Thursday, August 16, 2007
It has been thirty years since Elvis Presley died. It hardly seems possible. Throughout life there are a handful of events in which one can remember where they were and what they were doing when it happened. Things like the Kennedy assassination, your wedding ceremony, birth of a child, 9-11, a special celebration, are usually recalled with vivid memory. For many of us, the day Elvis died is imprinted in our memory.
I was at my arts and craft store, and decided to go across the street to the hometown drug store and buy a snack. I was paying for my candy bars when a small radio sitting on the shelf behind the cashier, announced the news of Elvis’ death. Unbelievable. I walked out, and stood on the corner feeling sadness, feeling a loss of an old friend. I never saw Elvis in person.
It all began for me in 1956. Some years back I wrote this, through the eyes of the teenager I once was:
Sharon was still excited as we went into the small record store a short distance from our homes. She had been excited since the previous day when she called to share her discovery with me. She told me I wouldn't believe my ears. But who was this guy anyway? I had never heard of him before. What a funny name. Elvis?
The owner of the store put the 45 record on the turntable and the music began. Wow! Sharon had been right. I could not believe my ears.
What a song, what a voice! Where had this guy come from? She had told me last night on the telephone that he was good looking and as I listened to the music I studied his face on the poster that was hanging on the wall. What an understatement she had made. This guy was gorgeous, and man, so sexy. Look at those eyes! I do not believe that charisma or sex appeal was really a part of my vocabulary then but it would not be long before those words became attached to his name in my mind.
The store owner was trying to sell us. Heck, he did not have to do that. Who wouldn't have wanted to take Elvis home with them? Any young girl in her right mind would and he told us that if we bought the record we would also receive an Elvis poster along with it. We could not dig the money out of our purses fast enough.
Elvis was going home with each of us! We were in love!
Let me tell you, that guy would never find himself at the end of some lonely street in some run-down hotel. No, not if the two of us were around. You could bet on that!
A few months later, we were at our local theater numerous times watching Love Me Tender.
Now, fifty-one years later, I see on television the tens of thousands who are in Memphis to honor Elvis. Wednesday night 50,000 were expected at a candlelight vigil at Graceland. People have come from Europe and Asia, from everywhere, to Memphis.
Elvis hasn’t died. Not really....
P.S. Sharon and I have been friends since we were six years old! A long time!
Monday, August 13, 2007
I recently attended a book signing by best-selling author, Catherine Coulter at a local used bookstore in Roseville. Nancy had alerted me to the fact that Coulter would be appearing. Nancy reads her books and was looking forward to the latest FBI Thriller, Double Take, featuring husband and wife special agents, Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock.
I decided to attend to get Nancy an autographed copy of the hardcover for her upcoming birthday.
Catherine writes historical romance and contemporary suspense thrillers. Her publishing career is rather impressive. Her first romance was published in 1978 and she has written more than fifty books. Since the publication of her first FBI thriller her books have been best sellers.
I may have read some of her earlier books, I don’t know, but I have not read any of these thrillers. I did get an autographed copy for myself, and one of the early ones in the series. The bookstore had brought in new copies of every book she wrote so there was a big choice of her writing.
Coulter spoke for 45 minutes or more before signing. She’s an attractive, petite woman and had on a nice stylish brown suit and brown pumps with a 3 or 4 inch heel. Her skirt was much too high above the knee, inches, and should be left to those under 30 years of age. (She’ll be 65 in December, but does look damn good for her age...my age). She is apparently known for "her legs" as she was recently voted "Best Legs" at a Romance Writers Convention in San Diego. She was interesting, humorous, and answered questions from her fans. I say her fans, because many of the group of 30-40 people knew her characters in several of her series well. Although I do not call myself a fan, I do respect the success of any writer and always want to know more about his or her creative drive and writing process.
She stood and moved around as she spoke, and even remained standing throughout the book signing. By the way, I think she did a very nice personal inscription for Nancy, wishing her a Happy Birthday.
But as I found myself envious of Catherine before long. I’m not an envious person at all, but I was envious and irritated as time went on. Why, you ask? Was it her success as a writer? NO. Her obvious wealth from collecting all those royalties? NO. Was it her appearance? NO. It was her SHOES! Every time I looked at her SHOES it irritated me. Why, you ask? Because I was standing in sandals with sore feet and a bad low back. I was in pain, and for minutes I would forget my pain as I concentrated and enjoyed what she was saying. Then I’d see the high heels again, the shoes! I was envious of her ability to wear heels of that height and be on her feet for more than two and a half hours, and looking very comfortable the whole time. Although the bookstore had refreshments and bottled water (great for a 100 degree day) they failed to provide CHAIRS. So there we all were, standing, shifting from one foot to another, holding our backs, and I was not the only one very uncomfortable. At least part of the time I had the frame of the plate glass window to lean against (hoping we did not have an earthquake roll through Northern CA). I’ve never been able to wear high heels, even in my younger days, and have always loved heels with jeans.
The woman who had arranged for Catherine’s signing there, Kim, had her own used bookstore here in town until a few months ago. I did a book signing there with my friend, author Evelyn Fuqua about three years ago. I told Kim for the next author signing they have to have chairs, and if not, I will not be there!
I did meet two other authors there who had come for Catherine’s signing. Brenda Novak who has published a number of romance and romantic suspense novels and Robin Burcell who will have her fourth novel published early 2008. Both are award winners. I liked them both. I wish we’d had more time to have discussions about writing. I would have enjoyed that. They both live in the area and Coulter lives in Sausalito, above San Francisco.
For future book signings, NO HEELS ALLOWED! Only sandals, boots, flats, tennies, and oh, slippers.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
was taken by Jim Gehrz, award-winning photographer for the Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul.
His photograph really says it all....
Photograph Copyright 2007 by Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Harry Potter is about to hit the bookstores and quickly jump into readers’ hands at 12:01 Saturday, July 21st. This 7th and last book in J.K. Rowling’s series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has already accumulated pre-orders of 2 million books, well above the previous record of the 6th Potter book.
The book has been Number One on Amazon for many days over the last six months or more. A few times it may have been bumped from first place for a short-lived book. According to the July 9 issue of Publishers Weekly, the book has had the highest number of Amazon pre-orders in history, one million books! The 12 million first printing is expected to fly off shelves, and although I haven’t heard, I would guess it may be into a second printing or will be before long.
The Harry Potter Series of the six prior books have sold 27.7 million books in the U.S. alone, and 22.5 copies in the UK. In addition it has been translated into more than 63 languages, with German and Japanese editions doing especially well, resulting in worldwide copies of the series so far, reaching 325 million copies. You can imagine how that figure will jump as the new publication is translated in coming months.
As we know, there are always people out there who will try and ruin things for others. Her UK publisher Bloomsbury is taking immediate legal action as a result of leaks and breaking of the on-sale legal agreements, with information of the book popping up on the Internet. Scholastic, her U.S. publisher, issued a statement asking fans to "please not spoil the book for the rest of we Harry Potter fans who are eagerly awaiting the final installment of the Harry Potter series and to help ‘preserve the fun and excitement for fans everywhere’."
Rowling has posted this message on her website as of July 18:
"We are almost there! As launch night looms, let’s all, please ignore the misinformation popping up on the web and in the press on the plot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’d like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day. In a very short time you will know EVERYTHING!"
I’ve been happy for J.K. Rowling’s success as a writer, and it has turned out to be quite an incredible success. She is richer than the Queen of England and the # 2 richest in the entertainer category, just behind Oprah. J.K. Rowling is the highest earning novelist in literary history and it is well deserved.
From the first I heard of her Harry Potter book, I have been intrigued how the story came to her during a four hour train ride. Not just the idea for a book, but the plot for a series of seven books! And the "dream" came to her when she was down-and-out as a struggling, single mother. A beautiful success story!
