March 31, 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

I’m starting to feel a bit more like myself. I ran my errands in the morning, which included hitting a bookstore to pick up a belated birthday present for a colleague, replacing my atlas that was lost with the car in the flood, and picking up yet another book for myself. I’ve been on a book-buying frenzy lately, and it really needs to stop.


Came back, ate lunch (major victory), and then packed up the work for the Confidential Job and took it to the beach. I got a little over a third of it done there during the afternoon, which was great. It’s an interesting assignment, which always helps.

It was such a gorgeous day, and lovely to be outside. Very restorative.

I wanted to shake one lady, though. She’s there with her two kids, and all she does is talk to people and tell them what an angel her older son is and what a problem her younger son is, right in front of them. Talk about a way to screw up the kids! My vibe was that the older “angel” just knew how not to get caught, and the younger one bore the brunt of everything. Idiots like that woman are why the issue of licensing parents comes up.

Plenty of dogs playing in the park (they are, after all, the inspiration for the “Dogs on Beach” stories).

Came back and was ravenously hungry, so I made chicken in a wine sauce with mushrooms, rosemary, onion, olives, and tomatoes, based on a Marcella Hazen recipe, but a little different. It turned out pretty well. Along with the baked potatoes.

Also got out three more pitches – but one has an address that’s “undeliverable”. I’ve checked the address three times, and it’s right, so there was a mistake in the ad. Oh, well.

And it’s always the lowest paying gigs with the biggest egos, isn’t it? There’s a little Podunk publication paying below minimum asking for pitches for short articles (200 words). I have the research, it seemed like something relatively painless, maybe even a bit fun. I send them some detailed pitches, and they write back asking me to “develop” the pitches so they get a sense of my voice. All with plenty of exclamation points and smilies in the email, of course. My voice is blatantly obvious in the pitch and cover letter, and you have to be kind of an idiot not to get a sense of it. Or aren’t actually reading what’s in front of you. Uh, any more developed and you’ll have the entire article, and, babycakes, I’m not doing it without a contract, since I’ve never heard of you before and it’s unlikely I will again. Had they asked for samples, no problem. I’ve got a portfolio of samples, ready to go out upon request, which give solid indications of style, voice, and range. But, basically, here, they’re asking me to write on spec, and they’re just not worth it to me. If the article is 200 words, the pitch isn’t going to be 199. Buh-bye.

I’m not going to do a March Wrap-Up because March was basically a lost month, between the flood, the lost car, the new car, and getting sick. So I’m rolling over the bulk of the March GDRs to April and seeing what I can get done. I totally blew a deadline for an anthology, but it was requested, not contracted, so I don’t feel as bad as I might otherwise feel. All the contracted work was completed on time. The rest – take a number and I’ll get to it when I can.

Today I need to do a bunch of admin work, finish the assignment for the Confidential Job, and work on The Project. And maybe do some of that at the beach, if it’s another nice day. I managed about an hour this morning, outlining the Turn of the Century project. I’ve got a strong beginning and a strong ending plotted. As usual, I’m suffering in the middle. I’m also keeping a running list of what I need to research as I plot.


PS Brandy – thanks for the tip on the dry food. I feed mine Purina Naturals or Purina Indoor formula. I emailed Newman’s Own yesterday, asking them where their food is prepared and how. I received a quick, very nice response that still got on my nerves. They have a “confidentiality agreement” with the plant, and can’t tell me where, but assured me they have their own quality control people checking the site regularly and that the gentleman who responded feeds his animals NOO in clear conscience. My retort was that, if he couldn’t tell me it was NOT prepared at Menu Foods, I wasn’t about to risk it. I ordered a cat food cookbook yesterday, and found another one which I plan to order – and I’m going to go back to preparing their food myself. I’ll ask the vet if I need to add vitamin supplements to the mixes.

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 8:54 am  Comments (6)  

March 30, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I didn’t do a whole lot yesterday, but it wiped me out. I guess I have to take it slow and deal with it.

