As many of you know during the years 2017 and 2018, I published a three volume book series, Words In Our Beak, where the stories are set in my rooftop garden and told from the perspective of a female cardinal.
And you may also know, from my video on You Tube and/or Vimeo that I introduced my book project, Imperfect Strangers.
Yesterday on Facebook, I announced that the book is completed and has been submitted!
"Waiting for a bus in Manhattan and thinking about the American Oystercatchers I’d seen at the beach last weekend. I’d loved seeing them using their long orange beaks to search for food along the shoreline. Suddenly the words of a little girl who is at the bus-stop jolt me out of my memory. She shouts, 'Lady, you have a lot of bumps!'
"On another occasion during a hot humid day, I am in a Starbucks, looking forward to getting a courtesy water to quench my thirst. A perfect stranger standing behind me points to my bumpy arm and demands, 'what’s that?'
"These types of encounters are typical for me because I have neurofibromatosis.
"Neurofibromatosis is a condition with no known cure. More easily referred to as NF, it is one where six flat brownish-colored spots appear at birth. During the elementary school years of childhood lumps and bumps of different sizes and shapes appear all over the skin. NF is actually a nerve condition where tumors form on the end of the nerve cells. it’s not contagious, but many people think it is, which poses uncomfortable situations.
"My book, 'Imperfect Strangers,' is an autobiographical account of experiences I’ve had as a result of the general public reaction to any form of disfigurement.
"The story begins from my perspective as a child beginning after I’ve just celebrated my fifth birthday. I’m fearful about the spots on my skin, saddened about being taunted for wearing 'Coke Bottle glasses' since I turned three, and make a wish to be someone else.
As my school years continue, the symptoms from NF become more exaggerated, altering my appearance. I’m bullied and take drastic measures to change how I look.
"When I’m in college, an out-of-state doctor’s opinion is warranted for a possible tumor removal. I leave school to travel.
"To my horror I wind up being sexually assaulted.
"Upon recovery I move to Manhattan motivated by a desire to reacquaint with my father who had left my family many years prior.
"Challenges due to medical issues continue to occur in the workplace and everyday life. I do not give up, even though I continue to be bullied.
"As the years pass, I realize physical healing from the ramifications of having NF will never be possible, nor will I be able to stop encounters where people ridicule me.
"However, I ultimately come to see the 'silver lining' in being born with physical afflictions.
"It is through a cardinal who visits my NYC garden that I develop an awareness of avian creatures.
This leads me to meet and observe other creatures in my midst. Every time I encounter members of the animal kingdom, my exchanges with people doing the same are pleasant.
"People I meet while enjoying nature never question my looks, unlike situations at work places or when going about my daily business.
"Something about observing our natural world brings persons of all ages, races, genders — with and without physical challenges — together."
[My book, "Imperfect Strangers," has a word count of 35, 048.]
"Patricia Youngquist (also known as The Last Leaf Gardener or TLLG) is the author of a three volume book series, "Words In Our Beak;" published through the indie publisher Ingram Spark (in 2017 and 2018). The stories are set in her urban garden which is atop a roof extension in New York City and told from the perspective of Cam, a female cardinal who has been a frequent visitor to Youngquist’s garden.
"PY prides herself on the fact that she gives an authentic voice to the avian community without putting words in their beaks. The books, illustrated with her photographs of flora and fauna, have received five star reviews.
"Additionally, Youngquist has been named one of the top one hundred urban bloggers for her work on thelastleafgardener.com which she set up on the last day in 2009 and where she still continues to post her stories as well as her photographs. Her blog’s intent wittily and thoughtfully 'gives voice to fauna, flora, foliage, and figurines."
"On a personal note, PY was born with Neurofibromatosis (NF) and four conditions that compromise her eyesight. She has written about some of the consequences (including being bullied) of growing up with these medical conditions in a few of her blog entries.
"However, this is not the first time she has addressed these issues by writing about them. In the 1990’s, PY began working on a book about her inner experience dealing with such medical circumstances.
"Youngquist has been successful at giving voice to the avian community as well as at touching others with her insights garnered from having medical issues. She feels it is high time to give voice to those who are bullied because of their medical or emotional condition due to how some of the general public responds to a challenged individual’s perceived flaw.
"The positive response to her "Words In Our Beak" book series as well as to her blog has prompted PY to complete that book project (“Imperfect Strangers”) with a mission of giving voice to those who have been marginalized and bullied for any reason."
I will be posting videos on both You Tube and Vimeo as a follow-up to the ones that are there.
Thank you again for your support, dear reader, and please stay tuned!