Saturday, May 31, 2014

Free on Amazon

I'll be back next week. I am swamped trying to list my first book on as many of the Free Kindle Book web sites as I can. The book will be offered free on Amazon June 5-7. There are 100's of these sites. Who knew? I am about at the point of "Who Cares?"

Sterling Silver and Dollar Stores - the eBook

Friday, May 30, 2014

He Never Told Me

My Daddy never told me:
  • I do not get to clean my house like June Cleaver who did it in heels and pearls
  • That the ice cream cone that always cured all the problems in the world now makes me fat
  • When I grew up I would not look like my Barbie doll
  • That the "bad" girl in school could grow up to marry the doctor and live happily ever after playing tennis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings
  • Doing well in school so I would have a career only meant I would have a full time job and therefore not be able to play tennis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings 
  • That "inflation" was a word associated with economics not just the float I took to the beach every summer
  • And, more than anything else that I would be growing up without him 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just Like Five Year Olds

Great. The Finches don't like their vegetables. I've been here, done this, got the t-shirt (although I could not find it now if I tried). No one told me having birds would be akin to a cage of five year olds. 

I did much research and listened to the breeder I got the birds from - talk about going to the source. This older gentleman with a foreign accent who has a great reputation for his Gouldians told me he had been raising his Finches on a diet of dried fruits and vegetables, dried eggs (one of their favorites), a Finch seed mix, and some millet. I bought the exact food he was using to make sure their diet was the same.

The first day they were home they would only eat their millet and the bird seed. Further reading said that millet could be "comfort food" for new birds as they settled in. By the third day I figured they had settled in enough so I removed the millet and moved the seed to a dish just under a plant in the corner of their cage. (I figured they would find it if they were that hungry - they are extremely curious.)

Suddenly fruits, vegetables, and eggs became very popular. All eight of them crowded around the three feeders, ate like little pigs most of the day, and chirped merrily. Life was good. 

This morning I decided since they had "found" their fruits and vegetables that returning their seeds to one of the main feeders would finally balance their diet as it should be. Not so much.

When I returned from the kitchen I found eight Finches trying to eat out of a feeder that was designed for three at a time - the one containing the bird seed. Squawking and pecking ensued. Even though there were two available feeders of fruits and vegetables and another with eggs, oh no, everyone wanted seeds.

No doubt this will work out. The birds will settle down and realize there are multiple feeders with tasty food. I can only hope.

Just like five year olds, they all want the blue crayon. God forbid.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Feathered Friends for the Cage

My first finches have arrived. There are two pairs of Gouldians, two males, one with a white chest and one with a deep purple chest.

One of the Gouldian females is blue.

I also have a pair of Cut Throats.

And a pair of Golden Breasted.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chapter 5, "The Bridal party"

This is just a few paragraphs from Chapter 5, "The Bridal Party" from my new book.

I got married in the days of the big traditional southern weddings. Since my husband and I were from the same area, we knew most of the people we invited would probably attend. As we started planning the wedding, I was not surprised to find that my husband was not one of these ’Oh, honey you just make that decision. Whatever you decide is fine with me’, types. Oh no, he was detailed oriented and wanted to participate, which I appreciated - to a point. OK when he told me the bridesmaids' dresses I selected looked like they were made out of ’shower curtain’ material I was ready for him to find another hobby.

Then we started discussing the wedding party. I came from a very small family - one brother and a few younger cousins. He was one of four children, two of whom were already married with children. He had lots of cousins, many of them he was close to. By the time he told me who he needed to have in the wedding including groomsmen and bridesmaids, out of 12 attendants, I was left with room for 2 cousins, 3 sorority sisters, and 1 friend. When it was all over, we had 12 groomsmen, 12 bridesmaids, a maid of honor, a best man, a ring bearer and a flower girl.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


I continue down the path of insanity. The cage arrived yesterday and today the perches and dishes arrived. Ellie thinks we are either getting a much bigger dog or she is being shipped off. She is very concerned.

So now I just need to get lights and heat. Then perhaps I will be prepared for the birds. Hopefully I will be able to find some Taeniopygia bichenovii, a few Lonchura oryzivora, and maybe even a Erythrura gouldiae or two.

No, I haven't abandoned the new book. It is now with the editor. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Upper King Street

A sorority sister of mine who works in Charleston for the Historic Charleston Foundation penned a delightful novel that I think you may enjoy.  

