"" Writer's Wanderings

Friday, January 20, 2017

Books For The Road - The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

A while back I read a book called The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro and thoroughly enjoyed it. While searching for another book to read, I happened across another Shapiro novel, The Art Forger. Could the author capture my interest again? Absolutely.

Shapiro has a way of taking you into the mind of the artist and along the journey teaches you about facets of art that you probably never considered. In The Art Forger, you learn some surprising facts about some of the very first people to forge or copy the works of famous artists.

One of the things that intrigued me about this read was remembering back to my high school days when I, with a group of seniors in my German class, went to visit our teacher's apartment. She had a picture hanging over the mantel that was a copy of--if I recall correctly--a Rembrandt, perhaps a self portrait. It made an impression on me. I didn't know that people would paint a copy of someone else's work.

The story in The Art Forger takes you into the life of Claire Roth who in order to make money to survive and paint her own art makes reproductions of other famous works. She is made an offer to good to pass up to copy a Degas painting but there is a darker side to the whole proposition. There is a bit of a mystery to solve and of course the protagonist is into all sorts of trouble by the time the story unfolds but along the way, the reader not only gets a good storyline but also a little art history and a look into the forging  or copying of a painting.

It's a good read and one worth packing/downloading for your next trip.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Biscayne National Park - Family Fun Fest

The text message said "The kids would like to invite you to this event this afternoon." There was a link that took me to the BNP Family Fun Fest page. The event for the day was called In Cold Blood and featured lizards and turtles and snakes--oh my! I could just hear the grandkids giggling as they told their dad to invite us. They know my feelings about snakes.

Bravely I said we would meet them there. We had about a forty minute drive to get there and an errand to run along the way but we still got there first. It was good we did because I got to watch the program with the live critters first. I could stand in the back of the crowd and not be anywhere near the two snakes the herpetologist presented.

The show was very informative and when we saw it a second time with the kids we learned even more tidbits of information. The most interesting was telling the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. Both inhabit the Florida waters. Basically the crocodile has a pointier snout and when it closes its mouth you can still see its teeth. Of course that presupposes you stick around long enough to observe closely when the animal closes its mouth.

The turtle was cute actually and when the herpetologist talked about how this species' numbers had been reduced because people made turtle soup of it before it was protected, the kids all made sympathetic noises that expressed their disgust at the thought of hot turtle soup.

And then there were the snakes. In the first show the herpetologist lost a couple kids in the first row when he pulled out the first one, a blue indigo snake that was actually from Texas. The Florida population was decreasing. It was non poisonous and actually eats other snakes. The snake went up a notch in my admiration of him at that little fact.

The next snake was all but booed as he was pulled from his box. It was a Burmese python about 12 feet long. The pythons are a big problem in Florida. The herpetologist emphasized that if anyone was considering buying a small one as a pet they should understand that it will grow quite quickly and there is no where to take it when it outgrows the home. And therein lies the problem. Zoos have more than they can handle so many people have just taken their pets and let them go in the Everglades. The environment is such that they can actually thrive and therefore reproduce. Each year there are python hunts but it doesn't seem to be making a very big dent. What truly suffers is the natural small animals of the area, the rabbits, small birds and even some larger ones as well as small deer.

The park had several stations set up where the kids could learn more about the reptiles. We learned  about natural camouflage, made origami turtles, and learned several new facts about turtles. When the kids had been to each station they took their punched tickets to the gift shop and received a button pin they could wear.

It was a great afternoon and it was FREE! If you are near a National Park, check out their events. You might be missing some great opportunities.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All The World's A Stage-Starting with my backyard

We have an eating area in our kitchen surrounded by windows looking out over our backyard. When the trees and brush were cut away, it gave us a beautiful view of a small lake and creek behind our house. It's a mecca for wildlife especially since I've planted so many "delictable tidbits" for the deer. They dine in the morning and evening eating plants and shrubs from the top down.

Then there's the rabbits. They take care of the plants from the bottom up and generally choose those the deer leave behind. Chipmunks feed on the bulbs in the ground, moles "aerate the soil" and the geese tear up the grass. A huge blue heron circles on occassion checking out the size and availablity of the goldfish in my pond. (I was smart enough to only buy the 59 cent variety.) Someday I fully expect to see elephants tromping through.

