Saturday, December 3, 2016

Update on Ming

Thought I posted the results on FB last night, I thought I'd update my blog readers.

He doesn't have glaucoma. He had an ulcer on his cornea which ruptured.

So the veterinary ophthalmologist grafted tissue from his eye over the area of the rupture. He's on four different kinds of eye drops and two different kinds of pills. We go back in 2 weeks.

Ming is growling occasionally, mad about his condition. Believe me he's not whimpering or crying. But I'm letting him navigate on his own sometimes in the apt. He seems to have forgotten what he knew about the layout.  Right now he's operating from panic, but he's calming down. He found his water bowl after lunch which was good. I'm trying to be patient with him so he will get stronger and more self-sufficient while he's recovering.

I also have to give Myrna, his sister, lots of love and reinforcement, so she doesn't feel neglected.

Oh, did I mention Ming fits in his crate with the collar (elizabethan type) he must wear during recuperation? He fits in there all right. Overnight I was periodically awakened by noises coming from the crate and would tell him "go to sleep. It's all right. I'm here with you..." Little toot was working at removing the collar, which he did...sigh.

It's one big laugh riot at my place ..... NOT!!

But we will get through it.

Thanks for letting me spew.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ming the Merciless

About a year and a half ago, my Shih Tzu, Ming the Merciless, lost an eye to glaucoma. His other eye has it now, which we knew was a possibility. I saw several dogs, particularly Shih Tzus, at the veterinary ophthalmologist's clinic who had both eyes removed. So that's what is going to happen to my brave protector.

He's already lost the sight in the affected eye. He can get around inside our place. And when I carry him outside over the one step and put him down on the sidewalk, he gets to the grass and does just fine.

I watched him today as he navigated to his water bowl, his food bowl (and his sister's), to my office where he sleeps on the carpet while I work at the computer, and into the bedroom where their crates are. He's sitting at my feet right now as I type this.

All last night I worried I'd have to put him to sleep today. But I called our vet first thing this morning and she talked me out of it, telling me he would do just fine getting around using his nose and sense of smell.

I saw a posting on Facebook, a photo of an elderly dog. The caption read something like "Sure you love me as a puppy, but will you still love me when I'm old?" I kept seeing that picture in my mind last night as I tossed and turned.

Ming and his sister Myrna are the surviving members of the puppy trio I got in 2001. We lost Sparky to cancer several years ago. I have to admit Ming and Myrna have aged, but they're not too frail. They are still active with life left in them. So we will go for the surgery and I'll take care of him for the rest of his life.

They are my sweet little Tzus. They got me through the bad times when Dad died and the times when I was so stressed out about him and his behavior due to his dementia. I'm convinced they saved my life a time or two. I can do no less.

Love your dogs and/or your cats. The picture below was taken before Ming lost his first eye.  He's he black and white one.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Tuna Christmas

For all of you in the Austin Texas area, I want to highly recommend the following production:

A Tuna Christmas

If you've never heard of A Tuna Christmas, it is absolutely hysterical. I made a visit to Tuna whenever possible when I lived in Texas. The originators of this whacko world in a tiny Texas town, wrote three plays that I know of about the denizens of Tuna, Texas.

It is a town filled with "colorful" characters, to say the least, such as the two waitresses at the Tasty Kreme,
Inita Goodwin and Helen Bedd. Just say the names aloud and you'll get the gist.

If you want to enjoy uproarious comedy and laugh yourself silly, you'd best get your tickets.

I am told they are sold out though the 19th.

One of the actors, Frank Benge, is a friend of mine. We've worked together on some productions. He directed me and I directed him.

Trust me, he will be incredible in this comic delight.

Click on the link above to find out more info.

This is a laugh-til-you-cry event.

I really wish I still lived in Texas. Here in Jacksonville, a tuna Christmas means Christmas dinner is the catch of the day.

Tell Aunt Pearl I said hey.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Remember to be thankful.

For some of you, this post will contain some old information. Sorry about that.

Anyway, today is not a happy day for me. I was my 94 year old father's caregiver. Last Thanksgiving was his last holiday. My niece and grandnephew met us at a local restaurant where they had a buffet. My niece walked my dad inside. He was already beginning to forget how to walk. The people at the restaurant knew us and filled a plate for Dad so he could remain seated.

We had a good time that day. But the next week he took three separate falls. Went to the ER all three times and refused treatment. On the third visit, the doctor ordered the tests anyway, told me Dad would be admitted. He ordered me to leave telling me I looked exhausted.

After several days in the hospital Dad went to hospice care where he died in five days. Needless to say I don't feel like celebrating this year.

I have very little family left in this area. My niece is in Japan right now visiting her son who is stationed there. So I am alone.

I'm working today, beginning my next novel, another of The Inquisitor series (thrillers about a vicious serial killer.) Hmmmm. Sharon "vicious serial killer" is an oxymoron...but this guy IS a champ at viciousness.

