Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Has Six Strings and An Enormous Heart?

A few weeks ago I had the great honor of being part of Tertulia, this super awesome event that happens every few months at the Continental Club Gallery. The hosts bring together writers and musicians and we each perform one piece. The combined effect is just amazing, plus you get to discover people you maybe didn't know about before. Toward that end, I got to hear the wonderful singer-songwriter, Dustin Welch. In addition to being moved by his song skills, something Dustin said went directly to my heart and stuck there. He is part of this amazing program called Soldiers and Songs, a group that brings together returning vets and singer-songwriters. The latter help the former learn to play instruments and write songs. Not only does this literally give them a voice, it is also particularly helpful for those with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. As someone who has suffered from PTSD for a long time, and who has found healing through writing and comfort in song, I immediately understood the mission of Dustin & company. The outlet they are providing-- and the program is growing chapters across the country-- is incredible. It's also incredibly necessary. 

According to the US Department of Veterans' Affairs, experts believe that up to 20% of returning vets suffer from PTSD. That's not a number that exists in a vacuum. Consider the ripple effect-- the family and community of each PTSD sufferer also pays a steep price. (I know this from my own life, not just the stats.) Compounding the problems sufferers face is how hard it is for some to admit to it, how hard it can be to get a diagnosis (PTSD is sometimes dismissed because you can't always see, on the surface, the devastation, the way you can see how limbs have been blown away by IEDs), and-- even when a diagnosis is given-- how impossible it can be to get help. Also, consider the grim news that soldier suicides are at an all-time high.

Help a soldier out-- please donate some of these. Info on how is below.

Growing complacent during two protracted wars fought far away has become too easy. When we don't see the devastation up close it's entirely possible to forget about it. But Dustin Welch hasn't forgotten. He is staking out the Aftermath Trenches with an enormous heart and six strings, demonstrating compassion and fearlessness. As the President of the Office of Good Deeds, I am beyond humbled by his service.

So now I'm asking you to help him out. First and foremost, the group needs guitars. Have you got one you can donate? You can email me if you do, and I'll connect you directly with Dustin. Other instruments are also welcome. If you don't have an instrument but you do want to help, you can kick in a few bucks by going to this link or let me know and I'll also connect you with Dustin regarding financial donations. Five bucks, ten bucks-- it all helps.

For more information about the program check out Voices of a Grateful Nation. You can also listen to the story John Burnett reported about the program for NPR.

Dustin-- THANK YOU! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Martin Burke IS Fully Committed

photo by Kirk Tuck (c)

I LOVE MARTIN BURKE!! When I saw him in The Drowsy Chaperone, I invited him to come and live with me (we're still working out logistics). When I saw him in The Santaland Diaries, I almost liked Christmas for ninety full minutes. When I heard he was playing at ZACH in Fully Committed, I made room in my schedule-with-no-room-in-it.

I was not disappointed. Oh no, I was not!!

So, okay, by applause: How many of you saw The Drowsy Chaperone? Over the top fab, right? Remember Martin, as The Man in the Chair, dancing around to the musical in his head/apartment? Now, do you remember the scene where he, TMITC, gets so pissed off at his phone for ringing and interrupting his joy that he essentially beats the hell out of the phone? Do you remember how HILARIOUS that was? Warren and I still laugh over that one.

That scene was so funny, it made me wish there could be a whole play starring Martin and a phone. Enter Fully Committed! That's right, it's my dream come true. Martin plays about forty different characters in this comedy that takes us into a day in the life of Sam, a downtrodden aspiring actor who works as a reservations operator/human doormat for some uber-swank New York restaurant. On this particular day, his coworkers have gone AWOL, leaving him alone to the task of fielding endless overlapping calls from spoiled socialites, mobsters, tourists, his dad, his brother, the restaurant's terrorist owner, and Naomi Campbell's flaming assistant, Bryce among others. Everyone wants something Sam can't give them-- most want a table but the place sells out months in advance. The show's title is a nice play on both the chef-owner's insistence on using a particular phrase to explain the dearth of seats and also the ward Sam is going to be heading to if he doesn't find a way to escape the madness.

Me and my Honey Bunny (well, a cardboard version anyway)

Fully Committed is on the intimate Whisenhunt Stage, in the round. We sat on the front row, often within shoulder massaging distance of Martin, and watching him so up close, the sweat on his neck as he transforms into Chef, the nail filing he engages in when he transforms into the whiny assistant of his agent, and all the other characters he brings to life... well all I can say is Super Wow. Honestly I have no clue how he does it, and does it so well.

