Monday, March 17, 2014

A Hundred Years Ago Today…...

..Sgt Pepper taught the band to play! Sorry, couldn't help myself……there is a column in our newspaper that reprints news from 100, 50, 25, and 10 years ago. I thought this article from 1914 was worth featuring both  for the story and the antiquated writing…….

One stray, hungry mule nearly demoralized the Argenta police force last night, when about 9 o'clock it started to roam aimlessly along East Washington Avenue and the patrolman on that beat and several of his friends organized and went in force to put the mule under arrest.

A crowd quickly formed, attracted by the voices of the pursuers, and a deputy constable and several bystanders tendered their services in the chase. Although the patrolman making the arrest declares that the animal was insulted when approached by a blue coat, the mule immediately became as gentle as a lamb when the same officer brought him a large bundle of hay and a sack of corn.

Peace was declared by the mule, he signifying his intention to become a permanent boarder, by peacefully wagging his tail.

Isn't that wonderful? 

Everybody cross your fingers and send out your best prayers/rants/and chants -- someone is interested in taking in the studio cats, Frodo and Charlie! They need a 'forever' home, so we are hoping it will  happen……one hitch is Fro has to take a every-other-day Prednisone pill for his autoimmune system, and the husband is worried about that and the cost -- I bought some more, which will get them 4 months along, and it isn't expensive. Frodo takes the pills willingly since he knows breakfast is following the duty-dose.  Maybe he also knows they make him a bad ass: The steroids have pumped this boy up to 20 lbs., all muscle! But still a sweetie, who wants his own person and a willing lap….

Thursday, March 6, 2014

On the Periphery of the Oscars

In 1989 I was 26 years old, and felt like I was living in an updated version of the Mary Tyler Moore show (in a good way). I had been divorced two years, loved my job, loved the condo I lived in, and life in general was good. In February I took a business trip to Los Angeles to attend a Design Show that coincided with the week of the Oscars. Being a huge movie fan, I was excited by the coincidence.

I spent the first four nights of the week in LA at a swank hotel in the Hollywood area to be closer to my editor and 'the action' of the Design show. One of the Oscar parties was being held at the hotel and the staff was busy setting up downstairs around the pool and lobby.....they were bringing in live lions in cages (which I felt really sorry for), a full bar, flowers, catering --the whole deal, when I left for appointments. The magazine hired black Lincoln town cars to ferry us back and forth that week and I was wearing my typical 'New Yorker/East Coast' outfit of black with black sunglasses that day. By the time I was returned to the hotel early evening, crowds were standing on the sidewalks watching arrivals. The driver drove past the taped-off security line and up the circular drive to drop me off. As I stepped from the car, people actually clapped, assuming I was 'somebody famous.' It was very funny, but I didn't crack a smile and instead pretended I was 'in the industry'  as I swept into the lobby. Later that night I went down to watch the festivities and was leaning against a pillar with my arms crossed, watching the mingling beautiful people and trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity when some woman came up and asked if I was 'Security!' Since at the time I weighed 125 lbs soaking wet I wondered what she thought I could accomplish.

After my work week I stayed on through the weekend and switched over to the Chateau Marmont. I knew the history of the hotel from 1920s Hollywood crowd on, and also admired the architecture, and had always wanted to stay there. It was well worth it. 

And there was more celebrity spotting: during 'happy hour' in the lobby the first evening, the actor John Shea was giving me the eye. As he was walking towards me two little old ladies rushed up to him to chatter and get his autograph...he looked at me and smiled and shrugged as I got into the taxi for dinner. At the restaurant I saw Bob Hope sitting two tables across from ours holding court. He had his table-mates in stitches all evening. I wish I had been close enough to eavesdrop!

As I was checking out Sunday morning I struck up a conversation with a very familiar looking man. He looked so familiar, in fact, I assumed I had seen him all week at the Design show. I was blathering away about architecture and design when it struck me suddenly I was chatting up the playwright and actor Wallace Shawn! He saw the look of panic in my eyes as I realized I did not, in fact, know him, and he smirked as he leaned towards me and whispered "It happens all the time." 

