17 May

Destiny: Rocky And The Farrier. Friday.

by Jon Katz
Rocky And The Farrier

If you believe in destiny – I am learning to do that – then tomorrow is a day to take some note of. Rocky, a 34-year-old Appaloosa Pony who led me and Maria to our new home, our New Bedlam Farm, is going to meet our farrier Ken Norman, who trimmed 41 horses in the last two days and announced on Facebook tonight that he is whipped. Rest up dude, I messaged.  Hope Ken has some juice left. Florence’s grandson told us that Rocky has not had his hooves trimmed in a good while and the last time anybody tried it, they got dragged halfway across the pasture.

I’ve known Ken Norman for years, and he is a big and strong man. Rocky may be old and blind, but he has a mind of his own for sure.  I think I need to be holding my camera and some lenses while this encounter occurs, far from horse or man. Put the wife up there with the farrier, I think (“like you usually do,” she jeers.) Someone has to record the history of things.

I have not quiet yet absorbed the journey that began for me when I stopped to photograph the pony in front of his collapsed barn. Half the Internet wanted to rescue him and then I met Florence, his owner and then she died and one day Maria and I were standing by the house and we looked through the windows. We both realized at the same time that we wanted to live there. We have a contract to purchase the Rocky (Rocky comes with it) and are waiting to sell Bedlam Farm. Tomorrow, another step. Rocky get’s his hooves trimmed. Ken has been through a lot. He had to tranquilize Simon to get him trimmed, and I haven’t seen an equine yet that he couldn’t handle. The next chapter. I am eager to see it.

17 May

Cover. The Story Of Rose. Why An E-Book?

by Jon Katz
Cover: "The Story Of Rose"

This is the cover for “The Story Of Rose.”  The Random House cover designer went through thousands of photos and blog posts looking for the right shot of Rose and chose this one, which ran with a video in May of 2011. I love the cover. It seems beautiful to me and it also embodies the spirit of Rose, determined, intense, and also sometimes apart. The book is scheduled for publication in mid-August of this year, one month before publication of “Dancing Dogs,” my first short-story collection, and “Lenore Finds A Friend,” my second children’s book. I think this will be an important year for my writing, as well as my photography.

I am excited to be publishing my first E-book original. It is a book in every sense of the word. The material is new, the book is, well over 40,000 words, and it has been lovingly written and carefully edited. It will be inexpensive, well below $5. The enhanced edition will have videos and there will be photos on any platform – IBooks, Amazon, Bn.com, Google Reader, Nook, Ipad. There is one difference. “The Story Of Rose” will not be published in paper form, at least not now.  A number of my readers have written to me in protest of  this. Some have said they have loyally read and purchased all of my books and do not have digital readers and are disappointed that they will not be able to read this book without buying an e-book reader. I am not sure what to tell them.

I understand their concerns, and sympathize. I remember being forced into online banking, among other things, and resenting it. Being forced away from paper books is a much bigger deal.  I still buy almost all of my books in bookstores and in paper form. One day, that may change. Like me, bookstores – and readers – will face choices. Some will adapt, some will not. That, sadly, is the law of our marketplace. It applies to everyone reading this as well as writers and readers. I doubt many of you can afford to say you will not change to meet the radical transformation brought by new technologies. People who complain that E-books are not books make little sense to me. A book is not defined by its form of delivery, but by its content. Books used to be told by shamans, then story-tellers, then written on papyrus and then parchment, and then printed on presses. Readers follow the story, not the machinery.

I  believe e-books will be a significant part of any writer or publisher’s future. More books are being read by more people less expensively and more conveniently than at any time in human history. As a writer, I applaud that, even if it has brought great challenge to my work and  life. It is my intention to survive a writer. We all have choices to make, and  mine is  to understand the new marketplace and participate in it. These devices are now simple to use, and are getting relatively inexpensive.

I am a writer, not a publisher, and I can’t order my publisher to print my book digitally and in paper. That is up to them. I asked for the chance to do an E-Book, and I am grateful for it, and I intend to show that “The Story Of Rose” is a real book, a real  tribute, a work of feeling and joy. I hope you can all come long, and I understand if you can’t. But I am getting on the train either way.

17 May

Tattoed. Bellows Falls, Vt.

by Jon Katz

Four years ago, when I was just getting divorced, was cracking up and going quickly to pieces, I found myself on the bathroom floor of an Austin, Texas hotel in the middle of the night during a book tour, calling Maria, breathing slowly,  weeping and vomiting and praying to get through the day, pretty sure I could not. In a couple of hours, I was in a limo, on the way to a reception at the LBJ Library in honor of me and some other visitors to the Texas Book Festival. Then two readings.

For the first time in my writing career, I thought I needed to cancel my appearances. The book escort was looking at me nervously – I had not slept or eaten in days – and suddenly I passed a tattoo parlor off the University campus and told the driver to pull over. Where was I doing?, wondered the escort, informing me nervously that the Library Director and other dignitaries were waiting for me. Random House was already calling wondering where I was, why I was late. I turned off my cell, asked the escort to turn off hers and we went into the parlor. The kids there got me instantly, and I told them about Maria and we quickly went over some options. They nixed my request for a pirate or skull and bones and I called Maria and asked her what her favorite flower was. A daisy. So I got a daisy on my upper right arm. An hour later we pulled into the LBJ Library. Random House and the Library PR people were near hysteria,  and I made up some silly story about falling asleep. Nobody bought it.

Hey, said the Library Director. What’s wrong with your arm? It was, he said, oozing. So it was. I believe that tattoo saved my life. It turned things around for me, an affirmation of life and promise, a statement. So good for me. Yesterday, walking by the Mountainside Tattoo Parlor in Bellows Falls, Vt., I was in a very different state of mind. Still, I wanted to affirm much the same thing. My love for Maria, an affirmation of life and purpose, a statement that I could see and was there for the world to see. It felt so good to get that tattoo. Even better when Maria decided to get one on her ankle that said “Jon” inside of a heart.

There was, of course, the usual online squawking about safety, superstition, and some unwanted advice. And lots of good wishes. Some people just got it, some people just don’t. When I announced on Facebook that I was getting a tattoo, many people assumed it was for Rose or another dog. Maria is better, I said.  I am very happy with my tattoo. It feels better than I can say, to have it and thinking of that day in Texas, a world away, I wanted to kiss the ground. But I didn’t have to. I kissed Maria instead.

And back home today, to our beautiful farm, dogs, donkeys, squawking chickens and slithering barn cats. Tomorrow, Ken Norman versus Rocky. The old buy is getting his hooves trimmed for the first time in years, and I doubt he will like it. Stay tuned.

17 May

My new tattoo

by Jon Katz

Got my new “Maria” tattoo in Bellows Fall, Vt. One of my favorite places. Alex of Mountainside knows his stuff. I love my tattoo, an affirmation of my love and good fortune to be married to this extraordinarily gifted, loving and creative person. I like it on my wrist (the other is on my upper arm). Next trip, I told Alex I want a big flower on my arm.
Love is out of fashion it sometimes seems, but it is everything, as God told the mystics. It is the point. Don’t they know, he complained to the priests about his humans, that love is everything?


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