Besides Sam, for whom it is very easy to root, there is the equally strong and dominant character, Jean-Claude, the Maitre D with the French accent and matching French attitude. With just a single prop, a flowing white hanky, and a shift of accent, Martin instantly becomes this howlingly funny Frenchman. When it's time to play Chef, the switch comes courtesy of much nostril flaring and bull-like snorts. And so it goes-- with seemingly tiny maneuvers Martin delivers massively masterful multiple personalities.

I realize now that I got a little mixed up at Fully Committed. Not at the insane number of characters Martin plays, and plays so well. But I realize I got mixed up in switching back and forth between suspending my disbelief, inhabiting the world of Sam & company, and being spellbound by Martin's astonishing ability to hold that entire script in his head, to switch and switch and switch and switch again, to make us believe ALL the characters.

This is an especially great show to be playing now, in this godforsaken oppressive heat. So nice to get some cool laughs and fits of giggles. For anyone who has ever worked a crap job, for anyone who has every struggled with trying to learn how to stand up when being squashed down by idiots, aw, hell, for anyone who has ever had an irritating phone conversation... (so, yeah, all of us) Fully Committed is thoroughly enjoyable. Oh Martin! You did it again! Thank you! Now hurry up and move in with me.

Y'all better call NOW for reservations, before Naomi Campbell has her assistant call and buy up all the tickets. Here's a link for tix. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Update and Some Rufus Love

Rufus & Me!

Hey Y'all,
Wow. When I put up my post yesterday, no way could I anticipate the amazing support and feedback and the stunning number of hits the post received. Thank you all SO MUCH. And yes, it sucks that a complaint like mine has netted me so many responses since, in the end, the onslaught is just a reminder of how many people in the world are treated so crappily by so many other people.

I feel like I made it pretty clear yesterday, but some of the exchange happened over at FB, so I want to clarify a couple points here about my own stupidity. To wit:

1. Though I was really excited to cover the topic I was assigned by AW, I should have stuck to an earlier vow I made awhile back to stop taking all freelance gigs, period. That old saying about if you can't stand the heat... is very applicable here. Freelance writing has a lot in common with waitressing-- there's no law saying folks have to leave tips (and there will always be assholes who stiff) and, similarly, publications have clauses that say they can kill a piece and thus pay far less for it than originally agreed to, and they also have all sorts of dirty tricks to delay payment and take advantage of writers. I waited on tables for fifteen years and freelanced for thirty and I guess I had a pretty high threshold for pain back then. No more. Too many abusive customers and too many abusive editors out there. And while these jerks count as the minority, eventually their terrible actions wore me out. Anyway, no more table waiting, no more freelancing. The abuse isn't worth it.

2. A couple people unkindly suggested that, in essence, I was an idiot for not having gotten terms and/or a contract up front. Guilty as charged. I had been out of the game* long enough that I forgot some publications have insane payment schedules. And I should've asked for a contract. On the other hand, AW should've sent me one. To be clear-- to those of you who said I got what I deserved-- I was not protesting not getting paid on my terms (30 days), I was protesting that I did not get paid on the terms AW forced on me (60 days). Only when they did not honor THEIR OWN terms did I get steamed.

If you missed the FB update-- the check did arrive yesterday, June 21st. Though the office manager swore up and down she mailed it on Monday, the check itself was dated Tuesday, and it was also postmarked Tuesday. (And yes, when I talked to her on the phone, I asked her if had really been MAILED on Monday, or simply set in an outbox. She assured me it had been MAILED). Since mail arrives in my PO Box the next day, this indicates the check was issued Tuesday and mailed Wednesday. To me, this is the crux of it-- I cannot stand bullshit and I cannot stand lies. I also cannot stand not having my private queries responded to. I tried reaching the editor privately by phone and by email. She did not pick up when I called, and instead of responding directly to my email, she cc'ed me a note she sent to her office manager.

Anyway, enough of all that. Lesson learned, hopefully for good this time. I am done with freelance writing, unless and until someone wants to pay me, in advance, what I am actually worth which, of course, means that I am done with freelancing. From here on out it's all weddings and blog posts and, if I ever finish it, perhaps the book I'm in the process of revising. (Decisions, decisions-- self-publish or attempt to go the pain-in-the-ass "traditional" route?)

