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Monday, May 31, 2010

Attack on Gaza Bound Ship and Memorial Day Thoughts

An Israeli soldier trains his gun on the aid ship


Before I give you my thoughts I want to address what happened Memorial Day in the waters outside of Israel. The ambush of the head ship of the aid flotilla has made me very sad. I have always been a friend of Israel and only when they started to cause hardships to the people of Gaza did I rethink this whole thing. I have to protest the actions of the Israelis in attacking the aid ship. There are too many versions of this story out there so I am holding my judgement on what actually happened. But according to many people in the know the Israeli's started the whole thing by dropping commandos from helicopters. They say they only had paintball guns and collected knives, scissors, etc. from the people on the ship. They say they were met with activists who attacked them as they got onto the ship. This ship also contained aid workers and dignitaries from lots of countries including Turkey, the country from which it originated, and a nobel prize laureate as well. I have followed the attempts of this group to try to get through the blockade of Gaza and also on the ship they had all kinds of aid including playground equipment and pre fab houses for the people who lost theirs. As a result of this heinous act people are demonstrating here in the US and the ambassador of Turkey was called back to his country. Many people in the US have sent emails and phone calls to President Obama to keep him from seeing the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama has decided to cancel the visit. I am sad that the peace process is tabled again, though the UN is discussing the incident.and I am hoping that there will be sanctions voted against Israel. Israel needs to stop its blockade of Gaza and open up the borders there. Hamas has said they are willing to begin talks, but Israel is ignoring them.

Today was Memorial Day here in the US and because of my husband's illness we celebrated in a different way. Usually we either have a barbecue of go to one. Or sometimes we go out to barbecue place. Or maybe we go to a movie and then out to dinner. We did none of this. We watched people around our apartment house pool enjoy themselves from our own apartment, he took a brief walk and then we went out to dinner with my brother. We ate seafood, and actually it was a great dinner.:)

Anyone who has been reading this blog for awhile remembers my post about Lundy's and the revival of this incredible restaurant in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. If you haven't you should read this so you understand our conversation. My brother and I shared steamed clams at a seafood place close to where I live in Stamford, CT and we talked about our experience as children with the old Lundy's. It's funny that both of us thought of the same thing at the same time.:) I always remember that place when I have steamed clams, because they had the hugest amount and they were always delicious. Before this we all pigged out on huge amounts of gorgonzola salad. This place has the most humungous salads. We ordered a medium and with five people there after we all had at least two helpings we still had salad to bring home.:) The steamers came afterward and we were still eating our salad. As I put the succulent little morsels into my mouth after washing them in the clam broth and dipping them in melted butter I closed my eyes and I was the nine year old kid again with melted butter smeared on her chin sitting in Lundy's with my parents.
Then I had a one and a half pound steamed lobster that was sooo sweet!!

But Memorial Day is way more than food. It is about remembering the men and women who fought and died for our country. When I was a little girl we used to go and watch the parade as it went down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn where I used to live. I would watch as the old veterans from World War I, barely able to walk, would march by in their old uniforms. Afterward that night we would probably take a ride with my father in our old blue DeSoto to Coney Island and Nathan's for a dinner of a hot dog and maybe a chow mein sandwich. :) This was the beginning of the summer season for me. When we moved to Queens my mother joined Capri beach club and we would go there to welcome in the summer season. We had a cabana along with a lot of other families' cabanas that were set up in rows all over the beach club. Each one had two rooms. One of them was a changing room with a shower and the other was fitted with kitchen stuff and a counter.There was a separate shower room and bathroom area at the club. Each family brought it's own furniture to individualize them and in each aisle there was a sandy middle. There were two chaise lounges for each cabana and in the sand some people like my mother and her friends sat at folding bridge tables on folding beach chairs to play mahjhong and canasta. The club had a real beach, but they almost never went there. It also had two or three giant pools and a couple just for children. My mother and her friends almost never went in the water except if the temperature went up to unbearable limits. Then they would wade into the pool in the skirted bathing suits with a flowered rubber bathing cap that fastened under the chin. Sometimes she would go in without a bathing cap and swim without getting her hair wet. Women in those days had their hair done once a week and saved the style with hairspray. You didn't want to get it wet at all!

