Monday, November 23, 2009

A concert in a castle

(link to english site: http://www.festesdethalie.org/welcome.html)
I was invited to go to a concert in the Chateau Thoiry on Saturday. It was a mixture of scenes from Moliere's plays and baroque music. (Here is a link to the English site)
It was lovely - except we had terrible seats (way in the back of the room - all we could see were the actor's heads, luckily they were very expressive). The music was all right - you hear one baroque sonate, you've heard them all... but the flutist and the clavicord player were wonderful. The clavicord dated from 1773 (it was redone, of course, but it was a lovely instrument) and the flute had a beautiful soft sound.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A deer in the countryside

Last week I was a beater in an organized wild boar hunt in the Rambouillet forest. What this means is, wearing a bright orange vest, I walked in line (more or less) with other beaters toward the hunting line. The animals are pushed toward the hunters, who are under strict orders as to what and what they can not shoot. For example, that day we were hunting wild boars and foxes - both which were causing damage to the area. But the hunters could not shoot female wild boar over a certain weight (I have no idea how they judge this - or how a hunter can tell - they all look the same to me, big, black and hairy!) and there is a fine if the hunter shoots the wrong animal.
As we walked, I saw red deer, roe deer, wild boar, snipe, pheasants, including an incredible golden pheasant with a four foot long tail - and I got stuck in brambles, found a wonderful porcini mushroom that I put in my hat to carry (and we had an omelette the next day with it - yum!) and had a fun day. My dachshund, Auguste, was there hunting as well, and he had a wonderful day running about. His short legs were so tired at the end of the day I had to carry him out of the woods!


Not a porcini pushroom! but the porcini like to grow around where these grow - so when I see one of these, I look extra carefully in the area.
Beaters lining up before the hunt begins.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quince Jelly


The other day I made quince jelly - it looked so lovely when it was done - the prettiest peach color - I had to take a picture of my breakfast!
Quince jelly:
Cut up four or five quinces (leave the skin, but wipe the fuzz off) and cut out the seeds. Cover with water and boil for about an hour. Strain and then add the same amount of sugar as juice (I never measure, I just looked and guessed - but probably measure the cups of water / cups of sugar ratio. Add the juice of one lemon. Bring to a boil and cook 10 more minutes then pour into jam jars. Let set overnight.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Paris

Sometimes I forget I live near one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The other day, I took my cousins and daughter to Montmartre for lunch and we went to the Sacre Coeur to look at the view. After we went to Isle St. Louis and toured the Notre Dame.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October check up







Sorry I have been AWOL - October went by faster than I thought it would!
Been busy working!


Big news of the month-


We bought a horse for my daughter - it's an 11 yr old ex-cross country jumper. He injured his tendon last year and can't compete in high level cross country any more, so his owner sold him to us for Julia to ride. He's perfect for her; well trained and has lovely manners. His name is Kalin des Vents!



Monday, September 14, 2009

The Street Fair

It was the annual street fair in our village - up at 5 am to set up the tables in front of the house and watch as the village was transformed - 8 am the freinds arrived and we set out the goods - then it was all day sitting, chatting, selling (a little), drinking tea and coffee ( a lot), and having a good time.












Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Kite flying day

It was a glorious day - I'd been sitting inside all day working, so when 5 o clock rolled around, I gathered kids and dogs and out we went to fly a kite!





Thursday, August 27, 2009

Leave Honey on Your Skin

A while ago, my short story Leave Honey on Your Skin was made into a short animated film -
We've officially gotten past all the Do Not Post deadlines.
Post post post away to your heart's content!

Thanks!!
Here is the link:
http://vimeo.com/4923080

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chigger season

Well, August is flying by! I had a lovely week vacation at the seaside - the weather was incredible and I took my daughter to the races and yearling sales and we saw some lovely horses. (and there was polo, of course, as my husband is working there until the end of the month!) Then it was back home to another marathon week of work, which Imanaged to wrap up yesterday, so I'm going to putter about today and maybe look wistfully ut the wiondow and think of going into the garden - but I won't. It's fall, and that means the chiggers and spiders are out in swarms and I am literally bitten up all over - and the bites itch. Oh well - now I'm waiting impatiently for the first freeze - I think I'll still be alive by then, lol. The dry, very hot weather has aggravated the chigger condition, and I have to stop wanting to do gardening work - everything is burnt dry as straw anyway - but the other day I wanted to harvest my lavender and my silver dollar plants (the lavender goes in a big bowl in the kitchen and gets turned into sachets or I use it to freshen the vacuume cleaner. And the silver dollar plants are so pretty when you pick them at the right time - you get a huge lovely bouquet to last the winter. )And so I'm covered with bites, lol.And just an aside - My cousin gave me the most wonderful tea - one for the morning (Earl Gray - French Blue, it's called) and one for the night called Red Nile - Rooisbus with Marigold) So I sit at my desk with a pot of fragrant tea. It's quite a change from my mug of coffee!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

the strangest title for an article...

I wasn't looking for strange titles, but when I read this one, I thought maybe I was having some sort of LSD flashback. (I didn't ever take LSD, to chicken, but I'm sure that if I had, and had a flashback, it owuld have felt like this.
The title of the article is in the NY Times and reads:

Snorkel Genes Help Deepwater Rice Survive

And if you don't believe me, go look.

Can anyone find a stranger one than that?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Will those of you who believe he's guilty, raise your hand...

But first read this - it's quite unbelievable.



http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n12/mile01_.html



I don't know how many of you remember the Lockerbie bombing. I do, because actually a group of school kids on that flight were from a town right next to mine in NY. It was horrific, and I remember scanning the news and feeling nothing but relief when the bomber was brought to justice. Then, a few days ago, I read the bomber was being released. At first I was horrified, then I read he had only three months to live, and compassion won. I thought to myself, 'well, it's not as if he's getting out of jail free'. I kept reading articles, and a few things caught my eye. For one, he's always protested his innocence. Well, most murderers do, I believe, so that didn't really bother me. What bothered me was the coincidence of an American capt. who shot down a plane full of civilans about a year prior to that - the plane was Iranian. The incident was murky, and the capt. got a medal, if you can believe that. And, another article posted this link, (link above) that I put off reading for some reason until today, and the bomber was released. Then I decided I wanted to know more...

The article makes horrifying reading. And when I was done, I was glad the man was back in Libya - at home.

That spider was SO big...

I love the end of summer, except for one thing. In the fall, the spiders appear. And it's the survival of the fittest here in our lovely countryside. Only the biggest, strongest ones make it until September. And the biggest and the strongest are the ones you notice the most - especially if it's climbing up your white curtain.

We have loads of spiders here - from taratula-sized brown house spiders to spindly daddy long-legs (that we all played with as children - you don't find out how poisonous they are until you start reading scientific journals, and the reasurance that 'they can't possibly inject their poison into a human' is scant comfort) to brightly-colored crab spiders of yellow, pink and bright green (depending which flower it's crouched in), to tiger-striped orb spiders, and the huge, gray web-spinners that scare you silly until you realize 'That's Charlotte of Charlotte's web!' (they still scare me silly).
I have arachnephobia, and even though I try my hardest to convince myself that spiders are 'Our Friends' - whenever I see one I want to sprint away, and if one accidently lands on me, I swear I could beat Bolt's best 100 meter dash time with no problem, probably running backwards with my eyes shut.