I keep the nurseries and hardware stores in business buying all the latest "off" sprays and "animal resistant" plants. We have motion detectors that chase the deer with a spray of water. Unfortunately, the detectors don't descriminate between deer and meter readers or friendly neighbors. All these things help to keep me slightly ahead of the wildlife...except for the squirrel.

This is no ordinary run-of-the-mill squirrel. He sneaks his way up two levels of decking to a bar stretched out from the railing to a spot right in front of the window where he hangs by his tail to grab the suet block and smear greasy lard all over his paws and face. Then he swings to the finch feeder and somehow manages with those greasy paws to wrest the top off the tube of thistle to grab what he can.

Quite the showman, he performs these feats in front of us as we sit at the table trying to eat our dinner. One evening I thought I might get his acrobatics captured on video for America's Funniest Video. At least then I would have some money to pay for the seed and suet he was consuming. He was so greasy from the suet that he slipped into the half empty tube head first and for a moment appeared to be stuck. Face pressed against the side of the tube, his tail flicked and twitched with his discomfort. Unfortunately for me, by the time the camera was on and running, he had managed enough leverage to pull himself out of the tube and he scampered away.

Having learned this new trick however only brought the furry critter back again and again. He became very adept at popping the cap off the feeder. That is until Bob drilled a hole through the cap and screwed it on. Now he sits there and contemplates the problem before him...the squirrel, not Bob. We fully expect one day to see him come, metric wrench in hand and dig into the feeding tube again. In the meantime, the finches enjoy the food when the "sentry" is not there and we continue to contemplate a way to keep him out of the suet.

Shakespeare said "all the world is a stage". He must have had a backyard like ours.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Writing for a Postmortem Audience?

[One more chuckle from an earlier post]

I've been at a writers conference for the past week. I was looking forward to sunny California but 4 out of 5 days it has rained. I think it affected my brain function. As I surveyed the list of workshops, my eyes caught one titled "Writing for the Postmortem Audience." I blinked twice and read it again but it stayed the same.

A postmortem audience? What is a postmortem audience? Is it one full of dead people? Is it an audience of coroners? Morticians? Forensic scientists? The questions bounced around in my head for the afternoon and the next day. Even though my mind was beginning to go into overload mode with all the information being crammed in, the question would still surface. What is a postmortem audience?

When the world of critiques, workshops, keynotes, and networking slowed a bit, I got out my notebook with the scheduled workshops list and looked again. Writing for the Postmortem Audience was right there. Or was it? The fog lifted a bit. I think the sun may have even peeked through for a moment. It wasn't "postmortem" it was "postmodern"!


What's a postmodern audience?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Laughter - The Best Medicine

[Another look back at a really early post]

Well, it is confirmed. Laughter truly is the best medicine. I knew that! Now we have real proof. According to the reports on the news, researchers have found that the arteries widen when we experience laughter thereby putting our blood supply to the heart and brain at a healthier level.

Now come the complications. Does this mean that the theater will charge more for a comedy than an action movie? Will comedians demand more money? Will they have to be licensed as health care givers? Will this open the doors to a private specialty practice? Will malpractice insurance be available should they fail to treat the patient with a sense of humor?

And, what does this do for all those tort lawyers? I can see the commercials now. "If you, or someone you love, saw Vin Diesel in The Pacifier, and it failed to make you laugh, your arteries could have been seriously damaged. Call us. We can help you recover financially."

Now, that's funny.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Daddy Hair

[Perusing some old posts I came across one of my favorites. It bears repeating. By the way, Tyler is now a taller-than-me sixteen year old.]

"I'm gonna be a daddy," our three year old grandson, Tyler, announced as he strolled into the restaurant to meet us for lunch.

I immediately looked to my daughter-in-law. Was he making an announcement? Were we going to add to the growing list of grandchildren? A grandmother is always looking for another.

"You can thank your son for that idea," Lori said. "Ron told him that when he got hair on his chest he would be a daddy. The other day day he noticed he had hair on his legs and he figured that was good enough--he could be a daddy."

"Well if we shaved the hair on his legs, does that mean he could be a mommy?" I asked. To her credit, Lori politely asked me not to plant that idea in his head.
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