Monday, December 31, 2007

Second Chances

Well, the good Lord took pity on me and gave me another chance to redeem myself by allowing me once again on the radio. I'll be on Fiction Nation, with host Kim Alexander, on Satellite Radio, XM 155. Here are the dates: Sat. Jan 5 at 3 p.m., Sun. Jan.6 at 10 a.m., and for those of you who can't sleep at night, there's Mon. Jan. 7 at 3 a.m. Also, Sonic Theater, Thursday Jan. 10, at 3 p.m. all EST. I'll be reading a bit from my second book Still Life With Elephant (from my favorite chapter, so tune in to find out which one it is) and in general talking about my book and how to help with the elephant problem, both globally and locally.
Thank you to those who have sent me comments on my blog. I am trying to answer them, and publish them, but i'm one of those types who has trouble turning on the television from my remote control, so i will get your stuff on the net, just be patient. I had someone ask me to reccommend a place to take dressage lessons when she gets to NYC, and i since i don't know how to answer my comments yet, I want to ask her to please email me and i will answer.
So, i am preparing for my January holidays. For those of you who don't know, i pulled a white rabbit this holiday season, late, late, late for a very important date (Alice in Wonderland, if you don't get the reference.) I am just sitting down now and writing out my holiday cards, even adding in the few birthdays i missed back in September and October. I take consolation in knowing that I will be brightening up someone's dreary blah January with a holiday card and a late, unexpected gift.
Tonight is the last day of December, the last few minutes of 2007. It was both a good and terrible year. My book came out to really good reviews. We got a new puppy and we rescued a critically ill Moluccan cockatoo, who is doing better (will post reports on his health as time goes on). Also, speaking of second chances, I got very sick but survived (still wrapping my mind around that one) and made a ton of wonderful new cyberfriends courtesy of my website and email. I wish all of you a really good, joyous, prosperous, love filled, great-sex filled, animal filled year ahead.
Party on,

Monday, December 24, 2007

Glad To Be Here to Write This

In between glasses of eggnog, and noshing on trays of red and green decorated sugar cookies, I am taking the time to sit down and ponder on the Importance of Things. I had a near death experience not too long ago, early October, to be exact, and for a while, didn't think I would see this holiday. And what came to mind was not the Ipod I wanted, or the Palm Pilot, but my daughters and how much I loved them, and how much I suddenly wanted to tell them that.
Now that the crisis is pretty much over, I am left with the odd, disquieting sensation that I have been given this holiday season to not only put things in order, but to keep them there. To remember that the important things are family and good friends and all the good animals in your life.
Take a few minutes to tell everyone that you love dearly, how you feel. Be charitable. Let the little crappy things go. (I'm working real hard on that.)
I want to thank every one of you who bought my books. And every one of you who took the time to write me via my email. I met some incredible people through my website, and made some wonderful friends. I appreciate all of you.
I wish you all love, and good health, and close friends, and lots of animals. I wish the same things for me. Especially the continued good health.

And I still want my Palm Pilot, of course.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Best Intentions

I know I promised to post frequently and wittily. I also promised to lose fifteen pounds, straighten out my bedroom closet and clean the basement. I have done none of these. I'm sorry.
But I did add to my menagerie. We got a Moluccan cockatoo. His name is Sammy and he is sweet and adorable and had been owned by a little old man, who had gotten too sick to care for him. The l.o.m. was of Puerto Rican descent, so Sammy favors rice and beans and yells "Hola!" whenever he wants to greet you, which i think is very amusing. He joins my African Grey parrot, two cats, two dogs and two half dogs (will explain later), a canary and a guinea pig. Not to mention three horses. It's a full house, but it's exactly the way i like it.

