Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving, a sofa, and ballerinas!


Just finished Thanksgiving dinner.  Yum!  I love to cook and I love to have an opportunity to use all the fancy dishes and silver and crystal I have inherited from everybody.  We had our friends, Paul Clark and Paul Aronson.  It was a very pleasant day.  Kitties are excited at the prospect of turkey leftovers.

My sofa...

I am thankful on this day for many things, but especially for my sofa.  When I moved out of my house in Detroit, I brought my two Mission-style sofas (that had been so perfect in that house) to Beacon.  The plan was to put both of them in the upstairs TV room, but the big one wouldn't fit up the stairs.  It ended up in my parlor, where it has been a nice place to curl up with a book, but it was too lumpy and huge and modern to suit a Victorian parlor.  Also, while I had considered it to be nearly impervious to any assault by cat claws, that was only because it had not yet met the Big Twerp.  He was able to do within weeks what generations of cats (oh well, at least, any of my cats since since 1995) were unable to accomplish.  

I was bummed out because the sofa looks so crappy and the floral slip cover I put on it in spring and summer is baggy and cheap-looking.  I decided to make a new, tailored slipcover. 

Whatever they tell you on "Trading Spaces" and those other redecorating shows, making a slip cover that fits right is NOT EASY.  It is a big, frustrating pain in the butt.  But I found some upholstery fabric that was the right style and color and price, and I decided to go for it.  I bought seven yards, but I started getting nervous that I hadn't bought enough.  I went back to the store to buy additional yardage but they no longer had any.  Argh!  Depressed and dejected, driving home, I SAW IT!!!  Sitting in the parking lot behind an antique store!  The perfect sofa!  The perfect color!  They had just unloaded it from a truck!  I demanded a price!  $200 bucks, the guy said!

But I do not have $200 bucks!  I am the marginally employed part of my family unit!  So when Robert came home I told him my exciting news.  He was not so excited.  It seems he really likes the old green-and-red sofa, and even the frumpy-looking slip cover.  He didn't want to buy a new one.  And this is the time of year when we get hit with the taxes and the insurance bill, and money is tight.  "Not possible," he said.  I sighed.  Poop

But the next day Robert said, "OK, let's go look at this sofa."  By the time we had arrived the shop owners had had an epiphany, and the price had risen by fifty bucks (still, NOTHING, for a sofa...).  I knew Robert wasn't happy about the idea but when I promised him I would move the new sofa in and move the old one from the parlor to his basement music room and he'd never have to lift a finger, he pulled out his credit card.  

I lined up about six people to help me with the project.  They said, "Sure, when it's time, give me a call and I'll come right over!"  I did everything I could think of to get ready--taking down unnecessary doors and moving the furniture out of two rooms, and even tearing down a lattice "wall" at the back basement entrance.  When I got the call telling me when the new sofa would be delivered and dumped at the end of my driveway, I called all those people.  Nobody answered.  For two days, nobody called back.  I started to flip out.  I even stole fifty dollars from Robert's collection of quarters and went out into the street to accost buff-looking high school kids.  No takers!  With only half an hour to delivery time, I went through my entire address book, calling mere acquaintences.  Most were mysteriously not that excited to hear from me when I told them what I was calling about.  To make matters worse, a downpour threatened.

But amazingly, just minutes before the new sofa was delivered my wonderful across-the-street neighbors appeared and wrestled the big sofa to the basement and helped me move the new one in.  I want to kiss them!   I am thrilled with how it looks, and it's even COMFORTABLE.  That's saying something when you're talking about Victorian furniture! It's my Christmas present from Robert.  I want to kiss him!  (Excuse me, while I do that...)


Ballerinas and Boats....

Norma came to visit in late October.  I met her at art camp in Kansas, when I was fourteen.  That summer was life-changing.  I had been an ostracized geeky weirdo, but through my parents' gift of allowing me to go away to find myself, I found out I was a hippie!  It fit me like a glove!  Suddenly at school I wasn't an outcast, I was --MYSTERIOUS!  People wanted to know me!  People wanted to be like me!  What a fabulous thing!

Norma Levinson and I also found each other at art camp and an instant friendship gelled.  She was one of six daughters of a Jewish restaurant family, in Toledo.  What great folks!  What a fabulous fun and creative family! 

Anyway, since she has retired we have been seeing a lot of Norma, who lives in Virginia now.  I love it when she visits!  She brings her silly little dog, Lucy, and I am usually able to rope her into helping me work for some charity event or another.  We do art projects and have fun adventures together.  This time, we went to see Cassie Okenka be a dancing mouse.

I was introduced to Norma's niece when she was about three years old.  My memory is of a tiny girl with a not-tiny voice, screaming and running up and down the stairs for what seems like hours.  But that dramatic streak has served Cassie well as a professional actress and singer.  She was a contestant on a reality show to cast "Legally Blond."  Unfortunately, as a Jewish redhead, she didn't fit the Reese Witherspoon mold and was quickly voted off, though all the judges agreed she had best voice of the bunch.  Her magnificent talent was noticed, and for two years she was Dorothy in the traveling tour of the Wizard of Oz.  She got tired of that and moved back to New York City, and now she's in a Broadway version of "Angelina Ballerina."

If you do not know who Angelina Ballerina is, you do not have a three-year-old daughter.  Angelina is a mouse that attends ballet school and is the subject of  prize-winning children's books and a cartoon show.  And now, she has a Broadway musical.  Norma arranged for us to have tickets.  Not only was the play fun, but it was a blast to watch the audience.  Zillions of little teeny girls from above-average income families came with their au pairs and nannies.  And they dressed up for the event!  One little girl wore pink cowboy boots with a tutu, leopard-spotted tights and a tiara.  They were so excited and so funny!  

Here I am, performing my wifely duty of
telling Robert he is not holding the camera the right way.

Norma and Cassie.

Another adventure with Norma was a sail on the "Woody Guthrie."  This is a reproduction antique sailing boat called a Hudson River sloop.  It is operated by an environmental group in Beacon, and they give cheap sailing lessons and free rides, with the end result of educating people about the Hudson River and how important it is to keep it clean.  Norma and I signed up for an hour-long evening sail.  We were advised to wear coats and sweaters and hats and gloves and extra socks and bring blankets and hot cocoa and something warm to sit on.     

