Dogs, Cats, and Handsome Actors

Dogs? The Can-Opener is writing about dogs?

You’ve heard of Dog Days, when everything goes wrong. Last night, not for the first time, I got zero sleep. Not an exaggeration. This affects my typing and writing, so be merciful.

I share a bedroom wall and a living-room wall with a nice military guy. Possibly a SEAL. He has two very large dogs. When he’s home, they’re quiet. But when he’s not there, the dogs express their opinions of his absence by a many-houred session of non-stop barking. And beating up on the walls or the floor or something. Like they’re trying to create an opening so they can go looking for their Can-Opener. And yes, I routinely use earplugs, which are uncomfortable. The comfortable ones don’t work.  But then, neither do the uncomfortable ones.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;}

I’m not the only one who hears all this. At least six other people share walls or ceilings with the BarkaDoggies. Another half dozen residents are only a few feet away. We’re all miserable. When it happens again, I’m going to call the police. They have an officer who deals with animals, and he may as well earn his salary. Coronado is very pet-friendly, but some pets need to be dealt with. Their owner, if he can’t be with them at night, should hire someone to care for them. And for us.

At least I have something special to look forward to. In late April, I’ll be heading out for about three weeks in Israel. So many centuries filled with history and conflict and fascinating characters. Today I saw an advertisement about a new movie called Son of God. It’s opening here tomorrow, and I decided to go see the places in Israel used in the movie, because I’ll get to see them in person when I get to Israel. Ooops. The movie was filmed in Morocco. But I’m going to see it anyway, eventually, because the Portuguese actor is very beautiful.

One surprising thing is about to take place here. According to the weather news, we’ll have two or three inches of rain tomorrow (Friday, as I write this). I’ve lived in San Diego, followed by Coronado, for nearly all my life, and I’ve never seen that much rain in one day. Because of the rain, the very attractive Portuguese actor will have to wait. But not for long.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;}

Travel Collisions (Lynn Kerstan

 

Don’t tell the Can-Opener that I really miss her when she’s gone.

It’s been a bad day. Actually, a bad week. My plans to travel to Israel have fallen apart. I looked forward to it for months, and now it’s gone. One factor, probably the most important, was the inhumane number of plane changes. Turns out Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle Travel do not have a contract with El Al, which flies directly to Tel Aviv from LA and NY.

Another factor is that my problem with blood clots in my legs is made worse by sitting on a plane for 20+  hours. I learned that when I flew from San Diego to London last September. Now I’m taking blood-thinning meds, but that’s dicey. I had a medical appointment today and learned that problems are mounting up. I shouldn’t risk a long trip right now. So, Israel will have to wait. Sigh.

Meantime, Pat is urging me to join Carolyn and Pat on a river cruise in November. But . . . I’ve been to all the wonderful places on that cruise, several of them more than once. I was in the travel business for about twenty years, and those were the years when airlines and tour companies encouraged us to sell their products by providing free airline tickets and wonderful tours. Yes, I took full advantage of those opportunities. My paycheck was pitiful, but the side benefits were sometimes fabulous.

If only for the excellent company, I’d have been glad to join Pat and Carolyn. I had, in fact, decided to do that, but there was another factor in play. Thea Gurns, my dear friend and neighbor, would not be here to care for Monsieur le Comte de Sevigny. She and Lymond are good buddies. She treats him to Pet ‘n’ Purr sessions, keeps him fed, watered, and attends to the litter box as well. But precisely when Pat and Carolyn will be on their river cruise, Thea and her hubby will be in Tanzania with a gathering of friends who share their interest in heritage roses.

Sooo… I’m going nowhere for a while. Maybe The Romance Writers of America Conference in San Antonio—a place Very Hot in July—and possibly to Ireland. Maybe the Novelists Inc. conference in St. Petersburg, Floridaa. Or, maybe England again. I’m always happy in England. Yesterday I learned there are thirty million sheep in England. I think I saw all of them last September. What I forgot to do was go to a play in London. I love the theatre. So maybe . . . but, probably not.

Back in my kitten days. I was pretty cute, don’t you think?

And before any of my travel hopes actually take me elsewhere, I know that Coronado and San Diego are among the bestest places to be in all the world. On my flights back from England or Spain or China or Italy or France or wherever, I am invariably reminded how lucky I am to live in this place.

Tigers and other Hunts (Lynn Kerstan)

The Book of My Heart

Already, you have realized that I couldn’t find it. I spent the entire day and the next morning rifling through drawers, file cabinets, purses, bookshelves (lots of those!), suitcases, sifting through underwear and socks. I looked EVERYWHERE. By evening, I was exhausted and worried and very unhappy. I informed God that I was traveling to the deity’s home base on planet Earth. Being God, He knew where the passport was. So, would He lead me to where it was? No response.

