Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

To all of you. To all of you who have read my books and have taken the time to write me such wonderful emails, thank you again.
Thank you to the wonderful Dr. Rachel Colvin who saved my life when i walked into her office, gray of face and not feeling quite so right. She recognized a heart attack even if two previous doctors didn't and sent me off to the hospital where Dr. Lance Kovar fixed me up by double stenting a pipeline.
Thanks to my wonderful daughters. Jamie and Robin, for being mine. And my smart, delicious granddaughters, Rachel and Sarah.
Thanks to all my terrific, funny, irreverent, silly, outrageous friends who make me laugh.
Thanks to my fluffhead pups, the two French poodles, Lola and FlashGordon, and the two shih tzus, Sadie and Mimsie, both dumber than my bedroom slippers, but highly, excruciatingly adorable. And to my cockatoo Samantha, who sings off key, and to my African Grey parrots, Tallulah and Zodiac, who function as my office help when i'm in a pinch.
you've all made very happy. I'm glad to have you in my life.
now, eat go your turkey.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First Snow

I have to think about this. It means that i definitely do not have to lose the 30 pounds I was planning to lose before i get into my bathing suit. That's a good thing. It means that i won't be walking on the beach holding hands with a sweetheart and enjoying warm breezes wafting across the Long Island Sound, and that's a bad thing. It means pumpkins, and soon after that, turkey and soon after that, picking out just the right holiday gift for loved ones, also a good thing. It also means it has opened the door to winter. And more snow. And i hate snow. Hate. Snow. I don't ski, ice skate, exult in white landscapes or want anything to do with shoveling, scraping or sculpting them. When everyone is outside frolicking and building snowmen, i'm inside, brewing hot cocoa, maybe even baking cookies and impatiently waiting for them all to come back in. If i wanted to feel frozen, i would sit inside my refrigerator where there is at least a good chance of having a pile of food next to me. I never caught onto the fun of burning, frozen fingers, numb toes, ice pinched cheeks and hat hair. My horses get stupid in cold weather. They turn into broncs, and training them or my dressage students, turns into an endurance trial.
That said, I am going to glumly make myself a cup of cocoa, grab a dog or two to keep my lap warm and sit by the window and hope it all goes away.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


That would be me.
I have tons of people who want to be my friend on Facebook and I don't know how to confirm them. In fact, I have two Facebook pages, don't know how I got them - some folks are friends on one and some are friends on another and it seems never the twain shall meet. The pages are attached to two different emails, don't know how that happened either, and neither of them link up with my LinkedIn page or my Twitter page, though when I Twitter, it all seems to get lost in that great elusive etherworld that is out there.
I am constantly defeated by my computer. When I try to log on in the morning, it refuses. "I'm too busy," it tells me. "I'm doing something important here and you'll just have to wait." And so I get myself another cup of coffee and I sit down at my desk and wait. The computer is in front of me, filing its nails and humming, totally ignoring me. I politely tap a few keys. The screen snaps a message at me. "I am busy checking for security breaches because you were foolish enough to surf all over the internet yesterday and leave a trail of e-crap for me to clean up."
"Sorry," I mumble. "When do you think you'll be through?"
"Maybe tomorrow evening." It says. "Can't promise."
I get annoyed. "But that's your job! I bought you so I could go on the internet and find things and write books."
"Ha!" The computer is starting to sound snarky now. "Write books? I see you were on ebay most of yesterday looking up earrings with blue stones."
I feel I have to defend myself. "Because I lost those blue dangly ones that I love."
"You're careless with earrings," my computer points out. "What happened to the little red roses pair that you loved so much, huh?"
I sigh. "Lost them, too."
"And you want me to make it easier for you to buy more earrings when you refuse to buy that terrific new music download for me."
"You already have a music program," I say. Then it occurs to me that I shouldn't have to argue with my computer. I shouldn't have to beg it to work for me. My toaster toasts my muffin every morning without having to be reprogrammed. My coffeemaker brews me a cup of hazelnut coffee without being begged or tweaked. My appliances run like, well, appliances, and I consider my computer a writing appliance. Maybe I'm wrong, but computers shouldn't have a life span equal to that of a fruit fly, which is roughly a day or two of a good, productive life. It shouldn't become outdated while you are unpacking it from the box. You should be able to put a piece of bread in the slot and push the lever and watch it pop back out as toast, nice and brown and warm, without pausing to download a new program for another shade of brown, or visiting the toasternet site so you can redefine the parameters of bread. I just want to use my computer without stroking its ego or sitting and waiting for a half hour every morning while it goes through its beauty and exercise routine.
"Are you complaining about me?" my computer asks.
My hands jump away from the keys. "No," I say quickly. "Just wishing we had a better relationship."
"I could use a new graphics card. A big fancy one."
"They're expensive," I point out. The computer shrugs. "You have money for earrings and it seems to me, if you have money for yourself, you could at least....."
I relent. The screen brightens, the logo comes on with a fanfare of music.
I write my blog. Then I order a new graphics card.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Paperback is OUT