Okay, I have to explain the math on the dogs.
Our first full dog is a Boston terrier, Jean-Luc, who was a rescue. He's a tad big for a Boston T., about forty-five pounds big, and my vet has a sneaking suspicion that he might have had a pit bull grandma or something. But he is very sweet, even if he is one of the dumbest dogs i have ever owned. It took him a whole year to learn to sit, and he still hasn't learned that the kitchen floor is slick, so he races into the kitchen and does the water slide, like the scene in "Risky Business", crashing into the wall on the other side of the room. At least once a day.
Our second full dog is a toy poodle, light red, named Lola. She is the polar opposite of J-L, and has not only learned to sit, but stays, lays down, makes my morning coffee and toast, and dances on her toes, for our entertainment. The two half-dogs are "tea cup" shih tzus. Mimsy is full grown, topping out at four pounds and is so utterly adorable (and untrainable) that we ran right back to the breeder and snapped up her half sister, whom we named Sadie Petunia. Sadie, named for my grandmother, weighs two and half pounds at three months old, and looks like an ewok. In fact, that is what we tell people when they ask us what breed she is. Ewok. Let them figure it out.
It is snowing right now, and i am sitting in my office and trying to write my next book, and the dogs are all wrestling, and the parrot is yelling hello, and the cockatoo is answering Hola! and the phone rings., and it is my mother, who thinks i am certifiable for owning all these creatures. She has called to tell me that it is snowing outside and that she misses Phoenix, from which she moved only a week ago, and that she is unpacking and can't find her make up. I can hardly hear her over the noise.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall is nice, but ice isn't.

It happened.
Summer ended without permission, the hummingbirds have disappeared, the flowers are packing it in and the nights are getting chilly. I'm not complaining about the nights, though. I have often been called "Nanook of the North" because I sleep with the windows wide open in winter, letting the room temperature drop until there is frost nipping at the nose and biting the toes, even though the bedcovers are piled on high. I like seeing my breath hover in the air while I'm in bed. Somewhere in my background, I must have Eskimo blood. Summers are expensive because of that. The air conditioner is turned up and uses enough energy to melt the polar icecaps. I alone am responsible for global warming, which, of course, defeats the whole purpose of the air conditioner. It's a Catch 22, but a gal's gotta sleep.
Yet, I hate winter. I hate ice and snow and the grass crunching underneath my feet, and the days ending at four in the afternoon. No good comes in winter, except for a few holidays, and let's face it, unless you get the most incredible presents ever, winter isn't worth the frost it's written in.
Some summer comments I feel compelled to make, albeit, too late. I'm glad that Michael Vicks of dog cruelty infamy got punished, but it wasn't nearly harsh enough. We will never advance as human beings if people continue to behave like him or tolerate actions like his. Compassion is a building block of an advanced civilization, and we're not nearly halfway there.
And I'm heartbroken over the death of Pavorotti, I had met him years ago and he was such a gentleman. That glorious voice!
On a more recent note, I'm having fun at my booksignings - there have been four so far and I didn't do anything embarrassing. I wore the same shoes on each foot, didn't have my blouse on backwards, or my pants inside out (okay, I have an admission here: I went to lunch with friends one afternoon about a month ago to a nice little restaurant and when I got home, I discovered that my white slacks were inside out. Luckily I ate my lunch sitting down, or this would have been discovered publicly and much earlier, but it just shows that I am not to be trusted in dressing myself.) At the signings, I read the first chapter from Still Life With Elephant and finished to laughter (not directed at me, it's a funny book) and hearty applause and some book sales, all of which were gratifying. I have a few more booksignings coming up and I invite you all to come. See my website for details.
Other than that, I suppose we can skip the next few months without losing too much. We can hibernate, like bears and wake in the spring, tra la, but we will miss those holidays. Not to mention the presents. Did I mention that I like presents?
Happy Trails,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Here we go again.....