Thank heavens he had a sense of humor. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Two quick reads

Finding little time these days for long novels, I recommend two short reads that have crossed my path.  Both are first-time fictions from friends (for full disclosure) but recommended……

Running With George by Charles Lunsford is a fictional drama with elements taken from Chip's life experiences, which gives the story its flavor of authenticity. Set in sunny Florida, the book is an absorbing drama about a man who, on the cusp of 40, finds himself at odds after his husband of 20 years dies suddenly. After a long period of mourning 'Chester' begins to wake up the fact he must move forward. After taking a hard look in the mirror and not liking what he sees, he vows to begin running. A chance encounter with a runner and neighbor leads to an unexpected new life directions, with new friends and, at long last, a new love. Whether you are gay, lesbian, transgender or straight, the story of taking risks and starting over is universally relatable. It has some steamy adult content, so make sure the kiddies don't pick it up :) Running With George is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Regal crest, and has a FB page.

Immaculate Conceptions by S.E. Sward is another highly fictionalized drama taken from elements of real life experience. This novel follows the adventures and experiences of four young women dealing with the pleasures and pain of relationships, marriage, and the trials and tribulations of trying to have children. The  four women, having difficulty conceiving, find one another through a fertility website. Though each are dramatically different with such different lives, what follows are friendships that last through many ups and downs. You may find yourself rooting for one or more than others, but you will always remain interested in the outcome of their lives. This book is now offered as a free download:  

Immaculate Conceptions Free eBook
The author hopes you will share the story with family and friends and through word of mouth, and rate and review it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Lulu, GoodReads, Book Crossing, Shelfari, Tumblr and any other social networking site you may be on. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Want some Ice?

Here is the link to TALES FROM THE SOUTH podcast. I am the second storyteller.

We are engulfed in another 'Ice Age' week……so far the gutters are torn, the roof may need some work, trees are down all over, with some root balls showing, and the bamboo hiding our neighbor's trailer home and dog kennels isn't looking happy. WOWZA. More snow and ice are expected today and Monday and Tuesday.

Between running to town to drive "MR and MRS 'Daisy' " to the hospital and dr appts life's just a laugh-riot. Really considering how we can afford a trip -- anywhere - but holding up a bank seems the only option. I don't think I have the energy to deal with the fall-out from that, but we shall see.

The mustangs -- normally lovers of cold weather -- are crying 'uncle' and huddling in their running shed, which is quite unusual. The wild geese have to be held at bay or they will chase off the ducks for their food. The 'coons seldom brave weather like this to come to the terrace to eat, but when they do I keep an eye out so they don't slog through the ice and snow only to be disappointed.

The other day in ONE day I made lamb stew, chicken-cheddar-tomato stew, coleslaw, and apple pie. Now all there is to do is grow fat watching TV until we can thaw out….what are your plans this weekend? At least there is Downton Abbey and Sherlock on Sunday...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

one wedding photo

Some of you wanted to see a pic of us, so this is on our wedding day…Excy's hair is tied behind his back -- I rather miss it long...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

cricket's story

Hi all. I am going to tell my last story (Love Off the Record), on the NPR radio show 'Tales from the South.'  It will be recorded in Jan., but aired as a Valentines Day show. If you don't get it on your local NPR I can give you a link so you can watch it online sometime. The story below is one I helped my dad write about their beloved cat Cricket. I

I have been pretty busy between life and also taking care of my parents. Mom's first chemo was last week and it seems I am being more and more of the care-giver….take care……hope you enjoy the story…...