Upper King Street takes place in Charleston, so if you are familiar with the downtown area you may recognize some of the venues in the story. Not to be a spoiler, the story involves Lucy Cameron, the owner of an art gallery in Charleston and Samuel O'Hara, a preservation contractor. Although they sound like provincial characters in a predicable plot, perhaps not. It makes for a great summer read.

You can find it at Amazon at the link above. I am insanely jealous of Valerie who is constantly commenting about biking to work (since she lives downtown) and life in the Holy City with her dear Airedale, Winnie.

And rumor has it she is working on another book. It is always nice to support local southern writers.

No Sauce

The preparation for the finches continues. Over the weekend, the small travel cage arrived. No, I do not plan to take the birds with me on vacation. When you go pick up birds from a breeder or from a show, the small cage is how you tote them home.

Cordon Bleu

I also had to order the accouterments for the flight cage. After I was finished I had a box of split branches, small perches, wall and food feeders, and cuttle bones on the way to via UPS. The scary part was I did not even know where to start with bird food. Every source I consulted had a different opinion and would quickly tell you they were correct and everyone else was so wrong. 

How am I supposed to know who is right and who is wrong in this fight? At some point I am going to have to pick sides. I have gone through the five bird books I got for mother's day (including "Finches for Dummies", who knew?) and even they conflict with one another. 

Maybe they will come with "Finch Chow". Don't laugh, Purina makes "Tortoise Chow". OK, Purina doesn't call it "Tortoise Chow" they call it "Mazuri". It is part of Purina's food for exotics they developed for zoos. I doubt it will be that easy for the birds. 

The one thing I did forget was a bird bath. They need to a bathe, but not too much water, no more than a half inch. As it turns out, they don't swim and can easily drown. 

The only bird I ever knew as a child was my Mama's parakeet named Sailor Boy. He lived a long life. Daddy trained him to light on the side of guests' cocktail glasses, reach in, and take a sip. If it was a large party, eventually someone would have to put Sailor Boy back in his cage. Needless to say he would have a hard time finding it himself. 

Come to think of it maybe that has something to do with my reluctance  to have birds as pets. But then I doubt few were raised reared with a sauced up parakeet.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Movie Review, Million Dollar Arm

Another baseball movie, this one by Disney, and at least the critics were favorable in their reviews. The Million Dollar Arm is based on a true story of a down and out sports agent, JB, played by Jon Hamm, who dreams up a contest to get cricket players from India to compete for a trip to America to train for a chance to pitch for an American major league baseball team.

My thought was, could Disney produce a movie without removing the edge, making it sappy, and basically gutting a perfectly good story? The story takes place in India and Los Angeles. The filming in India and the part of the story that takes part there makes the film exoctic and brings a different spin to a baseball film. And there is romance as in boy meets girl, boy is a jerk, girl is smarter than boy, boy finally smartens up. 

As with everything they touch, Disney cannot leave it alone. There are signs of Disney's finger prints all over it. Parts are too predictable and sappy. Places in the screen play that need to be a little raw are smoothed over. But still it is a great story that is entertaining, humorous at times, and heart warming. It moves along and doesn't lag or stumble on itself.   

The engaging screen play is even more interesting when you remember it is a true story, after all the truth is so much better than fiction. All in all it is an enjoyable film and the 124 minutes does not feel like 2 hours. Best of all it has a little for everyone, the sports enthusiasts, those who just enjoy a good story, and anyone with an interest India and her people.

I recommend it. I do not see it as an Oscar contender, but then I would rather see a movie I enjoy than suffer through something that is award winning but tedious. After all, movies are an escape.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Finch Research

The finch project continues. Before I make a commitment to this venture I want make sure I know what I am getting into. So I started by reading the books I got for Mothers Day. Then I had the information from our trip to four pet stores that had finches. That was revealing. 

Three stores showed little interest we were even there. One shop owner looked as if he had lived large in the 1960's and missed the ticket out. Another did not know what he was talking about and was so stupid he kept opining showing his ignorance. 

Two were not clean enough for me to want spend money there. Three only had the Zebra variety (which is the most common and least colorful), Society (which are also fairly common), and a few Spice finches. 

