As you may know, my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend Mardi Gras week in New Orleans this year, in a kosher B&B on St. Charles St merely a block away from Touro Synagogue. We admired their parade viewing stands but until now had no idea these were provided for families with disabled children. After spending days on the parade route, I can appreciate how difficult/impossible it would be for them to attend. What a wonderful gift to the community. Shabbat Shalom.
Here's more about Touro's Mardi Gras tradition
When I travel on book tours, I prefer home hospitality rather than staying in a hotel. Hotels are lonely, they require me to leave at a specific time, and they don’t have kitchens stocked with all sorts of tasty snacks. The homes I stay at typically put me up in a guest bedroom that previously belonged to a child who has since left the nest. Often the child’s books are still there.
On my recent book tour in Florida, I spent the night in my host's daughter's bedroom where I saw “Little House on the Prairie” on the bookshelf. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s semi-autobiographical historical novels when I was young, so I picked it up, started reading, and ended up finishing it. Reading one of my childhood favorites as an adult was so intriguing that I decided to re-read the entire "Little House" series. Amazingly, I think they stand up pretty well 50 years later.
However, I’ve recently learned that Wilder’s stories are a lot more fiction than autobiography, and that there appears to be a political slant behind them. Here are a couple of articles for those of you who want to know more, from the Boston Globe and Slate.com
I celebrated my 65th birthday Wednesday by flying back home to LA. It was wonderful playing tourist in New Orleans during Carnival season. Our B&B hosts provided such a bountiful breakfast, plus snacks at other hours, that we only needed to eat one meal a day outside. So we indulged by eating at some truly marvelous restaurants recommended by the local Hadassah ladies, including: Superior Seafood, Commanders Palace, Le Petite Grocery, Acme Oyster Bar, Café du Monde, and Gumbo Shop. The saying goes that Jews in New Orleans have 3 sets of dishes: meat, milk, and treif.
Besides attending three days of Mardi Gras parades, we did a great deal of walking, so much that I only gained one pound while away. We admired the stately Garden District and St. Charles St. mansions, traipsed through the narrow streets of the French Quarter, took in the view as we strolled the Riverwalk along the mighty Mississippi, and followed several trails through Audubon Park. At various times, we passed by the Touro Synagogue, Temple Sinai, and the JCC. We also visited the Voodoo Museum, Old Mint, National Jazz Preservation Park, Pharmacy Museum, and Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo. The latter had a special exhibit celebrating the Bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans with lots of special items on loan from the Smithsonian and other historic collections. In case you don’t remember the 1959 song, click on the video below.
In honor of my 65th birthday
After an exciting and grueling schedule of 20 speaking events in 17 days, my SE book trip is now complete. I’m now on vacation in lovely New Orleans, and have been since my husband flew in to join me on Friday. Our lovely kosher [dairy] B&B, Avenue Inn on St. Charles Ave, is right on the Uptown Mardis Gras parade route and we’ve been partying out there for the last 3 days, collecting an astonishing array of stuffed animals, plastic cups, light-up toys, and assorted other Mardis Gras chachkies. If you click on the link, you can see our room on the front on the far left.
Here are some excerpts from a fantastic article in Southern Jewish Life in advance to my speaking in Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Memphis and New Orleans in the coming week.
“The author of the successful Rashi’s Daughters trilogy, Anton set out to explore Talmudic times as the background for her next two books. She was surprised to find that it launched her into the little-known world of Jewish magic — a world that many find difficult to believe existed, though much of current Jewish practice has echoes of it…
“Anton did not invent any of the magic in the book. ‘The spells I used in the book are all authentic, they are either from the Talmud itself or magic manuals that come from that period. And the characters who cast the spells (in the book) are the ones who cast them in the Talmud.’ There was a wealth of material, and she figured, ‘Why should I make up stuff when I have the real thing?’”
To see the entire article, here is the link
Luckily for me, my book travels in the next week are entirely in the South: Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Memphis and New Orleans, thus sparing me the turmoil Snowstorm Juno is causing for those in the Northeast. If you or a friend lives in these cities, see my speaking schedule below.
Luck was also for me, and perhaps those for attending my upcoming events. For though my publisher’s warehouse is in NJ, seemingly making it impossible for the time being for me to order books for these programs, when I called the author event desk they were willing to send them with 2-day shipping for no extra cost.
Feb 2 - 1 pm. Jewish Grand Strand Reads lunch. Pine Lakes Country Club, Myrtle Beach SC
Feb 3 - 7 pm. Hadassah. Charleston JCC, 1645 Raoul Wallenberg Blvd, Charleston, SC 29407
Feb 4 - 7 pm. Temple Israel, 1376 E Massey Rd, Memphis, TN 38120
Feb 5 - 7 pm. New Orleans Hadassah and Shir Chadash Conservative Synagogue. 3737 W Esplanade Ave, Metairie, LA 70002
Now in Miami; unfortunately my luggage was last seen in Ft. Lauderdale. That's not the half of my troubles with Silver Airways. After waiting in Jacksonville airport 5 hours yesterday morning [in which time I could have driven to Tampa], my flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on an American Airlines flight to Miami, where I'm scheduled to speak tonight.
When Silver retrieved the luggage from the cancelled flight, my large suitcase wasn’t there [and we’re only talking about 3 suitcases on the little plane, not dozens]. Apparently it had been placed on a plane that went to Ft. Lauderdale in the interim. I told the agents immediately that they should send my suitcase to my Miami address, but when I called Silver at 6 pm to inquire, they had no record because neither of their Jacksonville agents had filled out a “lost luggage” form.