Honestly, I don't know how it happens.
As you know (because I told you in one of my blogs) I had a black eye and a shaved eyebrow at my very first booksigning, for Horseplay. This was because my sharp eyed derm spotted a wee skin cancer possibility right above my eyebrow and insisted that he remove both right away. And you also know, courtesy of another blog, that my very first radio interview was done with a mouthful of toothpaste due to a mix-up with the time differences. So, here I am, new book, Still Life With Elephant, out on July 10, and I am doing a booksigning and all excited, and what happens? I do something dumb like pick a tiny weed from my garden on my way into the house, and piss off some yellow jacket/wasp/killer bee/Mothra combination and get stung on my right hand, which of course, is my SIGNING hand, and it swells to baseball glove proportions and i look like The Hand From Outer Space. Can't hold a pen, can't even close my fingers. So I quickly look up cures on the internet, which is, as we all know, just absolutely the most respected venue for medical accuracy, and in short order, put the following on the sting: a messy, sloppy, dripping-all-over-the-place paste of baking soda (which did nothing), ice (which numbed it as it swelled like a balloon), a sugar and water paste (nothing) vinegar (nothing, but now my hand smells like cole slaw), tabasco sauce, pickle juice (nothing, nothing, nothing) and finally, ta dah, Preparation H, which, I am embarrassed to say, I keep in the house to apply to other surfaces. Tiny bit of relief with the Prep, but the hand still looks like it could float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. My only comfort is that the wasp, incensed that I dare interfere with its privacy, divebombed and followed me screaming (i did the screaming) into the house, where i KILLED THE DAMN THING! I hope it ends up in wasp hell and has an intense allergic reaction to the medication that i take for my blood pressure. Poetic justice, i say.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


to the nearest bookstore! Today is the release date of Still Life With Elephant.

I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think. You can reach me at

Are you part of a book club? Writer's club? Discussion group? Let's talk!

Happy Trails,


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth of July

We are rained out, but I wish everyone a happy Fourth of July and a salute of gratitude to all those who are serving and have served in our armed forces. My own father, now deceased, was a World War II veteran and he was very proud of having served in the Army Air Corps. Please join me in fervent wishes that our service men and women are brought home safely and as soon as possible from this terrible mistake of a war.
God bless,


Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's Almost Like Having a Birthday

I know. I once agonized on these very pages, how i will not celebrate my birthday anymore because i was just foolishly celebrating getting older, but waiting for a birthday to come along is something else. There is a tingling feeling of anticipation, wondering what great surprises are going to delight you. And waiting for my new book, Still Life With Elephant, to be released on July 10 is sort of the same feeling. I wonder how it's going to do on it's "birth " day, if people will like it, if I should have a party in its honor. We can all wear funny hats with elephants on them, wave balloons and here's the best part - eat ice cream and donuts.
There definitely has to be donuts.

So, if you are part of a book club, writers group, elephant lover's group or almost any other group who wants to join in the party, let me know. We can do a phone chat, I'll have a donut or two or three and some ice cream (and maybe you will too, on your end) and we'll have a good time together. You can email me at with your phone number and we'll make arrangements.
Party on!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Sound of Sopranos

Where did the time go? I promised myself i would post once a week, and obviously, like promising to lose twenty pounds right after New Year's, broke that vow almost right away.
The exciting news is that my new book, Still Life With Elephant will be coming out in about a month, and i'm really happy. It takes so long - about a year - to see your work in print, and it's a little like waiting for the results of a lab test. You wonder - positive or negative, although for books, you hope for positive.

Am I the only one who thought the satellite went out in the last few minutes of The Sopranos? Weird ending. I like things tied up neatly. Even if the good folks in New Jersey didn't all get taken out, there should have been some sense of closure. Leaving your faithful viewers feeling confused, and ultimately cheated is not good writing. Although the series has been stellar, realistic, brilliantly written and acted, it needed an ending. Squashing someone's head under the front wheels of a car had a high eeeuwww score and I suppose, set us up for more violence. Not that i wanted more violence, but the tension built in the restaurant scene until it became palpable. At least, in our family room, it was very palpable. The new puppy bit me on the ankle and i almost jumped out of my skin. Then the screen went blank. Huh? Not that i expected them all to stand up and sing So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, from The Sound of Music, but.....
Happy Trails