It’s so ironic and, I suppose, satisfying to me that the books have been such a world-wide success after the outcry from some religious groups and others who wanted the books banned. It is a good example how those outcries were based on fear, and control, instead of looking at Harry Potter and gang as a magical and fictional fantasy story of good, enjoyable (and harmless) entertainment enjoyed by children and adults, alike.
Google presently lists 4,780,000 references to the title Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That shows how powerful words are.
As Lord Byron said years ago: "Words are things; and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think."
The Next Food Network Star competition is down to the final two on Sunday night. I’ve enjoyed the show this year as much as I did last season’s.
I had been cheering for contestant Paul McCullough, a self-taught chef and successful caterer from Los Angeles. I was very disappointed when he was eliminated as I thought he had the best personality and stage presence and would have been enjoyable to watch on a cooking show.
Jag, the contestant who was chosen one of the final two, the other being Rory Schepisi, was not a favorite at all. Although he seemed to be a very good cook, his personality appeared somewhat unpredictable. I doubt he would have been the best choice for a show. And as it turned out he left the show when it was discovered he had fudged on personal information he had given the Food Network. It’s too bad, but I imagine he will have other opportunities in his career.
Amy Finley, the third in line, was brought back and the final vote is now between Rory and Amy. Although Amy has done well, and seems fairly good in front of the camera, the theme of her cooking appears to be more gourmet and French than I am interested in. Rory’s cooking theme is more every day, down to earth, and I believe I would prefer to watch her show. And because she was chosen as finalist, I think she deserves to win. We’ll see what happens Sunday after the viewer vote is counted. (I fooled around and didn’t get my vote for Rory).
My favorite Food Network Show is Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa. I enjoy her quiet style and manner. I also like Paula Deen. Paula is forever humorous and never boring. Next would be Rachel Ray, Michael Chiarello, Bobby Flay, and Emeril Lagasse. I also like Iron Chef. I’m far from a gourmet cook, and I don’t cook seafood, so often the dishes prepared are not what I’m interested in cooking, or eating, for that matter.
I am also watching Bravo’s Top Chef again. I like the judges, and the challenge’s are really challenges! Amazing how they come through on some of those challenges.
These two reality shows are the kind I like. (Also American Idol and Dancing With the Stars). I’ve been watching American Inventor again this season. This weekend, Home and Garden TV’s Design Star’s new season begins, so I will be catching that one, also.
It seems my TV throughout the day is most always on Food Network or Home and Garden if not on the cable news, MSNBC or CNN. I do get a lot of reruns though, even on the news channels.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Michael Moore’s appearance on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and last night on Larry King with Dr. Gupta is exactly why I have respect for Moore and his work. He is brilliant and has passion for what is right.
See interviews at Michael Moore's website: http://www.michaelmoore.com/
I look forward to seeing Sicko soon, and I plan to buy it on DVD. It’s people such as Michael Moore who have a platform at their toe-tips to climb upon with passion and address the slanted (or lack of) news, the corruption, special interests (oil, pharmaceutical, insurance, automakers, etc.) and inadequacies we have in this country (and elsewhere). I have been on my tiny platform blogging about the lack of responsibility of the news media, the "art" of distraction of the administration and media, and everyone I know is so fed up with what the media presents repeatedly day in and day out. Paris Hilton being the most recent example. People have nonchalantly accepted for too long.
It occurred to me a long time ago, in the hot August summer of 1962, during the Watts Riot that the TV stations were giving slanted news, in that case, the local Los Angeles TV stations. I also had a mother-in-law during those early years who believed every word she read in the newspaper without question, even though it would be brought to her attention by those in the know that the article was not factual. But she would dismiss that and say the "paper said...." Makes me again wonder how many people either ignore any news, or only listen to sound bites, and never investigate stories on their own. I suppose polls that show 18 % of people, even now, believe that Saddam Hussein is the one who caused and carried out 9-11, tells us how some people don’t look for answers, and buy into all the slanted news or actions of their administration without question or further fact checking, or maybe just don’t give a darn what is happening to their country.
We deserve universal medical care in this country. Hillary tried very hard to get it going but was shot down a few years ago. I never dreamed I would be anxious to turn sixty five so I could have Medicare. For the last four years I have been paying $15,100 a year for my group medical insurance premiums, and a couple of my medications were not even covered. In three weeks I get Medicare coverage. With AARP supplemental and Part D RX, it will now cost me less than $2000 a year. I have had medical insurance since I was 18 years old, and always refused to have an HMO, and when I moved back to CA and learned what my premiums would be I tried to get Blue Cross and was turned down. I was without insurance for a month and was in a panic. I know you know well the medical insurance situation and cost of drugs. It is shameful the drug companies spend billions on advertising and will not lower drug prices, and that the insurance companies control our lives, the amount of medical care we receive, and when we receive it. And some think their doctors are Gods, and do not question treatment, refuse treatment, or demand second opinions.
I admire those such as Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell, Elizabeth Edwards, Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann, Lou Dobbs, Gen. Wesley Clark, Jimmy Carter, Angelina Jolie, Bono, Madonna, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jon Bon Jovi, Bill Gates; Melissa Etheridge, Oprah, and a few others who speak out boldly about world wide issues and hopefully give people something to think about. I may not always agree with each of them on all issues, but I like what they stand for:
Boldly Speaking Out.
Positive Action for the Benefit of Others.
Are Visionary Thinkers.
Do Charitable Work.
Challenge the Apparent Wrongs.
Have Humanitarian and Spiritual Values.
Use their Platform for Positive Outcomes.
Passion for What They Believe In.
Those are reasons they have my respect and admiration. I mention John Edwards’ wife here because she confronted (with calmness and respect) Ann Coulter about the hateful and outrageous comments that Coulter repeatedly writes in her books and says on TV appearances. And I blame the media for giving Coulter the platform to spread hate and falsehoods.
Elizabeth Edwards is a classy, intelligent, compassionate, and sincere woman, and I would love to see her as First Lady.
For some people in this country, it has taken four years to think, to pay attention, and come to the conclusion the Iraq war was wrong. There are still about 23% who do not believe the war has gone badly. (Apparently G. W. Bush is one of the 23 % as he just stated, we will "win this fight in Iraq.")
It’s too bad we couldn’t have a country where there was equality and respect for every person, and where political affiliation was out of the picture and our government representatives did not have self-interest, special interest, as their motivating factor, and corruption, greed, and power were absent. A world like that is only a figment of our imagination, I guess. But we can dream....of that kind of world for our grandchildren, if only they pay attention and keep their eyes open, they may move a little closer to that fantasy, that now seems so lost to us.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
We have a determined president–a president who is determined to go against the majority of the citizens in our country, once again. Wednesday, for the second time he vetoed the Stem Cell Research Bill. Scientific research which could save hundreds of millions of Americans from devastating diseases–hundred of millions of people who could greatly benefit from the research and use of stem cells, now and in the future. Whatever the majority of Americans want, we can be assured we will not get it from this Administration. Obviously, it is more important to George W. Bush to follow his own personal agenda. Again, I cringed when I saw his comments with his usual grin/sneer when he pats himself on the back for achieving his personal goal.
How does the man look himself in the mirror every morning? Maybe Laura shaves his face so he doesn’t have to look. He pretends he cares about life?–And moral issues? Sure, he does. He’s shown us how he does by allowing this war to go on, daily military deaths, Iraqi civilian deaths, lack of response to Katrina, ignoring other terrible atrocities taking place in the world, and holding us in fear (if we allow it) of the invasion of Iran or another "enemy" at any time. Seems to me we have an egotistical nut for a president who cares not for human life.
I’m not happy with Congress, either. It is time they stood up for what their constituents want instead of playing the political game. A few Republicans are in favor of the Stem Cell Research, but only in favor if they feel it may gain votes for them? Obviously not enough of Congress is willing to go along with what the majority of the American people are in favor of and override the veto.
Senator John Edwards released the following statement June 20th criticizing President Bush's veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act:
"President Bush had a simple choice today: direct the full force of American scientific ingenuity towards responsible, life-saving medical research or pander to a narrow segment of his political base. With his veto, he made the wrong choice, pushing medical breakthroughs that could help millions of Americans further away. We need a president who will embrace science-driven policy, rather than politically-biased science."