I have only been sailing one other time, in Portland Maine.  Robert and I boarded a beautiful, restored sloop, they unfurled the magnificent sails, and then -- nothin'.  The sails just hung there, sagging, as we drifted through pea-soup fog for way past the time we were supposed to return to shore.  We were cold and uncomfortable and hungry.  Eventually, the captain gave up and turned on a little motor, and we chugged slowly back to the pier.  That sailing event was a big dud, so I was excited to have another opportunity.

Norma and I got all geared up, wearing multiple safety devices and looking like kids imobilized in snowsuits.  Mysteriously, all of the other six guests who had signed up for the sail failed to show up for the cruise.  The crew and captain got on board.  We settled in.  They unfurled the beautiful sails, and then -- nothin'.  Nothing, except that the Hudson has an extremely strong current, so we drifted quite aways.  We looked at the pretty moon and the twinkling lights from the shore.  We got to drink our hot cocoa.  We began to get really, really cold, and to wish we had worn more coats!

Right here is where I'd stick in the really funny
pictures of Norma and me, all bundled up,
if I could find them. 

We also got to hear the captain yell at everybody.  We got to listen to the crew make nervous comments about how the heck are we going to get back?  The crew started singing sea chanteys, about being lost in the Sargasso Sea doldrums and ne'er see' me sweetheart again.  The captain ordered them to break out the oars.  The crew was not excited about that.  For a good forty minutes, they rowed like madmen, but didn't move us an inch back toward Beacon.  They begged, "Turn on the motor!  Turn on the motor!", but our Captain Bligh wasn't havin' none of that malarkey.

And this is where I'd put the picture of the grumpy sailors, rowing.
Finally, the crew used the Franny and Norma card.  How unfair it was for us, poor guests, to suffer!  The Captain finally relented, and turned on the feeble motor.  We chugged back home, about an hour late.
Well, that's enough for this missive.  Next time I'll tell you about the Beatles and maybe, zombies.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tonight, I celebrate my potato.

No, "I celebrate my potato" is not some feminist metaphor for self-pleasure, or anything like that.  It means, I am excited and happy about my potato!

It is getting colder and we are in the midst of all those preprations one must make for winter in these parts.  This requires UN-DOING all the things we did in the spring.  We close all the storm windows, turn off the water to the outdoor spigots, empty the bird bath and fill the bird feeders.  I tore out all the plants I had put into my two new garden boxes this spring, planning to fill them with the leaves we rake up, to make even better dirt next year.

I did a lot of fussing about the garden boxes and as a result, I didn't didn't get them finished and planted until quite late.  I ended up putting in too many tomatoes, and they took over and engulfed all my other vegetables, including two little potato plants.  I had cut a potato in half and buried it even though I had been told I had missed optimum planting season.  I was told if the plants didn't spend enough time in the ground to grow flower buds, they couldn't make any new potatoes.  So I didn't expect anything.  I never saw flowers, and soon, I didn't see the plants, anymore-- but wonder of wonders!  While pulling up frost-killed tomatoes, I found potatoes!  Only three, but I thought they were worth celebrating by turning them into a big pot of clam chowder.  YUM!

I'm busy writing and editing scary stories for a horror magazine.  More about that next time.  Also, I hope to be celebrating my new sofa.  Man, my life is exciting!!!!  

I guess I'm making Thanksgiving dinner next week.  We're having our friends Paul Clark and Paul Aronson as guests.  This is the first time in about twelve or fourteen years that I've cooked a Thanksgiving dinner.  The last time was in Detroit, when my foster-baby Christina was two, and I didn't have Hannah yet.   Wanna see what Christina (she prefers "Tina") looks like now?

I feel old. 
(Proud, but old.)

Anyway, folks.  Have a happy holiday. F and R

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Your Franny, Movie Star.




The real reason why I haven't written since April is that I can't think of any way I can explain why I haven't written since April.  I think about writing every day.  I write every day.  I just don't write letters or blogs.  I want to write letters and blogs, but I feel like I have to start at the beginning, and my God!  Who has the time to read that?  Not you, certainly!  So I'll start with today, and maybe work backwards.

Today, I was a movie star.  Or at least part of me was.  I am pretty sure the back of my head was.  The back of my head and perhaps Robert's whole face will make an appearance at Cannes next year.  As you know, Robert and I prefer to avoid the Euro papparazzi so we will probably blow off Cannes and instead, opt to catch our performance and sign autographs at the Tribeca Film Festival, in New York City.

Only one part of the above paragraph is in any way exaggerated.  

The parts that are true are:  Robert and I worked on a film crew today, on an adaptation of Hemingway's story, "Hills Like White Elephants"; it is going to be entered in the competitions at Cannes and Tribeca and a few dozen other festivals next year; we can't afford to go to Cannes, but we can hop on the train and see whichever parts of ourselves survive the cutting room at the Tribeca Festival; and we are happy to sign autographs, any time.  [Robert adds: Well, for a price.]  The lie was about the European photographers.  We have nothing against European photographers.

Working as movie extras today (we prefer to be called "background talent") was an experiment.  I wanted to see if Robert could handle all the waiting and standing around in the cold (AND IT WAS FRICKING COLD!) and whether this is something we might enjoy doing together from time to time.  We both thought that although it was not fabulously comfortable nor particularly fascinating all the time, we met interesting, talented people, and it was fun. 

Since being laid off I have not been able to find any kind of conventional job, so I have been looking at lots of unconventional ones.  Some are fun, some are hard, all result in very little or no money, but most might be steps toward better things, eventually, and worth doing.  For instance, though we are not being paid for working on this film, the producer asked me if I would like to be an extra on "30 Rock" sometime in the future, and that is a paying job! 

The film work is sort of an offshoot of the voice acting business I am trying to build up.  Daily, I scour craigslist and other websites for work I can do, and sometimes I pimp my husband by sending in his demo tape.  Unfortunately, nobody wants MY voice yet, but Robert has already snagged a job narrating a science fiction movie (for no pay) and he did two little 30-second commercials about music festivals in California.  (They were not actually used, but he still got paid $25.00 to make them.)  So you can see, we are not on the fast train to magnificent wealth, but we hope to make friends in the business and establish a good reputation, so we might have something fun to do part-time when Robert retires.  (You know, when he can afford to do that.  In fifty or sixty years...)    

Well, I think this is enough for now.  Later I'll tell you about my fun visit with Norma, who came up from Virginia Beach, and our trip to the city to see her niece Cassie perform on Broadway.  I'll also tell you about our nice visit with Herbert Ferrer, in Pennsylvania.

By the way, if you are lonely for us, you can listen to us at:
Our website, VoxHumana, will be up very soon.  

