We Make the World With Our Minds – Interview

 

It feels like Christmas when I was a kid. I finally ordered a computer project, which I’ve wanted for a couple of years. It’s arriving today. The prices have dropped considerably. My head is buzzing with all the things I could do with it.

I’ve always “squeezed the juice out” of experiences and interests but I’ve become a bit obsessive. I don’t know if it’s aging, Parkinson’s, or the freedom of retirement. My husband coaxed me to bed at 4:00. I was making Lego structures to go with a video I want to make.

Now I’m waiting for the door bell to ring. Thankfully, it’s being delivered by Canada Post. Purolator just dumps packages on the back step and doesn’t even ring the doorbell. Not great when it’s below freezing.

So, I’ll have one more “craft/interest/compulsion” making a mess of my sewing room for a while.

Fortunately, I can buy more building blocks under the guise of providing activities for my granddaughter when I babysit. 😉

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Today I’m putting the shoe on the other foot and sharing an interview I did on Kasper’s blog Hunters of Reloria through the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network. The interview is below the sample of my book, Leya.

http://fsfnet.com/2016/09/09/kasper-interviews-author-bonnie-ferrante/

Adopting a Fluffy White Kitten, Maybe. Recycled Sundays.

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I have three cats but I’m still a normal person. I’m not a victim of feline reproduction since I’m adamant about neutering. I’m a victim of innocence.

My daughter, my son and I went to buy a sweet white kitten, the fluffy heart-tugging kind they show in toilet paper commercials. It was for my daughter, a cat-aholic if there ever was one. It would be a low maintenance pet and we’d feel good for having saved an animal from euthanasia. Unfortunately, all the ivory colored kiddies were gone. My daughter asked to see a gray female that was caged with the black and white male. The woman in charge met us at the counter with both kittens.

“One for me!” cheered my son.

I protested in vain. The woman promptly dumped both in my arms explaining that they were littermates who hadn’t been separated since birth. A single kitten would be lonely. The pair would play more and be physically and emotionally healthy. The kittens looked up with their huge trusting eyes. My children stared pleadingly. The woman smiled and offered two for the price of one. Ten eyes, waiting. I was a goner.

The black and white kitten we named Patch was the friendliest. He also had ear mites, which required swabbing both cats twice a day for two weeks. There aren’t enough pillows or oven mitts in the world to stave off a panic kitten. My husband and I looked like we’d wrestled with thorn bushes.

They did keep each other company, for almost a year. Then Misty developed into an aloof, “don’t bug me, that’s if you can find me” cat. Patch was constantly rebuffed. In a sickeningly weak moment, I decided to get him another playmate and take the pressure off Misty. I waited until another white kitten was up for adoption.

I made it clear to the children that this was to be my kitten. The white kitten was fluffy and plump. It had one blue eye and one pink. Pink eyed white cats are sometimes deaf. I clapped my hands and made silly noises, but the cat did not respond. It was either hearing-impaired or very dull.

“Look at this one, Mommy,” called my son as he watched the loose kittens through the viewing window.

I was doomed from the first glance. A black and white kitten, one ear up, one ear down, was bouncing sideways across the floor. He stopped to tumble with a tabby, and then tried to crawl up the wall to the window, meowing frantically for attention.

“He’d make a good playmate for Patch,” said my son.

The moment the scruffy little fellow was put in my arms, he twisted around and licked me.

“He’s rather ratty looking,” I protested. “Why is he scratching his ear so much? I hope he doesn’t have ear mites.”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” said the woman. “We put down any that have ear mites.”

My children’s eyes widened. They looked from me to the kitten in horror. It’s always the eyes that get me.

“We’ll take him,” I sighed.

He didn’t have ear mites but Virgil’s done more than his share of damage and had more than his share of trips to the vet. He gives new meaning to the word pest. He’s also funny and affectionate. Patch and the kids love him. So now, we have three cats, none of them white.

September 9, 1990

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Only Diet That Works. Recycled Sundays.