Today I saw a huge house spider (perfectly harmless I Know that!) Crawling up my curtain.

That spider was So big - it didn't fit into the vacuum-cleaner tube. It's legs hung way out and I had a fit of the willies as I tried to cram it down the tube and vacuum it up.

Other spiders that were so big...

That spider was So big I thought it was my son's plastic toy spider and almost reached over to pick it up. It moved. So did I - levitating to the ceiling then flying to the kitchen where I grabbed the first thing (a flyswatter on the chair) I managed to kill the creature minutes before the real estate agent walked in to show the house.

That spider was so big it was drinking out of the dog's dish in the kitchen. A St. Thomas tarantula. When it's sitting on your homework, you get a note from your mother explaining to your teacher why you didn't bring your homework in - and the teacher understood.

That spider was so big it covered a whole paragraph of the book I was reading. My son had just tipped it onto my book with a pleased "Look what I found mommy!" I slammed the book shut before it skittered off onto my lap. It was just nerves. My son, who loves spiders, never did forgive me.

That spider was so big that when it fell into my sister-in-law's suitcase, she slapped it shut then looked at me. We were staying with our inlaws for the weekend. "I'll lend you clothes," I said. She gave the suitcase, still shut, to her concierge to unpack. (along with a huge tip).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The end of Summer

We're having a heat wave - it hasn't been so hot in ages, and we can't water gardens or wash our cars. I actually don't mind the heat - but it is odd to see the grass and leaves turning brown so soon. Autumn seems to be already here. The sunsets are yellow, dust hangs in the air. The feilds are bare - shaved of their crops, and there is a quiet, end-of-summer feeling in the village. Even the dogs are too hot to bark. Pretty soon the village children will be back from their vacations and there will be shouting, the sounds of skate boards and bike bells, and by then the chestnuts will be ripe and so will the apples. I never liked spring much - but I love the end of summer. The ground is so hard it might be frozen, and the sky, in the afternoon, is a blue teacup overhead. Heat mirages shimmer on the road and rooftops, and the dogs won't leave the hallway, lying on the cool tiles all day long, only moving to change position - from back to side to stomach - with wagging tails to chase away the sleepy wasps.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The market in Houlgate (by Gustave Eiffel)

We were staying in the village of Houlgate last week, and I went to the covered market. The strawberry vendor told me all about the market building - seems it was designed by Gustave Eiffel! From towers in Paris to bridges in Spain, to markets in Houlgate...











Saturday, August 08, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just a riding jacket

The riding jacket - we bought it on e-bay and it's a bit bigger than we thought. But my daughter is happy with it and wears it for her horse shows. Here she came in fifth place, there is a small trophy plaque and a bag of lollipops in the white bag - and the ribbon, of course!

Friday, June 05, 2009

So what were You in your past life?

I have no idea - to tell the truth, I'm not really a believer in anything. I'm the original doubting Thomas. But I have a couple friends who are convinced they lived other lives, and I suppose it's a possibility. The thing that stumps me is the logistics - if everyone is reincarnated, how come there are so many new people being born, unless you can start just anywhere, or maybe very good ants come back as humans?
Because there were only a few humans in the beginning - and if they kept recycling themselves coming back again and again, and then others are born - - is there a hierarchy among the reincarntated, I wonder? Is there a king and queen (sort of the Adam and Eve of us all) who are the eldest? And newbies - how are they treated in the reincrnated world - poor naked souls with no past lives; how sad. And if we are reincarnated, how can we retrieve our memories? Is there a sort of waiting - sorting room 'up there' where you pause before getting shipped off into a new life - and when, exactly, does 'life' start (how annoying to get shipped off and be scraped off as an abortion - Zap - right back to the back of the line...) And can you apply for a good family? If you think about it, (and you're sitting in a house sipping coffee and staring at your computer screen) you have to realize you're incredibly lucky. You could have been assigned to be baby 122589633258AHJ-female - born in Zaire to a HIV positive woman. Yes, if reincarnation exists, we hit the jackpot this time around. What about next time? Does being a good person influence who you are next time? (If that's true, Bush's next life will be as queen of the Naked Mole Rats.)
Have I been good enough to deserve being born as a caucasian female in a civilized society in my next life? I have No idea - but the idea of a big waiting line in the sky and a hierarchy among reincarnates is intriguing. An idea for a book, maybe?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cuba!

Here's one reply to an article that the NY Times will probably never print...

Cubans with their free healthcare and education don't need lessons from the US about how to take care of their own. And as far as political prisoners - can you say Guatanamo? I think the problem is that the plutarchy that constitutes the US government is deadly frightened of a system that will enable everyone to live in comfort and dignity. Cuba is the nightmare of every huge conglomerate that skims money from the poor and redistributes to the rich, every system that relies on elitism to survive (college or healthcare, anyone?), and every government that controls its people through poverty, prison, and guns.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Justus

Why does everything have to cost money? (to echo my son when he was 4...)You might know I put two boys in Kenya through secondary school. It was through a charity run by a missionary group in Canada - I know one of the missionaries. (she writes erotic romance at the same publishing company I do...) anyhow, both boys graduated - but one wants to go to the university and can't afford it.
We're trying to talk him into finding a training program. The other boy went into a computer program that was very cheap (well, it was just a six month program). But Justus wants to go to the university. He applied and was accepted, and then passed a test for a grant - and won about 2000 towards his education. But universities in Kenya are expensive, and its 4000$ a year, and he can't afford it. And neither can I, unfortunately. Secondary school for both boys only came to about 1000$ a year - and I used my royalties to pay that (so all those who have bought my books - imagine that you have contibuted to 2 fine young men being able to go to school and graduate - something they never thought would be possible. Thank you!)
I was going to makle a plea for donations, but I can't think how to work out the logistics. It's a four year universuty, and I'd want to make sure he would be able to go all four years.
I think the best thing would be that he finds a good training program and sets his sites a bit lower - we've all had to do that. Maybe he'll be able to get in next year - maybe I'll have a best seller by then!
Well, it's time for me to drive my number two son to the train station - he's got exams right now in his university. (In France, the universities are free - there is only a small fee for insurance (250$ covers all their health insurance) and a fee for the university (roughly 400$ a year). I'm sorry everyone living everywhere else, but that's what I call a civilized country. If education isn't free - you might as well live in a third world country.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Reagan Did It

(this should be required reading...)

Reagan Did It

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: May 31, 2009

“This bill is the most important legislation for financial institutions in the last 50 years. It provides a long-term solution for troubled thrift institutions. ... All in all, I think we hit the jackpot.” So declared Ronald Reagan in 1982, as he signed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act.

He was, as it happened, wrong about solving the problems of the thrifts. On the contrary, the bill turned the modest-sized troubles of savings-and-loan institutions into an utter catastrophe. But he was right about the legislation’s significance. And as for that jackpot — well, it finally came more than 25 years later, in the form of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
For the more one looks into the origins of the current disaster, the clearer it becomes that the key wrong turn — the turn that made crisis inevitable — took place in the early 1980s, during the Reagan years.

