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Hey, if it’s good for network television, it’s good enough for me, re-runs, that is. On the occasion of my sister’s birthday, I am reprinting a post from January 2010 that pays tribute to a girl and her horse, and tells a family story that always makes my sister laugh. Happy Birthday, Manette, and thanks again for being a great little sis! This story ‘splains so much as to why we never really make plans in our family and we just keep going no matter what life throws at us. A lot of really cool things have happened since I wrote this original post in 2010 and it makes me happy on the occasion of my sister’s birthday to share a nice memory. We are lucky to have so many great ones. Sadly, Hooper is among those memories now, but we are all so happy to make new memories with Teddy, the Foster who came to Stay~

Once again I present….

I grew up in Hackensack, NJ, and have had the good fortune to claim many great places as temporary home, or hang out. For the past 15 years, I’ve lived in a beautiful wooded waterfront community in Ocean County, with my husband, Rich, and 8-year-old Hooper, the dog.

Before living this peaceful life, I was caught up in the hustle and bustle of New York City, working as a recruiter for what was called then, Home Box Office, Inc. I had an office, with a view of Bryant Park and even an assistant, all before turning 30! What did I do? I resigned, traveled to an art school in Italy and came home to become a full-time artist. (sounds way more exciting than it was). Some days I think of what could have been, but then I look out my studio window, at my dog, and hubby and wonder no more. Living by the water, isn’t too shabby.

I just want to say a thank you to my “kid” sister, Manette. She has been invaluable to me, helping with this Blog, for instance. I am a noted techno-klutz, and she has been my Blog coach. I ‘ve grown used to her text alerts about my typos, or incomplete thoughts.

My sister likes dogs, but if there was a National Horse Week, she would be saddling up and blazing the trail. When she was twelve and I was one year older, my parents whisked us away from Hackensack, to Boulder, Colorado, for a year. Six of us and a gassy toy poodle made the trek in a station wagon. Along the way, just 2 hours from our destination, our car was flattened by a double-wide. Our car was totalled, but we all miraculously survived. Did I mention, my parents hadn’t secured housing for us in Boulder? So carless, and temporarily homeless, we entered Boulder in a police cruiser! Oh, but here is the “funniest” part, in the middle of all of this, my sister asked my parents if she could have a horse when we got to Boulder.

Long story short, within 48 hours of arriving in Boulder, we had rented a beautiful ranch house on North Broadway, just a few miles from Colorado University where my dad would work. The house came equipped with a few acres and, conveniently, a horse stable. Of course, after the first day of school, my sister arrived home, horse in hand. A beautiful half Arabian, half quarter horse named Muna del Adrienne. The horse had been abused and in need of safekeeping. My sister was happy to oblige. She spent a memorable 10 months with that horse, they were inseparable. It was a sad day for all when we returned to Hackensack and had to say good-bye to Muna.

I tell this story because it highlights the power of creative visualization and faith, (okay, maybe some luck and the right attitude), and a lesson for everyone that it doesn’t hurt to think big. Manette, by the way, is a talented documentary producer, her documentaries on serious subjects like the overmedicating of our children and our autism epidemic (The Drugging of our Children, Autism: Made in the USA) have won awards at the Hoboken and Key West Film festivals, among others.

So on this June 30th, dream on sis, and keep up the great work!

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Becky Urban and I at the Opening Reception of the Harriet White Fisher exhibit

Becky Urban and I at the Opening Reception of the Harriet White Fisher exhibit

Last night, on the way to the Trenton City Museum, my husband and I sort of got lost. In doing so, we got a grand tour of Trenton and met some nice residents, gas station attendants and two helpful police officers. During our winding tour, I appreciated the historic homes and a Capital city that was looking pretty good on a beautiful June evening.

What struck me about this little detour was the fact that we were traveling to an exhibit of a notable Trentonian, a woman named Harriet White Fisher, who in 1909 hopped in a Locombobile with her butler, maid, driver and dog named Honkie. She drove to New York City where the car was packed and shipped to Paris and from there the real thirteen-month long adventure began.

So, here we were lost in an urban center with a million signs and arrows and a GPS device that was not cooperating and we almost did not arrive at our destination. Can you imagine driving through unchartered roads of India and Japan over one-hundred years ago with no maps, gas stations, convenience stores? Harriet was most likely rolling her eyes from heaven above.

I felt pretty humbled by this experience. Humbled, too, because through the twists and turns of fate, my interest in this fantastic story led me to a friendship with Becky Urban, the granddaughter of Harold Brooks, the young man who did most of the international driving and through his talent for photography, captured some beautiful images of this revolutionary road trip. Becky, and her family, have opened up their lives to me and have shared so much. Becky is a former educator and created a display that honors her family and the journey. As an added bonus, Triple A (AAA) is the sponsor for this event that runs through late September (Hey, that’s when National Dog Week is observed) Love it!

And isn’t it convenient that there are some terrific Companion Animals included in this story? Honk Honk, who is described as a Boston Terrier (looks part pittie to moi) was her mascot, Billikens, a funny little monkey acquired in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and a little Japanese Chin (Spaniel) the royal dog of Japan, all made a safe journey back to the States!

