Thursday, August 30, 2007

Changing horses in midstream

Is that an expression? I can't decide if it is or not.

This chap is changing horses in mid match. Most players do that now in order not to tire their mounts. The horses, when they get tired, lose their brakes. It's no fun to play polo on a horse that won't stop. (See traffic jam below.) So fresh horses are a must. Sort of like ideas. Fresh ideas are more interesting than stale, old ideas. I have to admit, I'm a nick-picky reader. If the plot is stale and old, if the characters are recycled, then I'll more than likely skip pages and even change books altogether.

It's the same, alas, with writing a book. Changing books in midstream is not unheard of. Sometimes the book just doesn't take off. Like a tired polo pony, it loses it's ability to sparkle. Then, the only thing to do it change books and hope the sparkle returns. This pony rested and was played again in the last chukker - so sometimes putting a 'WIP' away until it gets fresh again is the best thing to do.

No use flogging a dead horse. :-)


This should be required reading:

Read it and Weep. (Especially if you're a US taxpayer like myself. ) I cannot believe I paid taxes - over 15% of what I earned - to support this. It's unfuckingbelievable. If there is any justice at all, the Bushies will all be cockroaches in their next lives.

President Bush (center) surrounded by members of his family (top left) and key members of his government (right top and center) and ex-government (right bottom.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Have you ever felt like everything was happening at once?
Like you can't slow down, or turn around, or turn around, or get past the guy in front of you?
Have you ever felt like the ball was just out of reach?

OK, I have to admit, I think this is the most hilarious polo shot I've ever taken. It was serendipity - the play slowed down, but no one told the guys in the back, and everyone telescoped together. My favorite is the horse in the middle with just his head sticking out.

I also feel like I'm in just such a traffic jam right now. I have deadlines galore, most self-imposed, but those are the most important ones. And a book to write, and another simmering in my head, and there is Calderwood Books about to launch in September (more closer to lift-off) and I have a new book coming out with Loose Id, that is a Terrific Book - and totally original. And fun. And I have to start promoting it. What am I thinking of?
Well, to tell the truth, today I was thinking about mowing the lawn, scraping the garden chairs, and so I did.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Toréador, en garde!

I just read in the newspaper that Spanish national TV won't be showing bull fighting during the daytime anymore because they don't want children subjected to violence.
I can only agree the idea that bull fighting is a cruel and violent sport. But to say that taking it off TV will ensure children don't see violence astounds me. There is enough violence in cartoons to make me shudder. Bullfighting is nothing compared to a Mel Gibson movie.
While in Spain we saw several bull fights on TV. In one, the bull was pardoned - in other words, he was saved by the matador because the matador thought he fought so well he should live. So the bull was taken away, washed off, and taken back to his farm where he will become a breeding bull. Lucky for him. Most of the others end up as steaks. Bull fighting has existed as a sport since ancient times. In Crete the boys did gymnastics on their backs, in Greece they fought each other, in the Middle Ages they were pitted against dogs and bears. In Roman times gladiators fought them. Bulls are a symbol of strength. And the matador doesn't always win.

Toréador, en garde!Toréador! Toréador!
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant qu'un oeil noir te regarde
et que l'amour t'attend,
Toréador, l'amour, l'amour t'attend!

(Carmen, Act II)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Night Zoo

The Night Zoo

There are only two zoos in the world that are open at night. One is in Singapor, the other is the Fuengirola zoo in Spain.

If you visit the link, be sure to look at the virtual visit - click on the map, you can look 180° around the area, and click on the camera icons for information about the animals in the zoo.
The Fuengirola zoo is another zoo without cages. The animals live in large, grassy areas with plenty of trees and water about. The settings are beautiful - actually, the whole zoo is gorgeous, and no detail is spared for animal or visitor. I was impressed at how clean the zoo was, and how healthy the animals appeared. Another first for a zoo - several different species live together in the same area, and we saw monkeys playing with a large hornbill, an otter playing with a water buffalo calf, and the cutest little baby orangutang in the world!

But what's magical is at night - when the sun sets, the zoo changes. The monkeys all curl up in trees to sleep - but the leopard and tiger wake up and start to roam. The deer and the alligators are on the move, and the creatures who were dozing are suddenly playing. The zoo has a show at night as well - called 'The Forest Clearing', it features trained owls and other creatures of the night. Then there was a musical presentation from an African group of musicians and dancers, with all the children invited to dance on the stage.

My pictures don't do justice to the zoo - here is one of one of the animal settings. My night photos didn't come out, because I didn't want to use a flash. My daughter shot this picture of a parrot and wanted me to include it in the blog!