Attacks on Reaganomics usually focus on rising inequality and fiscal irresponsibility. Indeed, Reagan ushered in an era in which a small minority grew vastly rich, while working families saw only meager gains. He also broke with longstanding rules of fiscal prudence.
On the latter point: traditionally, the U.S. government ran significant budget deficits only in times of war or economic emergency. Federal debt as a percentage of G.D.P. fell steadily from the end of World War II until 1980. But indebtedness began rising under Reagan; it fell again in the Clinton years, but resumed its rise under the Bush administration, leaving us ill prepared for the emergency now upon us.

The increase in public debt was, however, dwarfed by the rise in private debt, made possible by financial deregulation. The change in America’s financial rules was Reagan’s biggest legacy. And it’s the gift that keeps on taking.

The immediate effect of Garn-St. Germain, as I said, was to turn the thrifts from a problem into a catastrophe. The S.& L. crisis has been written out of the Reagan hagiography, but the fact is that deregulation in effect gave the industry — whose deposits were federally insured — a license to gamble with taxpayers’ money, at best, or simply to loot it, at worst. By the time the government closed the books on the affair, taxpayers had lost $130 billion, back when that was a lot of money.

But there was also a longer-term effect. Reagan-era legislative changes essentially ended New Deal restrictions on mortgage lending — restrictions that, in particular, limited the ability of families to buy homes without putting a significant amount of money down.

These restrictions were put in place in the 1930s by political leaders who had just experienced a terrible financial crisis, and were trying to prevent another. But by 1980 the memory of the Depression had faded. Government, declared Reagan, is the problem, not the solution; the magic of the marketplace must be set free. And so the precautionary rules were scrapped.

Together with looser lending standards for other kinds of consumer credit, this led to a radical change in American behavior.

We weren’t always a nation of big debts and low savings: in the 1970s Americans saved almost 10 percent of their income, slightly more than in the 1960s. It was only after the Reagan deregulation that thrift gradually disappeared from the American way of life, culminating in the near-zero savings rate that prevailed on the eve of the great crisis. Household debt was only 60 percent of income when Reagan took office, about the same as it was during the Kennedy administration. By 2007 it was up to 119 percent.

All this, we were assured, was a good thing: sure, Americans were piling up debt, and they weren’t putting aside any of their income, but their finances looked fine once you took into account the rising values of their houses and their stock portfolios. Oops.

Now, the proximate causes of today’s economic crisis lie in events that took place long after Reagan left office — in the global savings glut created by surpluses in China and elsewhere, and in the giant housing bubble that savings glut helped inflate.

But it was the explosion of debt over the previous quarter-century that made the U.S. economy so vulnerable. Overstretched borrowers were bound to start defaulting in large numbers once the housing bubble burst and unemployment began to rise.

These defaults in turn wreaked havoc with a financial system that — also mainly thanks to Reagan-era deregulation — took on too much risk with too little capital.

There’s plenty of blame to go around these days. But the prime villains behind the mess we’re in were Reagan and his circle of advisers — men who forgot the lessons of America’s last great financial crisis, and condemned the rest of us to repeat it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Kidnap This Logo!


Kidnap This Logo!
And You Could Win!
To celebrate its Fifteenth Anniversary, Red Sage is throwing a party! Every party needs presents, and here’s a gift that could win you the July Secrets anthology and Calista Fox’s new novel, Object of Desire!

Here’s how to play the party game.
Anyone can play! All you have to do is “kidnap” this logo and post it on your blog or website.
Copy and paste the jpg image of the anniversary gift to your own blog or website to kidnap it. Be sure to include these instructions so people know how to play!

Invite your readers and friends to send an email with the subject line “Ransom Note” to eRedSage@gmail.com. Inside this email, they must include a link back to your kidnapped logo.

Then you and your friend will both be entered into a drawing to win free trade paperbacks! Every time one of your readers sends a ransom note with a link, you will be entered again! Each Ransom Note is worth two entries in the drawing -- one for the person who sends the Ransom Note, and one for the linked blog or website. And you both can win!

Want more chances to win? Invite your readers and friends to kidnap this logo, and then you can enter again by sending a Ransom Note linking to your friend’s blog or website!
The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win!
Group blog or website? No problem! Just be sure to sign your post so we know who the winner should be!
Deadline June 30.

Good luck, and have fun!
Red Sage. Read Dangerously.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What a tangled web we weave...

I read a fascinating article about heroin dealers from Mexico who deal the US. The drug problem is of epic proportions. At first I couldn't understand why - but three things became clear -
1 - the cost of heroin is cheaper than the cost of perscription drugs for pain. (the article is not clear here - it says 'on the street' which may mean that the doctor has told the patient to stop, but he is intent on getting more pain killers illegally, and buys them from dealers on the street.)
"Investigators say that Arthur E. was not alone in switching from a prescription painkiller to heroin. It gives a similar, euphoric high at a fraction of the cost, $10 to $20 for a “balloon” — one dose, usually a gram or less — as opposed to upwards of $60 for a typical prescription pill dose on the street."

2 - and doctors seem to perscribe these pain-killers as if thery were, well, candy (in France, reports say that perscription medicine addiction is completely out of hand, for example - and yet doctors love to perscribe them. Question - do doctors get kick-backs from pharmaceutical companies?). "When Arthur E. injured his back in a car accident in 2005, he started taking prescription medication, Percocet and OxyContin, for chronic pain, under a doctor’s supervision. His brother, Rob E. said he had been taking similar medications after he broke his arm on the job as a maintenance worker at a golf course. Soon, all three brothers were acquiring OxyContin illegally and sharing it. When supplies dried up and their dealer suggested heroin, they tried it and quickly developed an addiction."

The drugs come from Mexico but the US is responsible for the rise in power of the drug cartel because... "it is American drug consumers who fuel demand and American guns smuggled into Mexico that are used by the drug gangs." (NY Times article comment)

Three years ago, the Mexican president moved to crack down on the drug cartels. Since then, 10,000 people, most of them innocent, have died in a vicious war that pits police and investigators against well-armed drug dealers.
It's a tangled web made of the cost of drugs, the facility to obtain high-powered weapons, and especially, the huge discrepency between the average salary of a Mexican and an American, a poverty ascerbated by the fact that in this day and age, everyone can turn on the TV and see the ease and comfort Americans live in. Mexicans intent on getting jobs and caring for their families in a fragile economy are easy pickings for drug cartels.

I suppose that if wages were evened out between the US and Mexico, there would be far less poverty in Mexico and less people tempted to risk life and limb to sell drugs. If gun controls were stricter, less guns would end up in the cartel's hands, and Mexican police could control the problem with more ease. If perscription drugs were cheaper, and if doctors were more careful how they perscribed them, less people would be hooked from the start, and they wouldn't turn to illegal venus to get them. And if, if, if all this were true... maybe poor Arthur E. would still be alive.



Friday, May 29, 2009

A new book at Calderwood!

SAFETY FIRST FOR SAVVY SENIORS by Ron Smith ~ Self Help - Practical Advice
“I've fallen and I can't get up." We've seen that commercial time and time again, but for seniors it's no joke. The Home Safety Council reports that deaths from home injuries and car accidents triple for adults between the ages of sixty-five and eighty-four, and are eight times as much for those eighty-five and older. Seniors: Stay safe at home and elsewhere by following the hundreds of safety ideas contained in this book. Proven ways to prevent accidents and remain healthy.