One year when my children were small we rented a bungalow in the Catskills and celebrated Memorial Day up there with a barbecue. Then my husband left to go back to his law practice and I was left in the country with a one and half year old toddler and a four year old.:) I used to bathe them in this big tin wash tub outside of our place. When we had decided I needed to get away for the summer it seemed like a good idea. But that night alone with my two children knowing no one I realized that most of the time I would be alone.

To be honest, we did have our Newfoundland, Flash, with us so I wasn't completely alone, but I still had to watch him. He was wonderful with the kids, but he had an awful problem later in the summer. We had a skunk that was interested in the trash cans outside each bungalow. Flash would like to taunt this skunk and he would chase it away. But one night the skunk got Flash and he got skunked. Yeeeeowwww!!!!!! If you have never been near a Newfoundland who was skunked you are very fortunate. With all of their hair this is a giant problem. It required a generous amount of tomato juice poured over him and then rinsed and baby shampoo. Finally after several applications of both the tomato juice and shampoo we deemed him cleaned. However I didn't let him into the bungalow for nights until all of that awful combination of skunk, tomato juice and shampoo had dissipated. Poor Flash was always so sad to be outside and I missed him terribly, but no one could breathe around him.:)

Also, Flash loved water and he would go for a swim in the pool anytime he could. The owners were worried that his hair would clog the pump and I tried to keep him out, but he would jump in anyway any chance he got.:) In fact, any time there was any kind of deep water around he would jump into it. We took him to a state park where there was a natural pool and he jumped in. We were kicked out because of that.:)

How did you spend your Memorial Day? Please leave a comment here and let me know.:)

One more thing before this post ends. On my last post I had these cute pictures of a mother swan and her babies. I wrote a poem about this and wanted to share it with all of you:


Ways to Keep Sane

Take a walk alone along the shoreline
Admire the tall spires of sailboats
nestled in their berths waiting for the
wind for their glide onto the smooth water

Walk leisurely down the boardwalk hearing
the faint calls of birds
Feel the sun warm your bare arms and the
breeze moving your curls over your forehead

Stop at the railing to wonder why a woman
peers down at the mud flats to examine
what she is observing and see the scene
that in one moment melts your heart and heals you.

See their fluffy brown feathered bodies tiny as pebbles
as they stay close to their mother, a pristine white long
necked black billed swan. Watch as they waddle onto the mud
Mother never looking back, but aware of the two balls of fluff behind her

Watch their journey as they march in line toward the
wide expanse of this finger of Long Island Sound
As proud mother swan moves them ever so slow
looking straight ahead, yet always aware of her two babies

Continue watching as she reaches the water and they tumble into it,
Their tiny bodies already able to glide along with their mother
Seeing at one point they feel more confident and duck under
splashing with the abandon of the innocent.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu



Until the next time thank you to my readers and to any new readers. We are getting closer to finding out the cause of my husband's hypercalcemia and will see the doctor tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There is Hope!


Unfortunately, since my last post my life has heated up a little. My husband's hypercalcemia has gotten worse. The last time he went to the doctor we thought that there would be an end to this frustration. The doctor prescribed prednisone. With a diabetic this means that you have to check your blood sugar four times a day and if the reading is 250 or more you have to take Novalog with your insulin. My husband took the prednisone for the first time and the first night his blood sugar went up. So he had to inject himself with the Novalog. The next day the same thing happened. But the next morning he woke up strange and weird. My daughter tried to stop him from laying out his week's medicines, because he didn't seem to know what he was doing. I tried to get him to take his blood sugar so we would know if he needed the Novalog. But he wouldn't do it, so we had to hold him to get it taken. It wasn't at the high number so that was good. But he was very angry and we thought that maybe he needed to be in the hospital again. I was going to take him like I did the last time, but he wouldn't budge. We had to call 911 to get him to the hospital. But then they came and he treated us like criminals telling the EMT's that we had attacked him. So the EMT told my husband, a criminal lawyer, that the police wouldn't press charges if he went to the hospital. Then we had to be questioned by the police!!! I knew that my husband was definitely not in his right mind.