Before I came in here to work, I fed my dogs their breakfast, ate my own, and then wrestled with the gargantuan morning newspaper. I tossed all of the Black Friday circulars into the recycle receptacle unread. I read the small newspaper, checking to see what they said about the chances for the Dallas Cowboys to make it 10-1 on their winning streak when they play the Redskins this afternoon. Did the Word Jumble and the Sudoku (my daily mental acuity tests - if I can solve both, I'm on target that day- got 'em both.) Sorry, but my father and his mother both died of dementia. My best friend's mother died of dementia.  We both worry if we forget words, etc, that it may be inherited dementia. So far, it's just normal aging process.

I watched an episode of Property Brothers. Then I watched Rocky Balboa which premiered in 2006, the last offering of the long running movie serial. I like Rocky, always have. Oh I know it's schmaltzy, but part of it rings true.

No matter how many people say "you can't" - you keep fighting - you keep pursuing your dream as long as you live.

On a day which is hard for me this year, I realized I do have things for which to be thankful.

When I moved here almost seven years ago to become my dad's caregiver, I began writing once more. I hadn't written anything but articles in the last 30 years. I had written two novels in the 1970s which no publisher wanted. They're hidden away in boxes in my files.

I remembered my dream of being a published novelist and went to work pursuing that goal. This time a publisher read the prologue of my first novel Touch the Sky on one of my blogs and asked for the manuscript saying they were interested in publishing it. Now my third novel in that series will be available December 6th. My fourth novel, the beginning of The Inquisitor series is having its first edit. Entitled Forbidden (Kapu), it takes place mostly in 1898 Hawaii. It was so hard to write because I had to study the Hawaiian language for some of the characters. The new one, tentatively titled, Honor Thy Mother, takes place in the US. Whew, no foreign language to research.

Plus, two of my sixteen year old shih tzus are still with me. I've had them since they were two months old.

I have made good friends in the local writing community, live by a small lake where I can see all kinds of birds and the occasional aquatic mammal. Even though I get depressed on some days, my life is good.

So remember your blessings, love your family, be thankful, and enjoy your dinner.

I've got a turkey sandwich from the deli with my name on it waiting for me. I also bought a small pumpkin pie, an unaccustomed dissipation. (Love that phrase - it came from a Regency novel I read years ago.)

Coming out of the cloud of the last few years, I am grateful to still be here, have good friends, and three books published and two more coming out of the chute. I know, I know, but you should expect words like that out of a Texan and a DALLAS COWBOYS fan.

I am also thankful for my readers of my books and of my sometimes inane blog posts. Bless you.

Take care. Have a great holiday.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I saw Race earlier this week.  It's another of those films I intended to see in the theater, but never made it. Fortunately for all of us it's now on premium cable channels.

This is the story of Jesse Owens and his remarkable career in track and field events. If you don't know about Jesse Owens, he was a black man who got accepted at Ohio State University because of his running and jumping abilities. He went on to the 1936 Olympic Games, held in NAZI Germany, Berlin to be exact.

See, Hitler was planning to show the world how great Germany was under his leadership.  He also wanted to show the "racial superiority" of the "Aryan Race." (read that - white people from Germany.) The Games were to be a set-up to show how the Aryan athletes could best everyone else. Hitler's regime tried to bar Jews and Blacks from the games entirely.

In comes an American named Avery Brundage, a wealthy man who for years chaired the U.S. Olympic Committee. He wasn't impressed by Hitler's minions. In fact he dealt with Dr. Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Propaganda. Brundage basically told him the policy banning all black athletes and all Jews wouldn't fly. America wouldn't be involved in the games at all and would tell the world why. Brundage got his way.

The American team had three African-Americans and two Jewish men, who were all medal contenders.
If you don't know what happened, Jesse Owens took home four gold medals, smashing several world records. It would have only been three, but he had to step into the relay team when the two Jewish men were banned from competing at the last minute. Jesse had never run the relay, but he was incredibly fast. So with another teammate of African-American descent as replacements, the US relay team took the gold medals. Hitler refused to greet the winners of any event Jesse won.  He conveniently left before Jesse arrived to be greeted.

Hmmmm. Der Fuehrer had a big case of sour grapes. So much for his "master race" bulldookey (sorry had to go all Texan on you good folks.)

The film, Race, is about much more than Jesse's accomplishments. It's about his life. How he had to fight to be accepted at Ohio State and out in regular society. When they held a major banquet in his honor at a large NY hotel, he and his wife were made to take the service elevators because they weren't allowed inside the main parts of the hotel.

I was shocked to find the president at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did not even acknowledge Owens' accomplishments.  There was no notice of it from the White House. I bet FDR got a good tongue-lashing from his wife on that one.

The talented cast includes:

Stephan James as Jesse Owens. He plays the lead character with a strength of spirit and of body. He makes a wonderful film athlete.

Jason Sudeikis as Coach Larry Snyder - known for comedy, Sudeikis does a great job in this dramatic role.

Clarice Van Houten as Hitler's favorite filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl who filmed the Olympics. Riefenstahl was a fascinating woman. She was Hitler's best propaganda tool with her filmmaking. Some of her films are rarely shown to this day as they put the NAZI regime in such a favorable light.

Jeremy Irons as Avery Brundage. I remember seeing Brundage and Irons captured the character superbly.