She sat regally in the middle of the Oriental rug, acting for all the world as fancy as an Egyptian ‘tomb cat,’ despite outward appearances to the contrary: rather ordinary looking, gray fur, no distinctive markings or features (unless you counted a slight overbite and alarmingly large, unblinking green eyes). “But Amy,” I moaned, “You told us she was beautiful!” 
“Oh dad, she’ll grow on you,” my daughter replied. “Besides she needs a good home. She’s just a kitten and was living in the woods. My friend wanted to keep her but his wife’s allergic to cats. But he’s taken her to the vet and she’s in great shape.”
Just as I was marshaling my most cogent arguments against the situation, the cat (as if she had heard quite enough), gravely rose to all four paws, languidly stretched her full but tiny length, and walked over to me. As if to say ‘put ‘er there, pal, we’ve got a deal,’ she then reached out one of her tiny front legs and spread her toes towards me as if to seal the contract. It was the feline version of the ‘high five.’ I was rendered speechless. I was also hooked. 
And so she moved in, taking immediate control of the household - my wife Ruth Ann, our elderly cat, Winston, and of course, myself. I named her ‘Cricket,’ for her high chirpy voice, which she demonstrated constantly. As several weeks went by, Cricket never settled down or stopped talking. She was telling us the saga of her life story and it was apparently a saga of infinite importance. After listening to Cricket morning, noon, and night - into the wee hours of the night, and beginning at dawn - my patience was wearing thin. The next time Amy came over I told her the cat had to go. “I just cannot stand the constant chattering. “She has got to go, as much as I hate to say it,” I said. 
“Well,” Amy mused, “I can’t bring her to into my house, but she could be a studio cat.” I was aghast. Their studio was 200 yards from the house! “Oh no,”  I shook my head. “Cricket’s a house cat. She’d never be happy relegated to the studio!” Amy tilted her head back and smiled faintly. Needless to say, Cricket stayed where she was. 
A week later we discovered Cricket was ‘in the family way.’ Despite our numerous feline companions over the years, we had never been midwives. Out came the cat books, and we started reading up on what to expect. According the ‘authorities,’ 1) We needn’t worry. Cats do this all the time and know what to do. (Except a young cat may need help with the birth. Oops). And 2) Cat mothers just want privacy. A cardboard box off by itself in an out-of-the-way closet is the perfect maternity suite.
We began feeling more secure. As weeks went by and the blessed event drew near, we prepared further. A box was made ready with several changes of towels nearby. Scissors, potions, lotions, cotton swabs, and any number of items we imagined might be needed were ready. We continued to read until we were reasonably sure our crash course in Obstetrics had made us fairly confident, but we wrote down the emergency vet number just in case. At last Cricket began acting nervous one day, pacing the house, poking into closets, going up and down stairs, and in general acting like something was about to happen, and soon. I told my Ruth Ann we would be proud grandparents by morning and should retire for the night.
Wrong! The prospective mother was having none of it! She wanted her midwife in constant attendance, and her birthing box in the middle of the living room. Ruth Ann managed to take the box downstairs to a somewhat quieter location, with Cricket following closely at her heels. Not long after, she hopped into the box and began the birthing process. After an hour, Cricket had delivered three fine kittens, and had done all the things she was not supposed to know how to do, so the midwife finally retired for the night. Imagine our surprise when the next morning we peeked into the box and discovered five healthy looking kittens. They were all cleaned up, nursing well, and seemed to have the requisite number of appendages. Cricket looked tired but seemed very pleased with herself.
For three weeks we didn’t see much of the little mother. We checked the box and kittens frequently, but Cricket seemed to have everything under control. Once or twice a day, a very tired Cricket drug her way upstairs to the kitchen and her food bowl, after which she came in the living room and flopped down with us for some much-deserved rest. It wouldn’t be long, however, before she’d hear cries from downstairs and off she’d go for another feeding. After three more weeks of this, the kittens were almost ready to be weaned.
Since the 1970’s, we have fed raccoons nightly on the upper deck. When they appear in the evening we bring out the day-old bread and rolls we buy for them. Generations of mama ‘coons have indoctrinated their kittens to this ritual. Apparently, Cricket had been registering all this with interest. One morning we went down to inspect the kittens, and found that sometime in the night Cricket had come up to the kitchen and jumped on the counter, grabbed a large plastic bag of rolls, and dragged them down the stairs and into the box as if to say “Okay kids it’s time! You’re on your own!” We then decided it was time to introduce the tribe to ‘real’ kitten food.

A year later, Cricket was sole cat (Winston had died after a long full life). We went on our annual trip to Florida for a month. We felt bad about leaving Cricket alone in the house so long, but had daily caretakers checking on her. When we got home, though, Cricket was fit to be tied with us. We were used to cats expressing their displeasure at our absence when we returned from trips, but  Cricket was determined to bring our ‘penance’ to a new level! She watched us dump our suitcase on the bed and go outside for another load. Once back inside the house, she commanded our attention with her meows, and then as we watched, she stalked down the hall, jumped on the bed, and looking directly into our shocked faces, proceeded to pee on our luggage. All we could do was laugh. We can also state that without a doubt, we have never been owned by a nicer cat.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Love, Off the Record

This essay was published in this month's new CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: the power of dating book. 

I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday; best wishes for the New Year!! 

By 1989, I had been happily divorced two years, having weathered a few semi-relationships that failed to get off the ground for various reasons, and several disastrous first dates.  The closest I had come to a serious boyfriend was an architect who lived in New York. Since I lived in Virginia and worked in D.C. at the time, the distance between us was perfect. But this relationship also fizzled out. I was fine with that. I was happy with my work and enjoyed hanging out with friends, my family, and my cat.

