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Judy Alter

Author

Judy Alter has been writing fiction and nonfiction for young readers for twenty years. She has a Ph.D. in English with a special interest in the history and literature of the American West. Alter is the director of a small academic press, and writes in her spare time. She is the mother of four, and now lives with her dog, her cat, her garden, and her books.

Judy's Books

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Discovering Australia's Land, People, and Wildlife

Discovering Australia's Land, People, and Wildlife

A MyReportLinks.com Book

Judy Alter
In this new edition of the Continents of the World series, author Judy Alter uncovers the land and climate, plant and animal life, scientific discoveries, and history and exploration of Australia. This book offers fun and interesting facts about the planet’s smallest continent...Read More

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ISBN: 978-0-7660-5207-9
Binding: Library Ed.
List Price: $26.60
Discount Price: $19.95

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Judy's Latest Blog Entries

Lots of work and some insight



One of the good days. A nice rain, without the predicted thunder, lightning, and tornadoes, this morning. Sunshine, a slight breeze, and 70s this afternoon—happy hour on the patio was delightful. Jordan, her good friend Amy, and a surprise but welcome guest—Rae, our favorite of my caregivers. And three dogs. Much laughter, a few tears, and a wonderful sense of caring.

It had been a good day up until then anyway. I often fritter away the morning with emails and Facebook, and I did today, but my conscience got me, and I also edited another chapter of my novella and read a chunk of the book I’m reading to report to a competition. Usually by two my face is falling in my computer because I’m so sleepy but today I was so engaged by what I was doing that I didn’t even feel sleepy when I went to nap at a little after three. Made me think that maybe I’m back in the working groove. Hope so.

When son Jamie was here yesterday, we talked briefly about being introverts. Jamie is my natural salesman, never met anyone who didn’t prompt him to hold out his hand and say cheerfully, “Hi! I’m Jamie Alter.” His brother once said, “I don’t want to have to talk like Jamie.” Although Jame owns his own company selling toys on behalf of manufacturers, he is still primarily a salesman-and he’s wonderful at it.

When something came up about how loudly he talks on the phone, he said, ‘That’s my extravert personality. But I always feel there’s an introvert deep inside me.”

He got me to thinking. I think of myself as an introvert, but I realize I feed on people. I’m not a recluse. I need people in my life. Particularly when I was running TCU Press, I was outgoing and was praised for my people skills, my self-confidence in social situations, etc. I managed large parties, greeted authors, went to conventions, talked to groups, all with ease (well, mostly so) but I always knew I was playing a role. My position as press director was like a shield I hid behind. Put me alone in a cocktail party with no relation to my job, and I became a wallflower.

I realized though, talking to Jamie, that I miss the days of being an extrovert, being the center of attention, getting all that praise. Oh, sure, I have people around me, and I’m grateful for their company, continued presence, loyalty.

But those glory days are gone, a part of my past, just as my glory days of being a gourmet cook and entertaining large groups are over and done with. It’s part, I guess of growing older. And part of downsizing.

Someone said today that it’s good to plan for inevitable changes in our lives, and that’s what I did in downsizing and moving to the cottage. But it has its drawbacks and things that I miss.

I don’t mean this blog to be a downer Don’t get me wrong. I’m a happy camper, couldn’t be happier. Those are just some thoughts that came to mind with a slight twinge of regret. It really has, though, been a good day.

Windy Day


The month of March forgot it’s on its way out today and acted like the lion it’s supposed to come in as. Son Jamie was in town for the day, and we had breakfast at Ol’ South so I could indulge my love of corned beef hash and he could have his Dutch Baby. But the wind was so strong it nearly slammed the car door back on my legs as I tried to get out, and I had to cling to my walker to make it inside. Corned beef hash and Jamie’s company were worth it

Tonight, friends Subie and Phil came for a glass of wine. I had announced earlier in the day that happy hour would be served on the patio. Towards five I thought the wind had calmed, but when we got outside, not so. Huge trees bent and danced as the wind tossed them, and I worried about the buffeting taken by the bougainvillea on the deck which has just thrown out its first profusion of blooms.

We’re due for storms tonight, or in the early morning hours, and I hope this wind isn’t a precursor of severe weather. My lunch date for tomorrow has cancelled in light of the weather, though I don’t think it will be that bad.

Jamie worked all day, so except for breakfast and briefly during the day I didn’t really get to visit with him It was lovely to know he was here, sitting across the room from me, but the atmosphere tightens when he’s working. He’s so intense and frequently utters comments about how frustrated and behind he is. He did fix the controls to my bed—re-synced them, however you do that, and checked my computer, though he could find no reason for its erratic behavior. He intends to pick out a new one for me to buy, but given his travel schedule it looks like at least mid-April before he can do that. I am praying my computer doesn’t stonewall me as it did last weekend. It had one blurp this morning, but I could fix that.

When I said I worried about the pressure he puts on himself, Jamie said, “This is the bed I made for myself for now.” As an ex-beau told me, “Once a mother always a mother.” Yes, I still worry.

Jamie had talked about going out to lunch but clearly, he didn’t have time. We ordered from Jimmy John’s, which I’ve never done. Tuna fish was good, and Jamie said he likes the consistent quality of the food. But no sooner had I swallowed the last bite than Facebook had a piece entitled, “Why you should never eat Jimmy Johns again.” It seems that Jimmy drops huge bundles of money buying exotic animals so he can hunt them for their horns or whatever. He “bought” the last female black rhino in an African game park and killed her. My food stuck in my throat, and I won’t order from there again. Jamie said he boycotted the chain for a year but it was so convenient and the quality so good, he went back to it. I don’t know—quality doesn’t make up for senseless cruelty, extreme vanity, and whatever else motivates that big white hunter.