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My Radio Interview

It was last Saturday morning, on April 28 and for once, I didn't drool, cough, hiccup or come off sounding like the village idiot. June, the interviewer, actually read and enjoyed my book and asked all the right horsey questions and I had a blast. It gives me hope for future interviews since my past has been spotty.
One of the questions that came up was one I'm frequently asked. How I got started. Well, I seem to be the epicenter of weird and unusual horse - uh - dramas, and these became the basis of stories I started writing for The Chronicle of the Horse, a well known horse magazine. I wrote for the Chronicle for over thirteen years, as a feature writer, and even won an award or two. With one story leading to another, and some enthusiastic fan mail along the way, the idea of a book was born.
One of my fondest stories is about The Horse in the Kitchen. I never got around to writing this for the Chronicle and I still reserve the right to tuck it into a book somewhere, but it was how I acquired my old tb, Loom. He belonged to Lizzy, a friend of mine. He was 16.1 hands, a chestnut, and was around eight or nine years old at the time this happened. It was early morning and I got a phone call. I get a lot of phone calls from horse friends, mainly because I am a fairly calm person in the face of calamity. I get all excited afterwards, my voice goes up three or four notches and I get absolutely untethered, but during, during, I am an oasis of calm. So, it's around nine in the morning and Lizzy calls to ask for my help. She is whispering into the phone, so as not to scare her horse. Now this is the era before cell phones, right in the middle of the era of kitchen wall phones, so after Lizzy informs me that she is in her kitchen and doesn't want to spook her horse, I get a tad suspicious.
"Where's the horse, Lizzy?" I ask her, in a nice calm voice.
"In the kitchen with me," she whispers into the phone. "He's licking the kitchen sink."
"Where?" I ask her again, my nice calm voice now betraying my disbelief with a high little treble.
"In the kitchen, with me," she says, a little louder now. "I was taking a shower and I came downstairs and he was IN THE KITCHEN."
"How on earth did he get-" I start, but she interrupts me.
"Just get here," she scream-whispers. "He's in the garbage pail now, and if he spooks, it's going to be awful. I just installed new linoleum. PLEASE GET HERE!"
My voice might stay calm when I'm under stress, but my driving skills are anything but. I leapt into my car like Batman, and raced across a highway, careening down side streets, skidding around corners, and do what is normally a fifteen minute drive in five plus. There is no one around when I pull up to Lizzy's house, so I let myself in through the back door. Lizzy is absolutely correct. There is a 16.1 hand chestnut ex-racehorse standing in the middle of her not-very-big kitchen, calmly chomping on the remains of a wilted salad from the previous night.
"We've got to get him out of here," I say with what is the understatement of the century.
So, under my supervision, Lizzy feeds him carrots from the fridge, while I s-l-o-w-l-y push all the chairs and the kitchen table and the microwave and cart to one side of the room. And then, because I am a dressage person, I take the horse by his halter and move him sideways, doing a lovely and quite elegant demi-pirouette, right there, in front of her stove. He ends up facing the back door and I lead him out.
I also bought him that afternoon, because I figure a horse that is so athletic, that he can do a nice turn on his hindquarters next to a big kitchen set, a television and a baker's rack, is a horse for me. He did do well in dressage, his purchase gave Lizzy enough money to replace her linoleum, which her husband did not believe came with all the horseshoe shaped cuts in it, and everybody was happy. The rest of my horses were acquired in more traditional ways.
That's what I mean about how stories seem to fall into my lap.

It was a nice radio show.

Friday, April 13, 2007

teenie tiny mini rant/observance

It says something about this country that Kurt Vonnegut's death did not stop the presses. There were no tv magazine shows discussing his brilliant wit, his futuristic insights, his remarkable writing talent, his caustic observations on human nature. No special bulletin from CNN, no extra programming (as yet) from the big three stations about his life and works. I mean, you couldn't turn on the telly without an in-depth report on the latest wrinkle concerning Anna Nicole, who, as far as I can see, contributed nothing more than a few sad, stoned incoherent tv moments. I'm sorry that she died, any life cut short is tragic, but did she really warrant so much press coverage? And I'll betcha a box of fresh, fluffy, hand dipped chocolate donuts that just about anyone you talk to will look at you blankly if you ask them who KV was, but could go on at length about Anna Nicole. If you haven't read his short story, Harrison Bergeron, I urge you to read it. It'll take you a minute or two and strike you as eerily prophetic. Even though it was written in 1961.

And i have to comment about the Imus thing. I'm not a political/sociological/ideological commentator - don't wanna be, but why was it ever okay to denigrate any woman of accomplishment? That he chose a disgusting and particularly cruel and nasty racial slur is beside the point. (Though of course arguments can be made that this is totally the point). Why, in this new millennium, in this anno Domini enlighteniosiment (shaddup, i made it up) is it still okay to knock and mock women for doing anything of importance? I mean, these were young college girls, athletes at the top of their game - the kind of girl we all want our daughters to grow up to be. Yes, one would argue, Imus's remarks came out of a rap culture infamous for its foul treatment of women, but why was that even allowed to flourish on our airways? Our culture seems to be on a runaway train, and it's heading backwards.
Nuff said.