Meanwhile, speaking of being out of the game (see asterisk above), I had hoped today to post an open letter to Rufus Wainwright but I confess yesterday's letter writing left me all tuckered out. Still, because I feel it is crucial for every one of you to buy RW's new record Out of the Game right this minute, and also because I'd like to head into the weekend with a picture of Rufus on my front page vs. yesterday's picture... well at least let me tell you a little bit about the record. In short:


I've been to Houston twice in the past two weeks to see a sick friend in the hospital. It's not the worst drive in the world, but I have been logging an awful lot of miles in the car, and one can only listen to so many chapters of Wolf Hall before one becomes fully entranced by Highway Hypnosis. And so I have been taking in the WH in tiny bites and mostly turning to Rufus to keep me awake and alive on the drive. My god, what a fantastic record it is! Every time I listen to it I hear something new. There's a dash of ABBA, a sprinkling of Queen, a whiff of Sargent Pepper. There's Martha and there's bagpipes. And yet all along it is 100% pure Rufus.  I've been spending hours trying to guess the meaning behind the lyrics, and hours feeling the achey haunting tributes to his mom, Kate, and contemplating the parts that surely must be targeted at his dad, the bastard.

Oh RuRu! How I love you so! You cheered me up during my divorce, provided a soundtrack for me falling in love with the right guy after that, dazzled me at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, and again at Stubb's in Austin, and in Studio 1A and at the Paramount. And you were the first one I listened to when I got the word my own difficult dad had departed. I'm a little sad you won't be stopping in Austin on your next tour, but baby, I will drive to Houston for you. It's a drive I know well, one you have made so much more bearable.

Here's a sneak peek of Rufus singing Jericho.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Open Letter to Austin Woman’s Deborah Hamilton-Lynne RE: Fucking PAY ME Already, Would Ya?

Today is June 21, 2012. I still have not been paid. When I turned my article in, two days ahead of deadline, on April 18, 2012, I asked you to confirm that you received it. I heard nothing back from you for many days, even though I sent a follow up note again asking you to confirm receipt as it is very important to me to know that I have met professional obligations to which I have agreed. I also sent you an invoice then, with 30 day terms, telling you I wanted to be paid no more than 30 days after the original deadline of April 20th.

FINALLY you responded at some point, something about you’d been in Ohio and had limited Internet connection or some bullshit like that. I mean really? Ohio doesn’t have the Internet? In addition to educating me about the Luddite burden Ohioans bear, you also said that Austin Woman pays on the 15th of the month of publication. Since the piece I wrote was slated for June, that meant you wouldn’t be issuing a check until June 15th. Well, allegedly. I responded telling you these terms were not acceptable, lamenting that I had been too stupid to get in writing, in advance, an agreement that would have me paid within a reasonable amount of time. I also asked you to see if you could expedite payment and you wrote back saying you would try, but I feel fully confident now that that was pure crap.

On June 16th, I went to my PO Box, which is, according to Google Maps, is exactly 1.5 miles from your office. Having had this PO Box since 1997, I know well from experience that something mailed one day in Austin arrives, 99% of the time, the very next day. As you can guess from the pissy tone of this note, the check was not there. Nor did it arrive on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.

Before I specifically berate you and your lack of professionalism, and before I detail the conversation I had with your office manager, let me step back a few paces here and confess that, yes, probably my fury at you has been fed by three decades of being given the fucking runaround by editors and accountants who lie out their ass about when a check has been mailed. I’ve also had this experience with at least two employers, one of whom I had to twist her balls within an inch of falling off to get the thousands she owed me, and the other of whom still owes me $5,000, though she filed bankruptcy to protect herself. So, yeah, cumulative effect and all that.

And also, let me add – in the interest of fairness—that my panties have been in a wad for a long time now over the whole state of the demise of journalism. Some time ago I wrote a piece about how furious I was that “editors” were now offering to “pay” me in exposure vs. cash. I hated that, and it drove me away from making my living as a writer. I went through the stages of grief—I really, really did. But then something funny happened.

