7 May 2017

Notes From The Cocoon. Sick Red, Elizabeth Strout, New Bike, Lorde

Notes From The Cocoon

I withdrew into my cocoon this afternoon in response to a somewhat intense week, the first of my book tour. I fended off various attacks from several quarters, had some good readings, got a new exercise bike for my broken heart, and immersed myself in a great novel and some fine music.

First, off, I am worried about Red. He hasn't eaten in more than 24 hours and has been licking his lips recently, and at different times. Lip licking can mean a number of things, usually the dog is trying to send a message or make a statement, in this case, I think it means nausea. He did vomit the small amount of food he was given.

Tomorrow, the vet. I confess to being concerned about Red, every border collie I have owned has gotten sick around this age, I don't wish to get ahead of myself, it's probably just some bad thing he ate out in the yard or the pasture, where there are lots of awful things for dogs to eat.

We'll see tomorrow.

I faced some issues in my life directly this morning, and wrote about them on the blog. That is grounding for me. Maria challenged me to understand that there are some angry and disturbed people in the world, and it generally has little to do with me. I understand this, and I am learning to listen to her. I am not good at listening to people about my own issues, I'd rather talk about theirs. But Maria is wise and honest, I listen to her.

Today, we (Maria) assembled a new bike I ordered, it a simple one, without all the digital timers and mountains and bells and whistles. I need to be mindful of my heart, and it's need for a certain kind of exercise. I love to walk, but that isn't enough, and sometimes my angina makes it difficult to walk  up hills, which I always loved to do.

I look at it this way. I have a broken heart, and it has been somewhat repaired, but I can't forget about it.

My heart condition is very real and needs attention. So I got this bike and did an hour on it, this afternoon. I overdid it a bit for the first time, of course, and my legs are protesting. But there were no issues with the angina and I listened to Lorde, Van Morrison, Alison Krauss and the music from the play Hamilton.

I intend to do four or five hours a week on the new bike, which works very well.

Towards the end of the bike ride,  which has a reading stand, I read from Elizabeth Strout's very beautiful new novel, Anything Is Possible. Tonight, we went to the Bog to have dinner with Scott and Lisa Carrino, they are up to their necks in work preparing to open the Round House Cafe 2.0, it was fun to see them. The new cafe sounds quite wonderful.

This week, the book tour halts. I'll be posting topics on Facebook from my book "Taking To Animals," still fending off that beloved pig on Amazon. I'm beginning to get some lovely reviews for the book, perhaps it is finding its own place in the sun.

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Portrait: The Grey Hen

The Grey Hen

The Grey hen has considerable dignity and poise, she often chooses to be with Red or Minnie, she comes up to me when i am outside and stares at me curiously, perhaps hoping for some food, perhaps wondering what it is I am really about. She is rarely still long enough for a portrait, but today she walked right in front of me.

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Fate’s Rules

No boundaries

Fate respects no boundaries, fences and gates are just things to jump over or crawl under. This gate leads to the outer pasture, and even in deep snow, Fate just slithers under it and is usually waiting for us on the other side. Fate knows no boundaries, she belongs to the earth, but she never runs off or strays too far. She always waits for us. She is a wonderful dog, even if the sheep are not the least big afraid of her.

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At The Mansion: Connie’s Air Conditioner Is On The Way

Air Conditioner

I ordered Connie's top-rated Honeywell portable air conditioner from Amazon yesterday,  it was purchased by the Army Of Good (AOG).

Consumer Reports says it is the best one on the market, and thanks for contributing to it. It will cost about $400 in all, including the air conditioner, a window exhaust tube, and some clamps for the tube.

The air conditioner is 10,000 BTU's, and since the rooms in the Mansion get very hot in the summer, that should be enough. It will ease Connie's breathing and oxygen needs and she can resume her knitting. She has been idle for a week or so, and it doesn't fit her or agree with her.

This is one of the best things the Army of Good (AOG) has done all year, I think, it will transform the next six months of her life, as she puts it, at age 79, you can't waste too much time. It is painful to see her sitting still in her chair all day, she has no extra energy to breathe or work in the heat.