When we got to the hospital I realized that the hospital didn't have his records so I had them transferred. When they decided to admit him the doctor told me that it would be better if he went back to his original hospital. So they sent him there and we had to pay for it!! We got to the original hospital a few hours later and he was already in his room, but he was very agitated. However, the doctor came in and told us that what they found was my husband had prednisone psychosis. It's ironic that the drug they tried to bring down his calcium contributed to him being psychotic.:) He had no idea where he was and barely knew us, but then he seemed a little better. But around 11aPM he called to complain. Then when I called the nurse after he called a second time they said that he was getting what he wanted. I didn't think anything about that until the next morning when I realized when he called in the morning that he was saying gibberish. When I called the nurse's station they told me he was very agitated overnight and tried to get up though he was weak. He did it enough times that they had to move him to a room that had a bed alarm! Also he had to have a nurse watching him 24/7 and if he tried to get up the alarm would go off and she would go in there to help him. To my husband he thought that he was in a prison. So when I called him he said he was in prison and was very angry that we had put him there. We tried to tell him he was in the hospital, but the craziness wouldn't let him believe that. The nurses told us that he was so loud and crazy that they had to give him haldol. This distressed me so I called the doctor and he suggested that we wait until evening to see him. Last night he was still unable to tell us where he was with conviction. But he was able to sleep through the night as best as anyone can in a hospital. This last visit this afternoon lasted through the evening and we saw him eat finally!!! Last night all he wanted was ice cream and pudding. But tonight he ate almost all of his dinner! The calcium level which is supposed to be 10.3 was at 11.4. I found out that when he came into the hospital it was 14,3! So this combined with the prednisone to create this psychosis. The good thing is that it is temporary.

So where are we now? The doctors are really stumped. So he will be sent to Massachusetts General where he will meet with the doctor who is the country's best expert on hypercalcemia. That is in Boston and we have no idea when he will be able to go there. Probably he will be a subject for The New England Journal of Medicine.


Where does the hope come in here? Yesterday when we got back from visiting him in the afternoon and after my dental appointment where I had to undergo a cleaning that was very intensive, I needed to have time alone. So I went for a walk along the path near our place that also has a boardwalk. As I walked along I saw a woman who was looking at the mud flats and decided to check out what she was watching. The pictures that follow here are what she saw. When I saw this I took it as a sign that there was hope after all and that my husband was going to get better. The woman actually filled me in on all the information. But all I heard was Hope!!!


The mother swan brings her babies for a swim. They were born last Friday.


They finally arrive at the water. You can't see them too well, but they are frolicking!

Until the next time, thank you to my new readers and to those readers who have been here for awhile. This week is the week for my radio show, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages and I will be having as my guest, Fran Lewis. She is a really good friend from my teaching days who has become a children's writer. She also has a few books published on the subject of Alzheimer's. Tune in on Thursday, May 27th at 3PM Central Time to hear my guest and myself with my co-host Freda Roberts talk about Fran's books. Her picture books address issues that are very common in school. They are: My Name is Bertha, Bertha Speaks Out, Bertha Fights Back.

For everyone who is praying for my husband, please keep your prayers coming. I really appreciate all my friends who have kept me going during this stressful time. Thank you so much.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What makes a guy in real life and/or a book character hot?

Sometimes when you least expect it an idea comes into your head and won't leave it. Finally all you can do is write about it.:) This is what happened yesterday when I came upon that notorious article in Newsweek by Ramin Setoodah about how gay actors shouldn't be playing straight roles. My daughter and I started to think about some gay actors who definitely pulled off looking and acting straight. My first picks were of course, Rock Hudson and Cary Grant who managed to become romantic leading men. A more recent pick my daughter supplied is Raul Esparza, who is definitely "hot". Then we started discussing what makes a guy hot.