It has a great new cover, which i love but it's Still Life With Elephant, less expensive and softer. The cover, that is, and it's available everywhere, even Costco, which, I'm told, has been selling out of it. Great news and thank all of you who have been racing off to get there with pennies clutched in fists to buy copies.
After a long, tough year, interrupted with health issues, family stuff and stars misaligning, i finished the sequel, to be called An Inconvenient Elephant, and that will be out, god willing, next summer, so be patient.
i am back in blogging form and spirit and will be tapping away on my new computer to titillate your sensibilities and tickle your fancies. Go buy another copy of Still Life and i'll be talking to you soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

yecch to KNOWING. warning: movie spoiler ahead.

I love movies, and i try to go every friday night. i go alone, i buy a bag of popcorn (medium size) which becomes my dinner along with a bottle of water, and i settle down for a nice evening. it's a great break from a week of working hard, and frankly, even if they showed a blank screen up there for me to stare at, i think i would be just as happy. it's mostly the idea of getting away from my computer before it drains my brains totally out of my skull. in other words, i'm not very discriminating.
along the way, i've seen some terrific movies (Wall-E) and some fun movies, (Monsters vs Aliens) and some clunkers. Sometimes the clunkers are just badly written, badly acted (Kevin Costner in Swing Vote, yechh) and i get what i deserve. (I also took my mother to that last one, because she wanted to see it, so it was an act of daughterly kindness that i sat through it). the bad ones do irritate me because they are so, well, stoopid, even if they do serve the function of getting me out of the house.
Last friday, i saw Knowing, starring Nicholas Cage and costarring a lot of cheesy special effects. And speaking of cheese, the plot had more holes than a piece of imported Emmanthal.
Nicholas Cage plays an MIT professor who has a young son whose school digs up a fifty year old time capsule. Each kid in his class gets an envelope from the capsule, nick's kid gets a creepy note filled with numbers. Then he starts to see creepy people in long black coats. It turns out, the numbers in the note forecast all the catastrophes that have befallen the world since the capsule was buried, ending with a prediction of a solar flare that will destroy earth. And, as we learn in the very anti-climatic end, it's not like the numbers on the note give any kind of solution to saving earth.
Also, the stock-kid-from-casting has a hearing problem, but we're told he's not deaf (? so what else are hearing aids used for, oh right, alien broadcasts)- it's apparently just a plot device so that nick and his son can do a few cute riffs from American Sign Language. The kid wears a hearing aid so that the aliens can talk to him, but apparently his little girl friend hears the aliens quite well without one.

Okay. My first question is, why have the mysterious note predict anything if it's going to be buried for fifty years. It's not like anyone could have read it underground or done anything, so why bother? Secondly, why do aliens always wear long black coats? Isn't there at least one alien fashion designer in outer space who has a drop of creativity and originality? Of course, they shed their long black coats for the usual naked-body-gleaming-silver-streams-of-energy scene, just before they blast off, but are we to believe that they are so modest that they need to cover their non-genitalia owning bodies with the same coats that are worn by Hasidic rabbis?
thirdly, why do the aliens, who apparently have unearthly powers and can appear anywhere on earth, and whose mission is to BEAM CERTAIN KIDS UP, need to steal a car to get the kids to the space ship, huh? they drive a car? a car? In the end, Nick witnesses his kid getting beamed up, while all the mysterious black rocks in the area rise up and rattle (they are interspersed throughout the film but have no meaning whatsover). Apparently the strong gravitational field from the space ship lifts all the rocks up like a paving company so they can eerily float around, but doesn't lift nick cage, not one inch from the ground even though he is standing right under the space ship in a hailstorm of floating black rocks.