Ron Smith, a seniors advocate, is the author of SCAMBUSTERS, SIXTY WAYS SENIORS GET SWINDLED AND HOW THEY CAN PREVENT IT, (HarperCollins, 2006) and a former columnist for a large Catholic newspaper and an Atlanta area magazine. He has appeared on the CBS Early Show in NYC, Christian TV in Atlanta, and on dozens of radio shows nationwide.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The ferret story

I was just over at Travis's blogspot and he blogged about a raccoon, and as I read the story I remembered the day I saw a big ferret in our backyard. We lived near a big woods, but still - ferrets are nocturnal usually, and this one was sniffing through the yard, right in the middle of the lawn. It didn't look quite right, and I thought maybe it was sick - perhaps with rabies!? I panicked.
My twins were about 8, and my daughter just toddling, so I grabbed the kids, (they were playing outside) shut the door, checked the windows, and called my husband to come quick and look.
He did, and said "It's a ferret."
"But it might have rabies. Look, it's heading to the house. It's on the gravel driveway now! Ohmygod - get your gun!" I can be persuasive when I want.
My husband sprinted for the gun and went outside (slowly) stalked around the corner of the house and came face to face with the ferret. He aimed the gun at the creature, who immediately waddled over to him and sat up, begging, at his feet.
My husband said he never felt so silly standing there aiming at a critter who walked right up to him and sat up. Practically stuck its nose up the gun barrel.
He put the gun down, and the ferret scrambled up his leg and cuddled under his chin. It was a pet ferret someone had lost.
My sons were estatic - and got to keep it for the three days we searched for the owner. Happy Ending - (or 'Appy Hending, as my husband would say) the owner came and got his ferret and told the boys they could come visit whenever they wanted.
Ferret went home.
Things went back to normal.
The next week, our Lab came in with a baby rabbit in her mouth.
Another pet.

Give 'em enough rope...

In their own words, the Republican 'angry white men':

On Obama: "
We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds... because his father was black." Rush Limbaugh
On the Presidency: "Can we pray for the re-election of George Bush?" Sean Hannity
On religion: "It doesn't say anywhere in the constitution this idea of the separation of church and state." Sean Hannity
On climate change: "If you believe the mainstream media hype, you'd think that every time you drive your SUV, the Earth's temperature rises six degrees." Glenn Beck
On waterboarding: "I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." Sean Hannity
On the UN: "I just wish [Hurricane] Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else, just had flooded them out, and I wouldn't have rescued them." Bill O'Reilly
On weapons of mass destruction: "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologise to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again, all right?" Bill O'Reilly
On race: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." Bill O'Reilly
On Islam: "I have a number of things that I am gonna demand and one of them is that no more Muslim immigrants come into this country. No more mosques be permitted to be built in this country...and yes we need racial profiling immediately..." Michael Savage
On immigration: "You don't have the right to protest. You're allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organising... you're a foreigner, shut your mouth or get out." Rush Limbaugh
On politics: "Good for you, you have a heart, you can be a liberal. Now, couple your heart with your brain, and you can be a conservative." Glenn Beck
On homosexuality: "The gay and lesbian mafia wants our children. If it can win their souls and their minds, it knows their bodies will follow. Of course, it wants to homosexualise the whole country, not just the children" Michael Savage
On feminism: "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society." Rush Limbaugh

Compiled By Enjoli Liston

Monday, May 25, 2009

How old was that old bottle?

The manufacturer wrote back after I sent the photo - the bottle dates from the 1860's.
So it's pretty old after all - older than I thought even. (I was guessing 1930's).
It's as old as the ring I found at the flea market (1850 - date engraved in the ring) and as old as my car...(just kidding). My car is awfully old and falling apart. Lately it's started backfiring. The first time it happened my daughter panicked. I just told her the car was getting old and starting to fart. I'm hoping it will last one more year (I say that Every year).
What other appliances and things do I want to see lasting the year?
My computer. (please please please last one more year - at least - you're 6 now, that's young - you can do it!)
My refrigerator. (Yes, I know you are second hand. Yes, I know you make funny noises and suddenly get either way too hot or too cold - but I need you. Honest. You're my widdle wefwigerator *gives it a pat* Hang in there!)
My lawn mower. (It's already broken - parts of it keep falling off. But it mows - keep mowing!)
My keyboard. (I keep swearing at it and swearing I'll get a new one, but all the buttons still work, so I guess it's a keeper. For now.)
My vacuum cleaner. (I'm not really worried about it breaking, I'm worried that the filter will get so absolutely full of dust it will break, and the model is so old I won't be able to get a new filter. Filter, keep breathing!!)
My jeans. (You still fit, even if the zipper is wonky. Who cares? You don't have any holes. Keep it that way.)
My blender. (I got it for a wedding present. I have lost all the extra 'whistle and bell' accessories. But the basic blender is still there - still intact, and still working even though the speed can't be adjusted anymore (it's full speed or nothing) - it still chops, blends, mixes and makes soup. What more do I need?)
My dishwasher. (I fixed you three times. The repairman said there won't be a next time - you're old, everything is working through sheer stubborness and a refusal to break that I admire, even though your electronic panel is shot and I can't tell what cycle you're in - and you only have one cycle that works anyhow - I still think you're terrific and could you please last another year?)

What appliances are you praying will last out the year?
:-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

An old bottle


There was no message in it, just an old bottle found buried in our garden. How old is it? I have no idea - not too old - the stopper is made of rubber (natural, I think) but the bottle is made of thick, swirly glass and the letters are raised. It says EAU DES CARMES BOYER. I looked it up on the internet, and they are still selling the stuff in parmacies here in France. It's some sort of distilled plant and spice alcohol. You put a few drops on a sugar cube to take it, or dilute it in a glass of water. It's a digestive, it helps you if you've had a shock, it can give you a burst of energy (I think that's the sugar cube but then again, I'm naturally skeptical...)

I'm also curious and so I wrote a note to the manufactuerer and asked if they could date the bottle for me. They wrote back asking for a photo and I sent this one. Now I'm waiting to see how old the bottle in the garden is.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nobody said it was easy...