Do you know this effect, where someone gets divorced and while it’s happening it feels like the end of the world and they never think life will get better but then suddenly, it does? It gets really, really, really MUCH MUCH MUCH BETTER? As the veteran of two divorces from two assholes, I have to say I’ve had the exhilarating thrill of this experience more than once. And it feels so good I’m almost tempted to marry another asshole just so I can enjoy the post-divorce bliss again (I kid, I KID!). Well once I got away from writing for a living, once I really threw myself into my new career, I noticed I was much happier on a regular basis, so glad for the divorce from paid writing that the Internet had foisted upon me. I mean, just like I’m not going to send my dumbass ex-husbands thank you notes for helping me to see, courtesy of their role as foil, how great life could be, I’m also not sending the Internet a gold-engraved epistle of gratitude. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I didn’t miss the commercial writing. In fact, the absence of deadlines, unrealistic editorial demands, and checks that never arrive on time was totally REFRESHING.

Let me tell you a little story now. A couple of months after my last divorce, I ran into that ex-husband. We showed up to help a mutual friend in need. My ex-husband inappropriately touched me that time, without my invitation or permission. It creeped me out and it confused me and it really depressed the fuck out of me. I’m telling you this story because this is how I feel about you, Deborah. Let me explain.

When you contacted me to write an article, I very much liked the topic, which happened to be a profile of a good friend of mine, someone I really admire. The pay you offered-- $500—was total crap, but I wasn’t in it for the pay, not really. And considering how so many people pay nothing anymore, well actually $500 didn’t look so bad. So I said yes, which, I suppose was me once again demonstrating that I can be the walking definition of insanity. Because I had been away from the game for so long, I had developed amnesia and had forgotten just how shittily so many publications treat so many writers. I fell for your bullshit, Deborah. It was like running into my ex-husband, expecting him to at least be respectable, and then discovering that, no, he was still the same old asshole.

Now let me go over my process in working for you. Gathering info for the story and writing it was a great experience. I also fact checked the hell out of it, guessing that maybe you wouldn’t do that (or, even if you would, I still want to be fully responsible for my work). I then sent the article along with the requested sidebar. Then came that silence I mentioned. Then the exchange about pay. Then time marched on and you sent me a note mentioning that I had not sent you the sidebars, and could I please resend. This puzzled me, since I sent the sidebars with the same email that included the article. I chalked this up to sloppiness on your part, but hell, we all lose attachments and it was no big deal for me to send it again.

Throughout this process, I let you know I was available for revisions, I let you know parts of the story I wanted you to pay close attention to, in short, I treated you like the professional editor you clearly are not. I never heard back again, not until some people started contacting me to compliment me on the piece, indicating to me that it had been published. You never let me know it was out. You never mailed me a copy. You never sent a note of thanks or even acknowledgment.

I began watching for the check. Then I had to run to Houston to see a sick friend. If the check had arrived when you promised it would, I could’ve stayed in Houston longer, because I could’ve deposited it and bought myself a few extra days. Instead, I had to drive back home to deal with my banking. When I got to the PO Box, I thought, “Surely, it must be there.” It wasn’t.

So I emailed you last night, telling you that I wanted to be paid, that it wasn’t cool to not pay me, and that I would come by for the check. This morning, rather than emailing me back directly, you sent a note to Sadie, the office manager, and cc’ed me on it, asking Sadie to track the check. Here’s a hint, Deborah: when you fail to hold up your end of the bargain, and when someone directly asks you about it, the very least you could/should do is respond directly. Instead, you passed the burden on to Sadie.

I’m sure by now Sadie has called you to tell you what a totally fucking unreasonable bitch I was on the phone this morning. I mean, I’m just guessing that was her opinion. But Sadie told me things that made me feel pretty fucking bitchy, so let’s just say I was being true to my feelings. For example, I asked her if she got paid on time and if you got paid on time. She said yes, you both were paid last week BUT that a salesperson was not paid on time. As if that would console me. Console me? I wanted to call the salesperson and say RUN LIKE HELL THEY ARE GOING TO KEEP SCREWING YOU.

Just as you passed your responsibility on to Sadie, Sadie in turn blamed the advertisers for not paying y’all on time. She also mumbled something about if you didn’t have to pay payroll taxes, I would’ve been paid on time. Deborah? I have looked at your magazine, which is jam-packed with ads for shit like plastic surgery (had I known this in advance I might’ve declined the assignment). I asked Sadie if plastic surgeons really weren’t paying their bills and she assured me this was the case. Maybe I should call some of your advertisers and ask them if it’s true what Austin Woman says about them, that they are a bunch of deadbeats.