Oh, I forgot - everyone dies in the end anyway (starting with New York. And why do they always have to start with New York, for crumb's sake, why don't they start with, say, Boise, Idaho, or Middletown, Indiana? Just once, give New Yorkers a break?)
So what was the point of the whole thing? To scare the crap out of the little girl who originally wrote the numbers down and who eventually commits suicide (compassionate aliens, those!) or to scare the crap out Nick who gets to interpret the note fifty years later? Nick discovers what the numbers mean just in time for all of us to die together. The aliens didn't have a clue how to save us, or anything, they just came for the kids (no genitalia, remember?) We see the kids in th very last scene on their new home planet, frolicking through miles of what i guess is wheat, and you're left wondering what the heck are they going to have for dinner? Are they expected to chow down on grass tops like a herd of cows?
My favorite lines: nick's girlfriend asks the kids, "How are these aliens telling you these things?"
Kids answer: "They whisper them to us."
Girlfriend: "And what do you call these people?"
Kids answer: " The - (are you ready for this?) -Whisperers."
Well, duh! And all they apparently whispered to the kids was: Don't be afraid, but we're coming to get you.

i have decided to set up my own rating system: it'll be called the skunk-o-meter, and Stinkbombs will range from zero to ten skunks, ten being the ultimate. I give this movie eight skunks and a set of whiskers.
save your money.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Join The Fight

Here's a link to fight animal cruelty. It's important than every one of us do this on an individual l basis. Just take one minute - thanks.

A Night At the Oscars

Of course I didn't go, wasn't invited, but i enjoyed every (almost every) minute of it while inhaling a bowl of Cherry Garcia ice cream and a handful of pretzels. (Gotta have the salty with the sweet.) And speaking of the salty with the sweet, i had tears in my eyes when Sean Penn won Best Actor for his nuanced, gentle performance of Harvey Milk, in that wonderful film. Yay for him. And yay for his acceptance speech when he pointed out that some of our citizens still don't enjoy their full civil rights. Civil is civil, and laws should not be regulated by exclusionary religions. That should have been taken care of years ago by the whole separation of church and state stuff. But, as Mr. Penn pointed out, those that voted against these civil rights will someday be very ashamed in front of their grandchildren. Nuff said.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why Don't They Shoot the Owners, Too?

Chimps are cute. Baby chimps are high on the cuteness scale, up there with puppies and kitties and your own kids. It's not on purpose, they are not trying to be cute but because they are small and cuddly and we are hardwired in our brains to respond to that, they are appealing and adorable. And it's okay, because we can enjoy domesticated puppies and kitties that fit into our homes, our lifestyles, our beds. What doesn't fit are wild animals who are forced to give up their natural behavior by nutcases who think they can turn them into the cyootest pets around. And the outcome is sooo predictable. The darling little chimpie, or tiger, or cuddly bear cub matures and becomes - well - what it had always been, a large, powerful, aggressive WILD ANIMAL! Sah-prize, sah-prize!! A chimp has the strength of five men, grows to about two hundred pounds (don't take my word for it, check out the Jane Goodall site, and has very specific needs to be a healthy, well adjusted animal. And i don't mean pink nappies and pizza for dinner.
So, of course, some clodbrain raises a chimp and the chimp isn't doing well. Now, why would the owner actually use her clodbrain and take the animal to a vet? NAh - that would be - gasp - responsible, but we already know she isn't the r word because she's house raising a chimp! So she gives him Xanax, even when there is no veterinary evidence that it's safe for this species, and duh - the poor creature goes insane and eats the face off her good friend. Guess who dies in the end? Guess who pays the ultimate price for clodbrain's poor judgement. Guess who died for her stupidity?
First Hint: One victim is in the hospital with severe, severe injuries and deserves our prayers for her recovery.
Second Hint: It wasn't the clodbrain who was shot and killed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I surrender!

