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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
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Judy's Latest Blog Entries

A birthday and a bag of trivia


Sorry I’ve been erratic about my blog but friends and family are gathering to help me celebrate my birthday this weekend, and I’ve been too tired from the festivities too post much. I am feeling the love and will post some pictures Sunday night—or more probably Monday morning.

Everyone knows it’s hot, so I won’t belabor the point except to say that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen honeysuckle wilt before. My poor fig tree, destined to come out someday anyway, is also drooping. We may lose it before we mean to.

Trivia knowledge for the day: Did you know that Mrs. Grundy is a common term used to denote a person who has conventional moral standards? I kept seeing references to Mrs. Grundy in the book on the Gilded Age that I’m studying, so I looked it up. No note as to whether or not she was ever a real person but feel free to drop her name casually in conversation. 

Quote for the day that really speaks for me: “I live at the intersection of politics and religion…. My faith impels me into the public square.” Sister of Social Services Simone Campbell, quoted in Richard Rohr’s daily meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation.  

Lesson for the day learned the hard way: A daughter may be a daughter all of her life, but she won’t help you bone and dice the chicken. You’re on your own, Mom.

Last night, Sophie got into a run-and-chase game with her dog-cousin, Kosmo, Jamie’s three-month Pomeranian pup who is surprisingly fleet and was absolutely fascinated by Sophie’s bushy tail—he chased it, he chewed it, he couldn’t leave it alone. Everyone said, “She’ll sleep well tonight.” Not so. Instead of exhausted, she was energized. She went out twice after I came out to the cottage—the second time Jamie had to come out and entice her inside with his hamburger. But I no sooner got in bed than she began to bark to go out. I told myself she had no need—she just wanted to play.

I didn’t want to let her out because I’m not comfortable leaving her out unsupervised, especially in the dark, I can’t go chase her, and by then it was too late to ask anyone else to go get her. For thirty minutes, I swear, I ignored the barking. But finally, I erupted out of the covers and yelled at her more harshly than I ever have. She was astounded and stared at me in amazement, her tail wagging ever so slowly and ever so tentatively. She settled down—so I thought. But after a bit she started in again. Once when she’d been good for a while, I gave her a chew treat to occupy her. Worked for a bit.

At some point, when I just drifted off, something electronic beeped loudly, occasioning another round of barking. I thought it was the electricity saying goodbye, but when I looked the little light in the living room was still on. I think now it was my phone, sounded that close, and I wonder if it was an Amber Alert. No sign of it this morning.

We slept fitfully, and this morning she got me up at six-thirty. Now, bless her, she’s sleeping soundly, and we have sort of patched our differences.

Tonight, my extended family comes for barbecue. It’s been several years since we’ve had the family together. We will miss one niece and her family, but it will still be jolly.


Extreme heat, trump worries, a minyan…and chocolate




I think I am in love. I discovered chocolate bark with blueberries and quinoa. I’m not a big quinoa fan but in this instance, it adds a nice crunch. Please keep me from eating the whole bag in one sitting. It was not cheap for one thing.

Oh, this heat wave. I haven’t felt stifled by the heat, but I live a pretty protected existence. Most days I’m in my cottage. If I go out, it’s in the evening, when the temperature has started down. This morning, Jordan and I went to the grocery, but we left at 9:30—still pleasant outside—and were home by a little after 10:30. Still I worry about those who are out in this extreme heat every day. Hope everyone is keeping hydrated and staying indoors as much as possible. I also worry about brown-outs—maybe I just worry as a natural habit.

Learned today that our extreme heat is caused by dust drifting over us from a storm in the Sahara Desert. Apparently, the dust just hovers, giving us skies that aren’t quite clear and beautiful sunsets but really hot days. And it’s not going anywhere—I can see that because when I look outside, not a leaf is stirring. No breeze. None. Supposed to move on in a week. Meantime Friday is going to be record-setting hot.

I am really scared for America. I’m scared that there are those who don’t see what’s happening, don’t see that trump’s actions are treasonous. Somewhere today Monte Negro, Estonia and other eastern European countries got into the mix. They are supposedly on Putin’s list as he goes about building a new Russian empire. Other rumors include Scandinavia and Finland. What would trump do if Russia invaded those countries?

Some former FBI agents claim trump shows all the characteristics of a managed spy, and I would desperately like to see that disproven. I have sworn not to discuss Republicans on the basis of appearance—no more talking about Trey Gowdy’s pointed head or McConnell’s resemblance to a turtle—but I think it’s fair to say that in pictures from the Helsinki summit, Putin looks smugly happy and composed; trump looked more rumpled than usual, his expression semi-confused, his eyes and hair wilder than usual. I reject the off-color hints of a sexual encounter (just plain bad taste, folks, about a really serious matter), but I think appearances support the idea of a puppet and his handler. Scary stuff, and I wait daily for an explosion that may not come. That may be the whole strategy—let the country build in tension until we self-destruct.

