Nicholas II of Russia commissioned Faberge to create cloisonne eggs as gifts to his wife and mother for special occasions. There were only fifty created. Here are two of them. Every egg contained a surprise inside.
The golden egg contains an exact replica of the royal carriage with wheels that turn and doors that open.
The pink egg has seed pearls from the Neva River with photos of Nicholas II and two daughters. The picture frames pop up when the crown at the top is pushed down.
Forty three of the eggs are accounted for in museums or private collections. Seven were missing until one turned up in a pawn shop in the midwest. Hmm, there's a story here. Think I'll write it. Yeah, more research. (more vodka?)
I love to hear from my readers! Here's a picture of one of them with her book and plush toy gift set, a surprise from her grandmother. Isn't she adorable? I can't wait to hear her thoughts on the adventures of Tyler and Dundee!
On this day, I salute all women:
I llove you all and thank you with all my heart, forever and ever.
A few days ago, i did more research on reindeer for my latest book: A Reindear Tale, about the year Santa’s team were all female. Thanks to “reindeer whisperer,” Scott Allen, I had the opportunity to meet some reindeer up close, both males and females. Who knew research could be such fun?
Reindeer are shy, but curious. They will respond to the calling of a familiar person, especially when that person is holding hay. Although March is probably not the best time to observe the gender differences, it's a great time to see them shedding their winter coats. Below the dense coat is a body that is completely black. Scott says their natural black hairs get bleached by the sun – kind of like a reverse sun tan!
From the pictures it’s hard to discern the males from the females since the males have already shed their antlers and are in the process of growing new ones. This stage of antler development is called “velvet” because the antlers have a dark brown soft covering that eventually become hard bony protrusions on their heads. The females are in the process of shedding their antlers. Several still had their full antlers. Scott says at this stage the only way to tell males from females is to “look underneath.” Yup, an easy way to spot the difference. Well, duh!
If you love reindeer, you may want to check out these websites for some interesting facts about the most famous carriers in the world, (except maybe for the stork).
Kudos to Mary and Ed Ettel of Mt. Bethel Church in Marietta! They've already sent over 8,000 packages to our servicemen and women in overseas remote outposts for many years. I am privileged to be a part of East Cobb Civitans who routinely pack boxes with their specific needs of each outpost in mind. We have granted requests for food stuffs, personal care items, blankets, socks, and pretty much anything they might need. The troops really like chocolate candy, although we can only send during certain times of the year due to climate. Fulfilling their requests is something that is taken seriously. I remember one time when a serviceman from Texas wanted a particular type of hot sauce, and the Ettels made sure that his request was in the box--made me cry! At this packing, we sent Girl Scout cookies as a little "taste of home"! It is one of the most rewarding experiences I am privileged to be a part of.
Asked the students at McClesky Middle School Career Day -
I had the opportunity to speak to a group of seventh grade students today at a local middle school during their Career Day on what it's like to develop a story from an idea. Their counselor, an intern with me many years ago, saw an article about My Dog, Me in a local magazine and invited me to share my literary journey. The students had many questions about what it takes to be a successful author, so I did my best not to scare them! I had the students work in groups to develop a storyline. They learned about protagonists, antagonists, and the cauldron of the craft. Some of them impressed me with their plots and creativity. It was great fun! My take-away -- participate when the opportunity arises! Kids are smarter than we think!
Through Marsha Rosner of Rosner Travel, I had the opportunity to travel to Jamaica and visit a local elementary public school that was sponsored by Sandals Resort. The children were darling; it was so much fun to read to them and share My Dog, Me with them. Of course, I left copies for some of the other classes.
PS - The students wear uniforms, and there's NO AC! Dundee wasn't the only one panting from the heat...
Have you seen The Great American Read on PBS? Meredith Viera hosts this series of specials to uncover America’s 100 best loved books. The objective is to find the #1 most beloved book of the American people. Viewers vote for their favorites - everything from Don Quixote to Harry Potter to The Great Gatsby. And yes, Fifty Shades of Gray. Perusing the list, I came across Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. Being retired (hooray), I decided to read this classic.
OMG- talk about a braided narrative – this could be an entire Persian rug! It’s 1425 pages of so many characters with French names, first and surnames, along with titles that change throughout the story and filled with twists and turns. Would this manuscript get published today? Probably not – at least not in this version.
But, it gives me confidence that my Bitter Sugar (braided narrative Baton Rouge sugar plantation circa 1860) at 354 pages, at least has a chance. Not that I am comparing myself to Dumas – no, never. He’s in a class of his own. Rather, I am honored to be in his company – in my own mind, at least, if not on the NY Times Best Seller List...yet.