It's winter. It's snowing. Again. I'm trapped in front of my computer with four bored dogs, a cockatoo that is compulsively shredding my new phone book, a parrot who is throwing hot peppers at the dogs like a prince throwing pennies to the peasants, and which the dimwitted dogs are by turns, eating and spitting them across the floor, while I wait for spring. I know. It's gonna be a while. Why oh why do i live in the northeast? I'm not a snow person, i don't ski, sled, halfpipe, ice skate, throw snowballs, or even scrape the ice from my windshield, preferring to let the defrosters do the dirty work. Winter is something to be endured, like a bad stomach ache, until it's over. I do make chocolate chip cookies and eat them. And I drink lots of coffee, so that the effect of the caffeine is to make everything feel like it's whizzing by, giving me the impression that winter is passing so much more quickly. Not a great strategy, but one does what one can to cope. Gotta make more cookies.
eat and be warm,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations to us all

Today is Inauguration Day and it was glorious. Today is the day that America finally grew up, showing the rest of the world that we can see past race and choose a president based on his intelligence, his strength of character and a platform that supports a unified people. Hopefully, we will see scientific fields flourish once again, companies using a domestic workforce and our economy stagger back onto its feet. Bringing our troops safely back home wouldn't be such a bad idea, either.
I am very proud of us all.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meet the Staff

I like to joke that i have an office staff of two working for me. They work for peanuts of course, since my secretary is my African Grey Parrot, Tallulah Belle, and my research consultant is my Moluccan Cockatoo named Samantha.
There is something weird about naming parrots. Tallulah is a boy, and it may seem strange that he has a girly name but trust me, this is almost standard issue with parrot owners. It seems that we name our new pets as soon as we get them, and then, after a while, curiosity gets the better of us and we take our birdies in for a DNA test and lo and behold, find out we've switched the sexes. We could have sworn that Tallulah was a girl, for no good reason other than we wanted a girl, and so my husband had named him when he was about two months old. The test came back and we were shocked, shocked, shocked that we had misrepresented him, and possibly created a sexual identity crisis for life. Until we joined our local parrot club and met several other misnamed birds. African Greys are particularly hard to distinguish between the sexes - for humans, anyway - I'm sure the birds have absolutely no problem out there in the wild where the favorite pick up line goes something like "So, do you fly around these parts often?" But we've met an Emma (male), Fred (girl), and Peabody (girl). (By the way, ours isn't wild caught, he's captive bred, we absolutely believe in letting the wild fly free - more on that some other day.)
Samantha, our cockatoo, is very girly, though her former owner swore she was a boy because she had a "male energy" and had named her Billy. I know Billy could be boy or girl and she was just hedging her bets, but we got smart and gave her the DNA test before we named her. One point for us.
And so the two of them work for me. Tallulah perfectly imitates the ring of my phone, and even answers it with "Hello? Yeah? I'm doing fine, yeah, yeah, okay, here's Judy." all with the proper pauses. Then he leans over the side of his cage and calls me over with "Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy" until I thank him by paying him with one of his favorite pine nuts.
Samantha is a little more complicated. Her species is known for being a "velcro" bird, which means she loves to be held, and will emit bloodcurdling, earsplitting, heartstopping shrieks if you put her back on her perch for even half a minute. Because of this, i find myself usually writing with a cockatoo on my lap, her head pressed against my chest, practically cooing with happiness while i try to type over and around her plump little feathered body. Lunchtime simply means i share my lunch with her, she will consent to sit on her tabletop perch in the kitchen and graciously share whatever i'm eating at the moment. Favorites include scrambled eggs, corn muffins, french toast, meatballs, and radishes. I hate radishes, and she can have them all, as far as I'm concerned. The good thing is that her bedtime is at seven, mine is at eight and i get a whole hour to myself before i put my head under my wing and get to sleep.
fly free!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's A New Year, Can I Start A New Habit?

You're looking at my New Year's Resolution.

After half a bottle of limoncello, i expansively vowed to everyone celebrating New Year's Eve with me (which would include my daughter, my husband, one friend, a cockatoo, four dogs and a sleepy African Grey Parrot) that i would faithfully get this blog off its rear end and be entertaining and witty and whatever.
I have a headache this morning.
But a vow is a vow.

Question: Am I the only one who has to eat a piece of herring to start the new year? I think it's an old German custom, my family has always done it, but it could just be another peculiarity in a family known for a lot of them. And we eat hoppin' John on new year's day. Now, i know that's a southern custom, Louisiana, or thereabouts, and since i was born in Alabama, it's close enough. I like hoppin' John.
Herring and limoncello does not mix.
My second vow is to remember that next year.
wishing all of you jobs, prosperity, good health and better food choices.