Sunday, October 6, 2013

Shopping in Panama

My expat friends warned me, "If you see something you want, buy it. Don't wait, because it probably won't be there the next time you go."
Eeep.  This requires a major change in the way I do things. I like to pre-shop, price compare, brand compare, and style compare before I make a selection. Having to just grab the first thing that appeals to me goes seriously against my grain.  Now some would say that I am just procrastinating.  And some would say I have gotten seriously tight fisted.  Others might congratulate me on my shopping skills.
"Some" might be right.
In any case, the warnings were absolutely on target. By the time that I finished comparing, contrasting and evaluating, my preferred item was usually gone, never to be seen again. I saved quite a bit of money using this program, but I didn't get the things I wanted.
This maxim is apparently true of all stores in Panama. Even the grocery store.
I was appalled the first time I went to buy milk and there was none. The segment of refrigerated shelving where the milk was bare.  So were the shelves where I usually could find the 15 different styles of the ultra-pasteurized stuff.  Nothing there, either.  Because the shelves are reorganized daily and products are constantly being shifted around the store (which is another reason you can't find what you're looking for) I asked a clerk where the milk was.
His response was a shrugged, "No hay," meaning “There isn't any.”
Well, when would there be more?
He didn't know.
I was bursting with the desire to learn why. Had they simply run out? Would more be coming with the next truck? Would there BE a next truck? Was there a strike? Were the roads blocked again? What? My Spanish was not yet strong enough for me to pursue this, so I had to be content with "there isn't any."
After that I switched permanently from fresh milk (which often went bad the day after purchase anyway) to the ultra-p stuff in a box that keeps for six months. And I made sure that I always had a few boxes stashed for the next time "No hay."
In the deodorant, shampoo and hair color aisle, there always seem to be a minimum of three store employees restocking or reordering the shelves. This always seems to involve blocking the aisle as completely as possible with cartons, product and bodies.  If a customer should be so bold as to venture into the restocking area in search of a product, she will receive either a glare or rolling eyes. This is because, I believe, no one has bothered to tell the employees that the purpose of the store is not to provide them with jobs, but to sell product. And for this to happen, the customers have to be able to get to the product and select it. Not all stores have this attitude, just a few big ones. No names.
Another, similar manifestation that amazes me is the employees on guard duty in front of certain products, such as frozen meats. Apparently they are there to prevent shoplifting. In effect, they also prevent shopping. Having someone stare at you with icy suspicion while you pick out next week's lunch does not improve the shopping experience.
Me, I would just quit going to that particular store.  Except, for some things, it’s the only game in town.   
Well, I moved here because I wanted an adventure.  Someone very wise once defined “an adventure” as “a bummer re-framed.”  That's true.  It's all in how you look at it.  And frankly, I'm having a ball.  I love it here.  Even when I run out of milk.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Walking the calf

Dateline: Panama
     A calf on a leash is eating weeds just outside my backyard this morning.  His owner is with him, walking him like a dog, as the calf slowly snacks up the road.  That's a pretty busy road, so I'm pleased the owner has him on a lead. 
     When I lived at the beach an entire herd regularly "escaped" and came strolling past hunting greens.  But now I live in town, a 10 minute walk from the town center.  I hadn't expected this kind of bucolic experience here, but I'm delighted.  This kind of thing is why I live in Panama, why I love living here.
     The grass is pretty long, as you can see.  It grows incredibly fast and with great determination.  We had the place scalped not 3 weeks ago, and now there's at least 16 inches to cut.  Most people use a weed whacker (a man with a weed whacker can support a family quite well here), but some cut their grass with a machete.  As a machete is only about $2.50, I bought myself a "knoife" and gave it a try.  I even used a whetstone first - and during.  I can safely say that it is not my thing.  I'm calling the guy with the weed whacker today.  The calf didn't eat nearly enough.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Cold, je-je

     Dateline: Panama.  Well I never thought I would say this.  It's only 75 degrees F. this morning and I am cold.  I must have acclimated, because I am seriously considering a sweater.  This from the yogini who, in Northern California, Oregon, Washington and sometimes in Montana, forgot to put her coat on half the time until well into November or even December.  But I am.  Cold.

     And I think I may have caught the local grunge too, although so far my only symptoms are a slight headache and the tiniest desire to cough.  However, it's green.  My daughter tells me that the latest word is that you can no longer tell whether your lung infection is bacterial or viral by checking the color of what a cough provides.  Apparently those pesky viruses have learned to mimic bacteria and also make your stuff green now.  Huh.  I told her I had always been green, every time, and just figured I was sick if it wasn't clear or at least white.  If I'm sick, it's green. Period.