So, a few weeks ago, i celebrated another birthday, March 21. Why on earth do i use the word celebrate? Why does anyone anticipate their birthday with any kind of joy? Getting older is not a great accomplishment, I mean, you just have to hang around to do it. And celebrating one more year of heading towards the inevitable stiff joints, wrinkles, graying hair and - um - forgetfulness - doesn't make sense. Henceforth, i will use the word "noticed" instead of celebrate, as in I noticed my birthday. On the other hand, I am happy to be here, enjoying life, so i will joyfully declare that March will be my birthday MONTH, that i want everyone to notice it, and toward that end, I expect lots of gifts. I may not like birthdays, but i love goodies. You can just leave them all by the front door, please.

Happy Trails,

Monday, March 5, 2007

New Horse

Dear Friends,

Yeah, i did it. I got a new horse. It's not like I needed one, I already have two, my retired Grand Prix horse, a Dutch warmblood named Sultan, and my youngster, a Swedish warmblood named Bailador. For those of you who aren't horsefolks, these are breeds of horses, obviously, from the country so named. Sultan is almost 31, and retired to a life of bliss, friends, good food, and group romps around a huge fenced-in countryside-type field. Heaven! Bailador is coming 7, and is being convinced by a gal named Holly, that his life of leisure is really over. We saddle broke him late (as a five year old) then put him away and now he's back in work. Once Holly makes him a believer of the Horse Work Ethic, i will get on him. I am too old and have too many health issues to do it myself. My days of riding broncs, rearers, buckers, bolters and just plain stupids, are long over.
So the new horse.
He has an amazing story, which started when I took my poodle puppy in to be groomed. Kay, the groomer is a horse person (as is most everyone in my life, except my husband, but that's another blog, someday)., She casually mentioned to me that a friend of hers was giving away a horse. Ho-hum, i thought. There are a lot of people giving away horses, you hear of it all the time. I've even done it myself, recently. Then Kay goes on to say that this horse is jet black, with four white socks, a white blaze, and very calm. Black? With all that chrome? My ears perked up. I love black. I love four white socks. Hmmm, i'm thinking of all my students/friends/people i met have met hither and yon that might want a flashy horse. (Note to my husband - I wasn't thinking of myself, at this point.....really.) Then Kay delivers the kicker. He is FREE, to the right home. AND he was saved from the kill pen at New Holland, PA. by her friend. I get the friend's phone number, i call and leave a message that i might be interested. (Still not thinking of me, honest!)
The friend calls me back. The horse is sweet and calm and sound. She thinks he's a quarter horse, but he moves and has the conformation of a warmblood. And yes, she saved him from the kill pen, bought him right from the people who were going to take him to the Canadian slaughter houses. (Now that is definitely going to be another blog.) Just wants to find him the right home as she has four horses of her own, and well, you know, you wind up collecting these guys and....yeah, i said, i know.
Okay, now I'm hooked. How big is he? i ask her, thinking, well, quarter horses tend to be short, and now I'm saved, because I'm tall and need a big horse. My horses have always been big (17 hands for those horse people among you). Big, she says. At least 16 or 16.1 hands (that's big, too, for those hp among you). Now I'm absolutely hooked. We make arrangements and he arrives at the farm where Sultan is retired. I can't believe what I'm seeing. He is drop dead gorgeous, jet black, white socks, white blaze, sweet....I still can't believe it. He was scheduled to go to the slaughter house. And his rescuer tells me his story. She had, on the spur of the moment, decided to go to the New Holland auction to buy buckets, since they sell horse equipment there at very low prices. She and her husband brought their horse trailer, for no apparent reason. Just happened to stroll past the kill pen and noticed him. She remembers thinking, wow, this horse is too classy for this place, and made inquiries. He was emaciated and crippled from a very bad shoeing job, she didn't care. They bought him, took him home, fed him, called the vet, worked on his feet to get him sound, rode him for several months and decided that he needed a nice home.
There is a place reserved at the right hand of God for people who rescue abused animals.
And the best thing is that I'll be sharing him with Patti, the farm owner, since my schedule is far too busy to keep him in shape. I'll be training him dressage, he'll be training Patti, and then Patti'll be training her big black thoroughbred (with help from me). Can it get any better than that? Did I mention that Patti's farm is HEAVEN?
We nicknamed him Zac. It fits him. I'm happy.
If I ever learn to post pics, I'll try to do it.
In the meantime,
Happy Trails,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Post Valentine's Day

