Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Friday Nite Movie gang

It started about five years ago.
My Friday nights had been solitary ones.
And Friday night, to me was always a night of anticipation. The end of the work week needs to be celebrated because a nice, fresh weekend is on the horizon. There is only so much creative juice one can manufacture in the course of a week, so writing another chapter for my book didn't appeal to me. I wanted to be entertained. Sitting alone Friday nights and eating the remains of  lunch while watching telly reruns that I never liked in the first place, wasn't cutting it, so I grabbed the newspaper, checked out the local theaters and set off for the movies. I bought a medium popcorn and a bottle of water for my dinner and i was blissed out.  It didn't matter what the movie was about, the screen could have been blank, for all I cared.  I was away from my office, out of the house, and freeee.
Two or three years passed this way and I was happy.
Enter my daughter. "Mind if I come?" she asked. No problem. We hit the early show, she ate M&M's and shared a medium popcorn with me. We drank water and we blissed out together .
Good things like this catch on.
First, my friend Maria asked to join us. Then my friends Richie and Jackie, soon followed by Larry and Estelle, and Alex, and Gene, and occasionally my eighty-nine year old mother (who thought the actors looked very thin in Avatar. "That's Hollywood for you," she sniffed. "They have to starve themselves for their roles." I didn't have the heart to remind her that it was an animation.)
Of course, things have taken on a little more structure over time. Evolved, you might say. There were a lot of us, and now I send out emails addressed to the Movie Gang, detailing the movie i have chosen for the week - my word is law - though I do consider special requests. I sign my emails "Queen of the Cinema" and add an ominous and unoriginal "Be there or be square" at the bottom. We have added dinner to the evening's activities, usually meeting in the food court next to the cinema, and happily stuff in on the awful junk food to be found in malls. Diets go out the window, our Movie Gang members (which have gone as high as nineteen) take up entire tables. After food, we troop off to the movie in giddy spirits. When the movie is over, we caravan to the local diner for post-movie analysis, drink buckets of decaf coffee and order diner snacks which rival food court food in its gastronomical incorrectness. Finally, tired, satiated and completely entertained, we bid each other adieu, head off in various directions for home and career, and wait impatiently for another week to pass.
Anyone is welcome to join us. They are forewarned that they may get bombarded with an errant popcorn missile if the plot lags, chocolate snacks have to be shared, and an occasional snarky comment is not only tolerated, but encouraged. Maria howled through the entirety of the last werewolf movie, it was that bad. Shutter Island gave us all the creeps and we are still picking apart Inception, though the general vote is that he's still asleep and we all need to see it again. We loved Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and loved almost as much, discussing its symbolism. When you've got a writer or two (or sometimes three) included in the group, along with a pathologist and an internationally renowned forensics expert, an engineer, a doctorate in psychology and one in molecular biology, dissections are inevitable.
It's now Tuesday night and I'm deciding on my next opus. As usual, I will let you know Friday morning before noon. You'll get the email, so
Be there or be square.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Hello my dumplings,
It's out. My new book, book number three, i'm happy, i love it, and i know you will, too. It's the sequel to Still Life with Elephant, although the new book stands alone as a novel.
You'll meet Diamond-Rose Tremaine, a gal from the African bush who never quite gets the hang of domestication after she gets back to the states. And you will accompany her and Neelie on another rescue mission, this time a magnificent tusker (a male elephant) to its heartwarming conclusion.
And if you order this week, i may get a chance to make it on the bestseller list. Now, wouldn't that be something!
An Inconvenient Elephant

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

An eye for an eye and my new book

So the eye is healing, thank you to all of you who wrote me an enote either on facebook or my email and wished me good vision. I am down to just a few lonely black specks floating around the nether regions, still lots of blurriness and one spider web. I've been good about taking care of myself, doing only the heavy lifting required of holding my new book, An Inconvenient Elephant, which is coming out the end of this month. How's that for a segue? the cover looks great and i am grateful to Robin Stears of WildAss productions for designing it and putting it together. My understanding is that Robin used to rescue wild horses and donkeys, etc and named her company after those wonderful creatures. It's a delightful cover of an elephant being ridden by a woman,you can check it out up there somewhere if i didn't mess up the URL.
As you know, the weather has been beyond hot. I don't dare step outside my air conditioned office for fear of bursting into flames, it's that hot. I fully expect all those who poo-poohed global warming to immediately issue a full apology to the rest of us and jump on the band wagon to help do something about it.
Hope all your eyeballs heal, the hot weather breaks and we can get on with summer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Laser Light Show Sans Music