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthdays, another prayer answered, and pictures of Pompeii!


Robert's birthday is April 14.  Mine is April 17.  We celebrate a tradition in our marriage of Robert giving me boatloads of thoughtful and perfect birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts and me giving him things he already has several of and/or he has never had any interest in owning.  This birthday I had an additional financial limitation necessitated by not having any income (my unemployment is now Gone With the Wind).  I decided to take on some projects he had been planning but dreading doing, including installing a real door between his finished basement office/music room and the rest of our basement.  We had a nice door that we wanted to use -- a heavy, solid-cherry one that used to be in our downstairs hallway.  Robert liked it because it had a textured glass panel, beautiful wood, and antique hardware. 

The main stumbling block to installing the door down there was that the basement door frame was not plumb.  We had actually talked to several carpenters who had all kinds of ideas for ripping things out and installing a new frame.  The door would fit within the frame, but there was a one-inch difference between the top and the bottom of the side of the frame where the hinges would have to go.  We never got anyone interested in doing this job for us, so as a stopgap I installed an old screen door by screwing it to the outside of the frame.  Then, to keep air-conditioned or heated air in that part of the basement, I covered the screen with big sheets of bubble wrap secured with duct tape.  It looked like crap but it was certainly functional, except that every time you swung open the door, it smacked into the hanging light fixture behind it.

It became my goal to fix this problem and give Robert the professional-looking office that he has always envisioned.  I fussed and fussed about the door frame, until I realized that if I would only turn the hinges around and screw them into the side of the door frame as I had done for the screen door rather than to the inside where they're supposed to go, I didn't have to change the door frame!

So I tried to do that by myself.  But while holding it in place with one hand and reaching for the screw driver with the other, the door tilted and crashed to the ground, hitting me on the wrist and causing some interesting bruising.  Of course, the glass panel shattered.

I had to go out to buy something to replace it with.  I was worried about trying to put in such a big piece of glass so I bought a sheet of Plexi, thinking that might be easier to handle.  Home Depot wouldn't cut it to size for me because you have to use a special saw blade, but the guy told me how EASY it is to do.  He said, "You just score it with a knife and then snap it off!  Easy as pie!"  So I bought a sheet and brought it home.  Just to make sure I was doing it right I looked on the 'net for a video showing how to do it.  All the comments were from extremely angry men, complaining about what an impossible thing this is to do, and what big fat liars they have working at Home Depot. 

I tried the score-and-snap method.  What a disaster!  I worked on it for hours and ended up getting a blister on my hand from nipping microscopic bits off with a pair of wire cutters, because of course, the cracks hadn't gone all the way through or had veered off course.  It looked as if a badger had been chewing on it, but I eventually got it the right size to fit into the door.  Because this new pane wasn't privacy glass and that was one of the reasons Robert liked the door, I found some film that was supposed to make the Plexi look like a stained glass panel.  I put that on, then really messed up the pretty wood on the door trying to get the little surrounding pieces of wood off so I could install it.

It's up!  I keep telling myself it looks better than a beat-up fifty-year-old screen door covered with bubble wrap and duct tape, but not by much.

I also moved the light fixture, reupholstered a chair, painted a rocking chair, cleaned out his office closet and put in some recycling bins that he can use for storing cables and wires.  I hung artwork and moved stuff around, got him a cake and some used DVDs and promised to make him some curtains.  Robert was happy.  Mostly he was happy because he HATES doing stuff like installing doors and cutting glass and moving light fixtures.  [Robert adds: I also LOVE sitting on my ass, watching old videos, and eating cake!] 

Robert's gorgeous, professional-looking music room!

On MY birthday we got up early to prepare for our big day at the recording studio. We have been taking training to be voice-over actors, and this was the day they would record our demo tape.  Each recording took about two hours to do, and the product won't be ready for a few months. When we finally get our demo discs we'll send them out to people who might need a voice actor.  It might be for something as exciting as playing an animated character, or as boring as being the person who says, "For Lisa Smith, please press 2.  For Yvette Jones, please press 3."  The demo will end up being just two 1 1/2 minute long tracks on a CD, but they cost us each about two thousand bucks!  But that's show biz . . . .

We did the recording in Schenectady, about a two-hour drive.  Then we drove home.  I got to open my presents before going out for our birthday dinner.  I got a new quiche pan, a new frying pan, a new flour sifter.  The best gift was a laptop computer that I can take to my new job!


Yes!  I am a five-dollar-an-hour dog nanny to Annette and Casper!  The job starts Monday!  I'll keep you informed!


I had invited our friend John Mendelssohn, over for dinner.  He is a very talented musician and web designer who knows a lot about setting up a recording studio, which is something we need to do in order to get VOX HUMANA, our audio book recording business, off the ground.  He offered to come over and look at our equipment and give us advice on software we should buy, etc.  He declined my dinner offer, which I thought at first was a bad thing because I had purchased some gorgeous-looking veggies.  I had planned to prepare a beautiful, fresh fennel bulb, some tightly budded broccoli and some lovely ears of corn.  I know that corn isn't in season now so it probably came from Argentina, but I decided to get it as a special treat.  I bought six ears.

It would be a lie to tell you that I am a great cook.  Because I am a fabulous cook.  Everything I touch turns into a culinary masterpiece!  So after John left I made dinner for just Robert and me.  I split the fennel bulb to discover that the inside was full of holes and had turned black.  While preparing to steam the gorgeous broccoli I had to change knives because it was like sawing firewood to cut through the stems.  They were dried up and hollow and as tender as two-year-old bamboo.  I never had such bad broccoli to work with in my life!  Finally, the corn was pretty but had the consistency and flavor of soggy talcum powder.  I only managed a few bites.  Thank God John turned me down!

So you ask, "Franny, is the existence of God proven by he fact that He caused John Mendelssohn to have other dinner plans so you were spared the embarrassment of a truly inedible meal?  Are you THAT hungry for the peace of a Grand-Plan-for-All-Things that you grab at such flimsy straws as this to support your non-conformist spiritual beliefs?" 

NO!  The existence of God was proved to me when, just as I was sitting upstairs wondering what the heck I was going to do with FOUR EARS of fresh corn that I had no intention of eating, Robert said, "Franny, come here!"  I joined him at our front door to see two of the fattest and boldest raccoons I have ever seen, sitting on our front porch like expectant Trick -or-Treaters.

Take THAT!  Non-believers!