And Senator Obama stated:
"By vetoing funding for stem cell research once again, the President is deferring the hopes of millions of Americans who do not have the time to keep waiting for the cure that may save or extend their lives. The promise that stem cells hold does not come from any particular ideology, it is the judgment of science, and we deserve a President who will put that judgment first and make this promise real for the American people."
And Hillary Clinton said something along the same lines. Why does it take a Democratic name tag, for the most part, to attempt to stand up for what the majority of Americans want? Our voices are lost in the political, special interest, and corrupt roar that comes out of Washington.
As a child in school, when time came to give a quarter or so for mice to be used in scientific research at a place such as the City of Hope in Southern CA, I decided that research was important and that God intended science to do research, or we would be ignorant to the fact that scientific research could find cures for diseases. And I was only eight years old when I came to that conclusion. Maybe some of these politicians need to go back to elementary school to learn that science and God can blend perfectly well.
Note: I was about ready to post this blog when I turned on The View on TV. The topic was Bush’s veto of the Stem Cell Bill. Joy Baher’s comment brought me laughter (she often makes me laugh) when she said we should ask if George Bush is "Smarter Than a Fifth Grader." We all should be asking that!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
It appears "distraction" has become a skillfully planned endeavor, not only by the Bush Administration but by our news media. I’m beginning to wonder why we put up with it. I had considered last night adding comments about that to my blog and then this morning I read an article by an Associated Press reporter concerning the lack of coverage of the Iraq war by Cable News, with the so-called "fair and balanced" Fox News Channel devoting the least amount of time to it.
Not any surprise that Fox News does not give the war its proper coverage, and the other news outlets are not far behind. They don’t have time to fit it into the ridiculous coverage of something like Paris Hilton’s in, out, and in jail, with Fox News covering that all day and night.
According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, during the first three months of this year, Fox spent half as much time covering the Iraq war than MSNBC, and considerably less than CNN. During day time news hours, the Iraq war occupied 20 percent of CNN’s daytime news and 18 percent of MSNBC’s. And Fox, only about 6 percent of the time.
Why are we not demanding decent and honest coverage of the war, of poverty in our country, the unresolved Katrina victims’ issues, the poor education of our children, the medical insurance and pharmaceutical disaster, the too-often recall of the food we eat, the government corruption, unsafe borders and ports, the many other inefficiencies of our government, and atrocities and starvation taking place in other parts of the world?
Why do we settle for sound bites, news repeated every few minutes, less and less live coverage of news events, slanted news, confrontational interviews, and other failings of good investigative reporting? CNN’s Anderson Copper 360 seems to be about the only reporter who attempts to give us good and reasonable on- the-spot news coverage.
Why is the media ignoring the horrors of the war: 3508 of our military Dead, 104 of those in April, 126 in May, and of June 7, 29 so far, 25,830 wounded, 111 suicides? One of ten soldiers from the war have been hospitalized in Europe for mental conditions. Suicide bombings, car bombs, and roadside bombs have doubled in the last year (712 to 1476). Today a bridge bombing injured our military with unconfirmed degree of injury and number. And 65,000 plus Iraq deaths since the beginning of our invasion, with numbers climbing daily.
Do we welcome these distractions so we don’t have to think about reality? Is it easier to watch Paris Hilton’s hysteria than to take a hard look at the reality of war? Do we get a kick out of watching the reporters mob the Sheriff’s car to get a photograph of the crying Paris? Does that keep us from thinking about a car bomb at a check point in Bagdad? Does her apparent need for treatment for a nervous breakdown keep us from thinking about a soldier’s breakdown from fighting a war?
Do we enjoy seeing our smiling president telling the Pope how the U.S. is stepping up humanitarian aid to improvised countries? Or enjoy his "leader of the free world" status to the Albanians, while at the same time he threatens Iran, may be on the verge of making the cold war hot again, is unwilling to listen to the majority of Americans who believe the Iraq war was wrong and it is time get out now, and is even defiant in his steadfast stand?
I do not consider any actions of Bush and Cheney to be humanitarian. Their actions are not making this a better world. Their motives are about power, greed, and oil, and they do their best to convince us otherwise with distortions, lies, fear, and distraction. It is people like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Oprah, Bono, Sting, Angelina Jolie, Jimmy Carter, and many others who are making the world a better place with their humanitarian actions. And thank goodness for them.
"The measure of a man is what he does with power." ~ Pittacus (650?-569? B.C.)
Saturday, June 9, 2007
I have added a Bookstore to my official Don Pendleton Website, featuring copies of books, Comics, and bookmarks, by Don Pendleton and Linda Pendleton. I have included several of Don Pendleton’s Joe Copp, Private Eye mysteries in hardcover and paperback, Executioner: Mack Bolan Comics (some autographed), and additional fiction and nonfiction books by Don and/or Linda Pendleton.
I have designed bookmarks featuring Don Pendleton’s well-known quote, "Live Large," the theme of his Executioner: Mack Bolan original series of novels. Don Pendleton is acknowledged as the "father of the modern Action/Adventure novel." In 1997, the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume II (H-O) was published and gives derivation credit for "live large" to Don Pendleton and his Executioner Series of novels. The phrase has become common usage in recent times.
I also have bookmarks with Dr. James Martin Peebles’ quotations. All items are available for purchase through Paypal.
Visit the Pendleton Bookstore at: http://www.donpendleton.com/bookstore.htm
Saturday, June 2, 2007
One thing I miss is not having a vegetable garden. I’ve often had one. During the 1970s in Southern CA, my family and several of the neighbors each had gardens. We all grew tomatoes and zucchini, and other vegetables. I love zucchini cooked in several ways: steamed with light Italian seasoning, fried, boiled, and in omelets. If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know it grows fast. One day you see the small yellow blossom, and before you know it, it’s ready to pick. I think you can hear them growing in the dark of night! A couple of summers in that neighborhood, we all had such big crops of zucchini and tomatoes we should have opened a farmers market on the street corner. LOL. Instead, we made loaves of zucchini bread, canned many jars of pickled zucchini, and all swore that we would take turns each summer planting crops. But by the time the next spring came, we were all planting our own gardens again.
"One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth."
Dorothy Gurney (1858-1932).
I believe Nancy and I had an appreciation for flower and vegetable gardens from an early age. Loved working the rich soil with hands, and loved the results of our planting. This early picture of us shows how we loved getting dirty and eating our fresh grown carrots. :-)
How’s this for a zucchini? This was from Don’s and my garden in Southern CA. Normally we picked zucchini when much smaller, but you know how it is: they can hide under the big leaves!
Two additional quotes I like are:
"I found that when I talk to the little flower or to the little peanut they will give up their secrets...." ~George Washington Carver (1864-1943).
and as our distant cousin Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) said:
"Die when I may, I want it said by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow."
So maybe Nancy and I have an appreciation for gardens in our genes....
P.S. Update: Apparently Delta and Dawn swam under the Golden Gate Bridge out into the Pacific, during the night hours Tuesday.
Monday, May 28, 2007
It appears Delta and Dawn are now determined to return to the Pacific Ocean. After undergoing shooting streams of water from fire hoses, tissue sample extractions, and injected antibiotics, Friday and Saturday, on Sunday afternoon the pair began to move rather determinedly downstream. By Sunday evening they were spotted just east of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge area, and today they are continuing their travel and as long as they don’t veer off the proper path they should find their way into San Francisco Bay and then out to sea soon. The Coast Guard are keeping a close watch on them and I assume ready with the shooting water streams if they change direction.
It has been two weeks since they were spotted inland. I read an estimate on Delta’s size as being about 45 feet long, 60,000 to 70,000 lbs, and the calf likely to be a large one year old or a small two year old.
I’m still curious, as many are, including scientist, as to what made them swim inland and into fresh water, and then to suddenly decide to now retrace their path from the ocean. Fascinating.
