Yesterday, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition released a new undercover video investigation and report about a slaughter facility designed by Dr. Temple Grandin. Shot on July 13-14 at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation, Inc., in St. Andre-Avellin, Quebec, the video is the topic of my “Fat Cats” blog on Forbes.com today.
I’d seen the footage on Sunday morning and contacted Dr. Grandin Sunday night to get her comments. She hadn’t seen it yet and agreed to watch and discuss it with me. Dr. Grandin reviewed the video once on her own and then we synched up the video on our computers and watched it together—horse by horse, death by death—three more times.
I asked her a lot of questions about the stunning methods, which worked on only 6o% of the horses. I was particularly interested in her reaction to the scenes of the horses panicking, slipping and getting shot multiple times without being knocked out. We spoke for about 50 minutes.
The first time I read about Dr. Grandin’s efforts to improve the welfare of livestock and especially her work to make slaughter more humane, I wondered how she could do it. I still do. You can read about her observations in today’s post on Forbes.com. Read more
Part two of my Forbes.com series on Thoroughbreds, horse racing, and the horse industry chronicles the story of Princess Madeline, a racehorse who was sold to a feedlot, priced for kill buyers, and rescued on July 16 by me and my sister Nina.
The story on Forbes.com traces her path from the racetrack to Camelot Horse Auction in Cranbury New Jersey, and Camelot Horse Weekly, the volunteers that networked her and 28 other horses through their Facebook group to get them into permanent homes.
If you want to buy a horse, a donkey, a pony or just want to know more about horse rescue, this is a great group to follow—and there are many rescue groups on Facebook that could use donations to help them rescue horses or, in some cases, just buy halters for those at auction. Most arrive with halters, but the auction proprietors remove them to make the horses appear anonymous, unwanted and uncontrollable. If you want to help the horses, you can donate to Halters of Hope. Read more
This post kicks off a new blog I’m writing on Forbes.com called Fat Cats. Racing Industry Silent on Slaughtered Thoroughbreds, my first post, appeared today, part of a series on the horse industry and its darker side.
As some of you may know, this summer, my sister Nina and I rescued a five-year-old former racehorse. The process taught me so much about what goes on in the racing world—a topic covered regularly in Forbes.com’s lifestyle section.
The first two posts in my new series trace the route of several horses from the track to auction—but it’s a vastly different sort than what Forbes generally covers. Read more
May 2, 2010
In the end, it wasn’t moving out of our home of more than 30 years that got me. It wasn’t packing up and selling off the last of our family belongings or even sweeping the house when it was empty, locking the doors and driving away. It was two photographs that arrived in my e-mail box from someone I barely knew, after returning to my studio apartment in New York City.
Like many townspeople in Bolton Landing, NY, she had came to the two-day tag sale we’d staged the weekend before closing. It was an opportunity, for some, to pick up cheap armchairs and rugs and wicker porch furniture. For others, it was a time to see the inside of the house for the first time, one of the great ones built on Millionaire’s Row on Lake George. And for several who’d actually worked on the property, it was a time to come back, sit on the porch, and reflect on what Nirvana Farm had meant to them.
“I’m sure it is with mixed feelings that you close up shop at the farm and move on,” my new friend wrote eloquently in her e-mail. “What a beautiful, peaceful spot it is.” Read more
March 27, 2010
What I Learned on the Red Carpet from Javier Bardem
I’d just passed a significant birthday when a 24-year-old colleague suggested the unthinkable: “What you need is a nice, 60-ish retired math professor,” she declared, sipping a latte. “You’re a tall blonde WASP. You should be dating Americans, not those Latin lovers you go for.”
My kittenish pride was wounded. Swarthy men were my specialty: How could I forget the dashing Chilean I’d lived with for six years after grad school; the Spanish producer with eyes the color of robin’s eggs; the Uruguayan guitarist I met backstage at Carnegie Hall; the bohemian Colombian designer at a recent writing job; and my greatest love of all, an Italian motorcyclist and photographer I’d tearfully given up after seven years, just two weeks shy of turning 40? He baked me cakes and wrote love poems. But I wanted marriage; he didn’t.