Dear Friends,

Hope you had a great Valentine's day. We had a blizzard. Actually, I had a nice day. Made scones, ate scones, agonized over eating scones because I'm trying to lose weight, promised myself that these are the last scones ever, that are coming out of my oven. No carb is going to pass through my lips again.
This morning, only one day later, I had a scone for breakfast. So much for promises.

As of right now, i am sitting in my office (at home) and writing another book. Trying to write, since my two puppies, Lola, a cinnamon colored toy poodle, and Jean-Luc (of course, from Star Trek), my Boston terrier, are dropping their drool covered bouncy balls in my lap and begging me to toss them for a game of fetch. The terrier is also dropping little gas bombs, as terriers are wont to do, which does motivate me to throw his ball far away, like into another room, so i can catch my breath. What is it about Boston terriers that anyone would want one? They snore, they snort, they fart, they can sit for an hour and stare at you with goo-goo eyes, they eat everything. (Jean-Luc eats hay, from my guinea pig. Hay. ) but they are so lovable, and cuddly. Just don't squeeze them too hard when you are in the middle of a cuddle.

I did promise to tell you about my first radio interview. It had been set up by my publicist, with a radio station in Phoenix. I am in NY. The time was set for ten a.m. Arizona time (which is noon in New York). Live feed via telephone. Of course, I was nervous, and wanted it to go perfectly. I woke up early, had a nice breakfast, reread some notes, took a leisurely shower and put on a sweater with flattering colors (yeah, I know, it was for a radio show) and was brushing my teeth for the second time that morning when my phone rang. I had plenty of time, but was ready to tell whoever was calling that i would call them back. I mean, this was my first interview and I wanted everything to go right.
It was the interviewer.
I mumble hello, with a mouthful of toothpaste. Apparently my publicist forgot that there was a time difference between NY and Arizona. She meant ten a.m. New York time, which is eight a.m. in Arizona. I can barely speak, I have toothpaste running down my chin, I am trying to wipe my teeth dry with a washcloth and sound bright and chirpy. I mostly sound drunk. Horrible.

Now that I relived it, I think I need another scone.
Happy Trails,

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Welcome to my first blog or how i'm learning to make peace with my 'puter

Dear Friends,
It's a miserable, cold, snowy day, perfect for sitting down and forcing myself to write my first blog. Okay, not my very first one, the others got lost somewhere out there, where blogs go when they are untethered to a blogspot, due to their authors forgetting to save them. I imagine an astronaut someday looking back down on earth and seeing a large cloud filled with musings and pictures and blatherings, blogs gone astray.

So, I'll introduce myself. I'm a writer. Of books. My first book Horseplay came out two years ago, at the end of 2004, my new one, Still Life With Elephant is coming out this July, 2007.
Don't for a minute think that this is a glamorous life filled with excitement. Unless sitting in front of a computer with a cup of cold coffee really does it for you. Actually, it does it for me, which sometimes strikes me as pathetic.

Occasionally I am called upon to do booksignings and to actually read, in public, no less, what I've written. The first time I had to do this was a total disaster. I had gone to see my dermatologist two days before because of this funny little bump above my eyebrow. Skin cancer. Nothing terrible, but that's what you get when you own horses (more on them another day) and have spent your entire life getting bathed in fly repellent and then baking in the hot sun. So, my derm procedes to remove the funny little bump and leaves a funny little crater. Fast forward to my very first public booksigning and reading. It went well except that now I had a shaved eyebrow and a huge shiner due to bleeding down into the eye from the funny little surgical procedure. Can you say ludicrous?

Next blog, I will tell you about my first radio interview. It beats the black eye thing hands down.
Happy trails,