I had to run an errand in CT, and then go the other way to Larchmont to return the cat food to Trader Joe’s. They were good about it, and I picked up a few things I needed, and then to Pathmark for a bit more, and then home – where I actually ate a little.

I caught up on some computer stuff and even managed to get out a pitch for a fun gig. It’s all about if my personality meshes with the client, because it’s a speechwriting thing, and that’s about personal compatibility.

Got back my column from an editor friend who went over it before I sent it to my editor, because I just haven’t felt well enough to polish it. It’s much shorter than the last few columns, but, hopefully, all it needs is a copyedit by my editor. It is late, but at least it’s not never.

I caught up on episode recaps of Lost, and I don’t feel I missed much. Can I just say I’m starting to like the smoke monster more and more and hope it destroys every one of these frigging “Others”? I really hate this whole experimental/manipulation b.s. and I want the mystical island to win out and crush ‘em all.

I was furious this morning at the TODAY show. They ran a segment advertised as “what’s safe to feed your pet” in light of all the recalls. In reality, all it was was a commercial to encourage people to buy the expensive brands – no actual information, no brands guaranteed to be safe. I wonder how much the pet food industry paid them to run that piece of inexcusable crap? I expect researched information from these pieces, not advertising masquerading as journalism.

I’ve got some errands to run in White Plains, and then work on both The Confidential Job and The Project. Maybe I can get out another pitch or two. But I’m not going to set lofty goals for the next few days. I’ll simply consider each completed task a victory.

The Confidential Job sent me a bunch of new instructions on how to get paid which make absolutely no sense, so I’ll have to talk to my direct supervisor today or Monday and ask what the heck it all means and where I’m supposed to find (or make up) these little numbers they expect on their forms. Urgh.

I have some lovely yellow jonquils and deep purple tulips in a vase on the kitchen table – just looking at them makes me cheerful!


Published in: on March 30, 2007 at 8:10 am  Comments (5)  

March 25, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday was difficult. As anyone who’s cared for an ill, elderly parent knows, it’s not easy. Things looked pretty grim until about mid-afternoon, when everything took a turn for the better, and she finally got some sleep. Elsa was great, staying right there all the time. She (my mom, not the cat) is better today, but still a little wobbly.

In between taking care of my mom, I worked on the various letters in reference to the pet food recall. Let me just say that the more research I did, the more appalled I am by the entire industry. And I didn’t like what I heard from Trader Joe’s – although I’m grateful they got back to me so quickly. Although their food is NOT on the recall list, it IS prepared at Menu Foods, and they’ve pulled it all to run their own tests. They suggested I return everything I have to the local store for a refund. Which I will definitely do.

According to Amelia’s comment yesterday, she’d heard from CNN that the additional animals who died did so at the same time while they were testing foods at Menu; the information I had from NBC was that they tested the tainted food on animals when the complaints began coming in. I’ve asked NBC to clarify.

Purina only outsourced one brand of pouched dog food in the recall – the rest is manufactured at their own plants, so it seems (I’m waiting for a confirmation). However, I don’t know if I entirely trust their wet food, either.

None of the pet stores or book stores around here carry THE NATURAL CAT, and most of them claim they can’t even order it (hey, it’s on Amazon, why can’t they order it?). I ordered a copy through Strand (hopefully they’ll pull it before someone gets to it) and I’m giving the girls baby food for the next few days until I decide what to do. Yes, I could JUST give them dry food, but they’ll tear the house down. Their routine is wet food in the morning, dry food later on. And you don’t mess with their routine! Not without serious consequences, anyway!

If you ever read the wonderful book by a New York City vet called ALL OF MY PATIENTS ARE UNDER THE BED, he states that baby beef is perfectly all right to feed cats. Of course, I also give mine baby turkey, baby ham, etc. And it has to be Gerber’s Stage 2. They hate all other brands, and Stage 1 is too mushy. I have a few jars, but I’ll get some more tomorrow when I pick up the newspaper. Generally, I only give them baby food if they have an upset stomach, but in the circumstances, I think it’s safer than anything else out there, at least in the short term.