The eyeball adventure continues.
I must say, when eyes act up, they are dramatic and insistent and you are wise not to ignore them, as i was trying to do. Having been reassured by an indifferent ER opthalmologist that black drapes, though possibly high fashion, were definitely not something i wanted to see, and that i had very little chance of my injury being that serious, i spent Sunday and Monday pretending that the four bazillion tiny black pindots that were floating around inside my eyeball weren't bothering me, and that i was actually having fun trying to make out shapes and faces in the black blobs that were also in there. It was a little like cloud watching, only internal.
By Tuesday, i am thinking that perhaps this wasn't the best thing to ignore, so i got myself transported to a real opthalmologist who put drops in my eyes that turned my pupils into the Holland Tunnel. He took a look around. "You definitely need to see a retinologist," he said and while i mused on how specialized doctors had become - were there pupilogists? eyelashologists? - he immediately called one and made an appointment for the next evening.
The retinologist was pleasant but insistent that I have laser surgery.
"Do i have a choice?" I asked, planning, of course, to opt out. It sounded scary.
"No," he said and popped eyeball numbing drops along with a hearty dose of atropine into my eye. We waited for it to take effect while i nervously emptied a box of gummi bears and orange flavored tic-tacs,only making myself nauseous and giddy from all the sugar.
The retinologist explained how he was going to put a disc over my eye and then fire off a laser directly INTO MY EYEBALL to mend the tear. It sounded awful.
"What are my options?" i asked.
"None," he said. "Do it or risk a detachment and go blind." That sounded ominous.
"Hmmm," I said, as i was loaded into the chair and put in front of what looked like a perfectly ordinary eyeglass examination machine. My chin was placed in a chin cup and a plunger blobbed over my eye. At least it felt like a plunger.
The first shot was fired. A green laser with the power and brightness of what seemed like five suns combined. It made cute little beeping chicken- like noises, which didn't fool me, I knew it wasn't chickens, while it fired tiny micron-size beams around the retinal tear. After a while, I imagined myself being transported to another planet, the green light flashed away as i traveled through the space-time continuum, the beeping and humming became the nuclear fusion fueled engines of my late model space ship. The green lights were followed by red circles and black holes. Mostly painless, it was a spectacular performance of medicine and art. We were finished and i was totally blind in that eye.
"Temporary," the retinologist reassured me. I could see nothing but black until he urged me to open my good eye and look around. I had forgotten that i had squinted it shut.
I didn't open the bad eye until the next morning. Things looked pretty much the way they had before the treatment, though i am told that it will take about three months for the eye to form some kind of healing bond. The eye debris will slowly go away, i was reassured, and no bending, no lifting, no aerobics (ha, i hate aerobics), no hard work until the eye healed. And, I informed my significant other, I'll need a nice pair of diamond earrings to really feel better.
i'll let you know if they work.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