I did have my baggage receipt so after 45 minutes on hold, Cecilia said she’d look into things and call me back. The call came at 7 am this morning – my suitcase had been found IN TAMPA. I reiterated that I was in Miami and they agreed to fly it back to Ft. Lauderdale and have it delivered to me. Another call at 11 am from Ft. Lauderdale that my luggage was there and asking for my Miami address [which I had provided 5 times by now]. It’s now 2 pm and still no suitcase, so I called corporate office and talked to someone who said she’d check into it and call me back. She also said I had to be present to receive it; they wouldn’t leave it at the door. So instead of taking a walk to work off my stress and aggravation, I’m blogging instead.
Keep tuned. Will my luggage arrive in time or will I attend the Shabbat dinner in my honor in my flip-flops and casual traveling clothes? One thing did work out, sort of. Since I couldn’t give my luncheon talk in person in Tampa, we had plenty of time in the Jacksonville airport for me to address the 60 women via skype. So not a total loss.
Those of you who live in Florida, visit Florida in the winter, or have friends who do - I'll be speaking about the research behind my newest novel ENCHANTRESS, particularly the amazing things I learned about ancient Jewish magic at various locations between Jan 21 and Feb 1. To get more details about each event, check my website speaking schedule.
Jan 21, 2015 - noon. Hadassah luncheon. Jacksonville Jewish Center. 3662 Crown Point Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.
Jan 21 - 7 pm. Jacksonville Jewish Center. 3662 Crown Point Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.
Jan 22 - noon. Congregation Beth Israel. 1115 Del Webb Blvd E, Sun City Center, FL 33573
Jan 23-24. Scholar weekend at Beth Shmuel. 1700 Michigan Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139.
Jan 24 - noon. Shabbat lunch, Temple Beth Am. 7205 Royal Palm Blvd, Margate, FL 33063
Jan 25 - 10 am. Temple Israel. 1901 North Flagler Drive
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
Jan 25 - 2pm. Temple Beth Am. 2250 Central Blvd, Jupiter, FL 33458
Jan 26 - 1:30 pm. Temple Emanu-El. 190 N County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480
Jan 26 - 7 pm. Cong Kol Tikvah, 6750 N. University Drive, Parkland, FL 33067
Jan 27 - 1 pm. Na'Amat Women Century Pines Jewish Center, 1200 SW 136th Ave, Pembroke Pines, FL
Jan 27 - 7 pm. Miami Beach JCC, 4221 Pine Tree Dr, FL 33140
Jan 28 - 1:30 pm. Temple Sinai, 2475 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33445
Jan 29 - 7 pm. Temple Torah Emet. 8600 Jog Road, Boynton Beach, FL 33472.
Jan 30-31. Sisterhood Shabbat. Congregation B'nai Torah, 6261 SW 18th St, Boca Raton FL 33433
Feb 1 - 10am. Temple Beth Am. 5950 SW 88th St, Pinecrest/Miami FL 33156
I spent the last week recovering from nasty cold that I picked up on a cruise vacation with my family, but that didn’t stop me from doing 4 local speaking events in Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Thousand Oaks, and Westwood CA. At the same time, I struggled to finalize the 3-week Florida and SE US book tour that has me flying to Jacksonville Tuesday at 6 am. That means making sure I confirm each event and have contact info for all the organizers.
The importance of this was brought home when my car [a 1994 Honda Civic] overheated only a few miles from the Thousand Oaks synagogue. I pulled off the 101 into a conveniently located nearby Marriott Inn, where I used their business center computer to find an email with the Sisterhood president’s cell number while awaiting the AAA tow truck. She, of course, was worried why I was late and quite relieved to hear from me.
Things turned out pretty well, considering I’d broken down 45 miles from my house. With over 50 women waiting for me, and my car getting towed to a mechanic only 5 minutes away, the Sisterhood prez picked me up and drove me [plus 3 boxes of books] to the synagogue. I gave an excellent talk to a very appreciative audience, sold a goodly number of books, and by the time I finished, my husband had arrived to take me home.
The next morning the mechanic called with the “good” news that my radiator had a leak, but there was no damage to the engine. Relieved that my beloved car only needed a new radiator and some hoses [which wasn’t surprising considering they were the original 20 year-old parts] I got it fixed and had a friend drive me out there to pick it up this morning.
Goodreads has an interesting feature called My Year in Books. The result is that I read 36 books in 2014, which is pretty amazing considering I was busy editing or promoting ENCHANTRESS for most of the year.
When it comes to my ratings: 9 got 5 stars, 13 got 4 stars, 10 got 3 stars, and 2 got 2 stars. I left one unrated since there were parts I liked and other parts I didn’t.
As for genre: 10 had Jewish content, 11 were historical fiction, 8 non-fiction, and 5 SciFi. Two books were so uninteresting that I didn't finish them.
Longest book was The Golem and the Jinni. Shortest was Jewish Wit and Wisdom. Those who are members of Goodreads can see all the details at this link.
Here's a shot of one of the many hummingbirds who swoop and click and feed in our patio. Careful viewers will note a red bougainvillea bract in the upper left; between that to attract them and the feeder to nourish them, it's hummingbird city out there. I can believe I got this shot with an iPhone.