Getting him out of my system was difficult: two Milanese, a Roman and one Sicilian later, I still hadn’t found anyone as warm, adventurous or good in the kitchen, so I decided to give Italy a rest. Shortly thereafter, I met an Argentine videographer in Wholesale Liquidators who asked me, within months, to be his fourth wife. I declined. Read more
March 25, 2010
I apologize for what I am about to say, specifically about my Sunday School teacher, Miss Cummings, and also my dad’s older sister, Lenore. What did they do? Frighten me half to death, that’s what. My mother tried convincing me that they were God’s perfect children, that I needed to love them, see them as God did, but it was hard. Sure they were sweet, but they were single women in a married world. That’s how it was with old maids. There was always a defect there, some flaw that made them unpopular with the opposite sex and scary to children.
Like most girls born in the fifties, my sisters and I were raised to be wives: We had the right moral instruction, good education, proper training in etiquette and ballroom dancing and stylish clothes from New York City department stores. Even the toys I got for Christmas provided perfect training for future wedded bliss: an E-Z Bake oven, a little Hostess Buffet and miniature percolator that made real coffee. Read more
February 14, 2010
Everybody loved me growing up. That’s how it was. We may have been five girls and five girls was too many; we may have been poor compared to the millionaires next door, but where love was concerned, we had an embarrassment of wealth.
My sisters loved me, and so did my teachers and Sunday School teachers. My grandparents did, too, and my dad—he loved us, all five of us, to pieces. That’s what he used to say all the time, in different ways, of course. Sometimes, he said it while imposing rules (no TV on school nights). Sometimes he said it by taking us on some very creative adventures (for breakfast, to Jones Beach, at sunrise, for example. He kept a frying pan in the trunk of the car. We’d find an isolated sand dune; he’d build a fire and make eggs and bacon. After we finished, he scoured the pan with sand and threw it back in the trunk. Read more
November 28, 2009
I was born under a curse, the kind you find in fairytales. It goes like this: First my parents had a girl. Then, two years later, they had another girl. The next baby — was a girl. After her came another baby — a girl. And then my mother, Adelaide, Wellesley girl, did something very unusual for her, not being Catholic: she threw away her diaphragm. Two years later, I came along, on a hot August day, a Friday, at 4 pm.
This was the day that my dad had an epiphany. “Honey,” he said, taking me out of my mother’s arms right there in the Glen Cove hospital, “This one’s mine.”
He named me Vickery. Vickery Ames. It was a strange name, to be sure. “Like Hickory Dickory?” people like to tease. ”Yeah,” I always answer, “something like that.” Read more
November 21, 2009
Dear Fellow Spinster:
Here’s a little tale, not about how George and Laura Bush invited me to take an outdoor shower (more on that later) but a real story, the one I’ve been building into a memoir for the last three years: about how a tall blond WASP, Latino-lover and one-time girlfriend to a mountain-climbing, motorcycle-riding Italian photographer became an ex-girlfriend, a solitary Sunday School teacher and librarian in a Christian Science Reading Room, of all places. From Latino-loving biker chick to head librarian. How does that happen?
I have come up with seven possible explanations for this strange trajectory into spinsterhood: varnish, the US Navy, the Sons of Hercules, Cosmopolitan, horses, being raised in a religion most people find weirdly suspect, and John Gotti. Read more
November 11, 2009
Dear Fellow Spinster:
What does “the premier provider of adult clown services” have to do with the Stupak amendment in the health care bill—and why should you care?
Before I answer that, a caveat. Ouchy the Clown and I aren’t “friends.” I don’t use his services or contribute to how he makes a living. How does he do that? Besides being a DJ and doing “straight razor shaving,” he offers this rather unusual service to clients. Are you ready?
“I am a trained, certified meeting facilitator. Oh, and I am a clown. Did ya miss that part? I specialize in:
- Brainstorming sessions
- Conflict resolution
- Organizational development”
Ouchy, whose tagline is “Happy to Beat You,” is well aware of the irony. “ Sure, it’s weird to have a clown facilitator,” his web site admits, “but you’ve seen stranger things, I’m sure.” Read more