As far as we could tell between both my daughters and myself the key ingredient to making a guy hot is the eyes. It's the way they look at the world and at women that is the main reason they are hot. So a guy can be very cute and have a great body, but if he has what one of my daughters said "dead eyes" he is not hot. So does a guy have to be gorgeous to be hot? Not necessarily, but he does need to have a good body, maybe. It all depends on whether he has the look in his eyes. Sometimes a little hint of little boy doesn't hurt either. Does it matter what age he is? NO!! There are guys who are hot even before puberty, which is a little creepy to contemplate and there are those who are hot even into their later years. An example is Sean Connery who was hot when he was young and just continued in that same category. I think it's a combination of sex appeal and those eyes. In the end it is really subjective. What's hot for you may not be hot for me and vice versa. :)

So can a guy who is gay in real life play a romantic lead? Absolutely!! Our main example is Raul Esparza who is so hot in person I was surprised to find out he was bisexual. It all depends on the actor. A good actor can play anything. Another very good example is Neil Patrick Harris, who plays a straight guy on "How I Met Your Mother" and is very believable.

The final thing I have to say is to applaud Ryan Murphy and the cast of "Glee" for boycotting Newsweek. If you read the articles that have been generated by all of this you can see the furor that has been created too. I think it's important that people look at people for their abilities rather than their sexual orientation. In 2010 isn't it time for the stereotypes to be swept away and the worth of each individual to be recognized?

But this discussion started me thinking about the idea of what makes a male character hot in writing? One of the possiblities since you can't see the eyes of a character is to write him from the eyes of female characters. Can you describe his expression in those eyes? Also what kind of person is he? One of my daughters said that if he volunteered on weekends to work with the poor that would make him hot. One said that maybe there should be a trace of angst and a small hint of violence in his eyes. For me a guy needs to be attentive to the woman, but he also needs to be funny in an offhand sexy way. He needs to look at the woman with passion too. Like when you first meet him he kind of devours you with his eyes and then gives a slow sexy smile while looking right at you. What do you think? Did you ever write a hot guy as a character? What makes a guy hot for you in real life? What makes a character hot?

Please leave a comment and let me know. Also if you haven't already visited there, please visit the guest author interview with Eric Luper. If you leave a comment there you are in the drawing to win his new book, Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto. Also catch Eric at BEA in New York City. He will be signing copies of this same book.:)

Until the next time I'm looking forward to reading what you think makes a guy hot. Guys you are welcome to chime in here too.:) Thank you to my new readers and of course to the ones who have continued to follow my crazy meanderings you are the best!!!

Lastly, we do not have any answers about my husband yet, but we are closer and I hope we will know next week. His condition is unchanged and I am starting to have a quiet desperation, because there is nothing else I can do. Writing helps, but eventually I have to close my computer and go into real life. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Welcome Guest Author Eric Luper!



Today I am welcoming Eric Luper as our guest author. Eric has been the subject of an Examiner.com article and was recently my guest for April on Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. He is the author of three YA books, The Big Slick, Bug Boy, and his new book, Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto.

About Eric Luper

Eric Luper has lived in Albany, New York since 1999. Before that, he hopped from town to town depending on where he was going to school or working. As an English/Creative Writing major at Rutgers College, Eric tried to escape his literary destiny by going to chiropractic school. Soon he discovered that, although he made a great doctor, his heart was somehow wrapped around putting words onto paper. more

The following is basically the conversation Eric and I had Thursday, April 22nd on the Blog Talk Radio show, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages. Anyone who would like to hear our voices please tune in and listen to the archives.

The Interview with Eric Luper

Barbara: It says in your bio that you have lived in several places. You grew up in Springfield, NJ. Lived in Merrick, Long Island, New Brunswick, NJ and finally Albany, NY. Which was your favorite place to live and why?

Eric: There are good things and bad things about every place I’ve lived, but I’d have to say that location matters less to me than the people I associate with. I’ve been blessed with great friends and that can make even the most boring place interesting.

Barbara: What one thing changed your mind about just being a chiropractor?

Eric: Chiropractic care and writing occupy a different part of my brain. Likewise, they satisfy different hungers within me. I like doing both and cannot imagine what life might be like without writing.

Barbara: You came to writing late. What made you decide to become a full time writer? Did you have a mentor? Who was it?