Next week, I will be sending my Will Judy biography off to its publisher. Its writing has been such a life-changing experience for me. The trouble with documenting persons relatively unknown is the crushing responsibility it brings for being the first to document someone’s life and legacy. So, I will just tell myself that I have done my best and move on. This summer I will work diligently on Harriet’s story and plan to deliver to my publisher, David Kane at American History Press, by February of 2014.

In the coming months, I will let you all know how we are progressing on the Will Judy/National Dog Week publication date and look for the launching of a Social Media platform that will begin on July 17 of this year, the date that Harriet and Company drove over the cobblestones of Trenton and away to explore the world off beaten paths. It will be sort of like a “virtual” worldwide journey with some fun guests joining in along the way.

When I tell people I am an author, they usually tell me that they, or someone they know, is planning to (or has) written a book and asks for advice. I tell them to subscribe to magazines like Writer’s Digest (that’s how I began writing short stories), join writing groups, take courses to work on your craft, attend workshops and seiminars. It is not easy. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rejections I have received. But even in those instances, I have had the privilege to get feedback from some very talented people in the industry. On my “expansion list” are courses in screen writing and documentary production!

Most importantly, enjoy the process and the journey of your writing experiences. When traveling off the neatened path, you will create roads on your own; but buckle up, sometimes the ride gets bumpy. A special heartfelt dose of gratitude to all who have come to help me on my own journey.

Welcome Styles

I know I have not blogged much these days, and I am betting many have not even noticed. In a world where we are bombarded with so much information, it sometimes seems hardly worth the effort. But there is a post I have wanted to write for a few days now, I have just been looking for some inspiration.

Lately, it has been brought to my attention that a trio of radio hosts at NJ 101.5 have created a hostile environment for man’s best friend through their careless and thoughtless comments about pit bulls, an abused Cocker spaniel named Sammy and his supporters, the tragic and shocking death of a dog that had belonged to one of the host’s and her subsequent Tweet on her Twitter Account (which was shut down quickly after this was widely shared) where she shared her belief that animals do not feel pain or have emotions (I have a copy of it if anyone cares to see it).

For the record, Styles, the pittie in the picture above is a beloved family member, rescued from a Bergen County Shelter by my sister’s family.

To be fair, I did call the station twice and spoke to their receptionist. When she heard why I was calling, she reminded me that things had been taken out of context (apparently she had gotten a lot of these calls). I replied that this might be the case, but if they would supply me with clips, tapes or transcripts, I could write a blog post that was honest and direct. I left two messages for the Station Manager but never received a return call or response of any kind.

Next, the station issued a statement where miraculously they were able to conjure up some positive statements from hosts Judi Franco and Dennis Malloy. Interesting to note that they could so easily find these outtakes (let’s not take them out of context, though) but no record of Judi referring to the supporters of Sammy, the abused dog, in vulgar terms or telling them to get a life. Again, I can’t give a complete account because the station refuses to supply what has been requested of them.

There is more to this story, and I too, was called a jerk (gasp!) by one of their “top commentators” on their Facebook Page during a thread that included comments related to my husband’s military service. I am not going to go into detail here, and if you would like to hear more about what went down, you can contact me directly. It was only after I contacted a group of Navy Corpsmen who then contacted the station directly, that my husband received an apology for comments made. A general statement was then posted proclaiming that the station supported those who served in the Military.

The way I see it, we have a bunch of well-paid bullies hiding behind the comfort of their glass booths making fun of those who show up to support a horribly abused dog in a court room and allowing posters to bully others on their Facebook page.That’s basically what it comes down to. Another host by the name of Ray Rossi treated a caller so horribly that he issued an apology to the animal advocate. You know it has to be bad when that happens.

On a final note, I did receive two messages from this radio station via private messages on Facebook. At first, it appeared that they truly wanted to sit down and talk with me and to perhaps make a donation to a shelter. They also apologized for allowing that top commentator (yes, the one who called me a jerk) for mocking my husband’s service as a Navy Corpsman. In issuing apologies and trying to establish some kind of contact with me I truly had hope that they were willing to try to make amends.

And about that search for inspiration. Today, while visiting a patient in a medical center I happened to read a quote posted on a wall. It read, “Enlightenment doesn’t care how you get there.” It was credited to Thaddeus Golas, a man of colorful history. (I will let you do the research). I realize that we all make mistakes and sometimes say things without thinking, I have the greatest respect for those who understand and recognize this, and then take the steps to make the necessary corrections with the end result of settling things right.

I like to think I am enlightened enough to admit that have a long way to go before I, “get there.” So, how about it Judi, Dennis and Ray? Have you begun your journey? No one really cares how you get there…many of us just hope you arrive. Every time you say something in jest to get an audience riled up and bring in advertising revenue you are selling out. How will you describe your legacy to your families?

Here’s to those who use the power of words to actually make a positive difference in the world. I do know of other radio stations that have a positive vibe and actually try to make that kind of difference. More on that to come!

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”