After I called Sadie, I then called you. To my 100% total lack of surprise, you failed to pick up your phone. I’m guessing you knew it was me. You did send an email telling me that there was no need for me to go to the office to pick up a check today, since, no really, the check is in the mail.

We shall see. I will go to my PO Box shortly. If the check is not there, I will be heading over to the office, waiting to be paid. I have people who are prepared to bring me meals and take care of me for as long as I need to stay until you pay me.

I just want to say a huge Fuck You to you and every editor and accounting department and every other person at magazines who had a hand in me not getting paid on time over the years. You should be ashamed. You make your money off of writers, Deborah. My work pays your mortgage. If you were professional, my work would also be able to pay my mortgage on time. Instead, I am left here, once again, like a fucking beggar, hoping only to get what I worked for.

Sign me,
This Is What It Sounds Like When Spike’s Pissed Off

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Captial T Theatre's BOOM @ HPT

Taking in BOOM, which is being staged by Capital T Theatre at Hyde Park Theatre, brought up all sorts of seemingly disjointed associations, including: the creepy novel Room (hey, that rhymes with BOOM); Sartre’s No Exit, The LBJ Museum (specifically the animatron of the man himself), Genesis (the book in the bible, not the Phil Collins/Peter Gabrial thing) and these lyrics from Ani DiFranco’s song Little Plastic Castles

They say goldfish have no memory
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time
And it's hard to say if they're happy
But they don't seem much to mind

Are those enough clues for me to convey to you, without spoilers, that what we have in BOOM is a piece involving human beings (and other creatures) trapped in small spaces? There’s a Matryoshka doll effect happening here which, if I give you the details, is going to ruin playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s surprises. So let me try to surrender a bit here, without giving too much away.

BOOM opens with Barbara, played wonderfully (natch) by Katherine Catmull. Barbara is wearing a vaguely Star-Trekky ensemble and as she takes her place, stage right, behind a bar with multiple levers we can’t tell at first if she’s operating a soft-serve business, a spaceship, or a soda fountain.

As we cut to an entirely different scene, center stage, Barbara continues to hold her place, observing and, at certain points appearing to control that other scene, though we aren’t quite sure how, not at first. In this other scene, Jules (Brad Price) and Jo (Katy Taylor) are the definition of mismatched pair. They have found each other, as so many do, via an online ad that he created and she misinterpreted. But what at first appears like a very bad date, eventually reveals itself to be something much greater. These two, at least in Jules’s mind, have the power, in the face of imminent disaster, to save the planet. Or not— not if Jo gets a vote.

If you’re scratching your head, don’t shoot the messenger. I was scratching my head, too, trying to piece things together, feeling entertained if a little confused during the first half as Jules and Jo banter and bicker and wrestle physically and verbally for control. But clarity comes in the second half of BOOM, and I have to say that I liked the writing more and more as we moved along. In fact, the strength of the second half totally saves the first half from being just another spin on just another comic take on No Exit.

What really lifts the show to its greatest height are the revelations and asides provided at intervals by Barbara. Catmull plays Barbara as an emoticon personified—sometimes smiley, sometimes winky, sometimes scowly. She even comes equipped with metaphoric multiple exclamation points in the form of her very own timpani, which she plays if not with finesse then certainly with maximum enthusiasm and effect. Barbara is the one who, in the end, provides the revelatory payoff, and it’s a very funny one.

Barbara isn’t merely some dolled up voiceover narrator present to move the story along, though. Getting back to the Matryoshka thing—we come to see how her existence reflects the existence of Jo and Jules and the fish they keep. Are we all just trapped in our little inescapable environments, desperate to control something/anything? And are we all doomed to fail in our efforts, thwarted by emotions, helplessness, and the actual lack of control that life really is?

In the hands of director Mark Pickell, BOOM is a lovely vehicle to take driving across this landmine-riddled terrain of philosophical pondering. Never too heavy, it’s a silly but thoughtful romp through those classic literary conflicts—man vs. himself, man vs. nature, man vs. man (or in this case, woman), and man vs. society (what little remains of it).
Capital T Theatre’s production of BOOM plays through Saturday, June 23rd at Hyde Park Theatre. Ticket info here

Monday, June 11, 2012

Next Dick Monologues Coming Right Up: My Body, My Bullshit!