Eric: Technically, I’m not a full-time writer since I still have my practice, but it’s likely I put in as many hours at the keyboard as a full-time writer. My mentor would have to be Mr. Frank Hodge. Frank used to own a children’s bookstore here in Albany NY. Not only did he give me a harsh dose of reality when I showed him my first stab at childrens’ writing, but he always put the right books in my hands to illustrate what he was trying to teach me.

Barbara: Did you start by writing short stories or novels? Are any of these early pieces published?

Eric: I wrote mostly short stories and one novella in college, but when I started writing in earnest it was novels all the way. Short stories are a tough sell and it’s nearly impossible to make a living writing short stories for childrens’ magazines. I do have a few articles published in Highlights and Weekly Reader though.

Barbara: How long did it take you to publish your first novel? Would you take us through the process?

Eric: After a five-year stretch of rejections, I started fresh and wrote BIG SLICK. The book took me around 5 months to write and a few more to polish and it was accepted on one of my first submissions. Farrar, Straus and Giroux was great through this process and we had the book edited and ready in a rather short time. The novel came out in 2007.

Barbara: Bug Boy is about the racing world and explores what it was like to be a jockey in the thirties. Why did you decide to write about this?

Eric: My eyes were opened to the topic when I read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. During the Depression, children were sold into the horse trade. They were used and abused, many being beaten or traded from stable to stable like commodities. In researching the subject, I discovered that not much has changed over the decades when it came to the living and working conditions of track workers. BUG BOY quickly became a passion project; the research was maddeningly addictive.

Barbara: Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto caught me and held me the whole way through the book. Did you base this character on anyone you know or maybe on yourself as a teen?

Eric: First of all, thank you. SETH BAUMGARTNER’S LOVE MANIFESTO is something of a departure for me and something I consider to be quite risky. The reception I’m getting for it has been quite encouraging. Humor is not an easy thing, especially when dealing with heavy subject matter. I think all of my characters represent a facet of me in one way or another, so, yes, Seth is partly me. However, he’s also partly someone else. But if you’re asking me if I’ve based him on anyone I know or used any real-life situation for the book, the answer is no.

Barbara: What is your writing process? Do you have a specific routine?

Eric: I tell people that I write between the raindrops. With two kids, a business, and working full-time, it’s rare for me to have blocks of time to write. The concept of a regular writing routine is unthinkable. Likewise, I tend to think on my story for long periods of time and then write in bursts of inspiration rather than trudging through a specific word count each day. I’m not an outliner and I find I make lots of wrong turns before I find the right one. But that’s okay; It’s just how I create.

Barbara: What was the reason you decided to have your first book signing for Bug Boy at Foxwoods Casino?

Eric: I love to support my independent bookstores, for sure, but I think it’s also important to find signing venues whaere you’ll find a higher concentration of people with interest in your subject matter. Foxwoods not only has the largest race betting parlor in the country (which was perfect for BUG BOY) but it’s also the home of the World Poker Tour poker room (which was perfect for BIG SLICK). And it was a wildly successful signing!

Barbara: Tell our listeners something that is not in your bio about you.

Eric: Gosh, that’s a hard one because I rewrite my bio so often. I’m not sure I ever mentioned that I spent 5 months traveling through Europe after college and spent a good amount of time volunteering on a reconstruction project at a medieval castle in the Loire Valley in southern France. I learned so much about history and masonry while I was there. It was fascinating.

Barbara: Do you have any plans for another novel? Who will publish it and when will it be published?

Eric: I have plans to keep writing as long as I can see my computer keyboard! After SETH BAUMGARTNER’S LOVE MANIFESTO, which releases on June 8th, I have a middle-grade novel coming. Currently, the title is JEREMY BENDER VS. THE CUPCAKE CADETS and it’s sort of Bosom Buddies meets the Girl Scouts. That one is slated for release sometime in 2011 with my current publisher Balzer + Bray (an imprint of Harper Collins).

Barbara: What are your plans for future book signings and book events? Please tell our listeners where and when they will be.

Eric: I had a book signing at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival on 5/1 in Hudson, NY. Check it out at www.hudsonchildrensbookfestival.com. (Unfortunately this is coming out after the weekend.)