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Like many people, I spend much of my life concerned about dieting. Not actually dieting, mind you, just concerned about it.

The first stage is “awareness.” Or, I realized that the water in the bathtub rises to an unusually high level when I step in. I noticed that my pants are a little tighter. “Oh, these 100% cotton slacks always shrink,” I’ll rationalize. Tight polyester pants are a bit harder to excuse.

The second stage is “realizing that the weight isn’t going away on his own.” I haven’t lost as much weight as I thought suffering through camping and hiking season or starting a new exercise class. Even though I’ve substituted chocolate chip cookies for chocolate chocolate chip cookies, I’m still overweight.

The third stage is “doing a little something” such as drinking diet pop instead of regular with my family-sized pack of ripple chips or eating frozen low-fat yogurt instead of ice cream with my cheesecake.

The fourth stage is “denial.” Here I buy baggy clothes that deceive the eye, baggy sweaters, puffed blouses, and layered outfits. I compare myself, favorably of course, to heavier women even though they are becoming harder to find.

The sixth stage is “shock”. This is when something happens to bring all the other stages crashing down. It may be going up a size in clothing, weighing in at the doctor’s office, or having a child comment that I’m getting harder to hug.

The seventh stage is “actual dieting.”

I’ve tried various methods of dieting, most of which fail. The only thing that works is calorie counting combined with an increase in exercise (from none to some). Calorie counting is a lot like the old game show where people guess the price of certain items. I add, subtract, divide and estimate with the skill of an accountant in order to squeeze in one more snack.

Everything tastes great when I’m on a diet. The food has more texture and flavor then when I mindlessly stuffing myself. At least, that’s what I remind myself when I’m down to 47 cal left and it still for hours until bedtime. There have been occasions when I’m tempted to eat the calorie counting book, staples included.

One problem is that I really hate exercise, especially exercise that makes me SWEAT! Yuck!! I try to develop a few simple toning up movements to go along with my weight loss but it is difficult. You see, when I wake up, I’m too hungry to exercise. Then, I can’t do situps on a full stomach. During my busy day, I seldom have time to even think about exercising. Before I know it, it’s bedtime and I’m too exhausted to exercise.

Finally, I force myself to diet and exercise. I’m unable to decide what hurts more, my clenching, growling empty stomach or my aching, over-taxed muscles. I sleep a great deal and snap at my husband a lot, especially when he is wolfing down cheese.

Experts tell me that regular exercise will increase my energy level. I’d like to know in what decade I get the payoff.

Finally I become so worn down and frazzled that I get sick. Bingo! That’s the only time I don’t feel like eating. Before I know it, my appetite is shrinking and so is my weight. By the time I finished my second round of antibiotics, I’m thin again. It’s a tough price to pay, but it still beats dieting.

February 23, 1992

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Opposites are Different

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Be sure to check out the first video in a series about opposites. Itlittle uses graphics and songs relevant to children. There will be five new pairs of opposites in each video.

Suitable for ages 3-7.

 

I will be posting the words to the songs. (I know I’m a little raspy and off-key. One of the challenges of Parkinson’s.)

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Top Three Middle Grade Books I Reviewed in 2016

#1 A Tunnel in the Pines by Lucia Greene.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

As the situation unfolds, the reader is reassured that tragedy is on the way but how big and how final isn’t revealed until the end.

Lucia Greene is a polished, skillful writer whose words reel you in and keep you hooked to the very end. You care, deeply, about these kids and about the final outcome. The words flow so professionally that the reader is never conscious of the text but is, instead, completely immersed in the story.

#2 The Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

The mystery is complex enough to keep a middle grade child turning the pages but not so complicated as to bore or clutter the storyline. Singleton does not overwhelm the story with social drama but still allows us to see the emotional makeup of each character. Along the way, readers learn important information about abandoned and abused animals.

#3 The Scent of Something Sneaky by Gail Hedrick.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

The suspense and the pace increase steadily throughout this well-written book. The teens are likable, believable, and brave. There are surprises and twists but nothing that doesn’t logically fit in the story. The plot holds together very well and when the mystery is solved, the reader will be satisfied.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Being Santa Isn’t Easy. Recycled Sundays.