Strange and frustrating internet experience tonight. I cancelled my Wednesday Betty dinner to be at my computer at seven. A friend, a woman I’ve met only once but know better through a small and close-knit online writing group, has been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer and is hospitalized on total bedrest. Tonight, friends and colleagues were making a minyan for her in the hospital chapel, and we were all invited to attend via Facebook. I thought it was the only way I could show my support and planned my evening around it. But come seven o’clock, I couldn’t find it. About seven-thirty, as if by some strange fiber-optic magic, my screen popped up with a small window that said she was live now. So I was able to join in remotely—for a few minutes, and then it cut out again. It was a roomful of love, and I was glad to be able to add a comment that I was there in spirit.


A food day and a word about my blog

July 16, 2018

Another food day. Fixed chicken pot pie filling in puff pastry for my chef-friend Heather for lunch. It was an experiment, because the box clearly said not to use a toaster oven—and that, of course, is what I used. The puff pastries did not turn out as I expected nor as the picture on the box suggests, but Heather said they were pretty much like they should be. When I started to give Jacob leftovers, he pointed to the pastry, said “What’s that?” and didn’t even give me time to reply before he said, “I don’t want it.” Unperturbed, I kept spooning the filling onto the pastry. “Yes, you do,” I told him. “It’s just like the pastry you loved last time I fixed this.” He liked it.

This evening Subie and I had a nice dinner at Winslow’s Wine Café. I ordered meatloaf, but it had bell peppers mixed in it. Settled for a.crab cake and chocolate mousse. Decadent but oh so good. And a lovely visit.

A dear friend posted on Facebook this morning that she was glad when I gave up politics (must have been a brief and calm period)—she wants more Juju (my grandmotherly name) and less politics. For those of you who read my blog regularly, a word may be in order. I try not to post only about politics but sometimes I cannot help myself. And perhaps today of all days is a good one to explain why I post about politics.

I have a good friend who makes me look meek as an activist. She’s a progressive, a feminist, an ardent Episcopalian, and a fighter for all the causes I hold dear. She’s intelligent, outspoken, and never at a loss for comments and contributions. But she’s also a devoted grandmother, an animal lover who can’t resist a furry face, be it canine or feline, and a skilled gardener with a huge property to maintain. She posts a lost of activist messages, but she also posts about her grandsons, known as the best boys, her animals, and her garden. She told me once she posts the personal because she wants people to know there’s a warm, fuzzy side to her, to know that she’s much more than a shrill activist.

I try to take a leaf from her book, and, in fact, I think my posts are proportionately more personal than political. But I cannot and will not keep quiet about the divisive turmoil in this country, the fact that many experts agree we have been led a good distance down the road to fascism. And the fact today that the supposed president of our country sold us out to Putin.

People say to me that they’re so tired of politics they just tune it out. That, to me, is a most dangerous attitude. It’s exactly what Putin and trump want. They want to accustom us, bit by bit, to an erosion of our values, to categorizing some humans as inferior and dangerous, to slowly encroaching cruelty until we’re numb to it. I keep remembering Martin Niemoller’s poem that begins, “First they came for the socialists…and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.” It ends, “And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

I know many disagree with me, but I will continue to speak out against the destruction of all that America has stood for: for the alienation of our international allies and destruction of the world order, against the increasing racism and hate in our country, against harsh and cruel immigration procedures, against the increase in climate warming and the rollback of regulations protecting the environment, against laws which favor the rich and rob the poor of health care, education, even food, against the control of women’s bodies by old white men.

I think it’s important, however, to stick to the issues—and I urge my fellow progressives to do that. It’s easy to pick on trump, pence, mcconnell and others for their personal appearance and foibles—why doesn’t the orange buffoon learn to button his coat? And did he really walk in front of the Queen?—but that defeats our cause and turns people away. Stick to the major issues that are destroying our world; try to ignore those easy quick jabs (though, Lord, that’s hard sometimes).

November is coming. Sometimes I feel it’s our only hope. This blog started out to be about grandmothering, writing, and cooking. Politics crept in because I can’t keep it out. I hope you’ll stick with me through all topics.


A food day and a word about my blog

July 16, 2018

Another food day. Fixed chicken pot pie filling in puff pastry for my chef-friend Heather for lunch. It was an experiment, because the box clearly said not to use a toaster oven—and that, of course, is what I used. The puff pastries did not turn out as I expected nor as the picture on the box suggests, but Heather said they were pretty much like they should be. When I started to give Jacob leftovers, he pointed to the pastry, said “What’s that?” and didn’t even give me time to reply before he said, “I don’t want it.” Unperturbed, I kept spooning the filling onto the pastry. “Yes, you do,” I told him. “It’s just like the pastry you loved last time I fixed this.” He liked it.

This evening Subie and I had a nice dinner at Winslow’s Wine Café. I ordered meatloaf, but it had bell peppers mixed in it. Settled for a.crab cake and chocolate mousse. Decadent but oh so good. And a lovely visit.

A dear friend posted on Facebook this morning that she was glad when I gave up politics (must have been a brief and calm period)—she wants more Juju (my grandmotherly name) and less politics. For those of you who read my blog regularly, a word may be in order. I try not to post only about politics but sometimes I cannot help myself. And perhaps today of all days is a good one to explain why I post about politics.