The air conditioner will arrive here at the farm Tuesday or Wednesday and we will figure out how to get it to the Mansion, the maintenance staff can take it from there. It will be wonderful to see her back at work, I will surely be there to photograph it.

You can see the air conditioner that you bought right here, I bought the tube and the clamps. This will make me glow in the dark and thanks. People are eager to do good given the chance.

It feels good to do good, it is grounding and deeply spiritual, it is the perfect antidote for the times we are enduring. Thanks and thanks. This is the first step towards a sane society.

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Update: Talking To Animals, Book Tour: In Pursuit Of Rescue Dogs And A Pig

Talking To Animals

Humor: the quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech.

Today begins week two of my book tour for "Talking To Animals: How They Can Understand Us And We Can Understand Them." It was a wild and stormy week in some ways. Sometimes fun, sometimes not.

The current state of American politics dictates that the media cover nothing but our new President, and that is their business not mine, but it sure has shut down publicity and interviews for new books. Normally, I'd be doing non-stop print and media interviews for weeks, for this book I've had two so far.

On average, my books are review in dozens of places, but few news organizations review books any longer so I've had about four reviews, four great, one so-so. My world has changed.

It's possible I'm simply over, and just haven't owned up to it, but my agent assures me this is not yet true.

Then again, doesn't he have to say that?

The truth is, I like my new book a lot, and that matters the most. You can order it here, and I will personalize and sign it, and you will get a free classy tote-bag – or you can call 518 677 -2515. They are very nice and they take Paypal and major credit cards.

My first reading was eerie, it was in my hometown bookstore, Battenkill Books, and only five people showed up. My first review on Amazon was especially nasty, even by contemporary social media standards.

My second two readings – one in Connecticut and the other in Chatham, N.Y. – were great, lots of people, no empty seats, lots of good questions. My next talk will be at Oblong Books and Music, Rhinebeck, N.Y., from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 23.

There is a lot of interest in my writing about how to communicate with animals, I am happy to see that building.

The other good news is that I am widening the gap in my ferocious pursuit of Esther The Wonder Pig on Amazon's Pet Care And Essay Category. I am number one today, and Esther is no. 6. She is a large pig, I am told, and I see she is also a fierce competitor, we have been slugging it out for number one for days, and she has sold a zillion books.

(Note. A warming to readers. This post contains something called humor, an ancient tradition in which people who are allegedly creative and witty make other people smile. It still exists in some parts of Europe and Northern Canada, and South America, but has vanished in many regions of the United States, where it is simply not permitted. If you find humor troubling or offensive, this may be a good place for you to stop reading and get  on over to CNN or Fox News, I promise there is no humor there.)

A lot of people do not think my pursuit on Amazon of Esther is appropriate or the least bit funny, and they have told me so. I responded in my usual thoughtful and deliberate fashion by suggesting they go somewhere else if they can't laugh. How come it's okay for Esther, who weights more than 600 pounds now, to wipe my ass up off the floor on Amazon, but I can't pursue her?

I will admit I don't really want to see her on the brunch table on the Round House Cafe, that was over the line and ruined some breakfasts, for which I am sorry.  Many people thought it was hilarious, some people really did not. The thought did occur to me when I saw that Esther really is a wonder pig, and a literary sensation as well, she has 913 five-star reviews.

I haven't had that many in a decade. Breathing down my neck is a portrait of rescue dogs, right behind me.

I am, however, happy to report I have chased the Puppy Nanny right off the category page.

But the truth is, I am a both a heart patient and a diabetic, and I can't eat bacon. Check out humor.

I have one nasty two-star review, which isn't even about my book and which calls me a thief and a scum-bag and one five-star review. I mean, really, who is chasing who? They say that humor and envy are first cousins.

I am disturbingly competitive, I once tried to shame an 11-year-old boy out of entering his photographs in a County Fair competition. He laughed at me and won a blue ribbon.

So in any case, I hope you will consider buying a book. Esther is a tough pig, and she is only five spots away. If you do buy a book, I hope you order it from Battenkill Books. They are a wonderful independent bookstore and deserve to thrive. And you get good and free stuff.

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