Cold Play is pretty hot. Love their songs. Also been listening to a bunch of Beatles things. I have a lot of work and it's nice to be able to listen to music while typing away.
I won an MP3 player at a party the other day. (Birthday party - family loves to organize 'games' - so there was pitching (golf), tennis, skeet shooting, archery and guess what - I won it at archery. I am not really good, but most of the other gals didn't want to do archery - so I gave up my tennis place for an archery shot, and won an MP3 player, which I gave to my daughter. She has good taste in music, so I took it back and use it while she's in school.
:-)
I was over at Kate R's blog and saw she had the rejection blues. Sending over some cyber hugs and tea and stuff. I hate rejections. She said silence was worse - she's right, actually. I'm waiting to hear from 3 subs and it's like they fell into some big, black hole. Silence.
Well, what I'll do is this:
Turn up the volume for the MP3 player.
Keep writing. I started another book.
I must be insane.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The United in Paranoia States of America

I was talking to a woman the other day and she mentioned that her daughter had a phobia about electric lines. The girl was afraid to be near them. She asked me if I had any unreasonable fears as a child.
"I was terrified we'd get hit by an atom bomb," I said.
I remembered the atomic bomb drills in school - everyone out of their seats, line up in the hallways, arms crossed over your head, facing the wall, while the siren wailed and teachers walked up and down the lines, pushing us closer to the wall if we were too far away. This was nothing like the fire drills. We were told that in case of an atom bomb falling, we were to close our eyes (not get blinded) and try to find a spot with no windows if we were indoors, and if outside, to seek a bomb shelter (most people were digging them in their back yards) or if none were available, find a ditch. The USA was united in its paranoia of atom bombs. I had nightmares for ages.
No small wonder the US was paranoid - after dropping two on Japan the US knew the damage they could cause, and like most paranoids, developed a strong feeling that 'everyone is out to get me'.
It's still going on. The US is convinced that everyone is out to get it, and it's now training boyscouts and girlscouts how to fight terrorists. Kids are being armed faster than child soldiers in Africa. These kids are all convinced someone is out to get them - Mexican wetbacks, Arab terrorists, or Someone. Anyone. And that's scary. Reality is being warped. At first in the US it was warped against black people, and blacks filled the prisons faster than you could say 'up agast the wall". Now it's terrorists and anyone with a slight accent or odd clothes is suspect. It's a wonder they even let planes land at all, and going through customs in the US is to begin to understand the sheer weight of their fear and paranoia. My great-aunt, in her 80s - was strip searched twice at the airport, and that was for a domestic flight.
Pretty soon no one will be safe - already so many people have guns and there are so many murders commited with guns (over 30,000 a year) that adding more (and making a whole new generation of kids paranoid about something) will just make things worse.
Welcome to the United Paranid States of America.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

all work and no play...

Since I've been doing nothing but working lately, there is not much to report.
I did take a break because it suddenly got hot and sunny this afternoon. I went to the golf club with my daughter to hit some practive balls.
Otherwise, translation, work, more work, drawing, scanning, touch-up, and I still have another drawing to do tonight due tomorrow (what am I doing on my blog??)
The boys are back in school - the longest academic strike in France's history has ended - well, mostly ended. There are still some classes missing and exams will be held later than usual.
I've been reading about the British MP's scandal - the bad ones make the good ones look really good, and the good ones ought to step up and say something, make a speech or something.
And I wish my son would quit interupting me asking 'what is for dinner?' I have no idea - I put some sweet potatos in the over and there is homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove - but I havn't gotten beyond that. The sauce was meant to be frozen for later - but maybe we'll have it tonight?
What was I talking about?
Reading newspapers (any newspaper, but today the Guardian, to be precise) usually depresses me, but it cheered me up no end to read a huge article about the first 2 years of our not-so-beloved president Sarkozy, and see him raked over the proverbial coals for two years of dreadful politics. About time. President Bling-bling is now President Barracade. Ha. He has a 32% approval rating. My husband is part of the 32%. I am now in the majority, however.
About time.

Friday, May 08, 2009

May 8th

The ceremony for the 8th of May was today. The mayor's speech was marred by the garbage truck passing through the village - the noise drowned out most of what he said, but I know the theme by heart. After the speech and the national anthem, we went to the village cemetery to lay a big bouquet of flowers on the soldiers' graves. Five English soldiers and one Australian soldier lie in the small cemetery, in a corner of their own. Their graves are impeccably kept. There are several villagers who were there the day the airplane was shot down, who helped bury the men, and who still talk about it. Last year, one of the men's brothers came to see the graves. He looked at it, shook his head, and said, "he wasn't supposed to be on that flight. He was a replacement. Lat minute.' I looked at the age. 19.
All the soldiers are so young. The eldest was 24. It's the tragedy of war, I suppose. Perhaps war should be fought by old men, the same ones who organise, plot and plan them. The worst thing about the American cemetery in Normandy are the mens' ages. All so young. It never gets easier to look at all the white crosses, with the names and ages carved in them. The names mean nothing, but the ages - they get to you. They get to everyone. Silent, striken people walk in the cemetery in Normandy - only my daughter, age 4, sang and danced through the graves. She thought they were fences.
After the ceremony in our small cemetery (a lovely place, on a small bluff with tall trees all around it) we went to the town hall for drinks and crackers, and the mayor came up to me and asked, worried, if he had pronounced the soldiers' names correctly.
"Perfectly," I said.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Just some stuff

Wednesday - school in the morning for the kids - afternoon free and most kids are members of some sort of sport club. There are athletic clubs in the schools, soccer clubs, pony clubs, rugby clubs, archery clubs...It's a rare kid who doesn't do some sort of sport on Wednesday.
My sons tried everything - karate, soccer, ping-pong, golf, riding, polo, and even rock climbing. They eventually ended up liking karate best, and stuck with it longest. My daughter is into horses, and so she spends Wednesday afternoon at the pony club. Moms are usually chauffeurs on Wednesday - and most women who work full time manage to get Wednesday afternoons off.
Today my husband and son spent the afternoon wrestling the ivy off the wall at the front of the house. 25 years of ivy growth and the damn thing had a trunk as thick as a man's thigh. It is holding the wire fence up, so the only part that came down was the one growing over the stone wall. That part of the garden wall looks strangely bare now - like someone who's just cut hip-legnth hair off and stands, bemused, in front of the mirror.
I spent the day working - and I wanted to finish, so I was peeved to have to go shopping as well. I went down to the little shop in the nearest village, the one that used to be independent and is now part of some huge chain. Prices are lower, but the produce isn't as nice, the meat isn't at all as nice, and the place looks like what you'd think one of the outer rings of Hell would have as a 7-11 shop - echoey bare spaces, glaring lights, and somehow all wrong. It used to be owned by a family and it had lots of aisles, crates holding veggies, and the nicest, jolliest butcher who would tell you exactly how long to cook his roasts, and on Christmas, would leave a little cup out with 'tips for the butcher, thanks' taped to it along with a sprig of plastic mistletoe.
I can't see that happening now.
I stuffed food in the bags I'd brought with me (stores don't hand out bags anymore - too polluting) paid and left. My daughter remarked sourly that the whole world was getting bought by big conglomerates. I don't suppose I'll find my favorite brand of Chinese noodles there anymore.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Spargelsuppe

Last night I made fresh asparagus soup. I found I missed going to Germany in May for the Booklovers conference. I always had such a good time there, and it was asparagus season.
The first time I had the soup I thought there had been a mistake - they serve it with whipped cream - (not sweet - just plain cream whipped until fluffy) but I thought it was vanilla ice-cream and tried to send it back. "No, it's your soup!" insisted the waitress, so I tasted it, and it was wonderful.

recipe -
1 large bunch White asparagus (about 2 lbs)
2 or 3 spring onions (or 1 regular onion)
butter
6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer)
1 cup cream (and put some cream aside and whip it until fluffy)
fresh parsley
ground pepper
and white wine

Cut up the onion and soften it in the butter. Peel the asperagus (you must peel white asparagus! Pare the hard skin right off, and make sure there are no stringy parts left!) and cut off the tips (save the tips for later). Put the chopped asperagus in the pan and cook a few minutes. (be careful not to let the onions brown at all) Add the chicken broth and cook until the asparagus is very soft (35 minutes). Puree in a blender. Return to heat and add the tips, cook until the tips are tender. Add the cream.
Serve with a big dollop of whipped cream, a of sprinkle parsley, a dash of freshly ground black pepper, and a glass of chilled white wine!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A closet tyrant

Why is "Oh, sure I can help out!" such a stupid thing to say?
Well, there were 500 entries at the inter-regional horse show this weekend at our pony club.