So I was unprepared for an encounter with destiny when my editor-in-chief tossed a project on my desk with the command to “interview this person.” 

As the associate editor of an architecture magazine, I  was responsible for writing features on new projects, news developments, and products. This particular design project, soon to open in Austin, TX, was a combination piano/pool hall. Not many of those around, I hazarded to guess. Eric’s Pool Hall, as it was called, was executed with whimsy and flair, and I looked forward to talking to the imaginative and witty architect responsible. I picked up the telephone.

Usually, when an editor from an architecture magazine is on the line, explaining the nature of the call, you can hear the excitement in their voice when they find out they are about to be published. The first words out of this guy’s mouth, however, sounded like a sneer. 
“What’d ya do? Pick that out of the round file?” he replied flatly.
Feeling chastened and not a little awkward and offended, I quickly replied with as much starch in my voice as I could muster that I could tell he wasn’t interested, thanked him for his time, and hung up. 

As I sat there wondering what to tell my editor, the phone rang. It was Mr. Surly Guy, all apologetic and charming. He explained he had been caught up short; he had tried to retrieve the project slides a year ago and had been told the art department had ‘lost’ them, and he had been annoyed. As he made his apologies I couldn’t help but note how warm and masculine his voice sounded over the telephone. We agreed to set up a phone interview the following day.

Typically my interviews are a mix of handwritten notes and a tape recorder used as a backup and safety measure. As I had hoped, the interview was a lot of fun -- more so than usual, in fact. As I replayed the tape, I was struck by the realization there was about a 50-50 spread of business and all ha-ha-ha personal information flying back and forth. We had gotten pretty flirty. 

Over the next two weeks while I worked on the piece and chose slides for the layout, I was always pleasantly excited when I had a reason to call him up to confirm a fact or ask about a detail. I couldn’t deny I called him more than I usually did a designer when writing up a project. Finally the article was finished. I was satisfied with it, knowing he would also be pleased with the result. A bit regretfully, I called for the last time to thank him for his time and input, and let him know when the feature would be published. I made sure to get his address to send a complimentary copy.
The following day the phone rang. 
“Hey, kid. I just missed talking to you,” he said.  

As much as I enjoyed it, too, it was obvious I couldn’t have a personal conversation at work. The next thing I knew he had my home phone, and it became a habit for him to call around 10 at night. Both of us were night-owls, and we’d stay on the line for an hour at a time. The nightly routine was one I looked forward to.

After four weeks, he began broaching the subject of meeting in person. I brushed it off each time. He lived in Maryland, more than an hour away from D.C., but truthfully, I was  enjoying my new telephone buddy and didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship. I was afraid the bubble might burst if he was short, fat, or bald. Enjoying my flirt fantasy, I continued to put him off. After a few more weeks he finally he told me was driving down that Saturday to take me to lunch.

“I can’t, I have to work,” I quickly countered.
“You have to eat; I’ll meet you in the lobby at noon,” he said in a voice that broached no further argument.
After brief descriptions “I’m tall and dark-haired,” “I’m tall with auburn hair,” we hung up for the night. 

That Saturday as the noon hour approached, I was nervous as I reluctantly sat on a bench in the lobby awaiting my fate for the next hour. (Or so I thought). 
Soon a very tall, good-looking, slender man with shoulder-length wavy hair pushed through the entry doors. My heart did an actual flip-flop as these thoughts bubbled in my head: Shit! I don’t want to get married again!


Many years later as we were having lunch with a friend, she asked us how we had met. As I told her this story with my now-husband listening beside me, I laughed, since I had never told him my first reaction to our meeting.
“You don’t know the whole story,” he said with a chuckle.

Apparently, when we hung up after my initial interview request, he had called my boss.
“What’s the matter, Don? Am I slipping? You or a senior editor have always reviewed my work before, and today I just got a call from some associate editor.”
“You want to meet this girl,” my editor-in-chief replied. “Don’t you have a restaurant you designed up there somewhere? You should take her to lunch.”
“What?! I’ve never had to take my editor out to lunch before!” now-hubby protested.
“You aren’t listening to me!” my editor replied, “You need to meet this girl.”

Don Canty. My crusty old editor-in-chief. A romantic, and I never knew it. How I wish I had learned the whole story before he had died. I would have written him to thank him for steering me into a relationship with the love of my life and into a very happy marriage, now in it’s 23rd year.