I forgot about lunch and made tuna salad for dinner. It’s okay. I could eat it three times a day endlessly. Also made a cucumber/avocado salad—really good.














A mid-week, mid-day adventure




Who expects an adventure on a Wednesday, in the middle of the day? Not me, but I had one today. It began last week when a friend I’d not known well but had seen and visited with here and there over the years called and said she’d had a knee replacement in the fall, knew what being housebound was like, and she wanted to come take me to lunch. Thoughtful and kind, and I readily agreed, looking forward to a visit.

When she picked me up, she asked what kind of food I wanted. We settled on Mexican, and she asked if I was up for an adventure—lunch in a new place that was some distance away. Next thing I knew we were driving down a two-lane, curving country road surrounded by trees and brush—we were on Silver Creek Drive, on the far side of Lake Worth. I kept thinking surely a Mexican restaurant was not going to suddenly pop up on this stretch of road with few houses and nothing else. It didn’t.

By the time we reached our destination, we were in the suburb of Lakeside. LaChoza, in a small strip center, was surprisingly modern and well decorated We were early so service was prompt—I had spinach enchiladas and my host had a plate lunch. Good food, typical Tex-Mex but well done.

We visited, filling in gaps we never knew about each other—careers, husbands, children, all those details that flesh out the life of a person. She who had been one dimensional for me—a photographer at events and a friend at occasional chance happenings—took on several more dimension.

When she dropped me at home she said what fun it was and we’d do it again. But I’m not sure she’ll want to tackle my 1920s skinny driveway again!

An adventure of another sort that was less fun: I tried walking with a cane for the second time today. I thought it was a rank failure. I am awkward, uncertain, afraid, and in a hurry to get it over with. Ellen, the therapist, keeps telling me to slow down and that it will take time. I keep telling her that in recent years I was never confident walking, even with a cane, before my hip gave out. She will come for one more week, and then her assignment will run out.

I’m enough of a realist to know that without assistance and encouragement, I won’t practice with the cane—besides she says not to try it alone (she is a worrywart who is more terrified than I am of my falling—I guess she doesn’t want to undo all her work). Not sure what the next step is, but I know there is a next step. And I’ll take it, however reluctantly.

Is There A Gadget Guru in the House?


I’ve been plagued by electronic failures lately—computer, cell phone, bed controls, in-house camera. Clearly, I need a gadget guru. And here, I think, the difference comes in between sons and daughters—or at least mine.

I mentioned over the weekend that my computer developed a mind of its own and would not pay any attention to what I wanted it to do. I spent the morning hard booting, unplugging and plugging, all the fixes I’ve ever heard about. Nada. Colin came in about eleven, sat there for a few minutes, hit a few keys, and voila! (like the way I mix Spanish and French?). It worked, although I have not turned it off since, only put it in sleep mode.

The camera is one of two that my kids installed so they could check on me. It’s rather lie having Big Brother watching you—it reports to their cell phone, video and audio. They put one right by my desk and one in the bedroom. Fortunately I am past the age and place in life where bedroom privacy matters. The bedroom one quit working, and Jamie has taken it home to re-program.

I have a sleep numbers bed, which means I can use a remote to raise and lower both the head and the foot. The other night the remote quit in the middle of the night—with the foot in a raised position, (That has been a godsend—my “bad” foot was really swollen after surgery, and it’s still good to sleep with my feet higher than my heart.) Scrambling out of the bed with the foot elevated was not easy with my weak leg, but I figured I’d make it okay the rest of the night. After a few minutes the remote magically turned itself on, but today it gave me a low battery message. I changed the batteries, and it told me there was a connection failure

Jordan got on the floor, checked connections; I took the batteries out and put them in again, making sure they were all the way in and the right way. Nothing. The last time this happened, after she’d crawled around on the floor, Jamie fixed it by touching one button. He’s due here Thursday, so I’ll probably greet him remote in hand. At least, this time, the foot is flat and the head barely elevated.

The same night that remote quit, my cell phone got wonky. When I woke in the night, I checked to see who’d sent me mail—but it wouldn’t let me open the mail. Everything else worked fine. In the clear light of day, I rebooted the phone and felt proud of myself that it worked.

But that’s three—computer, bed control, and phone plus the camera which I put in a different category. Does that mean my jinx is over? I surely hope so, because clearly Jordan and I are not equipped to deal with such catastrophes. And when you’re as dependent as I am on electronics, such failures are truly catastrophic.

I spend all day every day at my computer. If it doesn’t work, I’m not sure what I’d do. I can only read for so long, and I’m not a TV watcher. Got to think this through.








First day of spring…and trivia


Things that struck me today: this is my parent’s 80th wedding anniversary. Sure wish they were here to celebrate

In a column of funny obituaries today, I found this: “Ding dong, the witch is dead, but the memory of our mother lives on.” Shh. Don’t tell my kids.

I am a devotee of Sam Sifton’s column in the New York Times, “What to Cook Today.” But he may have gone too far this morning in suggesting putting a pot of oatmeal on overnight in your rice cooker or whatever. Then in the morning stir in some syrup and a shot of Scotch whiskey What a way to start the day!

Wonderful lunch today—friend Carol convinced me she was craving fried chicken, so we went to Buttons, a restaurant that advertises food and music for the soul. It was indeed soul food—the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, along with mashed potatoes and gravy and seasoned green beans. Brought one piece of chicken and some green beans home for supper, just added a deviled egg.

Absolutely beautiful day in Fort Worth today-what spring should be like. We sat on the patio with wine and planned the garden. I want to plant onions and lettuce this week, if we’re not already too late, for spring salads. My mouth is watering as I remember my mom’s wilted lettuce.

It’s going to be a good spring. Hope everyone enjoys it!


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