However, one store had several large clean cages of nice finches of different varieties such as Wyndahs, Cordon Blues, as well as more colorful variations of Zebras, Society, and Spice and some other varieties. But more than that a nice young man came up to see if he could help us. He was most helpful in answering many questions I had. He spent a good deal of time talking with me about his experiences with finches, their breeders, cages, supplies, etc. He was in no hurry nor did he pressure me into buying anything.

So I came home knowing a little more than I knew before, still not sure this was a good idea. I did feel a little more confident after talking with the one helpful salesman. 

What am I talking about? Adding a flight cage to our menagerie, more mayhem to the zoo? More insanity to this mess. But more importantly - where would we put the Christmas tree? After all I have to keep all of this in perspective. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Railway Man, A Movie Review

Colin Firth is one of my favorite actors. We had been seeing trailers about this film for months now. When Railway Man finally came to a theater, it was on our agenda and yesterday we saw it. 

Let me get some things out there first of all. It is dark - in filming, dreary colors, the dreary UK, dark rooms, gloomy moods, cloudy coasts. And there is torture and violence in the film that is not for the faint at heart. Jonathan Tepiltzky, the director, did not spare the audience the torment British soldiers faced. This is no spoiler, if you have seen the trailer you know this much.

Nicole Kidman, not my favorite, gives the role of a lifetime. My hat is off to her. She carries her part of the film well as Patti, Eric's wife. If anything she provides a breath of air, of light and a vibrancy of color to the otherwise dreary landscape. And, Jeremy Irvine, who plays the younger Eric is excellent and should not be overlooked. Of course Colin Firth as the older Eric plays the role of the broken, emotionally scarred veteran with that quiet brooding  he does so well. There are many pregnant silent close ups of his face that speak volumes. Just his visage, his eyes say more than any lines could be written for the scene.

The story unfolds in a way that has all your questions are answered in due time. You are never hanging, asking, "What about  . . .?" or "What happened to . . .?" Like a train, for 116 minutes you are on track, in no hurry, as you begin to see the effect the war had on Eric. Although he was freed from captivity at the end of the war, flashbacks tell the story of the demons that still hold him. 

The beautiful part is that the story is true, the film is well done, the screen play is well written, and when you walk out of the theater you cannot help but think, "God, why do have the atrocities of war?" 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Chapter 15 Venues, Venues, Venues

Here are a few paragraphs from Chapter 15, "Venues, Venues, Venues" of the new book.

Given most brides were trying to find places a year in advance, when my daughter told me she wanted to get married in April - of that year - in the Low Country - on a specific Saturday, I panicked. Of course, she had a particular location. OK, let's be specific. Why not make this a blood sport?

I could not help but think of many of the weddings I had attended over the years. One came to mind that was held at a fairly unique venue. A Yankee from New Jersey came south bought some land and decided it would make a beautiful wedding venue. To enhance its image he built a replica plantation house that could be rented out.

So let me paint you the picture here - we had a Yankee from New Jersey who came and bought land in the deep south, he built a big white house with Corinthian columns and put porticoes around it, called it a plantation, and rented it out to us southerners for exorbitant rates - which some idiots paid. Talk about selling ice to the Eskimos.

And, of course, as always, the Yankee was determined to civilize us "heathens" and bring culture to the backwoods of the rural south. Please define "culture". We were seated in white chairs on a wide expanse of green lawn overlooking the pond (all man-made to fit the antebellum theme) for the nuptials. Throughout the ceremony the preacher had to pause due to the loud revving of engines that could be heard coming from the nearby drag strip (some good 'ol boy flavor the Yankee didn't quite count on.)

As the preacher announced the bride and groom and they started making their way up the aisle, a loud boom went off. Some true Old South flare? A friend sitting nearby nonchalantly said, "Oh, that's Trish."

I looked at her. "What do you mean Trish? Knowing who she was referring to but not having a clue what Trish had to do with the near sonic boom we just heard.

"That was Trish's cannon." I looked at her totally perplexed. "She has three cannons and she likes to shoot them at special occasions, like ball games, and the births of her grandchildren."

"And weddings," I added.

"Especially weddings," our friend said.