(Robert begs me not to encourage critters like this onto our porch and insists I feed them at the bottom of the porch stairs.  I feed the ground hogs [known by you Michigan folks as woodchucks] by leaving treats of stale biscuits and wilted celery at the entrance of their burrows.  I put chicken bones in the garden for skunks.  I hope this makes that squirrel-hating lady who lives next door CRAZY!)   


As promised, here are a few gems from our trip to Pompeii.  I have always wanted to go there and I know a lot about it.  When I brought up the idea of using one of our few days in Rome to go there, Robert was hesitant.  But our good friend Carolyn Carroll's family is from the Amalfi Coast.  The Carrolls had recently visited them, and they showed us their slides of Pompeii.  That got Robert interested.  [Robert amends: No, I was always interested, and always sympathetic to the idea.  The only issue was whether we wanted to see Pompeii rather than Rome for a whole day.  I loved Rome, but I think we chose right.] 

We investigated various means of getting to Naples from Rome but found nothing inexpensive.  There are tours you can take but they cost a fortune, and include a bunch of crap you have no interest in and they don't permit much time in the ancient city (Carolyn and Steve spent over six hours there, and still didn't see everything).  But our other option, to figure out train schedules and maps and  ground transportation on our own, was just too much hassle.  We would have preferred being able to do what the Carrolls did, to wander around on our own, and we would have loved to spend hours there, but we couldn't.  So we bit the bullet and signed on for a tour.

We were picked up at our hotel and got on a nice bus for the trip.  Our guide was ridiculous.  His name was Fabio but you would not have any problem confusing him with that OTHER Fabio.  He spoke about six different languages and repeated things in Spanish, German and Greek, as well as Italian and English, but his English was amazing.  He added a vowel to the end of almost every word.  "Here-ah you see-ah the ancient-ah Roman-ah walls-ah, built-ah by the Emperor Justinian-ah ---"  But he was friendly and nice.  We became friends with an interesting Greek couple we met on the tour, Effie and Spyros.  He is a professor in Athens.  We hope they'll come and visit us in New York soon!

Anyway, after a not-that-good luncheon that took way too long and featured a bad singer crooning "O Sole Mio" at us, a quick tour of the city of Naples, and a boring stop at a cameo factory (read, crappy jewelry shop) we finally got to go into the ruined city of Pompeii.  We had planned our trip perfectly--the week before the start of the regular tourist season.  That meant we were able to walk around ancient Pompeii (it is acres and acres and ACRES and ACRES of excavated streets and buildings!) and not run into many other people. 

With only two hours to spend there, we didn't get to see many of the best preserved and grandest houses with their fabulous murals (such as the Hall of Mysteries) but we enjoyed what we saw.  It was a real experience to walk on the streets of a city frozen in time since the year 79AD.  The level of ornate design everywhere was incredible and it was easy to imagine what it must have looked like then, when the paint colors were fresh. 

My foot, on the streets of Pompeii

I was particularly impressed going into a bathhouse that, because it employed Roman arches, is the only building with a roof that didn't collapse under the weight of the ash and pumice stone that rained down on everything that day.  Here's the ceiling:

Even the mattress of a metal bench was preserved.

These "strong men" divide little cubbies where bath patrons left their clothing.

Most of the art treasures found in Pompeii have been removed to museums, but perfect copies have been left in their places.  The remaining objects and plaster castings that were discovered (like the famous and tragic chained dog, and some castings of people) are kept behind bars in this "antiquarium."

My favorite things were a very small mosaic of doves, stealing pearls from a jewelry box (here is is, with Robert looking down at it--I wish I had taken a close up of it) and the famous "Beware of the Dog" mosaic, laid in the front hallway of a house.

These are the remains of the counters in a storefront.  Things like olives, pickles and wine were kept in the round wells.

Here's a watering trough.  I wish I had taken more pictures of these!  They were ornate and clever.

These are pedestrian stepping stones (the streets ran with raw sewage...ick!) that allowed chariots and carts to pass.  You can see the ruts carved by cart wheels.  

This is the courtyard of a grand house.

And here are a few other pictures that I liked, that express the feeling of the place.

Above is Vesuvius, as seen from Pompeii.  I picked up a handful of the pumice stones that litter Pompeii everywhere, and which, with tons of ash, are the reason the city is so well preserved.  They are lightweight, about 1/2 inch wide.  But when you hold the cold rock in your hand and then look at the great distance from which they flew, you remember that what the residents of this city dealt with was not the light pitter-patter of pebbles, but a torrent of burning missiles.  

Our visit to Pompeii was a gift from my beloved mother-in-law, Muffy.  I was so thrilled to be able to go there.  We thought about her a lot during the trip, and I hope somehow that she knows how much we enjoyed it.

Well, this is enough for now!  Hope you are good!  Hope to hear from you!  I have a Facebook page!  (I think!)  If you have a Facebook page too, it makes it easier for me to let you know when I update this blog.

We love you! 

F and R


Friday, April 9, 2010

Rome! Arty-fartsy stuff! A--(gasp!)--JOB FOR FRANNY!


My real life is the fun, creative one, where I get to run all over the world and see fabulous things and pretend to be rich.  My fake life is the one where I look for employment and fuss about money and do laundry.  Sometimes that fake life swells up and crowds out my real life, as it did the other day when a job interview reduced me to tears and I wrote about it.  I felt stupid about that later and thought about deleting that last entry, but I decided against it, because I am human, and because I am sure that SOMETHING GOOD AND WONDERFUL WILL HAPPEN, EVENTUALLY.

So here's some good stuff. 


Robert, being Napoleon, in front of our hotel

Despite the fact we do not have any money to burn and I haven't had a job for more than a year, when we received Robert's inheritance from his mother, we did some thinking about what she would have wanted us to do with it.  We decided she would want us to take a vacation.  

Robert said he would like to see Turkey, but the time he could get off from work was limited.  I found a great deal on a trip that included three days in Rome and three in Istanbul. 

In Rome we stayed in a fancy old hotel near the train station, in a neighborhood where everything is covered with graffitti and all the stores and coffee shops are run by Asians.  It was a fun place to stay and we had a great time there.  The weather was rainy and chilly, but that didn't keep us from walking our feet to stumps.  We wandered into any interesting church, museum or shop we came upon.  We were very near the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.  It is one of the most decorative and beautiful churches in the world -- as impressive as St. Peter's, but on a smaller scale.  There were fabulous paintings, mosaics and stonework (lots of porphyry!) everywhere. 