Hey Y'all,
We are BACK with the Dick Monologues after a little sabbatical. The next show is July 17, 2012 at Hyde  Park Theatre from 7 pm til whenever we feel like being done. The theme this time around is:
My Body, My Bullshit and we promise this is going to be a great one. Tickets are $10. You can reserve your seats by sending an email to -- shows almost always sell out, so don't wait, reserve today! If you've got a body and you've got some bullshit around having a body, this show is for you.

See ya there,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's Here! EPISODE by Popular Culture!

There are about 15,000 things I want to tell you about my son today. These in addition to the 15,000 (million?) things I’ve told over the years. But today I must focus on ONE THING. Today is the day that Henry, recording as Popular Culture, officially releases his first record: EPISODE.

I am so excited I think I might spend a good part of the day weeping. This child of mine has been exposed to music since before he was born. I remember when I was damn near close to nine months pregnant, and I squeezed my ass into a super tight, non-maternity thrift store dress, and Big Red and I went to see Poi Dog Pondering at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis and I danced and danced and danced and danced and I thought the bouncers were going to have a collective breakdown, so worried were they that I was going to go into labor right there. Hen is the product of two music fanatics, and was raised in a music fanatic town. We never pushed music on him, he just took to it, to understate the matter. 

A few weeks ago, I temporarily swapped cars with Henry so I had the old Scion back for a few days, and the Scion always gets CDs stuck in the player. As it happened, Henry had popped in the master of EPISODE and he couldn’t get it out. So I drove around and around and just listened to it cranked up to 11 and, I’m not saying this just because I’m his mom, DAMN THIS RECORD IS SO FINE SO FINE SO FINE!!

I hope you will order a copy today—right now it’s only available digitally but eventually there will be vinyl and CD (I’ll keep you posted). I also would love for you to help me spread the word. If you would share the news with all your music-loving friends, your DJ friends, and, well everybody, I would be so grateful. I mean, I already am so grateful. So I guess what I mean is I WILL BURST WITH GRATITUDE!! Below are some helpful links to assist you in getting the word out.

Oh, one more thing before I share with you some helpful links… Henry had some amazing help making this record. His producer, Kyle Ellison, has been a stunning mentor for years. Melanie at SparrowSongs Music picked it up to distribute. Bob Ludwig mastered the record (BL has worked with Led Zep, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, AC/DC, The Who, etc). And lots and lots of other people came together to make this happen. In a few days, I have a big announcement to make that ties into all of the mentoring and support these folks have given Henry. For now, I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! 


And now, some links for you to share with the world as we get the word out about EPISODE:

Here is a link to the iTunes preview, which – if you have iTunes, you can click to get the digital download.

Here is a link to SparrowSongs Music, where you can listen to Popular Culture’s debut record, EPISODE.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Soul Food-- With a Big Side of Ranch Blessing

I spent the past several days at a ranch out past Kerrville, part of a writing residency I was given and, I'm happy to say, I'll be going back out again soon. Talk about a stunning opportunity. Being out there affords me long stretches of time to focus on revising a book I'm working on, read for hours on end, meditate to the chorus of a million summer insects, and just be. Oh, and did I mention-- there are bison! And my phone doesn't work! And retrieving email involves the sort of energy expenditure that means I hardly check email at all. 

I also take walks. Everyone should walk every day and all of us should walk in the country whenever possible. I made a really good, very temporary, extremely surprising new friend (see the video below). Also turned out I was within walking distance of the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, which is supported by Kinky Friedman and run by Cousin Nancy and her husband Tony. The Rescue Ranch is also where Rebound came from so, as you can imagine, it holds a huge place in my heart. Herewith, some pics and one amazing video. My deepest gratitude to Heather and Martin at MadroƱo Ranch for this amazing retreat.

Auspicious! First animal sighting: a Boston!!

Second animal sighting. That is NOT a Boston.

One of Cousin Nancy's Books about the Rescue Ranch.

I wasn't the only visitor to Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.

Thistle do!

Barbie bouquet!

My castle.

Breakfast of champions-- I'm not cooking on retreat.

Lunch of champions.

Snack food of champions.

Energy Drink of champions.

Look in the top left corner: NO SERVICE!!!

Self-portrait of champions.

Driving home -- it's peach season. AMEN!