I volunteered to help out, thinking I'd be in the mess tent, serving coffee (free coffee) crepes (free crepes) and sandwiches (you got it - hot drinks and nibbles all day.) Inside warm tent. Gossip and leaning over the counter, or stepping out back to stand in front of the barbecue and get toasty.

Instead, I was put at the starting gate. Now, for those who don't know, a horse show has to be organizd in order to go smoothly. With each class having between 55 and 120 entries, you have to give out numbers to each entry, and they have to arrive in order on the show jumping ring. And there can't be any pauses, and you have to keep everyone moving. There is a little warm-up ring, where 2 or three jumps are set up, and the contestants arrive and warm up their ponies before being called into the ring.

I was in charge of calling all the riders into the ring. Of course, it never goes in order - someone is always late, fell off, forgot their boots, had a flat tire...so the gatekeeper (me) is trying to keep everyone happy ("Ok, you can go find your boots so you can go after number 22, and number 19, you can go as number 30 if you feel you have to rest after that massive fall you just took, and yes, number 54, if you absolutely have to leave, go right ahead. I'll just tell 20 to be patient.")

I was working as a team with the person in charge of filling up the warm-up ring, who had to make sure it was never too full or too empty. I had to deal with the irate trainers sayig things like "what do you mean my number 26 can't go right now, he's ready!" so I have to explain that for my sanity and for a minimum of order I wanted to try and keep the numbers in order...

And then it went to my head. "No, you can't wait five more minutes. You're number 45 and number 44 is in the ring. If you don't go now, you'll lose your turn. And don't argue. I'm in charge here."

I don't know if the pony club realized that I was a closet tyrant.

I had a great time. From 8 am to nearly 8 pm, I controlled the gate. (it's actually a big green rope) and had free crepes, coffee and sandwiches, (so it wasn't too bad). The weather was not bad either, and my daughter came in fifth in her class (over 120 in it!) and her place in the national finals is now official!


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Terrible Blogger Award

I'm giving myself the Terrible Blogger Award -
I haven't been blogging for ages - and yet, there is so much to blog about!
I'll try and catch up...

We've had strikes at the university for over 10 weeks now - number one son hasn't had classes since before Christmas, and he's in his second year of psychology studies. Number two son (second year biology studies) has had about one week of classes since Christmas. Both are bored and worried about exams and passing. Both have drowned their boredom and worries in marathon computer games with friends (also out of classes). I'd go crazy - but they are awfully helpful around the house so I'm actually not complaining - I'm just worried for them.
There seems to be no solution to the problem, and no end in sight. We still don't know what will happen with this semester.

Work is going well - I'm swamped, actually, with no time to write fiction, but a huge translating and illustrating job is on my plate, along with the usual jobs so that's keeping my busy.
Daughter is doing her pony club thing - lots of horse shows, and she's done so well this year she's landed herself in the national finals. Whoot! We're quite proud, but the horse shows take up a lot of time on weekends, and I feel as if I don't get anything done.

I'm also feeling sorry for the poor kid they caught and who is going on trial for piracy - anyone else think it's cruel? Nevermind - he'll probably be better fed, cared for and treated in a US prison than free at home in his country - but just thinking that makes me depressed. What kind of life can he have? I do think that the rich are far too rich and the poor far too poor. It's exaberated by the fact we can see how everyone else is living via TV and internet. Life is definetly not fair, and if there is a god, he/she is doing a crappy job if the job entailed making life good for everyone.

And the poor polo ponies that were killed by lethel injection in Palm Beach - what a terrible thing to have happened. No, polo is not regulated like racing - yes, it should be. No, it wasn't done on purpose, and no, it doesn't excuse the fact some idiot made a deadly mistake. If a horse is well trained and well fed, it certainly shouldn't need any kind of supplement or vitamins. As for steroids and pain killers, don't get me started.

My poor Labrador is ill. She has some sort of intestinal infection (I won't get into details...) We think she ate a hedgehog (Labradors are not the brightest bulbs in the dog-family chandelier) and so she is on a strict diet and antibiotics - and she is perfectly miserable (about the diet).
Out dachshund sympathises, but doesn't go as far as sharing his food.

Hubby is home from Spain and we played 9 holes of golf yesterday just because we felt like it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

rain, rashes, super mario....


It's raining - typical March blustery weather, but it's not freezing cold, so I don't mind.

I'm baking chocolate chip cookies, so the house smells nice and cozy.

My daughter and son have rashes on their arms. Both were out in the garden, so maybe they were bitten or brushed against some sort of poison plant. I'm taking them to the doctor tomorrow so he can see - it's sort of a poison-ivy looking rash, but there is none here in France, so I have no idea what it can be.

And my son uploaded all the Mario games to the Wii, so now my husband is happily playing the number 1 Super Mario game - the oldest one, where everything is 2 dimensional and you can only move forward or jump up and down. Strangely enough, it's our favorite, and we all fight to take turns to play.

:-)

Tomorrow my husband is off for 3 weeks in Spain! Lucky him - I bet the weather is lovely in Andalusia, where he's heading. (work contract - so that's good news!)

And hopefully we'll hear more about a contract in August while he's there. (fingers crossed)

But I'll miss him!!!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring!


It arrived last week.

First the crocus pushed its lone head out of the packed earth in my front garden and stood there, white and trembling. It cast no shadow. It kept its petals tightly closed, as if huddling against the cold. It should have waited. A few days later a watery ray of sunlight lit up a primrose, pink with excitement at being the first to bloom. The forsythia, not to be outdone, forced its flowers open and gold ran up and down the branches while violets, admirative, nodded tiny heads.

The sun finally gathered its strength and sent us a balmy week, which encouraged the grass to new heights and stirred the birds to song. Auguste has been chasing his nemesis - the wren - every morning at dawn as he runs out to pee...The wren teases him mercilessly, hopping just out of reach.

It's spring, and it means that every sunny day is torture to be inside, because spring is so fragile and the weather can slide back to winter at a whim. Teeshirts bunch beneath sweaters, coats hesitate on shoulders, and shorts are shaken out and inspected for moth holes.

And every cloud is a curse while blue skies promise - spring is here, and it will stay.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Free!

Head over to Calderwood Books this week and pick up a free e-book!
There's a new one every day - from romance to mystery to sci-fi and fantasy to children's books. Be kind to our planet. Try an e-book today!
CLICK HERE

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Madonna and Jesus!