In the center, under the floor, is a reliquary of St. Matthew the Apostle with a huge statue of a pope kneeling in front of it.  The church's other famous relics include wood and hay from the nativity manger, the original swaddling clothes, and some holy breast milk.  Who would have thunk to save that?  Mary?  What did she save it in?  Did one of those wise men tell her, "Hey, you better keep some of that!" 

I like relics.  I am SURE they are all genuine, just as I am sure that no scheming pope, gullible crusader or money-grubbing king had any part in their creation or collection.  When I was traveling around Italy when I was sixteen, I saw three different wedding rings of Mary, each in a different town.  I guess she kept losing them.  Somewhere in an undisclosed Italian location is the only part of Jesus that sitteth not at the right hand of the Father. Write to me and I'll tell you what it is. 

Anyway, here are pictures of the interior of Santa Maria Maggiore, and looking down toward the reliquary and the giant pope: 

We saw another fabulous church, Maria of the Angels and Martyrs, that had a special exhibit about Gallileo Galilei.  There were beautiful models of some of his scientific experiments and machines.  He was quoted as saying, "In order to understand creation, you must look at the stones."  We also visited Saint Peter in Chains, where Michaelangelo's Moses is, and all sorts of really gruesome memorials featuring skeletons and spooky representations of death.   

We didn't see the Vatican City or Sistine Chapel, as we'd both seen them before.  We'd also had no plans to visit the Colosseum, but I had promised my pal Mavis I'd have my picture taken in front of it, so here you have it.  As I am the photographer in our family, this is about the only photo of me from the whole adventure, so it is unfortunate that I am making a silly face. 

When I was in Rome in 1971, the Colosseum was open to the public.  You could walk through it anytime, and there were little shops in the niches inside where you could buy postcards and candy.  It was closed to the public for several years for restoration and reinforcement, and was only recently reopened.  Now you have to pay money to go inside, and they have built some sort of walkway over the middle so you can look down into the maze where the gladiators' rooms and animal pens used to be, under the floor.  It was closed for teh day when we got there, so we didn't get to go in, but I didn't know if I really wanted to see a "new and improved" Colosseum, anyway.

Writing this, I realize I've been assuming that everybody knows that I spent what would have been my junior year in high school hitchhiking around Europe.  I lived in Perugia, Italy, for a time and went to Rome or Florence every weekend on my quest to see everything ever sculpted by Michaelangelo.  I managed to do this except for the Madonna of Bruges, in Belgium (which I saw in 1990) and a pair of angels that are in the Hermitage, in St. Petersburg.  I didn't have any money, so I spent lots of time doing free things, like sitting in the ancient Roman Forum watching feral cats snooze on ancient stone walls and clean themselves.  

I had hoped to go there again.  My memory of the Forum was of a big, wild area that was oddly quiet in the middle of the noisy city.  You could wander around and try to imagine what the streets and temples had looked like, that were now just paving stones and remnants of toppled pillars lying amid weeds.  And there were scores and SCORES of cats.  But now the Forum is surrounded by an eight-foot high fence, cement sidewalks have been installed and the grass is perfectly manicured and edged around every fallen stone.  All Robert and I could do was to peer through the bars of the fence.  I didn't see a single cat!  Of course I understand that these treasures must be protected from vandals and souvenir pickers, but I am very glad I had the opportunity to experience that history it in a much different way, before. 

I had told Robert that one thing I really wanted to do was to visit Pompeii or Herculaneum, or both.  So we took a side trip to Naples, but I'll write about that next time.  We saw the Pantheon and I took pictures of Italian sandwiches (amazingly artistic!) and we ate great food.  We went to the Piazza Navona at night to see Bellini's incredible Fountain of the Four Rivers.  Unfortunately for us, they were working on it, so it was drained and surrounded by a huge plywood barrier! Urgh! Oh well!  It was still pretty!      


Well, now I am tired and must pack for a trip to visit Robert's sister.  I'll write more when we get back! 

Happy Passover and Easter!


Just before Christmas I decided to do something about our parlor fireplace.  It was boarded up but if I tapped on it, it sounded hollow.  Several years ago I purchased an antique gas jet insert just because it looked pretty.  I put it in front of the mantle and burned candles in it, which is as close as I could get to having a roaring fire.  I thought it would look better if I could open up the firebox (which is all of about six inches deep) and set the gas jet inside it.  I assumed I'd have to fashion some sort of interior walls and insulate it, but I thought I could get it done before our Christmas guests arrived. 

Well, the joke's on me.  After destroying my home with a chisel and hammers and getting plaster dust and grit all over everything, I learned that I can't put the gas jet in that space.  For some screwy reason there is a chimney within the chimney (which comes from nowhere and leads nowhere) that is only half as wide as the fireplace opening.  So unless I felt like risking having two stories of bricks fall down on my head, I was stymied.  Pooh!    

I covered everything up with a tartan curtain for Christmas but realized I'd eventually have to board up the space again.  I decided I should do something with tile that would look nice in our Victorian house.  We shopped for ceramic tiles in Italy and Turkey but didn't find anything useful or affordable.  I ended up making my own fancy tiles by decoupaging pieces of a very expensive William Morris wallpaper sample ($10.00 for a 18" x 24" piece!) to pieces of cheap bathroom tile I had cut to the correct size.  I used them along with plain black and glass tile to make a fancy "firescreen" sort of thing.  Also, I had salvaged an antique cast-iron fireplace surround from the alley behind my house in Detroit.  I brought it to New York but it was too short to use for either of our fireplaces.  But I found if I built a fake raised hearth, it fit just great!  Here's my masterpiece.  (I accept your applause graciously.) 

I am pretty happy about the result, but still hoping we'll get rich and we can have a real wood-burning fireplace some day.


It is incredibly depressing that I can be so excited about getting a job that is only four hours a day, five days a week, and pays five bucks an hour.  And in fact, I am not yet sure the job is really mine!  But if it turns out that I, with my multiple university degrees, management experience, awesome creative talent and general genius, am not qualified to be a DOG BABYSITTER, I might as well just shoot myself.

But I will not shoot myself, because I have finally experienced an epiphany.  

Nice ladies come to my door with magazines and tell me that if I do what they do, I can have a personal relationship with God.  I used to be vicious to these people whenever possible because I thought they were idiots.  But God has personally told me that as He made everything, even idiots, there is a place for them and I should respect them.  So I do.  I am nice to these ladies, and I take their magazines and I tell them that I am all set, thanks.

God communicates with me on a personal level all the time.  He has sort of a quirky manner of doing this.  Sometimes he says, "Had enough yet, smartypants?" and sometimes, "Ha!  Ha!"  Sometimes God holds my head underwater until I am about to pass out, then says, "Cry Uncle!"  So I have finally accepted that if employers have no work for a person like myself, I'll have to make my own work, or more specifically, to make the work I do make money.  

So I am very excited to have this opportunity (taking care of two miniature doggies whose master has accepted a job in NYC) because it will get me out of the house (where I tend to spend my time doing things like making fake fireplaces) to "go to work."  I hope to use the time to do more writing, and look for editing jobs.  I also have quite a bit to do getting the voice-acting company off the ground.

The dogs' owner is on vacation for a week.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Well, I guess this is enough for now.  Drop me a line!  Thanks to those of you who have written reviews of "Gift Hearse," especially since I tried to show my sister-in-law how to navigate the website to do it, and found out what a massive pain in the butt it is.  If you have trouble, call me at (845) 838-6248.  I am trying to get a website up to make it easier to find, and to jump through the hoops I need in order to get it in bookstores and Amazon.  

And thanks to you who have bought it!    Enjoy spring!

F and R

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rome, Pompeii, Istanbul! What it's like being me...


OK!  I finally have a shipment of my book, NEVER LOOK A GIFT HEARSE IN THE GRILLE.  If you want it, you can get it from me for $11.00, or buy it from the publisher for $15.00 plus tax and shipping.  I have (I HOPE!) added the link to  Otherwise, just contact me at FAHOGG at, and I'll be happy to send you one.  Thrill at the embarrassment of your high school friends!  (I am still not sure whether Marisue Richardson is still talking to me--Colleen McNeilly seems to have come to some sort of personal resolution, who knows what Carl Wasson thinks?)


I broke our camera just days before our big trip.  We bought a new one, and I took a zillion pictures of all our wonderful adventures, but as yet, I haven't figured out how to get them into a computer file I can find again!  Argh!  Why am I so computer DUMB?  I am so smart at other things!  Really!  I am! I have a very high IQ!

So I will write to you about all the exciting things we did and saw, but later.

Today, I want to write about what it is like to be me.  Being me today, has reduced me to tears.  I am SO depressed and bummed.


Ten years ago I had a job I loved.  I was helping poor and disadvantaged people in inner-city Detroit deal with bad guys.  I loved my clients, especially my dear old ladies.  I got a great deal of personal satisfaction from knowing I could make huge differences in the quality of their lives whenever I got a mortgage set aside or I kept someone from being evicted.  I was involved with youth groups in my inner-city church.  I knew it was my calling since childhood to help other people.  I knew my path.  I was on the right road.

I had a busy life in other ways, too.  I lived with my good friends, Dawn and Leo, and other friends like Herb and Cindy and Danny and Benita.  I had a big house and whenever anybody was in a tight squeeze I was usually able to help them out, offering a place to stay for awhile until they got back on their feet.  (A writer friend suggested I should write my life story and title it, "Strays.")  I wrote mystery novels and ran a theater company and was a volunteer for various good causes.  One of the best and most enjoyable things I EVER did in my life was to be the foster mother of two bright, funny little girls.  I had friendships all over the globe (I still do) and one of those friends was the wonderfully funny and incredibly smart and excellently good-hearted and honest Robert Lochow.

Then the job I loved was de-funded.  I found another one that was almost the same.  Robert told me he loved me and asked me to move to New York.  I hesitated--what about all those people who depended on me?  One by one, barriers fell away, though sometimes in ways I never would have wished.  Leo suddenly died.  My babies went back to live with their mother.  Dawn and Herb moved away.  My new job was slated for de-funding.  The house next to mine caught fire and my house was damaged.  [I figure, when God has been sending you all sorts of messages and you keep arguing with Him about it, when He gets around to burning your house down, you better listen!]

So I moved to New York.  I LOVE it here.  The mountains and the majestic Hudson River and the waterfalls and ancient farmhouses and forests and historic areas thrill me.  I live in my dream house--so pretty and comfortable.  I married Robert.  We have been together for ten years (having known each other for about eighteen years before we had our first "date") and we have never had a fight.  I adore him.  We are intellectual equals and share so many interests.  He is always thoughful and supportive of me, I am the happiest wife in the world.     

My only frustration is that I have not been able to find the right place for myself, job-wise.  I loved working at Robert's firm as a paralegal, but that ended when the firm had a bad year and had to lay off a lot of people.  I loved working for attorney Charles Rock, helping families with children who had been damaged by lead paint poisoning and people who had strokes after chiropractic treatment.  (Charles is personable and talented and wonderful; I loved everybody I worked with there; I loved the work I did; but the bad economy has affected law firms everywhere, and his work dried up.)  Hell, I even loved cleaning cat litter boxes at the shelter --  FOR NOTHING!  I always enjoy my work!  I always enjoy DOING something and finding ways to solve problems.  But I got laid off in February, 2009, and I have had ZILCH luck finding a new job since then.

I realized lately that the situation I am in now is very similar to the one I was in in Detroit.  I am at a crossroad.  The life I loved and enjoyed is not available to me anymore.  I need to figure out what I am good at doing and what makes me happy, and go for it.  I need to trust my instincts.  (Robert Lochow made me happy.  I went for it.)

I was telling Robert a while ago how frustrated I am because I can't do anything that anybody wants.  He told me something that really made me feel better.  I had just purchased an antique chair that needed to be refinished, repaired, and the seat re-caned.  I told him I had purchased the caning supplies on line and I was waiting for them.  He said, "You know how to weave a chair seat?"  I said, "Sure."  He said, "I don't know ANYONE who knows how to do all the things you do!  You are remarkable!  Everything you do, you do well!  How can you think that you can't do anything!"

But my legal experience is very specialized, and I have a learning disability that affects my ability to do mathmatical or spacial computations.  (Dischronophasia and discalculia!  Look them up!)  I decided to screw being a lawyer though I still want to keep my license so I can be a volunteer lawyer and help non-profit organizations.  I realized I need to take a close look at what I enjoy, what I am good at doing, and find a job doing that.   

So today, I applied for a job as Activities Director of an assisted living facility.  Having dealt with the demise of my mother and mother-in-law and all the fussing I did trying to find ways to help them feel better about their changed lives and their depression and feelings of uselessness (and I was SUCCESSFUL at that), I found things they could do, despite their challenges, that made them feel they were still contributing to society.  This is a calling so near my heart, I can't even write about it without crying.  It is so important to me.

All my experience outside of being a lawyer suits me for this job.  I love doing event planning.  I just pulled off an incredibly successful fundraiser for the cat shelter.  I ABLY handled the cat shelter auction a year ago, in spite of it happening a month after the entire economy collapsed.   Thanks to my artsy-fartsy parents, I know how to do all sorts of things, and I have some talent in almost every "craft area."   I HAVE A MILLION IDEAS.  I am always busy and always doing something creative. 

But the person (she was sweet, and I would love to work with her, and I hope I will be able to!) who looked at my resume said, "Oh, you don't want to do this!"  She told me what I REALLY want to be is a lawyer, and it was ridiculous for me to expect I could make the same money doing this paltry job (my response:  WHO SAYS?  DO YOU THINK I AM NUTS??).  She actually told me she thought I should move back to Michigan. She couldn't understand why I am here, when I had such a useful life there!  I literally had to FIGHT her to get her to listen to me, and when I told her about some of the volunteer things I do ("Oh!  You're the cat pin lady?") she made a special entreaty to her boss to talk to me.  But he, finding I am a lawyer, said, "You don't have the experience I want."  He has no idea what experience I have.  I am so disgusted and upset.  I have been crying for about four hours.

So tomorrow I will send him a letter asking him to reconsider me.  I'll tell him all the stuff I can do.  Then I'll figure out how to transfer these freaking pictures of our WONDERFUL trip to Rome and Pompeii and Istanbul, and I'll write you another letter!

I LOVE YOU ALL!  I receive all your unconscious mind messages of good cheer, but I sure wish I could get a note from you now and then!

F and R.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Successful fundraiser! Other stuff!


The comedy show fundraiser I put on on February 18 was -- A HUGE SUCCESS!!  I am so happy!  Even though it was Thursday evening, we made over one thousand dollars!  I am thrilled.  It usually takes eight of us, sitting for hours at a booth at some community festival (and me working non-stop as face-painter) to make five hundred bucks.  This was an almost effortless event.  I got some good publicity (including a cable news spot, that unfortunately, didn't air in Beacon, so I missed seeing myself, but people who saw it said I did a good job) and we filled every seat and then some!  The comics were so funny, and so professional, no one could have asked for more.  Everybody was laughing and smiling, money flowed like water.  It was just great.

Too bad I forgot to bring my camera!  A few days later, I dropped it off my desk and killed it.  It is DEAD.  We need to buy a new one before we take our trip on March 10, to Rome and Istanbul. 


Sitting at home with no employment, I like to keep myself busy.  In addition to the wallpapering job that nearly did me in, I have been working on some woodworking projects.  If you have old furniture, or an antique house, you need to buy some Briwax!   It is a colored wax that you rub on wood, then buff it to a shine.  It doesn't work on wood that has already been varnished, so you have to use some elbow grease and sandpaper first, if that is the case. 

When he moved out of my house in Detroit, Herb Ferrer gave an antique English walnut dresser to my housemate, Dawn Young.  She gave it to me.  I absolutely love this piece.  I have used it as a buffet in my dining room, though for eight years I have been unable to open any of the drawers.  It was literally a mirror and a pile of boards with some water damage when I packed it up to move to New York.  I put it together like a puzzle, held together by nothing but gravity.  When Robert asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I'd like to have it restored.   He called in an expert who gave us a current price of about SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS for the repairs.  I told Robert that was too much, and we decided to try to do the restoration ourselves.  That required a couple of weeks with dropcloths on the carpet and lots of hammers and clamps and glue bottles lying around, but we finally got it put back together.  A little steel wool and Briwax, and the water damage disappeared.  And the drawers actually open and close!

I was so inspired that I took the doors off our really crappy-looking upper bathroom cabinets.  They had paint dribbles, scuffs and worn sports, and I had figured I'd have to paint them because they looked so shoddy.  But I used Briwax on them and put on some new hardware.  They look great!  I want to make commercials for Briwax!  (It's from England.  You have to buy it from a paint company.)


We were spared during the last two crippling snowstorms.  It was as if a magical dome came down from the sky and settled over Beacon, while everybody around us and all down the coast got slammed with sleet and yards of snow.  This made Robert happy but it made me nervous, because I believe in The Great Leveler.  The fact that we didn't get our butts kicked twice only meant to me that when we DID get our butts kicked, it would be twice as hard.

It was sleeting a little on Tuesday evening when I walked to my writing group.  It is held at a local wine bar.  When I got there, the place was closed (the proprietor had been snowed in and was unable to come there to open up) but no problem, because Simon and the other members of the group were sitting in his car in front of the place, ready to take me to another member's house for the meeting.  During the meeting, though, the snow continued.  Afterward, the drive back to my house (less than a mile) took an hour and a half!  When Simon's tires weren't spinning uselessly on an ice slick, the car was sliding sideways through intersections.  Thank God there were hardly any other cars on the road!  Every half block or so I had to push the car to get it unstuck, and then Simon didn't dare slow down to let me back in.  So I ran most of the way home next to his car (with the theme from "Rocky" playing in my brain), always ready to give it another push.  Needless to say, Simon was our overnight guest. 

On Thursday, the snowfall started shortly after Robert left for work and didn't stop all day.  I began shoveling at about four for his seven o'clock return.  It was very wet and sticky, and hard shoveling.  I would go out for an hour, then come in to throw my soaking wet clothes in the dryer and put on new ones.  And of course, every time the snowplows hit the street, they built an even higher fence of slushy stuff, so the depth at the end of the driveway was at least two feet.  I had to get enough of the driveway cleared so Robert could get the car off the street, and I ALMOST made it.  I was about four feet from my goal when the across-the-street neighbor came over with about four other guys with shovels.  He was apologetic for not coming to my aid sooner.  "Every time I looked outside, you were still out here!"  Anyway, I was extremely thankful he came, because I was about done in.  They also cleared enough of the driveway to free my car (as if I were driving ANYWHERE in the near future!).

This morning, OH MY!  I wish I had not destroyed my camera, because it looks like another planet around here.  There is a ten-inch blade of snow standing on every fence, every electrical wire and every branch.  We have a free-standing birdhouse on a post in the back yard that looks like it's wearing a miter.  Unfortunately, my beloved pink dogwood suffered serious blows, with most of its largest branches splintered.  I am really bummed about that--I enjoy that tree so much.  But at least we'll have lots fewer oak leaves to rake up this fall!  Broken limbs are everywhere.  I'd like to put more birdseed in my feeder, but the snow is hip-deep on that side of the house.  And our electical power keeps flickering on and off.    

