20 April 2017

Marilyn Brooks On “Talking To Animals.” Pre-Order Now, Pub-Date Looms

On May 5th, my 25th book, Talking To Animals: How We Can Understand Them And They Can Understand Us will be published by Simon and Schuster. It is an honest account of a lifetime spent living with animals and learning how to communicate with them.

I share my experiences exploring and learning about body language, food, visualizations and emotions, our primary tools of communication.

One of the new and lovely traditions of my life is having Marilyn Brooks, a friend and the daughter of the Battenkill Bookshop owner, read a galley and then sit down for a video talking about how she felt about the book. Marilyn has a large following  after just a few years of doing these videos, she is just somebody you trust.

And Marilyn knows and loves books. If you pre-order my book through the Battenkill Bookstore, I will sign and personalize it and you will receive a free custom-designed tote-bag with a dog  on the cover and an inscription that reads "sit.down.read." There are 400 left.

The tote-bags are pretty classy, the first reviews are pretty good. I'm shooting to get past the 1,000 books mark at Battenkill before the weather turns hot.

You can also pre-order the book by calling the bookstore at 518 677-2515. And thanks for thinking about it, here's a chance to support a great independent bookstore, promote my work, and read a book that hopes to spark a new and wiser understanding of animals. A least, that is my hope and plan.

I believe the book offers a pathway to keeping our domesticated animals like carriage horses healthy and in the world, rather than shipping them off to "mythical" preserves and idyllic preserves where they will spend the rest of their lives eating hay and dropping manure. You can pre-order the book here.

Come along and see what Marilyn Brooks (she is my friend) thinks about the book.http://www.battenkillbooks.com/talking-animals-jon-katz-hardcover-autographed

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Peggie, The Puzzle Queen

Peggie, The Puzzle Queen

I went downstairs with Red at the Mansion today and we found Peggie finishing up  a 1,000 world jigsaw puzzle one of the blog readers had sent to her. Peggie is dead serious about puzzles, she has a real gift for finishing them. She posed for me in triumph. If you wish, you can write Peggie c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. She is very excied, her family is taking her on a November, 2017, trip to Disney World.

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Alice At The Mansion. “No One Has Called Me Beautiful In Many Years.’

Portrait Alice: Beautiful Women

Whenever I take a photograph at the Mansion, I check with staff, and ask the subject if he or she wants to have their photo taken. If there is any hesitation or confusion, I simply say thanks and move on.

I never photograph anyone without asking their permission, and I am also well aware that one of the de-humanizing effects of the way we treat the elderly is that so many of them think people will be revolted or turned off by looking at images of them.

I was once the same way myself, I didn't wish to put photos of elderly people on my blog. As I evolved and took more photographs, I came to see the elderly differently. To me, their faces seem especially beautiful, there was so much character and perspective there.

I've come close to photographing Alice a dozen times, but always backed away. I just wasn't sure she was comfortable, so I held back. Today, she and I were standing out in the hallway. She asked me who I was, as she often does, and then I told her, and there was a flash of recognition. She had read my books, and also my blog.

Can I shoot your portrait today, I asked?

"Why do you want to?," she replied.

"Because I think you have a beautiful face, I said, especially in the late afternoon light." Alice got a twinkle in her eye.

Well, she laughed, are you telling me the truth. Yes, I said, I would not lie about how I see your face.

"Okay," she said. "I'd like to have my picture taken. I thank you for calling my face beautiful. Perhaps it is sometime. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

Yes I replied it is wonderful and I took my camera over to Alice, and showed her the above photo. "My, my," she said, as if she had seen a stranger. Then she smiled.  "it has been so many years since anyone called me beautiful, I thank you for it. I like your picture very much."

People need to be told they are beautiful, every day, I think. The ancients believed if things were repeated over and over again, every day for years, they would convince the brain that they were true.

You can write Alice at The Mansion, 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

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The Mansion Art Show. Ever Dull Your Sparkle.

Collage: The Mansion Art Show

The Mansion art show is one week away – next Wednesday – and there will be three judges – me, Maria and Scott Carrino. The three top winners will get lunch at the Round House Cafe. The next three will get books or book certificates from the Battenkill Bookshop. I'm trying to get hold of some beads and bracelets for runners up.

Everyone at the Mansion is excited about the show, it will be up on the Great Room walls by 7 p.m. It's going to be difficult. Thanks to your many gifts, the residents had every imaginable artistic tool to draw and sketch with. Activities director Julie Smith is overseeing all the art and judging it will be difficult.

Julie showed me some of the collages going into the show, but she wouldn't tell me who put it together. As a judge, she said, I had to stay detached. The art work. has kept people busy and engaged, the artists have already used up all of the magic markers, which dried out. Jane and others say they want to deep on drawing and painting after the art show.

They have wonderful paper and brushes to use.

Thanks much, these were thoughtful gifts that will be used again and again.

I asked Julie today, as I do every time I come, what the residents need. Julie is never greedy, she always thinks carefully about it, and worries about other people's money.

I think right now we really need old movies, used DVD's  she said. We have a big screen set up every afternoon now, but we don't  have the good or funny ones.

We could sure used some used  good movie discs, some good DVD's, said Julie. She's set up a new activity, a movie is shown in the activity room every afternoon around 3:30. The idea is a hit, the room was filled this afternoon for an old western. But they don't have many movies to show.

If you have any old movie DVD's lying around and want to send the to the Mansion, it would be appreciated. The address is 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, Mass.,  12816.

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Kelly: All The World’s A Stage. Lessons From The Bog.

Lessons From The Bog

If all the world is a stage, the bar is one of its great theaters. Tonight, at the Bog, the dining room was full, the bar was uncharacteristically  empty. Is is crazy in the kitchen, I asked? No point in getting crazy, she said. Doesn't do any good.

Kelly has mastered the art of acceptance and equanimity, something many people aspire to, but few can achieve.

Like a farm a bar is a great teacher of life and wisdom. You hear a lot, see a lot. Patience is demanded, perspective required. Kelly seems to understand what it important and what is  not, what can be done about things, and what can't. There is just no point worrying about things you can't control, and that is a lesson that can be learned anywhere, at any point in life.

I am just getting to it. Kelly was there ahead of me. It was nice to see her standing alone and unobstructed behind the bar, it is not something I often see. The camera was quick to react.

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