I just read an article about Madonna and her new man, 22 yr old Jesus is dating the 50 yr old Madonna, and they seem to be having a good time.
My first reaction was, 'well, maybe she's finally found someone she can relate to', but that sounded petty, and so I revised it to 'If I was single and had a choice between a 50 yr old and a 22 yr old - I know exactly where I'd head -22 here I come!' - and to hell with conversation - quite frankly, it's highly overrated.
:-)
As Joan Collins said when prodded about her relation with a man thirty years her junior - "Well, if he dies, he dies."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

Dear Mr. President Obama,

Talking to my friends now and no one is flaunting their money; on the contrary - everyone is wryly ticking off lists of things they no longer do or own. It's suddenly chic to be poor. One woman said she was afraid to look at her investment portfolio - she's already lost a third of what she had in it. "A hundred thousand dollars, down the drain," she sighed.
Since I have exactly 700 euros in my bank account, and zip-zero in savings, and none in any kind of investment, I found it hard to sympathize. I mean, I felt sorry for her, sure, because she's a friend and her pain is real. But for me to really empathize, I think I'd have to had lost something too, and the only thing I've lost is my faith in capatalism.
A lot of my US pals are happy about you, Mr. President - and the richest ones are heading towards Switzerland to tuck their money in Swiss banks and out of your tax reach. That pisses me off. On one hand, I like these people - again, they're real friends. On the other hand, how on earth is any economy going to get back on its feet if it's leaking out the open doors and windows of high finance?

Mr. President, may I lay out my restructuring plan?

Step one: bring home the troops - and send them to Switzerland. We've honed our mountain attacks on Pakistan and Afghanistan, so we should be able to rout a few well-fed bankers. That money should be taxed at a fair rate. Most of those people are driving on roads paid for by taxes, using bridges built by taxes, and getting treatment in hospitals paid by taxes - maybe they should hold up their end of the deal?

Step two : point your missles at the off shore tax havens. An exonomist has said that the money stored away in those places would be enough to shore up the economy for years to come. Since most of that money comes from shady deals anyhow, you shouldn't feel any qualms about taking it all and spending it on a new deal to fix up America's wretched highways, trains, dams, and school system.

Step three : Do away with any kind of bonus and level the playing feild by capping saleries for everyone, including movie stars and sportsmen. Then raise minimum wage so that a person can have an honest job and still pay for rent and food. Now, wouldn't that be loverly?

Follow these three easy steps, and you'll have the economy back on its feet in no time.
Sincerely yours,
Sam

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pol Pot

The world is a stage, and right now there is a UN backed trial in Cambodia that is taking a lot of my attention. When the trial started, I looked for the defendants...and saw precious few of those who should be there. Echoing my thoughts is a great article by John Pilger:

"...It is highly unlikely Pot Pot would have come to power had President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, not attacked neutral Cambodia. In 1973, B-52s dropped more bombs on Cambodia's heartland than were dropped on Japan during the second world war: equivalent to five Hiroshimas. Files reveal that the CIA was in little doubt of the effect. "[The Khmer Rouge] are using damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda," reported the director of operations on May 2, 1973. "This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of a number of young men [and] has been effective with refugees."
Prior to the bombing, the Khmer Rouge had been a Maoist cult without a popular base. The bombing delivered a catalyst. What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot completed. Kissinger will not be in the dock in Phnom Penh. He is advising President Obama on geopolitics. Neither will Margaret Thatcher, nor a number of her retired ministers and officials who, in secretly supporting the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese had expelled them, contributed directly to the third stage of Cambodia's holocaust.
In 1979, the US and Britain imposed a devastating embargo on stricken Cambodia because its liberators, Vietnam, had come from the wrong side of the cold war. Few Foreign Office campaigns have been as cynical or as brutal. The British demanded that the now defunct Pol Pot regime retain the "right" to represent its victims at the UN and voted with Pol Pot in the agencies of the UN, including the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from working in Cambodia. To disguise this outrage, Britain, the US and China, Pol Pot's main backer, invented a "non communist" coalition in exile that was, in fact, dominated by the Khmer Rouge. In Thailand, the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency formed direct links with the Khmer Rouge.
In 1983, the Thatcher government sent the SAS to train the "coalition" in landmine technology - in a country more seeded with mines than anywhere except Afghanistan. "I confirm," Thatcher wrote to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, "that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with Khmer Rouge forces or those allied to them." The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the Major government was forced to admit to parliament that the SAS had been secretly training the "coalition".
Unless international justice is a farce, those who sided with Pol Pot's mass murderers ought to be summoned to the court in Phnom Penh: at the very least their names read into infamy's register.

johnpilger.com

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What was the worst 'lose your virginity story' you ever heard?

OK - this dates from a while ago when I read a 'Dear Abby' (or something) from a girl who complained that the day she lost her virginity was nothing special, in fact, it was a disaster, and she was embarassed to tell the truth about it because during a dinner party with girlfriends, they all said that their 'first time' was super romantic - so she Invented a story.
'Dear Abby' replied that most of her girlfriends had probably made up stories too - and that most 'first times' were pretty embarassing.
It got me to thinking. Not about my 'first time' - it was, believe me, nothing to write about, but about a person (Call her Dierdre) who told me this story, and I've been dying to write it down ever since. It was, by far, the most embarrasing 'first time' story I've ever heard. I've lost touch with Dierdre, so I'm counting on her not reading my blog - but anyway, the names have all been chaged to protect the...ridiculous.

Anyway, here is her story told in her words:

Deidre - (in a strong southern drawl) - My first time was with my cousin. Don't laugh. Our familes spent every Thanksgiving together ever since I was born. They drove down from Maryland, where they lived, and stayed for three days with us. I was sixteen that year, So, if you calculate right, I'd known my cousin for exactly 48 days which is pretty much how long people date before hopping in bed together, right?"

(At this point I think I wanted to say something, but I was afraid to stop the story...)

Deidre - I'd just gotten my driver's license, and my mother had forgotten a bunch of things at the grocery, so she sent me off to go shopping, and my cousin, Ken, came with me. He was cute, and I was pretty interested in him. We'd kissed a few times, and he didn't make a secret of the fact he was hot for me. As soon as we got in the car, he said, "Let's do it!" and I knew just what he wanted to do, and I said "Yes, but you got to wear a rubber". I might have been a virgin, I wasn't stupid. Ken agreed, and said he'd buy one from the distributor at the store. So after we finished shopping, he grabbed a rubber from the machine, and we hurried back to the car to find a secluded spot to park.

Me - Your first time was in a car?

Dierdre - Sort of. Anyhow. We parked the car in a pitch black alley between two closed stores, and took off our clothes. The grocery bags were in the way, so we put them in the front seat and climbed in the back. Ken took the rubber out and fumbled it, and it fell. We spent the next ten minutes searching for it, and when we found it, it was covered with chip crumbs and dog hair. I mean, this was a family car, you know? We only had one rubber, so we decided to wash it off. I remembered buying a bottle of seltzer water, so I groped in the bags and found a bottle. It was so dark, I couldn't see anything, but I leaned out the window, opened the bottle, and poured a good amount over the rubber. Right away I smelled alcohol, and realized I'd grabbed the vodka bottle. But what the heck - it would clean and disinfect, I thought, and I gave it to Ken without saying anything.
He put it on. He was lying on the seat, I was kneeling above him, and I was just about, you know, there, when suddenly he starts to whimper.

Ken - Shit man, it's burning! I think I'm allergic to rubber!

Dierdre - I lost my balance and slipped, and I lost my virginity with a guy who was crying hysterically and doing his level best to get away from me and peel the rubber off. I grabbed a handful of tissue from the box (we always had Kleenex in the car - with kids and dogs and stuff) and I helped Ken clean himself off. He wrapped the rubber in the Kleenex and I stuffed the wad in my pocket, figuring I'd throw it in the first garbage can I saw. We dressed and drove home; but I could tell Ken was not feeling good. He walked bow-legged into the house and didn't even help carry the shopping. My mom and my aunt were at the door, and they started asking us where we were and what had taken us so long. And then my aunt saw the half-empty vodka bottle, and started to yell at us, asking us if we'd lost our minds, and what were we thinking, drinking and driving, and I could have gotten her son killed, and me too.
Ken was looking green by now, and I thought the vodka was a pretty good alibi. But the poor kid did have an almighty allergic reaction to the vodka-soaked rubber, and he spent the next three days squirming in pain, and he finally broke down and confessed to his dad what had happened.

Me - Did you get in trouble?

Dierdre - No, my uncle was cool and didn't tell my mom, but that was the last Thanksgiving we spent with them - after that, there was always some excuse. And I didn't see my cousin until his wedding.

Me - I bet I can guess what you got him.

Deirdre - Yup - a case of vodka.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Writer's True Confessions

I have a writer friend who writes for Truest Confessions. At first I was shocked - aren't those confessions supposed to be true? I imagined the thousands of people who bought the magazine and read about 'The Baby I hid from my Husband for Fifteen Years', Or, 'I was Seduced by my Best Friend's Great-Grandfather - and Now We're Married' and believe they were true. My friend says she dreams up about ten scenarios a month and sends them in. The magazine knows they're not true - but I suppose, if I buy the magazine and read the fine print, it will say something about most stories being 'fictionalized' accounts.
Just for fun, I tried to write some.
I tried to write a first person POV account of a girl who married a man who claimed he was rich, and found out she'd married a homeless, jobless, pathological liar. I couldn't.
I can write fiction all day long, but as soon as I tried to write something that was supposed to be true, my creativity dried up.
I tried again. I started with a woman who's husband turns out to be a woman. I got stuck. I couldn't write a word. It was awful. But when the husband turned into an alien, I was off and running. Extra appendages, different planet, silver spaceship - no problem.
I tried again!
This time I was a girl sold into slavery by her deliquent aunt to pay her gambling debts. I got to the part where I was slaving away in the basement washing the laundry for the sleazy hotel when I got stuck again, and it was not until my mother's ghost came and talked to me was I able to get the story going again - of course, Truest Confessions told me they didn't accept 'paranormal' stories. (Unless they were true - or confessions, I suppose.)

So here I am - a fiction writer incapable of making up true confessions. It's aggravating.I will have to stick to things I know - like making up stories...period!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Junk Science

Look people, just get over it. Vaccinations don't cause autism. Cell phones don't cause brain cancer. Phthalates pose no health threat to children. Read this and learn something.

http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.1751/pub_detail.asp

One thing I've learned in my job is that the lunatic fringe is loud and dangerous. And speaking of the lunatic fringe, news has it that the cancer panel set up by President Obama to research possible links between cancer and ionizing and non-ionizing radiation has asked UK’s activist Eileen O'Connor for her views on the issue. Now, Eileen O'Conner is an activist and member of an interest group which, for the past few years, has battled against the deployment of cell phone towers in the UK and Ireland.
Listen, if you want to go back to the middle ages, fine, Ms. O'Conner - but leave the rest of us alone. And her giving views on cancer (she's not a scientist and she apparently ignores all the research done on EMF's) is like that blithering idiot Jenny McCarthy being asked to express her (scientific, right?) views on vaccinations.

And now I attack the world financial system.
My suggestion? Well, if I were in charge, countries known for being tax havens would be scrambling to dump all their illegal assets and join the real world. It's no fun bombing third-world countries to dust - and there's no profit in it. However, geting Switerland or Monacco to cough up the billions they owe in taxes would be Fun. I think we're long overdo for a revolution.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Saturday Night Live skit

THE FORBIDDEN Saturday Night Live SKIT SNL did a "Bailout" skit, which has created some rather awkwardproblems for NBC. They spiked the video and tried to shut it downon the Internet. But aha, there's still some sites that have it.

http://msunderestimated.com/SNLBailoutSkit.wmv


(And just to clear up one thing - yes, Clinton did relax the laws concerning property aquisition, but nothing, absolutely nothing like the Bush administration's complete abandon of any sort of common-sense control.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Survived the Bush Years

I'm thinking of making a new tee-shirt (get out an old plain one and some indelible ink markers...)

I SURVIVED THE BUSH YEARS

(and on the back)

UNLIKE
500,000 IRAQUIS
50,000 AFGHANS
and over
5,000 AMERICANS

Saturday, January 17, 2009


The cold has fled and the rain has settled in. I haven't seen the sun in three days. My shadow is missing. Bleak and gray describe it best - and I must have a streak of groundhog in me, or bear, because all I want to do is hibernate until spring come back again!

I took the dogs for a walk in the drizzle today - they don't mind if it's rainy or sunny - Auguste's tail wagged the whole way. Nothing much else to report - school started again, the house is quiet during the day, and I've started work again (keeps me busy, thank goodness, or I might start really cleaning the house or something!)
I read 'The Pyramid' by Henning Menkall and loved it. Another great mystery book by an incredible author.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Roast!

The Book Roast Team: Blogless Troll, Christine Eldin, Dee, Diesel, Jason Evans, Sarah Laurenson, and Shona Snowden, were back in action Monday, January 12.

They're hosting a party that includes one hot publisher, two terrific agents, and six fabulous authors. (I insist on the fabulous part because I (yes, 'moi'!) am among them!

The schedule is below: Monday, Jan 12: Mystery Publisher
Tuesday, Jan 13: Eric Stone
Wednesday, Jan 14: Agent Lucienne Diver
Thursday, Jan 15: Barrie Summy
Saturday, Jan 17: Elysabeth Eldering
Monday, Jan 19: Mystery Publisher
Tuesday, Jan 20: Traci E Hall
Wednesday, Jan 21: Maggie Stiefvater
Thursday, Jan 22: Agent Nathan Bransford
Friday, Jan 23: Jennifer Macaire (Please drop by that day and visit! Actually, drop by all days, it's a lot of fun!)

Check it out here

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More about snow

Well, the thrill of winter has gone - it happened on the second day when we woke up and there was no water - the pipes were frozen. Everyone had to go to school - work - Paris, so I was left holding the hair dryer, sitting in the frozen shed with the water pipes, a pile of newspaper, and a halogen light I grabbed from the living room.

I thawed the pipes, wrapped them in newspaper, noticed a joint was leaking slightly (Old, rusty pipes - they ned to be replaced ASAP) and set up the halogen light so it was shining on them and (hopefully) creating a little pocket of warmth in the cold. It was - 14C, which works out to be about 8°F.
The next morning the pipes froze again, and this time my husband volonteered to man the hair dryer. I re-wrapped the pipes (the newspaper had fallen off) and then wrapped them again with a polo wrap for horses, lol. Bright red. Very festive. Light is still on in the shed, so our electricity bill will be be horrid for this month.
But it's lovely to walk in the snow, play in the snow, slide in the snow, and throw snowballs at everyone.