Pretty, pretty, dangerous snow. 

I just went outside to tell Robert to take a shoveling break.  I must make chicken soup and hot chocolate!

[Post script--I still don't have pictures of the original snowfall, but here are some photos from a few days later (when we'd already had a sizeable melt)]

My favorite tree!  The pink dogwood!

This is an ancient hydrangea tree -- totally destroyed. 


I have made a breakthrough in the work I am doing on my Mom's book (a thirty-year labor of love she was writing about her family).  There is just SO MUCH PAPER I often become overwhelmed.  Not only did she keep all the original source materials (boxes and boxes of ancient letters, crumbling diaries, crates of old photographs, notebooks of transcribed newspaper articles ) but she kept every draft she ever wrote, and every copy of every draft that she gave to other people to read and make comments on.  Then every time one of her computers pooped out on her, she'd re-type the whole thing, so I have various versions of the book.  It is my job (as I see it) to figure out what version she wanted, and to organize the last six year's worth of letters.   All I do is sort! 

Like my Mom, I fear having a computer failure that wipes out years and years of her work, so I, too, have been nervous about throwing out anything that I'm not absolutley certain I have a copy of.  But my breakthrough is --I have actually been TOSSING STUFF OUT!  Just the fact of having less to deal with makes everything manageable!  Even if I lose my computer files, I'll have a printed-out version, that is the closest I can come to her vision.

My only New Year's resolution for this year (See?  I've even given up on the idea of losing weight!) is to get the book published by December.  I feel pretty good about it.

Well, this is enough for now.  We hope you are all well and enjoying the weather (HA!)

F and R




Sunday, February 14, 2010

Help for Haiti's Vegans, I fail as a drug addict

Man.  For a solid year she can't make herself sit down and write a letter, and now she can't shut up.

It is amazing I can do any writing.  Since the installation of the bird feeder outside my window, my desk looks like this:


I report that my fun experience with my knee, lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs writhing in pain, has not permanently crippled me.  Thanks to Robert's insistence that I stay off it for two whole days, it got better much faster than I imagined it could.  I still feel pangs so I am babying it, in hopes of being completely fine by the time we take off on our Euro/Asian trip next month.  The injury, along with a bout of sinus agony, has caused me to miss several of my writing and acting group meetings, but I think I'm ready to rejoin the creative fray.  (Wait a minute!  Who writes crap like "bout of sinus agony" and "rejoin the creative fray?"  Did somebody put something in my coffee?) 


Perhaps as a result of having few and infrequent medical issues and a naturally high pain threshhold, it never occurs to me to take medicine.  I forget it exists.  I probably ingest four aspirin a year, and I have never gotten the hang of remembering to eat vitamins.

But recently my doctor surprised me, telling me I have a pre-osteoporosis condition.  Now I have to take a pill once a week that has to be taken at the same time, before any other food, while sitting or standing, AND I have to take twice-daily doses of Vitamin D and calcium for a year, to see if the condition reverses itself.  I know how important it is to have strong bones, especially if you are an idiot who amuses herself by jumping off stair railings and tumbling down stairs.    

In spite of my good intentions, days go by before I realize I can't remember when I last took my pills.  I have tried everything-- a post-it on the bathroom mirror.  A note on the fridge door.  Vitamin bottles in the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.  A big plastic compartmented box with the days of the week printed on it, smack in front of the coffee maker.  But still, I get involved in my morning tasks, and I forget. 

But there is a morning task I could not forget if I wanted to, because my cats won't let me.  At about six a.m., the mewling and frantic scratching begins.  To keep Twerpy from actually digging through or UNDER our bedroom door, I have had to resort to screwing a sheet of tin to the floor, and repeated applications of duct tape.  Handsome, huh?  It is not even worth DREAMING about replacing the carpet as long as he is alive.   Here's some of Twerp's handiwork:

All cats abhore a closed door.

The reason Twerp is so frantic to get to me is because he fears I may forget his morning COOKIES!  My cats have a self-feeder stocked with dry cat food and water, but somebody (Damn you, Dee!) gave me a gift of cat treats, and somehow, these have become my cats' expectation.  Twerp will not stop chattering and whining until I parcel them out on the kitchen floor.  Last week I said to him, "Here!  Take your damned shut-up pills!" 

Voila!  I have not forgotten my vitamins since!


It is my nature to keep busy so I look around for volunteer opportunities.  I saw something on our city website asking for people to donate to a bake sale to benefit Haiti.  So I e-mailed and asked what I could contribute.  The organizer suggested I whip up a batch of my favorite recipe for delicious vegan cookies.

Some people might argue that "delicious" and "vegan" don't belong in the same sentence together.  [If you don't know, vegan is a more extreme form of vegetarianism where even products like honey and milk, that don't require the death of an animal, are not eaten.]  I said, "Wow!  My extensive collection of delicious vegan recipes is so vast, it's hard for me to choose one!" (I didn't really say that, I just asked her for a suggestion) and she offered a recipe for some molasses cookies.  I had all the ingredients, and made a batch. 

They looked good, but smelled funny to me.  I checked the ingredients I had used, including the canola oil, because I feared it might have gone rancid.  I use very little oil generally and it can go bad fairly quickly.  Robert thought it smelled fine but I wanted to be on the safe side.  I bought new stuff and tried it again.  A better result. 

I was happy to make a contribution to a good cause and the Vegans for Haiti ladies were very happy with my offering.  The little creatures in my yard are a different story.  I put the first batch of cookies in the feeders.  Squirrels pick them up, smell them, then knock them out of the feeder with their hind feet!  Skunks, on their nightly rounds to the grounds below the feeders, have not yet bothered to pick them up!  I am either the worst cookie baker in the world, or there are more anti-vegan animals out there than you would think.


Next week is my comedy show fund raiser.  I feel optimistic!  I would love SO MUCH to make a couple thousand bucks for the shelter.  Cross your fingers for good weather on Thursday and a happy, generous (and drunk!) crowd! 

I am also going to speak to some school kids about becoming writers.  I sent off for forty copies of my book (because I can sell and ship it for about half of the website price) but they were lost in transit and I am so grumpy about that.  The publisher won't do anything about it for six weeks so I am stuck with only about eight books to sell and lots of missed opportunities.  Grump!  Grump!  Grump!

That's all for now!  Drop a line! 

F and R