and the summer is just beginning

So Friday, my right eye, apparently not having anything better to do, and bored with coordinating with my left eye, decided to tear a little hole in the retina and fill my eye with a medley of interesting blobs. Nothing was discussed with me beforehand, which is the usual case with my body parts. They just decide to bollocks up what was a perfectly fine and ordinary day with something dramatic, and then sit back and snigger while i go dashing off to the emergency room to get things righted again. This time, though, my right eye had a little help. About three weeks ago, I contracted some weird virus that settled in my lungs (a repeat of last year) and gave me pneumonia (thank you, lungs. i wouldn't even know of your existence, if it weren't for that periodic pneumonia). It was the dramatic and violent coughing that created a jealousy situation in the right eye. It waited quietly until I went to bed, waited quietly until my next wretched coughing fit, then neatly made a little rip in the retina. I saw a flash of light, which is not uncommon for me. I generally view flashing lights as an entertaining sign from the universe that i am overworking. I pulled the pillow over my face, watched the light show for a while, said "Cool" and fell asleep. Next morning the lights were replaced by a weird black Halloween spider sort of configuration. Since we're mid-June, and Halloween isn't traditionally until October, this raised my suspicions. Still, I went off to perform some some Satur-ly weekend chores. There were more flashing lights, ominous clouds, weird blurs and fashionable black dots, apparently seen only by me. I may have mentioned it once or twice to whomever i was sharing the day with, after which i was whisked off to the emergency room at Westchester Hospital where i was given a sonogram of the eye. After peeling off the sonogram patch and most of my right eyebrow, the ER doc notified the opthamologist on call who immediately called me back, mostly to convince me that she didn't need to make the "it'll take me hours and hours" drive from Manhattan where she lived, to Westchester (for you non-New Yorkers, it's about half an hour) and proceeded to give me a phone diagnosis without even the benefit of looking at the sonogram. Talented, that one. But she did warn me to watch for a black curtain draping across the eye, black only, nothing flamboyant, no paisley, no tacky floral prints, just your basic black. This would indicate, besides impending blindness, that the retina was getting detached, and we didn't want that. Could she reccommend a retinal specialist? Um, not really, she didn't know of any. Could she reccommend an opthalmic surgeon in case the retina decided to secede? Um, no not really. Apparently she had done her residency in a total vacuum. We hung up and she went back to bed, firmly convinced she had elevated the art of practicing medicine to even higher than usual standards, while introducing new levels of compassionate healing. I went home, waiting in dread for black drapes while my eye, satisfied it had gotten its fair due of attention, lay there smugly in my head, flashing away until we both fell asleep.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Damn, I've got to pull myself together. I have a list of chores to rival all the letters to santa laid end to end. i've got to update blogs, facepages, twitters, linkie things, lose weight, look up what time a movie is playing tonight, let the dogs out, wash my hair, pick up after the parrots, start reupholstering a cute little chair for the porch off my bedroom, train my four dogs to BEHAVE and maybe do some tricks, lose weight, answer twenty emails and tell everyone about my new book coming out in August. Filled with good intentions, i spend the day on the internet, researching stuff for my new book (the one after the august one). Ebay catches my eye, then an ad for an ipad. I order nuts for my parrots, my accountant calls to give me a little push to get some stuff to him, i make an appointment to get my poodles groomed. I am still filled with good intentions. A friend calls to check on the movie, my parrot bites a hole in my old comfy shoes, i need a haircut, my shih tzu gets the hiccups and needs to sit on my lap. I will get to everything. I will get it all done. I really will.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm baaack. Finally.

I had the best trip ever about three weeks ago. Two dear friends of mine and I went to San Andreas, California to visit the PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) Sanctuary that houses nine elephants, several bears, and a bunch of lions and tigers (yes, i deliberately mixed up the order to avoid the Ozian "oh my").  It was both a glorious and heart rending trip. Heart rending, because every animal there had to be rescued from circumstances that were related to us by Pat Derby who owns and runs the sanctuary, and her partner, Ed Stewart. Circumstances that made my skin crawl as I listened. In fact, there were several times that I had to walk away, because i couldn't stand hearing how awful these creatures' lives had been. Glorious, because Pat and Ed have given over their own lives to provide great comfort and sustenance to each and every animal in their care.
My friends and I stayed at a quaint Victorian Inn, called the Robin's Nest, and had great food, lovely comfortable digs and crummy weather. Though we were all outside during what we New Yorkers would have called a nor'easter, none of us minded one bit. The animals, i might add, were quite comfy inside their state-of-the-art barns during the worst of it.
What wasn't so fun was a car accident on the way home from the airport. But, we're all fine, and now that I've come out of my winter hibernation, i will tell you all about it. in coming blogs. In the meantime, there are links somewhere on this page, and I urge you do donate to PAWS so that Pat and Ed can continue their great work.