I also have a signing coming up at Book Expo America (BEA) on Thursday, 5/27 at 10:30am. I’ll be signing hardcover copies of SETH BAUMGARTNER’S LOVE MANIFESTO. I can’t wait for that one!

Then, the official release of SETH BAUMGARTNER’S LOVE MANIFESTO will be at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza here in Albany on Saturday 6/12 from 3 to 5pm. I’m doing a dual signing that day with author and friend, Coleen Paratore, who will be signing a few of her books as well!

Be sure to check my website (www.ericluper.com) or my Facebook page for any additional information. I’m usually pretty good at updating things and announcing things.


Thank you for visiting Eric. Anyone who would like to ask Eric a question please leave your comment here. Eric will be available to answer your questions through the weekend. Anyone who leaves a comment or question will be in the drawing for an ARC of Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto. Of course Eric and/or I will respond to your comment too.:)

Until the next time, thank you to my readers and welcome to my new readers! Since April is over I am no longer writing a poem a day, but I will be writing a poem a week on Wednesdays. I haven't decided if I am going to post those or not. My thanks to everyone who commented and helped me to choose the 5 poems to send for submission. Here they are:

Memories
Pochahontas
Self – Portrait
Letting Go

Wish me luck! I am up against so many talented poets that I don't think I have a chance.:)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Poems for Days 29 and 30


I can't believe the month of April is gone and we're in the second day of May! After several miserable days where it seemed more like March here today was gorgeous and warm. Unfortunately, I've been following the breaking story of the car found in Times Square with what police think is a bomb. They are still investigating it, but they evacuated Times Square for blocks from 45th St to 48th St. It's getting late and I'm staying up to see the mayor and the Police Commissioner. Here they are now:

Sunday, May 2nd at 2AM:

Bloomberg is still in his tuxedo and Governor Patterson is there. The mayor just said that danger was averted. A tee shirt vendor alerted the police about the van and then the police saw the vehicle and decided it needed more help including the bomb squad. There were gas cans and black powder as well as three propane tanks, two clocks and a metal box. They're calling it an Improvised Explosive Device or IED which thankfully had a problem detonating. The bomb squad neutralized it and now they are going to go over everything in another location. Meanwhile it's almost 3AM and Times Square is still barricaded. Another terrorist attack has been thwarted.

These are the last poems for April. I haven't had any comments yet, but I would love you to tell me which were your favorite poems for April. Enjoy the last two poems.

Poem for Day 29

April 29, 2010

And Suddenly…..

And suddenly the month
was about to end
And I hadn’t written half the poetry that was
inside of me. The caged words banged against
the walls of my brain wanting to be released

Others penned elaborate treatises
too lengthy to read all the way
Their words brought tears to my eyes
Images inevitably blending together
as my eyes closed hands still on the keys

And suddenly there was only one more day
to bring those images forth from my own mind
To mix with the myriad impressions of life all
had written and pasted onto the comments in straight lines
One after the other a parade of poems moving downward
until the blank comment box showed the end.
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu

Poem for Day 30

April 30, 2010

Letting go


LETTING GO

I have to admit it’s gone forever
The sweet expectation of the night
when your unclad body
slipped effortlessly into mine
When your eyes held an invitation
and just your gaze aroused a passion

When your touch spread tingles straight
to my loins inflaming the nerve endings
of every pore

Goodbye to surrender
to the climb we began
and ended together
to the unspoken message
to each other across a room
to the excited get away
and spontaneous liaisons
when our hearts and bodies
became one

I’m letting go of the joy
at the first touch of your skin
when we danced the dance of lovers
Rocking back and forth in mutual joy

From first touch of your lips on mine
it’s been a wild ride, my own private
Disney World when it was right
I hung on, but now the ride is over
and all that is left is the empty midway
copyright 2010 by Barbara Ehrentreu


I'm very sad about the challenge being over, but it was lots of fun writing a poem a day. For anyone else who participated I hope you had as much fun as I did. Until the next time I hope you will let me know which poem is your favorite and thank you to all my readers.

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