Just in case, I checked the Gerber site to see if there were any recalls.

And you really want to get angry? Check out

By the way, Iams and Eukanuba are basically the same company, under two different brand names.

I finished Susan Cheever’s lovely book American Bloomsbury, about Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Hawthorne. It’s a personal book as well as an historical one. I highly recommend it. I also recently read Mary Poppins, She Wrote, which an excellent biography of PL Travers, and Mia King’s Good Things.

I loved Good Things. You can visit Mia’s blog on my list to the right (Mia Musings) to find out more about the book. Her main character is someone I feel I could be friends with, and she avoids the genre traps of overly neurotic protagonists. It’s a warm, lovely book which has enough surprises so the reader never gets complacent. Go read it.

Once I finished American Bloomsbury, I started on the first volume of LM Montgomery’s Journals. They are fascinating. I love her books anyway, above and beyond the Anne of Green Gables books. And her journals! I also love the way she refers to herself as a “book drunkard”. I know exactly what she means.

Hopefully, my mom will continue to improve today AND I’ll be a bit more all-around productive. The less time I make to write, the more fractured I feel. Now that I’ve tasted the non-writing life for a few weeks – it’s not for me.


March 24, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

The plan today was to work on recipes; however, my mother came down with a terrible flu in the night, so I’m going to take care of her instead. I went to the local 24-hour store and got in supplies: Powerade, water, saltines, the kind of soup we always have for a stomach problem – and I’ve been giving her ginger tea and water, and letting her doze on and off all morning while I did the laundry, the cleaning, etc.

I might get a little writing done, but I’m not going to count on it. I’ll just take the day as it comes.

Elsa is the best cat to have around when not feeling well – she stays right with you, purring and being quiet and loving. She’s such a sweetheart. The twins get anxious, but they’ve calmed down a bit.

Spooky came up to have his breakfast this morning and visit. He decided he really likes a bright pink catnip mouse, so now that’s “his”. I’ve put it in a bag separate from the girls’ toys until I know everyone’s shots are all updated. I’ll have to buy the girls a new pink catnip mouse, but that’s the way it goes.

There are several things about the Pet Food recall that infuriate me. That it happened in the first place is completely unacceptable. That Menu Foods tested it on animals when the complaints started coming in is also unacceptable, and that those animals suffered and died. What did they do? Get them from shelters and murder them? If they were going to test it on a living thing, it should have been on their damn executives who switched suppliers without checking quality control first. AND, since it was the NY State Agriculture Department who managed to isolate and find out that it was rat poison, there was no need to kill even more animals with their “testing.”

Also, the brands are just as culpable as Menu Foods. If I’m paying the premium price for Iams or Eukenuba, I expect and DEMAND that they have their own plants and strict quality controls. That’s what I’m paying for. To discover that it’s the same stuff as Wal-Mart brand – or any other store brand – is a slap in the face to consumers. And the brand companies are just as responsible for this as Menu Foods. Why are they allowing their supposedly top-line food to be processed without keeping their own quality controls? This is NOT acceptable.

You’ll notice the brand companies have said nothing, but both Iams and Eukenuba have pulled their advertising, as well they should. They should also issue apologies and try to help Menu Foods make it right. No wonder my girls always hated Iams! THEY knew. And wouldn’t eat it.

They eat the Trader Joe’s organic wet food – I switched because it has 0% ash content, and if you use a food with the usual ash content, which is 4%, you are setting your animal up for problems later in life – and no wheat gluten. But I still contacted them wanting to know where the food is prepared and what quality controls they use. I will let you know what they tell me.

I may well go out and buy another copy of The Natural Cat (my copy’s in storage) and start making their food from scratch again.

Unless each and every one of us who is angry about this makes our displeasure known to these companies – not just Menu Foods, but the brand names – this will continue. What are YOU willing to do to keep your pets safe? Apathy = condonement. If you do nothing, you condone what happened.