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Although people often criticize the Santa Claus figure for intensifying the commercialism of Christmas, I enjoyed his special magic. I confess I was one of the greedy children who boldly listed numerous presents, numbered in order of desirability, with appropriate locations and prices. On Christmas, I tabulated the haul beside my stocking with my requests. It never matched, but I was thrilled that an enchanted immortal elf had come right into my small shabby house and left gifts of love for a little nobody like me.

Fortunately, my own children accepted my rules about Santa letters. Santa would fill their stockings and leave one special toy for each child. They could suggest one or two ideas, but it was up to Santa to decide. What? No list? Ah, but what a thrill knowing Santa might bring that extravagant toy advertised on Saturday morning cartoons, when Mom and Dad said it was too expensive. This put the jolly man in red on SUPERHERO status.

My children suspected that Santa did not have the same standards of “good” behaviour that Mom and Dad did. Didn’t the hair-puller up the street get an incredible Ghost Buster vehicle? Didn’t the manipulative girl from school get a Barbie bride doll? Santa obviously loved them in spite of their flaws and all these dire warnings about “watching out” and not crying or pouting were nothing but parental machinations.

Fuelling the legend did not come without its physical as well as financial price. Every year we would allow the children to stay up a little later for family carolling, the reading of THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and a check with CBC radio on Santa’s progress. They’d set out the snacks for Santa and his reindeer. (Honest, honey, Santa doesn’t mind store-bought cookies.) Mom and Dad would watch a bit of television or read for a while, naively assuming that the children would fall asleep during this time, enabling Santa to make his visit.

Not that our children didn’t appreciate what their parents brought. I always planned a perfect balance of gifts, equal number and equal cost. Christmas Eve, I would slip them into their sacks (I may not be able to fly in a sleigh, but I can save a few trees). The sacks are numbered, each child receiving the same number, opening them in the same order, and each matching number containing a gift of similar value. (Santa would have ho ho hoed himself silly.)

Inevitably, I would discover one of my daughter’s gifts hadn’t arrived. I would try to rejuggle them into balance of number and quality. Sometimes, I gave up and slipped a few bucks in place of the missing gift. I’d pile them carefully under the tree, then realize my son was missing a package. I already gave a gift of clothing to him on the night of the Christmas concert because last year’s outfit was suddenly too small, even though it fit the week before. Then, I’d root through the packages in search of the money, renumbering and rejuggling. (Fortunately, I have mellowed over the years.)

Time to check the children. Like four blue spotlights, their eyes shone in the dark. “Is it morning?”

“How could it be morning? You haven’t gone to sleep yet!”

“It seems like a very long time.

Not as long as it was going to seem. Mom and Dad lay quietly in the dark, trying not to fall asleep and wake to the horror that Santa screwed up. Periodically, the toilet would flush, reminding us that little children awake past their bedtime have busy bladders. Eventually, we gave the big threat. “If you keep getting up, Santa won’t come. In a couple of hours, the sun will rise and he’ll have to head back to the North Pole without bringing your presents. Stay in bed with your door shut.”

Finally, Santa arrived. He dragged out all the presents that had been stashed in obscure places. He could have stored them in the bottom of their closets or under their beds and they never would have noticed amid all the refuse of Christmases past.

The stiff plastic bags sounded like gunshots going off in the night. To his surprise, many of the gifts still had price tags. Santa peeled and scratched, only to discover most have another price below. The tags stuck to his sleeves, his pants and the bottom of his big black boots.

He filled the stockings, then turned with a sigh. One looked fuller than the other. He knew that small gifts often cost more than large ones, but did the children? Of course, I didn’t mind if he used something from under the tree to help stuff the sock. He rooted through the sacks to find something that would fill out the smaller stocking, while I rejuggled all the presents again.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, we finally got it right.”

December 1990.

                    

Click on the book cover for more information.

 

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages