it has it’s downfalls. There is crime, homeless people and the usual plights towns have. But today, when the clouds are so pretty and the weather is so great— I can’t see any of that.

I feel extra happy today.

I’m grateful for that— and I’m hopeful for more days like this to come.

Photo Set

Flash Forward Friday -

Have I told you that I love Fridays? I really do. Even when I didn’t work a regular nine to five job, I’ve always felt like Fridays were a little more free, a little more friendly, and a lot more fun.

Flash Forward Friday is a little thing I am going to try and keep up on. I’m going to check in with where I currently am in life and flash forward to where I hope to be in the future. Remember, this is Hometown Hope after all. It’s where all of my hopes, dreams and wishes live in blog form.

Where am I now?

I’m on the farm. My heart lives there with my family, with the animals, with the sounds and the smells and the sights. Right now, I love where I live. Like I have said many times before, the farm is exactly where I need to be at the moment. It’s my safe place.

How could you not feel safe here?

Look at the adorable baby cow all by himself in the pasture; he looks like a giant wooly teddy bear that you could just go up to and hug.

The arena— yes, it looks a little scary at night with just that lone light over the top shining down through the dust and spider webs. But really, it is a peaceful place to look over and think. Somehow it reminds me to not let myself think in circles, to break out of the arena of my mind and to keep running farther into the future so I can learn more about myself.

Then there is Rosie, the Australian Shepherd. She’s the alarm system for the barn. Absolutely nobody can get past her without a fit of barking— not even me. She’s a happy dog just doing her job, though. I appreciate it, too, because living alone isn’t something I’m used to; even if the rest of my family is just a few yards away.

These are the scenes of my life.

But will my life look like this forever? No.

My goal is to own my own home in town, where I will have worked hard for everything I have just as my grandfather worked hard for everything on the farm. My family is an inspiration to me, the place I live was built on the blood, sweat and tears of an older generation— and I feel like I need to live up to that.

I know that with a little hope and a lot of hard work, I can.


Out of the Doghouse

I’ve never been one to carry around a camera. I have to admit: I’m not the most responsible of human beings when it comes to my belongings. I’m forever leaving things at friends’ houses, losing my wallet and forgetting my purse at home or work.

So, thank goodness for smart phones.

If it weren’t for my iPhone and the Instagram app, I probably wouldn’t have any photographic evidence of my life. Without being able to simply pull over on the side of the road and snap a photo on my phone I would not have countless photos of my dog sitting up like a meerkat, sunsets on the farm, pictures of myself on particularly good hair days, or doghouse photos like this one.

This is just one of about a dozen pictures I have of local doghouses. Whether they are occupied or vacant, in a state of disrepair or deluxe doggy accommodations— a doghouse is compelling to me for some reason.

I don’t know exactly what it is about doghouses that I love so much. Is it the nostalgia they make me feel? Is it something about the link to the saying, “She’s in the doghouse”? Is it because they are miniature versions of human homes? Are they symbols for something bigger? What is it?

I can’t say for all of the photos I have taken.

But, I can say this— the doghouse above is symbolic for me. With it’s virtually crumbling roof, leaning walls, and absence of a canine tenant for the past ten years, I feel like it is a very sad place to be. After six months of putting myself in an emotional doghouse like this one, I’m finally ready to break out of it. No more wasted nights out in the cold, no more being tied up alone, no more sadness.

I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m ready for new adventures, I’m ready for love. I’m ready to try my hand at things I’ve always wanted to do, like playing the piano and running long distances. I’m ready to be a grown up— have a career and buy a house. I’m ready to make it on my own.

I’m ready. 

And I’m going to document it one Instagram photo at a time.

If you’d like to follow my journey, please follow my Instagram feed. My name is kikipuppet.

Until next time, don’t put yourself in a virtual doghouse like this one.

Be happy, be blessed, be yourself!


Simply gorgeous!


Lodi, CA. Taken by Karen Hutton


"Do you live in a barn?"

People normally ask this like it’s a bad thing.

I promise, living in a barn is one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life.


After moving back home from Long Beach almost six months ago, I have never been so close to my family and friends. I’m able to have dinner with my parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents at least three nights a week. Three more nights a week are spent with friends. If it weren’t for these amazing people, I probably would be struggling with the hand that life dealt me.

Late last year, some very sad and unfortunate events rocked my entire existence. I’m still not ready to talk about them— but I guarantee, I will be someday. What happened caused me to start back at square one in every aspect of my life.

Now— I have a job that a love, get to live in my hometown that is so dear to me, and have the hope that life will flourish for me here.

*Above: me taking a tour of our barn red chicken coop.


Last weekend my best friend, Breanna, and I attended Lodi’s annual Zinfest. The sunshine glittered off the lake, cotton from the trees whispered on the wind into our wine glasses, and the happy murmur of people dressed like they were attending the Kentucky Derby filled the air. In 2011, I attended Breanna’s pre-Zinfest brunch via Skype. As a military wife living down in Long Beach, I attended many of my family and friends’ functions that way— over the computer. It was often bittersweet; I could be there, but not really be there. This year, I was ecstatic to attend Zinfest in the flesh. I was able to hug my friends, drink the delicious red nectar and feel the sun beat down on my shoulders.  No longer do I have to attend these fun events through a screen in the corner of a room! I think you can see the happiness on my face in this picture— I hope to be smiling like this for years in the future. Cheers to many Zinfests to come!


Five months ago when I moved back to Northern California from Long Beach after a life-changing event, my first goal was to get a job. I feel like that’s how you know a move is going to stick; if you establish roots in a place, you’re more likely to stay. So when I finally joined the workforce here, I felt like I could let out a sigh of relief.

This, my friends, is where I spend my weekdays.

The Lodi News-Sentinel is a family owned newspaper, established in my hometown in 1881. It’s a great place with tremendous community involvement, a fantastic family atmosphere, and best of all— a wonderful blend of young, creative types and seasoned veterans.

I’m so excited to join the Lodi News team! 

Right now I’m working in the advertising department aiding local businesses in the promotion of their goods and services. However, my dream is to jump behind a desk in the newsroom, plop my typewriter down (yes, I truly do own a gorgeous, blue vintage Smith-Corona!), push my cat eye reading glasses up on my nose and click click click away at stories daily.

Of course, it seems like more of a daydream or episode of Mad Men at the moment.

But, I believe if I put my mind to it I can achieve this goal!

Already, I’ve had three stories in an agricultural section we ran about a month ago. Plus, a couple more pieces I have written are being published into an annual magazine that’s being released at the end of this month. I take every opportunity I can get to write— it’s what I love to do best. After all, I do have a degree in Writing & Literature!

I’m optimistic about my career opportunities here at the Lodi News-Sentinel.

It definitely feels like home.