Lymond wonders what they’ll do when they get to the top. I don’t have a couch, so he has no experiences of couches. But he can scramble to the top of his cat tree the moment I bring out the vacuum cleaner.

 

I did manage to find a Xerox copy of the front page of my passport and figured that would help when went to the Passport office. Then I put it somewhere, and couldn’t find it. So I went looking for it again. Sigh. Figured that I might have slipped it into my very small purse, the one with three small places to put things. So I looked for the purse and zipped open a pouch. No Xerox copy there. I still don’t know what became of it. BUT, right there in my purse was the passport!!! I have no recollection of putting it there. And no reason to have done so until a couple of months from now. I looked for the passport because I needed to send the “number” to the travel company. All that struggle for no good reason.

I’d like to say I learned a lesson from this, but I can’t. Instead, I might decide to go after the Miss Disorganized crown. If I do, I’m sure to win.

I’m not leaving for Tel Aviv until 29 April, and I’ll be in Israel the first two weeks in May. Regular readers here at StoryBroads know to expect lots of pictures and stories when I return. Assuming I don’t misplace my camera. I’ll take a spare. Do I know where my passport is right now? Yes. That in itself may be a Minor Miracle. But I will write down where it is, so that I can go directly to it when need be.

One more thing. A terrific writer of contemporary humorous romance novels and a good friend, Trish Jensen, is seriously ill. If you have a few moments, please send prayers or white light in the direction of Pennsylvania. According to close friend, author Sandra Hill, who visits her every day, Trish loves receiving cards. If you would like to send her a card with best wishes and newsy things about yourself, send me an email (lynn@lynnkerstan.com) and I’ll provide the address. Her latest book, Phi Beta Bimbo, is a lot of fun.

 

What Next? (Lynn Kerstan)

What Next? Going away again? Leaving me alone? Make sure Thea tends to me. She’s reliable and generous, unlike the Old Bat I am stuck with most of the time. You know who I mean.

The Holiday Season is over. I finally took down the Christmas Tree. I’d bought a new and nicer one, artificial and 7 feet tall. with colorful lights. I really enjoy decorating a tree. Every year, in my travels, I always seek out ornaments in markets and shops. Each one, hanging on the tree, takes me back to a wonderful place I will likely never visit again. Right now, I’m trying to settle on which trip to choose for my next adventure. My ultimate destination is the same sort of small ship that carried me and Pat Potter along the Dalmatian Coast. Best Trip Evah! I hope she decides to come along to places I know she’ll love. The same small, comfortable ships spend time weaving around Greek Islands and the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, where I can re-visit Rhodes, Kos, and Ephesus, along with many other gloriously charming islands. I still have an unopened bottle of the famous Greek licorice-flavored drink, Ouzo, which I bought  during my six-week trip to Greece and the islands in the mid ’70s.

If Pat’s not game for a trip, I will probably join a pair of gals from my high school graduating class, after which all three of us entered the convent. Now we’re out. I had a cool name, though: Sister Michael Damien. I sabotaged myself by telling my friends about my recent trip to England, and that’s where they are going. Sigh. I’d be glad to go back again, being ardently in love with England for most of my life. But I can’t afford another visit. I need to visit new places. So, if  I can’t join up with a friend, I’ll go to Israel on my own. I feel called to Israel, and from there I will book a cabin on the small-ship trip to the Greek Islands. At my age, I have to take advantage of good health and opportunities.   Happy 2014 to all of you who read blogs at StoryBroads. We love you all, and are ‘specially happy when you post Comments. We’ve been here, blogging, for a lonnng time, and we’d love to get better acquainted with our readers, which the Stats’ reports indicate are a great many more people we ever expected. Hurrah!

Not Much of a Blog (Lynn Kerstan)

Lymond, sweet as always, gives comfort in the way of cats.

Sorry. I’ll update this tomorrow, when I’m not sneezing and coughing. Will try to find something of interest to say.

Meantime, welcome to the New Year and let us all find ways to make 2014 the Best Year Ever.

In my case, a wonderful trip to somewhere I’ve longed to visit tops my list. I have good friends interested in going where I want to go, which makes me wildly happy.  Not sure how things will work out, but I’m optimistic.

Where would you most want to visit, given plenty of money (never relevant to my own experience!) and fun family or friends to come with you?

 

Christmas with the Cat (Lynn Kerstan)

Unlike many people, I have no family members or good friends living close by. So in this holiday season, it’s me and Monsieur le Comte de Sevigny. Don’t imagine I’m  deprived or abandoned. I have many good friends, most of them writers like me. They stay in contact (God Bless E-Mail), and my goodest buddies send me large helpings of the World’s Tastiest Pecans. I don’t know what Pat Potter does to make them so crunchy and tasty and wondrous, although I suspect much butter is called for in the recipe. Okay, I know that for a fact.

For my part, I’m brewing a new batch of limoncello to share with my excellent neighbors. When I travel, Thea takes great care of my kittycat. Her husband is the dog walker (lucky Shredder and Petey, both adopted from the local abandoned pets shelter), and John therefore needs a regular supply of baggies for dog poop.That’s my function in this life: save bags for . . . well, you know.

I wanted to get a good picture of my Christmas tree, which brings me a lot of pleasure. During my years of travel, I have collected ornaments from many places in the world, and it brings me joy to remember those voyages. But Sony’s Play Memories Home (the only way to download the pictures) just screws everything up. According to HP, where I bought this computer, it won’t work with Canon cameras, either. Not compatible, they told me . . . after I bought the computer and the camera. I think companies should inform potential buyers of devices incompatible with their products before we lay down our money.

Oh, well. Sunny skies here, temperature in the 70′s, happy tourists enjoying the beach until they dip their toes in the icy water. I’ll be glad when the holidays are over so I can resume my long, healthy walks at the Zoo. Gotta get myself into good shape for the next travel adventure.

Love to you all, whatever you celebrate at this time of year.

 

 

 

My Pre-Christmas Weekend (Lynn Kerstan)

Stuff is dangling from my cat tree. Same kind of stuff that’s hanging from a real tree that shows up here now and again.

It’s been raining all day, something one can rarely say about San Diego. No exercise walk in the Zoo for me, alas.

But I’m still floating on air after a wonderful weekend. On Friday, I had a long, luxurious, delicious lunch, seasoned with the company of two friends I’ve treasured since high school (the Academy of Our Lady of Peace), from which we graduated together. After that, all three of us entered the convent. Dottie and I joined the Sisters of St. Joseph (who taught at the school), and Diane went to the Carmelites. I only lasted two and a half years, fearful they’d assign me to teach second grade. Dottie, (who did get assigned to second grade for a time) remained twenty-four years. During those years, she earned a doctorate in psychology and after leaving the religious order, went into private practice. I’m not sure how long Diane remained a nun. On exiting, she married and gave birth to several children and is a grandma many times over. She’s also a gifted artist and great fun to be with.

I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much as I did at that lunch, which lasted several hours. Late that afternoon, I drove in rush-hour traffic to the University of San Diego, my alma mater, where I joined a sing-along of Handel’s Messiah.

The following Monday, I shopped for ingredients to make a salad that is always popular at a pot-luck lunch or supper. That evening, the Writers Group I’ve belonged to for many years continued my good times. Smart people, writers or the spouses of writers, gathered for a really fun evening. Two of them are professional musicians and brought their guitars for some entertainment. Not long after, I was singing one of my favorite songs from my distant past as a singer: House of the Rising Sun. I am now semi-tempted to drag out my guitar and suffer the pain of playing it without calluses on my fingertips. I helped pay my expenses in grad school by plucking and singing, but that was decades ago.  I don’t even remember how to tune a guitar. But I have a friend who can help me.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I’m having problems with Picasa and can boast all the technical expertise of a raisin. And whatever you celebrate this time of year, I wish every one of you a glorious end to 2013

Bonus recipe for a luscious, healthy Broccoli-Cauliflower salad: Chop the broc and cauliflower in big and little pieces. Add walnuts, raisins or craisins, and crumbled , crispy bacon (optional). Toss with dressing (make it ahead of time): 1 cup mayo, 1 half cup sugar, 2 tsp white vinegar. It’s really tasty and healthy and a big success everywhere I take it for a party.

Happy holidays, everyone!

 

The Cat at Christmas (Lynn Kerstan)

The Cat at Peace

I wanted Lymond, Monsieur le Comte de Sevigny, to write this blog. But he’s grumpy, and he will be brief. He wants to take a nap on my footstool by the space heater, and that’s where he’s been for most of the day.  Apparently, his reluctance to bail me out and send you good wishes has something to do with the antlers.

Here he is, antlered and not at all happy about it.

As a rule, cats don’t have antlers, but when I bought him a fancy new toy for the sharpening of his cat claws, he liked it a lot. It’s not as if he uses his claws. Lymond knows the meaning of “No!!!!! He never claws carpets or furniture, etc.. Not ever. He only claws his claw tree.

It’s because I bought a fancy claw tree that Petco gave me a free set of antlers for the cat. Lymond now wants me to boycott Petco. But I won’t. This year, antlers are becoming the thing.  In a large supermarket marking lot, I pulled into a clear space and found myself looking at a car with antlers. Honest! It cracked me up, and I wished I had my camera.

Me after the ceremony of receiving the holy habit, along with my mother. She wasn’t happy. She knew me better than I knew me. A lifetime in the convent would not have suited me at all.

As Christmas grows nearer, we bloggers will try to keep our posts shorter because we all, writers and readers,  have a whole lot to do. Today I’m driving north to enjoy lunch with two friends. We attended the same Catholic High School and entered the convent together after graduating. At some point, we popped out of the convent. For me, it was a three-year experience, but a classmate remained about 24 years. It is a teaching and nursing order. My other friend entered an order devoted to meditation and prayer. Anyone meeting the three of us now would never imagine we’d been nuns of any sort.

In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice will take place in late afternoon on Saturday, 21 December. Many celebrations will take place during this season, not all of them inter-connected. Jews, Christians, Protestants, Muslims, and nearly all religions of whatever kind pay attention to our presence as a small planet in a vast universe. The winter solstice reminds us of our need for light and warmth. As humans depending on forces we cannot control, we feel both insignificant and proud.

Needless to say, cats can’t be bothered with the amazing functioning of the universe. Lymond is currently plotting the extinction of unwanted antlers.

Dogs, Dedication, and Scotland (Lynn Kerstan)

Tour Leader James and the Bus Driver (he didn’t toss back any booze) introduced us to Scotch whiskey. I didn’t like the bad stuff or the good stuff. No palate.

Shortly after our tour bus crossed from England into Scotland, the driver pulled over to the side of a narrow road and the Tour Leader began filling thimble-small plastic vessels with Scotch Whiskey. He wished us to understand the difference between excellent Scotch and lousy Scotch. With a palate that can barely tell the difference between peanuts and cashews, I hadn’t a clue which Scotch was which. They tasted exactly the same.

But it seemed right to enter Scotland and enjoy everything it had to offer, which turned out to be a lot.

At first, the landscape in Scotland looked identical to the English landscape. Grass. Sheep. The occasional cow or horse. Then we came to Hadrian’s Wall. Wow! stretching for many miles, portions of the wall were victims of the locals who stole the stones to build homes for themselves.

Most of the stones were taken over the centuries to build homes and castles.

If you read (or watch on HBO) George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, you’ll recognize the high wall of ice that, in his books, was based on the Roman wall that still exists centuries, in bits and pieces, until now.

What’s left of a Roman Fortress, Vindolanda. England is a treasure chest of interesting historical places and stories.

But so much for warriors and their and their achievements and failures.

The whiskey samples we got were much smaller than this picture makes them appear. Honest!

Let’s go back to the Scotch Whiskey. And while we sip, I’ll tell you the story of a faithful dog, still immortalized in Edinburgh: Greyfriar’s Bobby.

Bobby was a Skye Terrier. In the 19th Century he became the model of a dog’s devotion to his owner. When John Gray, his owner died and was buried in the nearby Greyfriars’ graveyard, Bobby sat on the grave for the rest of his own life, which ended in 1872. Some consider this a myth, and others are unsurprised by the pooch’s dedication.

The pub named for Greyfriar’s Bobby, a testament to love and fidelity. Both owner and dog are buried in a nearby cemetery.

By this time in my September England/Scotland adventure, I could honestly claim that I had already been to nearly every place on the itinerary, often more than once.

What of it? I was never bored. I love to travel. The flights are a bummer, to be sure, but  the destinations give me sooo much pleasure. And at my back, I hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying  near, Clearly, I need to indulge myself before I’m too old to explore new places and new things.

Next on my agenda? Maybe  Israel. After that? Greek Islands and Turkish coastline. I can hardly wait!

 

 

Gretna Green for Runaway Marriages (Lynn Kerstan)

For many years, English couples seeking a quick marriage made the journey north and across the border to Scotland. It was known as wedding over the anvil. In early days, it was the blacksmiths who conducted the ceremonies.

Anvils galore.

Many years ago, when I visited Gretna Green, it was barely worth the effort. Now, it appears to be a thriving tourist destination, as well as a nice place to hold a wedding. My tour group stopped for too short a time, so I scrambled to take pictures and explore the history of runaway weddings.

Clearly, this pair didn’t walk to Gretna.

But outside the historical buildings, the scenery was a good deal more surprising.  We were  shooed out of one area because a middle-aged couple chose to be wed outside, in the open air, so we took care not to be intrusive. I went back into the museum buildings and took many, many pictures of carriages, curricles, and coaches from the Regency era. The collection was excellent. In my future books, I can be more accurate regarding means of transportation and what they looked like.

Travel is my favorite thing in the world. I learn so much, see so many interesting things, and am always surprised by things I never expected to see.

Unexpected for sure. It looks like a man’s arm and a woman’s arm. Maybe he’s sliding a ring on her finger.

 

Back in the Regency era, this is how the people would be dressed.

 

 

Add one or two horses and the bridal couple had a smooth ride for their runaway wedding. Or, perhaps they could have ridden a bicycle. Those haven’t changed much in the last 200 years.