The venue may have been owned by a Yankee, but how much more southern can you get than a wedding in the shadow of a white house built for show, interrupted by the Saturday evening noises of the local drag strip and highlighted by the boom of a real cannon. Even an entrepreneuring Yankee couldn't come up with that much color.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Being Too Thin May Kill You

I saw a piece on 60 Minutes last evening on longevity. They featured a study  that had been done on a group of folks who had reached their 90's and above and were still active. This particular group of people provided great insight because 30-40 years ago they had been censused and examined for another study. So the earlier findings could be used as a base for the current study.

The idea was that the 90 and above age group is multiplying faster than any other age group in the country but no one really knows much about their health because up until now living up into yours 90's was not the norm. It was always assumed that what we knew about health in general applied to them.

The findings were interesting. Yes, exercise helps - but one only needs to do as little as 15 to 30 minutes a day to make a difference (and that does not need to be intense). Smoking will set one back. Drinking (wine or liquor) daily in moderation was a plus. Relationships and social interaction were very important. Obviously genetics play an important role, but we have no control over the hand we are dealt at birth. They had interesting facts on Alzheimer's and dementia which were fascinating - the former not having as much to do with age as we think. 

While everyone should watch their weight as we age, according to this story - being thin is not good. Those who had more weight on them (but were not obese or over weight) lived longer.

All the participants in the study they interviewed were positive, happy, and living an active life. It was quipped about one lady that she had outlived her computer. There were couples still married after all this time. (They deserved some type of award and a study of their own.) There were also widows and widowers and some in both of those groups talked about dating. 

When Leslie Stahl was interviewing a couple who were "seeing each one another" they told her they saw each other six days a week, but took one day off. Then Leslie commented that the gentleman said there was one thing no one ever brought up in the study - their sex life. When she asked them about it, the lady blushed and they both just chuckled. Then the camera showed pictures of the ball room at the retirement community with couples dancing to "Save the Last Dance for Me." 

So always looking at the cup half full, I walked away realizing 30 minutes a day of exercise will keep me from feeling guilty, a drink or two a day may help me age well, having good friends will help carry me into my 90's, being too thin is a bad thing after all (there is a God), and we all need sex. Who knew? Well these folks in California who retired in their 60's and are still going thirty years later do.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Week that Was

I am back - for what it is worth. The original plan was a trip to Virginia to visit friends, attend a surprise 60th birthday party, and an Easter Egg hunt. I was leaving on Friday, April 26th and coming home yesterday, May 2. All that changed when the hostess of the party managed to break her wrist on Easter Sunday. So I headed to Richmond on Tuesday, April 23rd. The two of us and three hands took two and a half days to get her house ready for a weekend of house guests, get all the shopping done, food prep for the party, and all the adult beverages.

Saturday was consumed by a wonderful crab festival (I posted pictures earlier). Sunday was the party. Now a 60th birthday once was for old people. Suddenly, 60 is the age of those who are mature, yet fun loving with many years ahead of them - right? 

Tuesday's Dr's appointment brought a surprise that there would be surgery on Wednesday. Hey, what's a little more excitement. But between the blood work and the surgery we had the annual office Easter Egg Hunt. Now even I had worked in this area, for some reason, even though I did not take it personally, I had never taken part in this holiday festive event. 

75 eggs containing everything from plastic rabbits, to wind-up bunnies, to bubbles, to candy, to mini-bottle of liquor were hidden all over the office. At a given time 15 adults were let loose to find and gather as many eggs as possible. It reminded me of a scene from "It's a Mad Mad Mad World". When word was given they could start - all Hell broke loose. They were all (I hid the eggs so I was unable to participate and was a mere observer) running down the hall and through the cubicles. 

There were rules for the event (that had been established over the years from past experiences):

  • Eggs could not be collected prior to the official start of the hunt
  • No one could move or touch an egg if they saw any before the race
  • No stealing eggs from another
  • No combining eggs by two or more people to win a prize
  • No licking of eggs
There were eggs found from past hunts that were not found earlier. (Yes, they counted.) And all the eggs this year were not found. (And yes, if anyone finds an egg during the year after the race but before the next year's eggs are hidden they are free to claim the loot.) Ah, the things adults will do to amuse themselves and make a lunch hour fun. I am happy to announce that no one challenged the winner and there were only minimal injuries this year.

After the hunt we were off to the hospital for out patient surgery then home for recovery. 

This should explain why I was not current with my musings last week or so. I will attempt to resume my schedule this week.