Shanice Banton is lovely and feisty as Ruth Solomon, Jesse's longtime girlfriend whom he ultimately marries.

William Hurt as Jeremiah Mahoney, is good as another influential member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

David Kross as Carl "Luz" Long - a German athlete, the pre-games favorite, who lost to Jesse in his signature event. Luz's story is sad. He and Jesse became great friends and remained friends after the games. Because Luz lost, he was drafted into the German army at the beginning of WWII and died at the allied invasion of Anzio in Italy. He and Jesse corresponded until his death.

Race is entertaining and keeps the audience attention throughout the film. His three daughters were consultants on the film.

It is the story of arguably the greatest track and field athlete of all time. He took the gold in two different length race events, the long jump, and the relay, breaking records in three of his events. He also broke the "glass ceiling" for African-American athletes to follow.

Until next time ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dr. Strange

Marvel's Dr. Strange is a wild ride even without the 3-D. Alas I suffered an eye injury a couple of weeks ago. It's healing, but I still can't take 3-D yet. So I saw it in the XD version at a Cinemark theater. (Which basically means a bigger, wrap-around screen, with enhanced sound.)

It's the story of Dr. Stephen Strange, an arrogant, brilliant surgeon with mad skills. He treats people around him as inferiors. Self-assured in his superb surgical talent, other people are discounted in his world. He always knows best.

One evening, he has performed miraculous surgery late in the day. When it's finished, he leaves to go home, change, pick out one of his many luxury watches to wear, and go to the black-tie event. The female doctor who often assists him and is his frequent date, tries to dissuade him from going. It's a rainy night and he has a long way to travel to get to the event. He disregards her and her fears.

Later when he's ready, he gets into his Maserati or Lamborghini, one of those slick European sports' cars, he leaves the city and comes to a curving mountainous road.  He doesn't pay attention to the narrow, winding road, secure in his assurance nothing will ever happen to him.

He's wrong. He suffers a head-on collision as he has veered into oncoming traffic. The crash is terrible as he bounces off the bridge, down the rocky bank, landing upended in the river. He is found and wakes in the hospital. His hands were surgically put back together. As a surgeon, he knows they will never be the same.

After months of recuperation, he is almost broke and down to his last watch. He has sheafs of letters from the world's best surgeons refusing to take his case.  All will not take his case as it is hopeless. He seeks out a man who's been miraculously healed.

The man (played by Benjamin Bratt) tells the former doctor he needs to go to Kathmandu to seek out a spiritual teacher there.

Thus the real journey begins. Strange, at his wit's end, finally finds someone to lead him to the teacher, known as The Ancient One, played by an androgynous Tilda Swinton with a shaved head. Resistant to learn at first, his old arrogant self still in play, he has to come to a crisis to be broken down and accept what he is taught. It's a rough journey for him, but he does learn what he needs.

If you can't tell, I love most of the Marvel movies. This is one of the biggest and one of the best. The special effects are mind-bending. As with most of the other Marvel films, there are incredible images of color and destruction, some of it gorgeous.

Benjamin Cumberbatch does his usual excellent job in the role, filled with humanity, strength, and unexpected humor.

Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One with all the strength and power of a true spiritual teacher.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, a veteran of many films, including one of my favorites - Kinky Boots (yes, he played the drag queen) - is excellent as Mordo, one of the teachers who works with Dr. Strange.

Rachel McAdams does a wonderful job as Christine Palmer, the doctor's on again off again romantic partner. (Ever notice these super hero guys don't do relationships well?!!)

Mads Mikkelson plays the villain Kaecilius with serpentine grace and evil intent.

Stan Lee, one of the original creators of the Marvel Comics world, appears in a comic cameo. I think Dr. Strange was his creation. Of course he appears in each of the films.

As with every other Marvel film, look for a scene at the end of the credits - actually in this one there are two. In the first one, we see Dr. Strange meeting with Thor. They have a serious conversation which points to the next Dr. Strange film.

I'll leave the second one a secret. You'll know when you see it. It points to the surprising possible villain for the next one.

As I said previously, this is a glorious film visually with magical special effects on an enormous scale.
Also you learn something about the whereabouts of another infinity stone. I want to see the movie where they all come together for those stones!!

This is a memorable movie in the Marvel pantheon. Enjoy it, whether or not you see it in 3-D.

Till next time...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Westworld Revisited

Folks, I don't usually do this, but the HBO series Westworld is so extraordinary, I want to give it one more recommendation.

From a well-known premise (based on the 1973 film), this series has ventured far afield. Last night's episode was so shocking I had to watch it a second time to catch all the stuff I missed due to sitting stunned and staring at the screen in open-mouthed surprise.

The cast is superb in this one. But, the champ is Anthony Hopkins. He comes across as an addled old man content to socialize with his "hosts." Then his true personality and motives are revealed and you see doddering kindly old Santa Claus become Hannibal Lecter, icy, dangerous, and without compassion.

I smell an Emmy and/or a Golden Globe.

If you have access to this one already, check it out on demand. It's amazing on several levels.

Please don't miss it. In a host of wonderful series past and present on HBO, this one is the most starkly brilliant of them all.

Until next time...