Let’s hope they are able to make their way through San Francisco Bay and dodge any ships that may be there.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I’ve been wondering if Delta and Dawn are related to Humphrey?
If you haven’t been catching the news this past week, you may not have any idea what the heck I’m writing about. Delta and Dawn are names given to two wayward humpback whales, a mother and her calf, who have wandered inland more than ninety miles to the port of Sacramento, CA. Humphrey is the 40 foot, 40 ton, humpback whale who made nearly the same excursion in 1985. He went as far as Rio Vista, twenty miles or so south of the port of Sacramento. He wondered around the deep channel for nearly a month before swimming back to the Golden Gate area and out to sea. Then in 1990 he was spotted again inland at the Bodega Bay area. His adventure nearly ended when he beached himself in the mud in San Francisco. He was last seen in 1991. There is a plaque at Rio Vista honoring Humphrey’s Sacramento River journey. Many of the people out observing Delta and Dawn are children and grandchildren of those who saw Humphrey on his travels.
Delta and Dawn, names picked by choice of local television viewers, were spotted in the Sacramento River up stream of Rio Vista, May 14. Take a look at a map and see how amazing their journey has been from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento. The deep channel is not very wide at all. When they arrived at the port area the other day, they swam in circles, unable to go further north because of locks. On Friday, the coast guard and marine mammal people used whale sounds in the hopes of tempting them to start a swim south but that did not work. They decided to leave them alone for the weekend and then on Sunday they started to move south and went as far as the Rio Vista bridge, but then turned around and headed north again. The Coast Guard, Fish and Game, and County Sheriff’s put a floatilla of about 25 boats in action today to discourage their movement north but by late Monday afternoon they were about five miles north of the Rio Vista bridge heading toward the port again. The experts believe the bridge may have stressed them, with the vibrations of traffic crossing, etc., causing them to reverse their course again.
Monday they had hoped to insert a tag tracking device in Delta but put that off until Tuesday. They did take a tissue sample for genetic study from her to check her health and identify what pod they may be from. They also began banging on pipes underwater from the boats to encourage their movement away, and plan to use that device again Tuesday morning.
Another question I have is what would make whales leave their migration route and stray so far from the ocean? I don’t think the scientist can answer that unless a reason is that the mammal is ill. So that leaves another possibility: maybe some time back, Humphrey mentioned his adventures and this mother had nothing else to do but do some inland exploration. Let’s hope she hasn’t got herself and her young calf into a situation she cannot get out of.
Oh, one more question comes to mind. How do the experts know that Delta and Dawn are female. They said that from the beginning of the sighting. I assume the calf swims with the mother but they have stated the calf is female. Does it have to do with coloration? Or?
For some great video of the adventures of Delta and Dawn check out the Sacramento Television station web site. They’ve had great coverage.
The natural migration of birds, butterflies, and mammals has always fascinated me. The swallows returning every March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, to San Juan Capistrano Mission; the Monarch butterflies to Pacific Grove in Northern CA; the whales; the birds. And I believe they communicate with each other. You know how it is: put out bird seed when not a single bird is in sight, and soon you have one bird, and within minutes a whole flock arrives to scatter seed!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The Authors Guild (of which I’ve been a member since 1990) sent out a notice to members early this week to let us know that publisher, Simon and Schuster has made changes to their standard contracts with authors. Traditionally all major publishers follow the practice in which rights to a work revert to the author if the book falls out of print or if its sales are low. Their new contract language apparently will no longer include minimum sales requirement for a work to be considered in print, and the work would remain under their exclusive control as long as it is available in any form, including through its own in-house data base (POD) and not even available to be ordered by traditional bookstores. In essence, this would amount to an exclusive grants of right in perpetuity. And as the Authors Guild suggests, this would effectively mean the publisher would co-own the author’s copyright.
The Authors Guild, who represents thousands of writers, states this is unacceptable. And most authors and agents would agree! This is very troubling. It will mean more negotiation for an author to protect his rights. Simon and Schuster is now stating that the Authors Guild is over-reacting and that they will negotiate reversion clauses on a "book-by-book basis."
An author wants to have control of his work. Books normally have a short shelf life, sometimes as short as three or four months, unless it really catches on. In this scenario, Simon and Schuster could publish a book, and it might have a short run, and even after a reasonable length of time when rights traditionally and usually revert, they could continue to consider the book "in print" as a Print on Demand, forever.
In many cases, an author wants to take back the rights of out-of-print books so they can give their work a new life with a new publisher. That happens often. When Don Pendleton’s six Joe Copp, Private Eye novels and six Ashton Ford, Psychic Detective novels were out of print, I asked for the rights back and soon put them into print again.
Richard S. Prather is another example: his Shell Scott mystery series is available again after many years, and his 1952 novel, The Peddler, was published a few months ago by Hard Case Crime.
I’m sure we will be hearing more on this from literary agents and authors. It’s difficult enough negotiating a decent contract without having this added issue.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
A couple of my favorite roses are the Brandy Rose, above, and the Peace Rose, below. I took the photos a couple of days ago.
Friday, April 13, 2007
What we have experienced this past week has been the all too familiar tactics of what our media has become. The media apparently was done with tearing down Anna Nicole Smith and Howard K. Stern, and jumped at the opportunity to ruin someone else, i.e. Don Imus. Recently I’ve been watching some of Imus’ MSNBC show if I happened to be awake in the wee hours of the morning. I enjoyed all I saw. I liked the up-to-the-minute news, the political interviews, and the singers, etc. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Imus, but I found the show interesting.
His cancellation by MSNBC and then his radio show firing by CBS was uncalled for and an overreaction. Imus’ comment was offensive and I do not condone his words aimed directly at the Rutgers girl’s college basketball team. He never should have said those words, but he did, and took responsibility and apologized. And that should have ended it. But instead Al Sharpton, Jackson, and others, used it as an opportunity to elevate themselves and their agenda. Were those three words worth a man losing his forty year career? No. After all he is considered a shock jock and his show brought in 25 % of the revenue for the radio company, and 20 million plus, and was the fourth rated talk show. So why the panic from advertisers? Obviously advertisers misread the public as polls are showing that about 75% of people feel he should not have been fired, and today a Fox Poll is showing 76% agree another media company should hire Imus to resume his radio show. This firing was about money: fear and panic, not outrage.
I doubt anyone was complaining about the two weeks off as a consequence except those who were determined to make this such a big issue that he would be fired. Imus has always been a little outrageous, so why now when this kind of language has become so prevalent and apparently acceptable by many in our society? Why is it OK for rappers and comedians to use these terms, or other terms directed at Caucasians? Why is there a double standard?–and reverse discrimination happening? I’ve heard repeatedly on TV that 80% of the disgusting rap music is bought by "white youths." If that is correct, which I tend to doubt, then they have to stop giving the music attention, as do the black youth. The music is degrading toward girls and women, borders on porn, violence, drug use, and worse. Some commentators have compared Imus’ comment to that of the actor, Michael Richards. No comparison there at all. Richard’s outburst was done in anger and rage, was extremely malicious, and was definitely intended to be racist. Imus intended his comment to be humorous but of course it was not.
There is a much bigger issue here and reflects the division we have in this country. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are always looking for an opportunity to jump in and, in most cases, make a situation worse, in the name of "racism." While this was happening, three other athletic students from Duke University were cleared of all rape and abuse charges. A year ago, Sharpton and Jackson turned that event into a racial issue and inflamed the community, ready to hang these students out to dry. There have been numerous times when they have inflamed events. It’s time Sharpton, Jackson and other black leaders, use their positions and influence to make positive changes within the black youth culture, and not focus on exaggerated victimhood issues. We all need to come together and make this country a better place, not a place of division based on the color of skin.