I have a good friend who makes me look meek as an activist. She’s a progressive, a feminist, an ardent Episcopalian, and a fighter for all the causes I hold dear. She’s intelligent, outspoken, and never at a loss for comments and contributions. But she’s also a devoted grandmother, an animal lover who can’t resist a furry face, be it canine or feline, and a skilled gardener with a huge property to maintain. She posts a lost of activist messages, but she also posts about her grandsons, known as the best boys, her animals, and her garden. She told me once she posts the personal because she wants people to know there’s a warm, fuzzy side to her, to know that she’s much more than a shrill activist.

I try to take a leaf from her book, and, in fact, I think my posts are proportionately more personal than political. But I cannot and will not keep quiet about the divisive turmoil in this country, the fact that many experts agree we have been led a good distance down the road to fascism. And the fact today that the supposed president of our country sold us out to Putin.

People say to me that they’re so tired of politics they just tune it out. That, to me, is a most dangerous attitude. It’s exactly what Putin and trump want. They want to accustom us, bit by bit, to an erosion of our values, to categorizing some humans as inferior and dangerous, to slowly encroaching cruelty until we’re numb to it. I keep remembering Martin Niemoller’s poem that begins, “First they came for the socialists…and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.” It ends, “And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

I know many disagree with me, but I will continue to speak out against the destruction of all that America has stood for: for the alienation of our international allies and destruction of the world order, against the increasing racism and hate in our country, against harsh and cruel immigration procedures, against the increase in climate warming and the rollback of regulations protecting the environment, against laws which favor the rich and rob the poor of health care, education, even food, against the control of women’s bodies by old white men.

I think it’s important, however, to stick to the issues—and I urge my fellow progressives to do that. It’s easy to pick on trump, pence, mcconnell and others for their personal appearance and foibles—why doesn’t the orange buffoon learn to button his coat? And did he really walk in front of the Queen?—but that defeats our cause and turns people away. Stick to the major issues that are destroying our world; try to ignore those easy quick jabs (though, Lord, that’s hard sometimes).

November is coming. Sometimes I feel it’s our only hope. This blog started out to be about grandmothering, writing, and cooking. Politics crept in because I can’t keep it out. I hope you’ll stick with me through all topics.

Weekend cooking




After going to church on my computer, I got busy and did my most hated chore: boning a chicken. This one was pre-cooked which makes it easier, sort of, but as much of a blessing as those rotisserie chickens are, they are greasy and hard to deal with. Often, I can find a rotisserie chicken breast, which is easier to work with and provides more meat—much plumper breasts—than a whole chicken. But we went to the wrong store this week, and no such luck.

Tomorrow I’ll make chicken pot pie for my chef friend, Heather. We intend to bake it in puff pastry shells and thereby disprove the label on the puff pastry box that says not to use a toaster oven. But today I stole some chicken and made chicken salad for my lunch: whirred the chicken in the food processor, added salt and pepper, a diced scallion, juice of half a lemon, and just enough mayo to bind. It was so good I ate more than I should have.

Then, made ambitious by having gotten the chicken behind me, I washed lettuce and checked to be sure I had enough for a salad for lunch tomorrow.

Tonight, I’m making a radish/cucumber/feta/herb salad for Christian, who loves radishes. Not sure how he’ll feel about the herbs, but they’re mostly cilantro, with a bit of chives, parsley, and mint. He’s grilling trout, a fish he’s never had before. I think trout is such a delicate fish that all it needs is salt, pepper, and lemon (I don’t even need those traditional almonds), but Christian, a little unsure about fish perhaps, likes marinades, so I found one that calls for sherry and soy. Should be a good dinner. Might have to grill a hot dog for Jacob.

I’ve spent some of the day reading about the Gilded Age. They weren’t very attractive people, those idle rich like the Astors and the Vanderbilts. All for the trappings of wealth, but not much character beneath it. And the descendants of those who fought for our freedom began, after the Civil War, and even earlier, to turn toward Europe as the model of culture. Every socially ambitious woman wanted to marry her daughter off to a European or English noble, and castles of all sorts and varieties began to appear in this country. One who intrigues me is Lady Randolph Churchill, born Jennie Jerome in Brooklyn. Even if I don’t like most of the people, it’s interesting reading, and I’m learning and enjoying.

Didn’t realize dinner was in the cottage tonight but suddenly there came a parade of three—Jordan, Christian, and Jacob, each carrying a dish. Jordan bustled about, got out plates and flatware, and served the plates. After we were all seated around the coffee table, I asked where the asparagus was. Oops. She popped up and served it—nice thin, tender young stalks. Whole dinner was delicious. The trout still delicate and lightly enough cooked, the asparagus tender. Another time I’d make the salad of cucumber, radish, nuts and feta and forget the herbs, except maybe chopped chives. The cilantro and others were just hard to eat, and the vegetables, in a light olive oil/lemon dressing, were delicious.

A busy week looms, and I’m glad of that. Hope yours is as busy as you want it to be, and happier than you thought it could be.


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