If you're ever in this corner of the world, don't hesitate to go visit this tiny but beautiful zoo. It's right in the middle of the city, but once you step inside, you feel as if you're in a tropical jungle. And you must stay for the night - it's open until 1 a.m. during the summer months.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Queen Victoria's Railroad in Spain

Queen Victoria made a lot of railroads - and one of the most picturesque is in Spain. What happened was this: Queen Victoria wanted to see Ronda, but the roads were not safe (banditos and such) So she sent engineers and commissioned a railway to be built from Gibralter to Ronda. It's still in use today, and what is charming (besides the conductors in their red hats) are the stations - all Victorian style with the added touch of Spanish cafés and flowers.
We took the train from Gaucin and went up the mountains to a small town ( Benaoján) where we got out, had lunch, and took a walk. A lovely day!
The train tickets cost 2 euros for a two-way trip. The coach was modern and comfortable. The Gaucin train station is in the valley, and the drive down from Gaucin is spectacular. (Check your brakes before you start down the winding road...)

The views from the train were beautiful - tall mountains, steep gorges, cliffs, plains, and groves of cork oak and olive trees.

The stations are all painted white and ochre - the yellow ochre is famous and is called 'Ronda Yellow'. There is usually a small café tagged on to the station, where you can get a cold drink and relax in the shade.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Viva Espagna!

I probably spelled that wrong, lol.
Anyhow, I'm back!
The weather in Spain was lovely - hot and dry. Well, it always is in the south of Spain. From where we were, we could see Gibralter rising up in a sharp angle and just beyond it was the Africa with the Atlas mountains blue in the haze.

Here is a view coming down the hill toward the polo fields, with Gibralter in the background, and further on, the mountains of Africa.

To get to the polo fields, we had to cross a river, and the bridge was an interesting three-arched bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel - the same man who designed the Eiffel Tower in France.

And here is the Port of Duquesa, where we stayed. You can see the marina on the left and on the right, the beach. We had a good time not doing very much. I read a lot of books, I took a lot of walks on the beach, and we went to visit a friend in the mountains and went to see a very interesting zoo. I'll do a post about both those!

Spain is a wonderful country. Where we were on the coast it's very touristy, as you can imagine. There are lots of huge construction projects going on, and the coast, which used to be mostly fishing villages and farms, is being transformed into a paradise for golfers, retired folk, and English people. There were more English people in the village of Duquesa than Spanish. Almost all the shops were run by English ex-pats, who had moved from their country in search of sun and reasonable property prices. I was amazed by the change. I've been coming to the south of Spain for 26 years now, and it's day and night. Before, you had to look hard to find a restaurant - now they are all over, and there are Chinese, Indian, and Argentine restaurants as well as traditional Catalonian restaurants. (I do NOT recommend eating at a Chinese restaurant in Spain...) And there are souvenir shops everywhere, most souvenirs being made in China, alas. We went to the mountains to find a pottery shop, and we bought some fans. They are now in fashion - everywhere we went, pretty ladies had their fans!

Here is a pretty girl with a fan. We were at the Gaucin train station, getting ready to take a train to the mountains. It was a hot day, and women had their fans out. Most match their fans to their outfits. I saw many at the polo games with ropas (dresses) and abanitas (fans) that matched. It was quite chic. A nice fan made of light balsa wood and cotton, and hand painted, costs about 5 dollars. The more fancy ones were more expensive!
Another typical Spanish item is olive oil, but I didn't get any this trip -it's expensive when it's good quality. And there is also the Iberian smoked ham, which we eat with sliced melon.
Well, more about my Spanish trip tomorrow, with the story about Queen Victoria's train, and the trip to Gaucin and the mountains.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I'm in Spain!
We're way down south, in a place called Puerto Duqueso. It's hot, dry, and dusty - and we're mostly hanging out and playing mah-jongg (my daughter insisted on bringing the set with us).
My husband is working, so we're living by his schedule. He works from 5 pm to about 10 pm - and in the morningm before noon, we go to the beach, and after he gets off work we go out for dinner and hang out at the docks. Puerto Duquesa is a big marina.
It's hot - so we mostly stay indoors actually.
We went to the mountain village of Gaucine to visit a friend, Karen, and that was lovely. The drive was hair-raising - all curves and mountains - but the view once there was breathtaking. We had a dinner of tapas outside, overlooking the gorge.
Tonight we're going to the zoo - it's open until 1 am - it's the Fueringola zoo, and we're looking forward to seeing the nocturnal animal exhibit.
I'll be back in France the 22 of Aug. and I'll post pictures!