Tag Archives: Ringling Brothers elephants

Elephants in My Room

The other day I finished reading my first Jodi Picoult book. I chose Leaving Time without knowing anything about it because it was available at the used book store (if I write used bookstore, doesn’t that mean that the store is secondhand?). It was cheap, and I wanted to see what her writing was like.

It was serendipity that the book turned out to be about elephants because I had just finished reading Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. Maybe some readers would say, “Oh no, not more elephants.” But not this animal lover. I can’t get enough elephants.

By the way, remember my mother-in-law, the artist who painted the murals at The Birdland nightclub? She had a collection of little elephant statues that I inherited. I have them stuck to a shelf with museum putty so I couldn’t arrange them for a photo. This is how I have them jammed in, along with her Birdland and Stork Club memorabilia (sigh).

What a mess

Anyway, I loved both books . . . a lot. Gruen’s novel is highly acclaimed. A movie was made of the book. As is typical, I haven’t seen the movie. It’s a story about a young man who travels and works with a circus. He takes care of the animals, including a beautiful and highly intelligent elephant that only understands Polish.  My Goodreads review is short because I’ve been too short on time lately for writing reviews.

Loved this book. I was so worried about the ending, but the ending turned out to be perfect.

Picoult’s book is a little more complicated. The average Goodreads star rating is 3.91. That’s pretty decent, but it’s comprised of some 1s and 2s. This is what I wrote in my review:

I’ve read some of the Goodreads reviews of this book, and I think I understand why I give this book a 5 and some others give it a 1 or 2. This is a book that appeals to a soft heart for animals. Picoult skillfully teaches me so much about elephants and their brilliant, creative minds and big hearts–and I don’t even feel as if I’m being taught. I feel as if I am living with the elephants. If you are mainly interested in humans and don’t feel a kinship with animals you might think that the book feels as if there are odd gaps at times–explainable by the story being told from multiple points of view. It might even seem a little jerky occasionally because of this. That is all understood by the end of the book (the twist), so it makes sense. Not my absolute favorite story without the elephants, but the elephants are the stars of the show–AND VERY WELL WORTH THE READ. in fact, I wish everyone would read it to learn more about them and to help them survive before it is too late and they are all gone.

One of the really cool aspects of the novel is that it comes with a prequel at the end that gives additional information about the elephants. Another is that one of the elephant sanctuaries in the book is the real one that exists in Tennessee. That is on my bucket list along with Cleveland Amory’s Black Beauty Ranch. Check it out!

When my son was in high school, he and I picketed the circus together–all over their treatment of the animals, especially the elephants. So imagine my excitement a few months ago at hearing that Ringling Brothers was giving in to the will of the people fighting for the health of the elephants by retiring all their elephants!

One of the most meaningful books I’ve ever read was Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s nonfiction When Elephants WeepIn it he makes an airtight case for the emotional life of elephants (and other animals). In his book I first learned that elephants have been known to create art!!!

When Elephants Weep

Now I’m looking for more elephant books to read. Has anybody read The Elephant Whisperer?

#amwriting: Yup, I’ve been getting my chapbook in shape, so that gives me a feeling of accomplishment. And now my daughter is visiting with her kitty. YIPPEE!!!


Filed under #AmWriting, Book Review, Cats and Other Animals, Fiction, Nonfiction, Reading, Writing

TV and Me

I am behind in blog reading because my schedule has been overwhelming, but will catch up as soon as I can. I hope today is a good day for checking out my “reader.”

As you might have noticed from Renee’s review (thank you so much, Renee!), first posted on Monday, I was interviewed on AZTV7’s Morning Scramble Monday morning about Doll God. The interview itself turned out to be a painless experience–Sandy Moss and the crew were low key, warm, and put me right at ease. The interview was “live” across all of Arizona, and my husband watched me on the screen from another room.*

The night before we drove from Phoenix up to Cottonwood to spend the night. I had to be at the station at 8AM. Hubby has problems with altitudes, and Cottonwood is a lower elevation than Prescott, where AZTV7 is located. We stayed in a hotel room where the window had an exterior light shining into it–and a flimsy set of blinds covering it. With my sensitivity to light it was torture. Then it was also very warm in the room. The hotel turned out to have no staff working all night either. They get in at 9AM . . . .  I did not sleep the entire night. All I did was lie there thinking, “Light, heat, and lack of sleep are my migraine triggers. What if I am struck with a complicated migraine in the middle of the interview?” I actually came up with scenarios of how to handle the situation, should it arise. They all ended with me running for a bucket.

Hubby and I got up and ready in time, so that was a plus. The downside was that the bags under my eyes were packed and ready to pay $75 each for being overweight.

We drove through the mountains and past the snow banks. That was a treat. And hubby didn’t get sick this time from driving through the high altitude.

Two other women were being interviewed on the same show: the founder of Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation for Girls and the Director of Resource Development for the Prescott Area Habitat for Humanity. Just before my segment, Sandy Moss made a plea for Ringling Bros/Barnum and Bailey Circus to retire their elephants NOW, not in three (long) years. If you don’t know about this news, read about it here. When my son was a teen, he and I used to picket the circus on behalf of the elephants, so this help for them has already taken a long long time. Why should they have to wait another three years? Another three years of abuse!

I was relieved to be interviewed before the other women, as I didn’t have time to watch them and critique how much worse I would do than they were doing. But Sandy’s questions were not designed to make me look stupid (the responsibility for that rests with me), and she let me read a poem :). When we were done, she said she was surprised that my segment lasted nine minutes. She wasn’t as surprised as I was–it felt like about three minutes!

After that, hubby and I went out for omelettes and then headed to Prescott’s antique stores. There I discovered the “find” of my doll collecting! A Door of Hope bride doll!!!!! I never dreamed I would find such a thing. Door of Hope are highly collectible, very expensive dolls that were made by very poor ex-slave Chinese girls at Door of Hope mission in Shanghai from about 1900-1950.

Isn’t that beaded veil just gorgeous?! Look at the work that went into this costume.

And I got a good deal on the doll.  So the day turned out pretty good, although it all happened on zero sleep.

By the way, that was the first time I was on TV since I was ten years old. My class performed an original play, and I played the role of Nurse #2, which doesn’t sound so great, but was actually one of the main roles.

That’s me in the nurse’s cap at the far end of the table, seated. Dr. Manner’s something or other was the name of the play. That was Dr. Manners, the boy standing near the clock. Boys were the doctors. Girls were the nurses. But at least nurses got to wear those cool caps!

* The new TV segment will be edited by my daughter and then I will post. If I have the guts.


Filed under Arizona, Books, Cats and Other Animals, Doll God, Dolls, Memoir, poems about dolls, Poetry, Poetry book, Poetry Collection, Sightseeing & Travel