And on the same day that CBS fired Imus, Oprah had a brief interview with the young women’s college team on her show, and she follows that up with learning to dance to hi-hop music, and makes a comment that a "white guy" can’t dance. Seems that is as racist as what Imus said. She then followed that up indicating a man in the audience as the "white guy I’m talking about." According to postings on her message board a lot of people were not happy with her comments and called it "reverse racism."
One of the young women on the team said that Imus had taken away her dream. Each of those girls need to know and believe that their accomplishments are theirs to have and honor and all this media circus will not affect their feeling of pride unless they let it. That is where their power is as women.
And sadly, while the meeting of the Rutgers women students and Imus and his wife was happening at the Governors mansion last night, the Governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine was critically injured in an automobile accident on the way to the meeting. That shouldn’t have happened either.
The old 19th century proverb, "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words [names] can never hurt me," seems to have lost its value in today’s world of mass media.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
I was contacted recently by an online comic website, Jazma Online and asked by Richard Vasseur, V.P., if I would be interested in doing an interview about my adaptation and scripting of The Executioner Comics: War Against the Mafia, and Death Squad.
I was happy to do so and the interview is now posted at:
Thursday, March 29, 2007
My favorite cereal as a kid, and even today, is Tony Tiger’s "They’re grrreat!" Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I loved the TV commercials from Tony Tiger back in the early 1950s. We always had Wheaties in our home, Daddy’s favorite, along with Sugar Frosted Flakes, Shredded Wheat, Grape Nuts, Rice Krispies, Cherrios, Quaker Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat or Rice. I don’t buy Frosty Flakes often today, but I really enjoy them when I do!
A new study regarding children’s TV ads about foods links childhood obesity increased rates to the number of food ads children are exposed to. This makes little sense to me because, for one thing, young children are not out there doing their own shopping or visiting a fast food restaurant on their own. Often I’ve been in the grocery store while a parent, usually a mother, with a small child is in the cereal row. I’ve heard the child asking for a certain cereal, one that would be considered high in sugar, and I’ve heard a mother say quietly, "No, we will have this one," picking up a healthier brand. The opposition from the young child doesn’t usually last long.
I recall my preschool aged kids learning to read and recognizing cereals from TV commercials while grocery shopping. They were both very early readers, and reading cereal boxes was a part of learning. And no, my kids were not overweight.
The responsibility for balanced eating habits is not with young children, but with parents. And other changes have influenced, such as changes in our school systems–the removal of daily gym classes from curriculums–and economic conditions–the need for two working parents–and time restraints in a more chaotic and expensive society.
But there is something of a much greater concern to me. It is not the food commercials or the food shows that may or may not be influencing Americans but the pharmaceutical commercials that bombard us constantly on television. We have become a nation of prescription drugs users (and over-users), buying into the direct-to-consumer billion dollar advertising campaign of the pharmaceutical industry. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-ulcer, anti-cholesterol, anti-impotence, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertension, anti-whatever. It is no wonder prescription drug costs are so high with a budget of billions spent on TV and print advertising. Some of these drug ads are required in their "product-claim" to list risks, and hearing those contraindications should be enough for a thinking person to re-consider and seek an alternative. How many prescription drugs have been pulled off the market in recent time due to complications and supposed unknown risk? Too many. I personally feel strongly that everyone needs to play an "informed part" in one’s own medical care and decisions, but I also know how doctors tend to over-prescribe, especially anti-depressants for adults, and even children. And I’m sure if you see a drug that sounds as if it would "fit" you on television, and if you ask, you will probably leave your doctor’s office with an RX in hand (maybe his alternative choice of that drug–his pharmaceutical vendor–a kick-back?). But don’t forget, you also have choices in your care if you feel a prescribed medication is not what you want.
By the way, this children’s TV ad research was conducted by a medical entity, Kaiser Family Research Foundation, and reported by AP, March 28. 2007.
Some day while watching TV for several hours, count the number of drug ads. It’s ridiculous! And enjoy a nice big bowl of Tony Tiger’s Frosty Flakes while doing so! As Tony says, "They’re grrreat!"
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
As the Beatles said, we all "can get by with a little help from my friends". In the age of the Internet with so much of an information flow, many negative thoughts can find itself into millions of lives instantly. Also, hoaxes, jokes, urban legends can instantly change our thoughts and our lives. Such as the ploy being used on determining who should continue on as an American Idol contestant. You’ve probably all heard of the web-site, Vote for the Worst, which posts the worst contestants and encourage us to vote for them. The mean-spirited purpose is to make a mockery of the American Idol competition. And now we find that Howard Stern on his satellite radio show encourages his listeners to also vote for the worst! That explains why the not very talented contestant, Sanjaya, he of the long hair, big white toothy smile, and limited singing ability, popularly known as a "girly-man" continues on as other, more talented singers are getting the boot. This certainly will destroy the credibility of American Idol, a multi-million dollar industry and highest rated television show on TV.
After each contestant performs, the public has a 2 hour time frame in which to make unlimited phone calls to vote for their favorite performer or performers. Also, I read in an American Idol blog, if you go on-line you are able to vote at least 200 times in that 2-hour time frame. Don't know if that is correct however. There is no limit how many times a specific phone number can vote. At least on Dancing With The Stars the callers are limited to 10 calls per phone. If the producers of American Idol don’t put a limit on how many times an individual can vote, they could end up with an untalented performer as their next American Idol, who would be guaranteed a recording contract and tour.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
"An Inconvenient Truth" is a brilliant documentary of former Vice-President Al Gore’s Slide Show Presentation. The movie is compelling and definitely eye-opening as to the changes taking place on our planet. Director Davis Guggenheim presented it in a way that is far from boring and I really liked the way he gave us an intimate view of Al Gore and his thirty-year dedication, research, and passion to global warming awareness. Gore has presented his slide show, which is even longer than the movie slide-show presentation, to more than 1,000 audiences around the world. I have considered Al Gore to be an excellent journalist, a visionary, and a man with spirituality. I read his 1992 best-selling book, "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit" and it, too, was brilliant and prophetic. Don and I mentioned Al Gore’s writing in our book, "Whispers From the Soul." Part of what Al Gore stated in his book’s chapter, "Environmentalism of the Spirit": "By experiencing nature in its fullest–our own and that of all creation–with our senses and with our spiritual imagination, we can glimpse, ‘bright shining as the sun,’ an infinite image of God."
Last week I was listening to talk radio and comments about how Gore was spreading fear with his presentation. That is far from my experience. What it demonstrates is urgency–urgency to do something about the increasing problems and dangers we now face with global warming, and to do something before it is too late to recover.
I would agree that some earth changes may be of a "natural" earth cycle, but it is now very evident from scientific evidence and scientific opinion that humans are responsible for damage being done to our environment, and the resulting effects are escalating at an alarming rate. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control, made up of over 1,000 scientists from many countries, have now reported they have found a greater than 90% probability that humans are responsible for the increase in global warming. It appears that many who oppose that finding are connected in some way to special interests such as oil companies or large industrial corporations. The IPCC reports will be presented in June to world leaders at a summit in Belgium. I wonder how Bush will take the news of the reality of global warming? Will he dismiss it as he has other reports in the past?
Take time out to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" and share it with your children and grandchildren. Be sure to take the extra time to watch Al Gores’s update following the making of the DVD, and the commentary by Director Davis Guggenheim, and the one by the four producers. In watching the movie, I think you may agree with me and others that the movie was very deserving of an Academy Award. And I like Melissa Etheridge's orginial song for the movie, "I Need to Wake Up." We all need to wake up.
Former Congressman, Senator, and Vice President, Al Gore stated to Congress yesterday: "Our grandchildren are counting on us."
He’s right. It is up to us.
"What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.
This we know: the earth does not belong to man,
man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.
Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."
~ Chief Seattle (1786-1866)
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Last night I read Mitch Albom’s latest book, "For One More Day." Actually, I read the book in two sittings. I began reading Tuesday night after American Idol, and last night picked it up when I realized I had an hour to spare before American Idol came on. I reluctantly set the book aside to watch Idol and then finished reading it after the show.
I very much enjoyed the story. It is a small book of 197 pages, and is a fast read. Mitch Albom’s writing is an easy style and reminds me somewhat of the easy style of my favorite author, Nicholas Sparks. Albom writes a fascinating and unique tale of a broken, middle-aged man, Charley Benetto who is deeply troubled by regrets, self-doubt, alcoholism, broken family relationships, and on the verge of ending his own life. It is a story about childhood, hopes and dreams, self-doubt, family secrets, forgiveness, and the power of love. It enhances the idea that love lives on after death. At the moment of Charley’s greatest despair, he returns to his childhood home and encounters his mother who has been dead for eight years. It is heartwarming, inspirational, and in the exploration of family relationships and a mother’s love, readers are left with much to ponder about the meaning of family and love in the own lives.
I’ve not read Albom’s previous two books, although I did see the movie, "Tuesday’s With Morrie." His second book, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," has been sitting in my "TO READ" stack, along with Nicholas Sparks’ "Dear John," Dan Brown’s "Angels and Demons," Nora Ephron’s "I Feel Bad About My Neck," Anderson Cooper’s "Dispatches From the Edge," Suze Orman’s "Women and Money," and several others. I may now be motivated to put Albom’s book at the top of my stack!
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
You have probably heard on the news this week that Marine General Peter Pace, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated in an interview with the Chicago Times in response to a question about his views on the "Don’t ask, Don’t Tell" policy that allows gays to serve their country:
"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way."
I find it appalling that the Pentagon’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon who oversees an estimated 65,000 gay men and women who today are serving our country as dedicated soldiers would say about our soldiers. That figure, 65,000, is about three times the number of military in Bush’s recent "Surge" deployment. Ironically, the first American wounded in Iraq was Marine Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Eric Alva, who had served his country for 13 years, lost his leg in Iraq, received the Purple Heart, and is gay.
What about the immorality of our administration and the Pentagon: the deceptions and out-right lies that made it "seem" acceptable to invade Iraq; twisted facts that implied they needed to be invaded because they were involved in 9-11; the lack of quality military supplies and weapons to fight a war, putting our soldiers at higher risk; lack of proper medical care and conditions for our wounded military; a waste of millions (or billions?) of dollars of aid to Iraq that have mysteriously disappeared; the play-up of fear in an attempt to keep the war going long after we lost it; the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal, the legitimizing of torture; illegal use of the Patriot Act; Halliburton; and other things that could be labeled immoral?
Homosexuals have always served in our military and wars. For the most part, covertly, and who can blame them for that? They wanted to serve our country, even at risk of their sexual orientation being discovered and facing jail and dishonorable discharge. My late husband, Don Pendleton served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War, and he said there was an awareness of some shipmates being homosexual. As long as there was not any overt expression of that sexual orientation, it was left alone.
During the Civil War, a surprising number of women concealed their identity as women and fought alongside the men without their sex ever being discovered. Some of the women where married to soldiers, others were single women. Were any of these women gay? Maybe? But it does not matter. And it does not matter in today’s military, nearly 150 years later.
The Pentagon has lowered the recruitment standards during recent time and "moral waivers" granted to recruits with misdemeanor and felony convictions nearly doubled since 2003. Yet, the Defense Department purged 11,000 troops, including several hundred much needed linguists, between 1994 and 2005 because they were gay. Doesn’t make much sense does it? Would you rather be serving with a convicted felon or someone who happens to have a different sexual orientation than you do?
It appears homophobia still lingers with the macho military attitude, but it is time to "grow up" and accept diversity in all areas of life. It is said that 24 countries accept gays in the military and they serve their country without any fear of prosecution or judgment, and neither morale or military performance have been affected. Why is this country so behind the rest of the free-thinking people of the world?
The Pentagon wants these men and women added to their recruitment figures, wants to send them to war and have them lay their lives on the line for our country, yet, if in some way, it is revealed they are gay then they are shoved out of the military on their butts. And many of those men and women have had long careers as dedicated and courageous soldiers. Amazingly ?? the number of homosexuals discharged had dropped significantly in 2006. How hypocritical is that? They retain gays when needed and dismiss them when they believe they are expendable.
One of several reasons I voted for Bill Clinton was his campaigning to remove military bans on homosexuals, but after his election he faced overwhelming opposition. At that time I wrote to General Colin Powell to encourage him to give gays the right to openly serve their country in the same manner that any other man or woman. What resulted from the controversy and opposition was the compromise, "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy in 1993. It was disappointing that we had to settle for that, but at least it was a beginning. Now is time to rid this country of this policy and let gays serve openly instead of serving under the threat of dismissal for their sexual orientation.
Staff Sergeant Alva stated he was appalled at General Pace’s remarks, telling Anderson Cooper on CNN’s 360, "I think his personal beliefs, his values, his own opinions were very insensitive and disrespectful to the thousands of men and women who...who actually serve in the military under the policy of don’t ask/don’t tell. And it was offensive to quite a bit of people. You’re talking thousands."
That’s right, Sergeant. Sixty-five thousand, plus their families, and thousands and thousands like me who consider ourselves to be Gay Rights Advocates.
It is nice to know there are some military leaders such as General David Grange (RET.) US Army, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division, and who stated to Lou Dobbs yesterday that he had never had to discharge anyone for homosexuality in 30 years of his career, the don’t ask, don’t tell policy, as he recalled, worked well and never had a problem. In response to Dobbs question about Pace seeming to make a moral equivalence in terms of adultery and homosexuality in the military, General Grange did reply he had a few incidents where he was a reviewing authority for adultery charges and they did discharge those people.
Has it occurred to you, as it has to me, that the real reason that this administration does not want gay marriage or civil unions may be because then those couples could file Federal Income Tax as married filing jointly taxpayers instead of single taxpayers, and have greater deduction and tax advantage? Could this be the real administration issue and have nothing to do with "moral" issues? I don’t know how many millions (or billions) of tax dollars we’re talking about here, but obviously it would be a huge figure. Money and greed seems to always be the motivation of our government rather than a greater concern for human dignity and civil rights.
One thing I do agree with General Pace on, is his comment that the United States is not well served by policies that say it is okay to be immoral in any way. I would suggest the General take a closer look at immoral practices implemented by this administration.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
I enjoy the Suze Orman Show on CNBC every Saturday evening. Suze is a financial advisor with a lot of intuition and insight, and I am fascinated how she brings out the psychological-emotional problems in regards to money issues with her guests. I’m interested in the dynamics of money in peoples’ lives and the resolution of money issues through new insights. (Must be the writer in me). Often, the root cause of money problems goes back to childhood and self-esteem issues.
I like Suze’s motto: "People first, then money, then things." What we have to remember about "people first" is that also means ourselves. As women, we are nurturers and that quality is ingrained within us and reinforced by raising a family. So on the totem pole of relationships, a woman usually ends up at the bottom. Everyone else–husbands, children, family, and friends –seem to always come before our own needs and desires.
A courageous and freethinker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, fighting for equality for women, had this to say more than one hundred fifty years ago: "Woman will always be dependant until she holds a purse of her own." Who holds your purse? Married or not, do you have credit in your own name alone? An individual savings account? Are you building a solid financial future for yourself? Circumstances can change over the years, and too often in unexpected ways.
Nancy mentioned in her earlier post, "Help! I Need Somebody," that she, like many of us women at an older age, find ourselves with financial situations not as richly abundant as we had hoped. First, time goes too fast, and almost before you blink your eyes, you find you are 40-50-60 plus, and collecting Social Security and awaiting Medicare coverage. (Of course, Medicare may be a financial relief from outrageous medical insurance premiums). In those earlier years of raising a family, often living paycheck to paycheck, we did not have 401Ks, IRAs, or the money or motivation to invest in the stock market.
Nancy and I learned to save at a young age. We had savings accounts through school. Seems like we saved a quarter weekly, or maybe it was monthly, but we had our bank savings account books. Ironically, through my genealogical research of our family, I learned that the bank school savings idea was put into place by our distant cousin, banker and best-selling author, Rex Stout (Nero Wolf novels). The Educational Thrift Service came to be just before the 1920s.
Our parents did not believe in credit cards. When Daddy wanted a new car, he saved. I believe they may have once obtained a short term 90-day loan at the bank, but that was very unusual for them. Even to this day, Mama has only charged something once that I recall. She can’t imagine having credit card debt or late payments. She has always paid bills a day or two after she receives them. Nancy and I tease her that she has a fear of being hauled off to jail if she was to have a late payment. LOL.
So what happened to Nancy and me? We got married! And with that, during the 1960s, we probably did little saving, if at all. I know I didn’t. There was always other obligations–such as food, clothes for the kids. You know, the usual obligations of raising a middle-class family in those days and living on "good wages" of about $6,000 a year or less. I was married in 1960 and we rented a small but very nice two bedroom house and the monthly rent was $87.50! Times have really changed, haven’t they? Life was simpler in those days, less chaotic, less fluff, more close-knit family activities.
I plan to buy Suze Orman’s new book, Women and Money. I may not learn anything new but I look forward to reading it. In her book she writes of the Eight Qualities of a Wealthy Woman. Wealthy in self-reliance and the ability to bring abundance, in whatever form, into your life. She lists these qualities as Balance, Harmony, Courage, Generosity, Happiness, Cleanliness, Beauty, and Wisdom. She made some good points about these qualities on her show tonight and she’ll be dealing with them in the coming weeks. If we have balance and harmony–think, say, and do, as one; courage to say no, or to express our real feelings; then it leads to happiness and with the understanding that we don’t spend money on things we don’t need or on others when we may not have it to spend; cleanliness means to remove clutter and put things in order; wisdom to know when things in your life are out of sync; and all these qualities in balance culminates in feeling confident and beautiful; and then abundance flows toward you.
Try a little experiment during the coming week or two. I learned this from Suze Orman a few years ago while seeing her on PBS. Clean out clutter! The theory is when clutter is cleaned away the door opens for abundant energy to flow into your life. That worked for me the first time I tried it. After her show that night, I looked under my couch cushions and much to my surprise I found a dollar bill and some change. Then I went into my master bath and cleaned out cupboards and drawers. You know . . . those bottles of various products with a dab left in them. By the time I finished I had a full trash bag of junk! Then I cleaned out my closet. About that same time, I put into effect some Feng Shui techniques in my home. I not only had good things come my way, but money came from unexpected sources. Not huge amounts but nonetheless, money. And besides, it made me feel good to get rid of clutter and raise my energy level. Give it a try.
I believe one of the most valuable gifts we can give our children and our grandchildren is an understanding of the importance of saving for their future, and do so while young and on a regular basis. A sense of responsibility about money learned at a young age can avoid a lot of conflict and worry as they go through life.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
So where are we as a society when we seem to thrive on the lives and heartbreak of others? Is it in our DNA to gossip and watch how others make mistakes, downgrade their success, believe the unbelievable about others? Or does it satisfy our need to feel our lives are better and we’re superior to others?
We all decide how we live our lives and what choices we make for our children and ourselves. Sometimes, in retrospect, we question those choices, wondering if we chose wrong. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family with parents, grandparents, aunts and cousins who all had a deep regard for what is right and proper. My father has often been described as a man of character, brilliant and gentle. He certainly always seemed that way to me. I knew my boundaries, by example, and by word. As my son David raised his daughters and stepsons, I watched how patient, loving and gentle he was and how he taught them. He also instilled a great sense of humor in his children. Watching your children raise children is one of the most beautiful experiences we can hope for in this life.
All of us know someone we could label as a "Drama Queen", don’t we? Someone who is always in turmoil, the worst that can happen, does happen. They walk around with a cloud over their head. Sometimes they talk about "bad karma"; not understanding that would be their own doing. Oftentimes these people come from a fractured family, poor and with little education. They strive throughout their lives for approval and validation, however hard that may be to achieve. Sadly, a life lived in chaos can sometimes end in chaos as the life of Anna Nicole Smith has ended.
My main "Fluffy"*, Craig Ferguson, made the news last week when he discussed during his monologue how he didn’t feel we should all be jumping on the band wagon to ridicule Britney Spears. He talked about how her life was out of control, how young she is and has 2 babies at home who need her. She needs support, not ridicule and media attention so that she may be allowed time to get her life together. Craig Ferguson spent many years of his life, much of it a blur and not remembered, due to alcohol and drugs. He hopes that her life doesn’t end as sadly as that of Anna Nicole Smith. As do I.
* Fluffy: noun: my dream man; the object of my unfulfilled lust/love
The sad and tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith has been difficult to escape unless you turn off cable news stations and stay away from computer news. But there are lessons here for all of us.
I did watch the Florida hearing and saw most all of it. I watched it live, on-line, so I wouldn’t have to listen to comments and interruptions by the media along with commercials. I didn’t want to hear slanted reporting or things taken out of context. I wanted the whole story. It was very complicated, having all the parties to the action and witnesses for each party. Some feel Judge Seidlin overstepped courtroom procedure, and at first, I wasn’t sure I cared for him. But by the second day, I could see why he was covering all the "bases" he did with his comments and questioning of the witnesses. I was also sure I knew by the end of testimony on the second day what his ruling would be. And I agree with that ruling. It was somewhat surprising that he talked of spirituality, lightened the tension with humor, and had an emotional reaction to the importance of the decision and how it would affect all involved. He had a difficult decision to make.
I saw an interview tonight with an attorney who has spent a lot of time in Seidlin’s courtroom and he said that is the way the Judge is, in the court room, off the bench, and socially, and was not "acting" for the cameras. He also mentioned Seidlin has a young child and is an emotional and passionate man. He added that all his lawyer friends like Seidlin as a judge. It now looks like Judge Judy may have some competition.
I’ve not liked Anna’s mother since the first time I saw her interviewed on TV, and I did not believe her to be fully credible on the stand. Let Anna Nicole Smith be buried with dignity and respect beside her son, Daniel where she wanted to be and should be. I can’t believe her mother is appealing the court’s decision and threatening to take it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. Seems she’s not too bright and may be influenced by her attorneys who would probably be happy to see the case go on and on. I’m sure her retirement, as stated in court, won’t pay the attorney fees she is accumulating.
The media and television reporters have not given Anna Nicole Smith much respect throughout this. Admittedly, she had often created a somewhat outrageous profile by her own actions over the years. Some have called her a "dumb blonde" but I have not seen her life that way at all. Many people who knew her well, liked her, enjoyed her humor, and her sweetness. She was smart and far from dumb in the way she built her career. She apparently had a difficult upbringing, no father in her life, and a troubled and estranged relationship with her mother off and on for years. And I was behind her all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It takes a strong person to stand up and take on a legal fight as she did. Any court battle is emotionally draining. And she won at the Supreme Court level. Time will tell if remaining issues are resolved in her favor at the "liberal" San Francisco 9th Circuit Court.
It appears her use of prescription drugs was out of control at times, but not at all times. I’d like to know why would any doctor prescribe narcotic drugs to a pregnant woman? Then again, the question, why would a pregnant woman even consider putting her baby at risk? Usually when someone is an addict they will not listen to anyone, so the responsibility does not lay with Howard K. Stern, her friends, or anyone but herself. She had to be willing to get off the prescriptions. This reminds me of Elvis and all the prescribed drugs he was given by doctors.
And as her bodyguard "Big Mo," the man who gave her CPR, said on the Larry King Show he believes "she died of a broken heart," and was in deep grief over the loss of her son, Daniel. He may be right. Her deep depression may have played a large role in the overuse of prescription drugs. I’m curious about something else, though. Will the final autopsy report show a physical ailment that may have contributed to her death?
We all need to pay attention to the lesson here. A similar lesson we should have payed attention to, not too long ago, was about rights before death, at death, and after. I’m speaking of another Florida case, the Terry Schiavo case. The lesson again is telling us that we all need to have wills and/or trusts, living wills, have our wishes in writing, and those wishes shared with loved ones. Who will speak for you when you are gone? The courts? I would recommend a Trust Document as they are difficult to protest, seem to give added protection for a person’s wishes to be carried out, and avoid probate.
The Will of Anna Nicole Smith posted on the Internet, appears not to be written in the usual manner of California wills, and may be only what they call a "pour-over will." There may be a Trust Document that would clarify her wishes regarding "children." We will see. I’ve done a Will and Trust in California, in Arizona, and again in California, and am familiar with the legal language normally used and my documents were done carefully, and most importantly, the way I wanted them.
The other lesson that should be of value is the situation with who is the biological father of her child. If safe sex, condom use, had taken place there would not be a line-up of men believing they could be the father of the baby. What if it turns out to be none of them? Will someone else come forward? I believe the baby looks like Howard K. Stern in the later photos I’ve seen.
The other thing that comes to mind was Anna Nicole’s connection to Marilyn Monroe and the comments she often made to others that she felt she would die young like Marilyn. Did she create that reality for herself? Subconscious or conscious? Whatever, it was her time to go. And now she needs to be put to rest where she belongs, next to her son. Of course, they are already together, but her burial wishes need to be respected.
Please pay attention to the lessons here. Be responsible, not only for yourself but for the future and your heirs. If you do not have a Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, a Trust or Will, give this all some thought so you or your heirs are never faced with legal battles. Death and grief are emotional enough without having legal worries to face.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Yesterday I fixed a great crock-pot dinner. It turned out delicious and I have left-overs that I’m looking forward to having tonight. I love using the crock-pot. Makes life easy.
Round-steak Crock Pot Dinner
One thick lean cut of round steak, 1 ½ inches thick. Cut away all fat from edge.
Rub with garlic powder, onion salt or powder, and salt.
Add about 1/3 cup of beef broth to crock pot. (I use the low sodium, no MSG, Herb-Ox Brand,
Add round steak whole unless it needs to be cut into two pieces to fit.
Two stalks celery, chopped.
Cup or more of fresh baby carrots.
Additional seasoning. You could add garlic gloves but I don’t like a strong garlic flavor.
Cook on high for about an hour. Turn down to low and cook for another four to five hours. I cut up four (you can add more) new red potatoes and added last hour and half. I wanted them cooked but not mushy.
The meat was very tender, fell apart with the fork. I served with fresh asparagus topped with a dab of Miracle Whip. It was delicious.
I have often done this same recipe with a chuck roast or such, but I believe the round steak had a much better flavor, less fat, and did not taste greasy like some cheaper cut of roast can.
Give it a try and experiment with your own additions and amounts of vegetables used, as I am not cooking for a family. Just enough for me to have a second dinner out of it.
I don’t cook fancy. Simple is my way!
Friday, February 23, 2007
Richard S. Prather's official date of death was February 14, 2007. He was 85 years of age.
About mid-week, I will be sending his official obituary out to major newspapers for his family. His cousins want to thank everyone for the nice tributes that have been written by fans and fellow writers.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
"Help me if you can, I'm feeling down." In the words of Paul McCartney, we all need to ask for help every once in awhile. Who of us do not feel helpless when we hear how the Katrina damage has not been resolved. Residents are still misplaced all this long time later. Homes are still sitting off their foundations with cars trashed in the yard. AIDS medicine cannot get to those who need it in Africa. The poverty we are constantly seeing either on the news, in magazines or our own backyard leave most of us with a heavy heart, especially if we aren't in a financial position to do something about it.
My plan was to retire with a nice income so that my lifestyle and spending would not be changed from what it had been in recent years. Not surprisingly, that has not happened. Poor planning and life events have changed that for me. With so much time on my hands I've found time to read all those books I never had time to dedicate myself to before. It took awhile, but I smartened up and realized I don't have to buy books anymore. I puruse the county library near me every 2 weeks or so, and come home with 6 new books to read. Most libraries are also looking for volunteers to donate some time for their literacy programs.
I've found out that you don't have to have experience as a carpenter to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. You are given a 2 week training class and they are able to use your talents to do all sorts of things. There is a chapter in Pomona and in Pasadena, both near me. Currently I'm in the process of packing, selling my condo and moving into a new mobile home. Once I'm settled there I plan on working with Habitat. Check it out www.habitat.org/local/
Another thing I am very excited about: those coin star machines in all the supermarkets don't just give you a certificate to use in the store. You can also choose to buy a Starbucks card, phone card or donate to charity. My favorite thing to do is go in the market, take the change only out of my purse, which makes it a lot lighter, and donate the money to America's Second Harvest. This is a huge food bank that makes provisions available in emergency situations. (Like Hurricane Katrina)
Last week I had over $10. in change and didn't even realize it. If everyone did this at least monthly, think about how good you will feel knowing your small amount of money is doing so much good. Look into www.secondharvest.org .
Have you heard about join red? This organization was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver. Many retailers are selling red items and a portion of the proceeds go to AIDS programs sanctioned by the UN based, Global Fund. Go to www.joinred.com .
One of my favorites of all is the Heifer Project. This organization helps families become independent with the gift of animals. They become self sufficient, feed their family and neighbors and can give off-spring to others. Your donation of $20 can buy enough chicks to lay eggs to feed a family and to sell to villagers. A goat, which provides milk, would cost $120 but you may also just donate part of the cost for a share of a goat. There are sheep, rabbits and llamas which provide fur and fabric. The cost of a Heifer is $500 or a share is only $50. This organization is available for you to donate according to your own financial status. One of the great things is this: you can make a donation and give it as a gift to someone who has everything and needs nothing. See www.heifer.org
These are a few of the things I've found work for me with just a little looking around. I would love to hear what you have found that works for your situation.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I have some sad news to report. Best-selling author, Richard S. Prather has passed away. (See my earlier post, Author Interviews to read more about him). I had been concerned these last couple of days about him. He has not been well for some time and about three weeks ago he hurt his back while picking up trash bags after his trash can had blown over. Last week he told me x-rays showed he had a compressed fracture of his spine and nothing could be done for it, except time for it to heal. He was having a lot of pain and said the only way he was somewhat comfortable was in bed. Walking was difficult.
On Wednesday morning I decided to call Sedona to find out what type of home care might be available for him, such as grocery shopping, light housekeeping, and maybe someone to cook some meals. I know he had been wanting some good home-made chicken soup with vegetables and rice. I had also suggested he needed a portable phone to have handy, something he did not have and told him I could order one for him if he wanted. So I had a list of phone numbers to give him after talking with a few Sedona social services organizations.
When I called about noon yesterday, he did not answer the phone. When he did not answer my second call four hours later, I became even more concerned and my intuition told me strongly something was wrong. I even thought of calling the Sheriff’s to have them check on him, but did not do so. This morning I called again. No answer. So I called the local hospital to see if he might be a patient there. He was not. I then called the homeopathic doctor I knew he had been seeing these last months. She returned my call an hour later to tell me that she and his other doctor had also become concerned and called the Sheriff’s Department yesterday to check on him. They found him dead in his bed. As I told her, in some ways I guess I was not surprised to hear that. I believe I was somewhat relieved to know he had not fallen and was unable to get to the phone. So at this point I do not know what will be his recorded date of death.
Richard S. Prather will be missed by many. His literary legacy will live on, and it seems kind of special that his last published (republished) book is now out there in the bookstores, The Peddler, first published in 1952. And I’m glad I was also able to publish online what has now turned out to be his last interview. He (and I) have been pleased with the response we have received to his interview, and he has been delighted with the excellent book reviews on The Peddler.
This last year when he struggled to complete my many questions for the interview, he had told me more than once that he was determined to get it done before he died. He also said we would not call it his "autobiography" as he knew of too many authors who died soon after publishing their autobiography. I told him we will just call it "your memoir."
I will miss him and our long telephone conversations about writing and life.