     So I guess I'm sick.  My lurid imagination constantly drifts back to the fly I swallowed a couple of weeks ago.  And of course, to dengue fever.  I have a friend who shudders delightedly over tales of assassin bugs and dengue fever-bearing Aedes mosquitoes.  But I have no fever.  My daughter says that's probably a clue and I should relax.

     So what does one do for a "cold" here in the tropics?  My favorite "fake a fever" methods to force the old healing sweat seem a bit redundant here.  By evening I am often so damp I hardly need any extra water if I wanted to wash my "dewy" clothes.  So no sweat lodge variations.  That leaves ingesting a ton of vitamin C and chicken soup.  Last time I had a cough my taxista (taxi driver) told me I should eat lots of garlic.  "Ajo, Jacqi," he said with a stern look.  "AJO."  

     That's pronounced Ah-ho.  Which sounds like a cough, itself.  And brings on a round of the Spanish textual giggle: je je je, ja ja ja, jo jo jo. Je-je.


Monday, June 24, 2013

I Swallowed a Fly. P'raps I'll Die.

      It's fly season here in Panama.  A truly local experience in many ways.  The flies hatch about a month after the rains start. (The rains were late this year.)  For 3 or 4 weeks there are flies everywhere, into everything.  Screens, fly swatters, fly traps are no help.  It's impossible to avoid them, landing on you, playing tag, dive-bombing your food.  

     The long term expats are easy to spot by their casual attitudes.  They put decorated woven containers over the food, but when the snack-intent hordes manage a landing, they are quite casual in waving them off and eating it anyway.

     Quite suddenly, fly season will be over.  The flies are gone once more and you will seldom see one until next fly season.

     Yesterday I poured some milk into my coffee, only to observe the dead fly swimming in it.  I had carelessly left the milk carton on the kitchen counter for a few moments, and the fly had gone inside the little opening hunting for lunch.  And it's not as though I am so green that I didn't know it would certainly happen.  The week before I had – maybe not so briefly – turned my back on an open pot of coffee.   I was later rewarded with a cup of dead, coffee soaked flies. 

      And it's not as though I always spot them BEFORE I take a drink.  Two weeks ago I swallowed one.  Now, however, I am alert to the texture, which is faintly reminiscent of a small, waterlogged raisin.  So day before yesterday when I took a nice swig and found it full of raisins, I immediately spit it out.  

     The essential thing is to keep one's mind free of where that raisin might have been.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Transitory Hangovers - Butt a Cultural Tidbit

     It is not solely my butt that hangs over the edge of the seats on Panamanian buses, but nearly everyone's.  I usually try to grab a window seat, but I was late getting to the station for my trip to la Cuidad, and all that was left was an aisle perch.  My seatmate - a gentleman unknown to me - sat like nearly all Panamanian men with his legs splayed wide open, taking up what I considered far more than his share of real estate and leaving me to hang my left cheek over the seat and into the aisle.  Of course, I said nothing and just toughed it out for an hour until he shifted his position a bit.  Then believe me, I shifted too.

     I had noticed as I struggled past seated bodies to my chair, how little space there was in the aisle.  When I actually looked, I realized it was filled with unsupported butt cheeks!

     The bus was one of those large mini-vans.  I believe it may have been made in China, because most everything in Panama seems to be these days.  Besides, none of the passengers over the age of 10 seemed correctly sized.  For the seats, I mean.

     The bus seats in these vans are set two and two, with a half-seat width open between them to provide an aisle.  I expect that four Chinese adults would probably fit nicely in a row.  However, the majority of Panamanian men in my part of the country are built like the bulls they raise.  Said men, judging from what one of my gringa lady friends observed about the plastic ladies displaying clothing for sale in stores, are fond of "bubble-butts" on their sweeties.  So the distaff side of the passengers are frequently hefty also.  This leads to a serious bus-wide shortage of real estate for the behind, and makes traversing the aisle to a rear seat a serious exercise in pushing through obstacles. The aisle is wide enough for slender 10-year-olds to traverse without struggle. 

     And the moral of the story – should you need one – is, if you plan to carry anything you must keep with you (luggage, packages, a backpack) onto one of these buses, wait and take one of the bigger buses later.  . 

    This hot tip brought to you at no charge.  :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Sad, Sad Story About Why It is Essential to Learn Spanish in Central America

     I believe most people are terrified of  speaking a foreign language on the phone, at least at first.  I was. Now I am to the point that it frustrates me more than scares me, but I'm kicking myself for not studying harder.  Why?  Because after a certain Spanish speaking gentleman and I hung up moments ago in mutual frustration, I put together the bits I understood and light-bulbed that he was telling me … I actually WON THE CAR they were raffling off at the Los Santos Feria! 
     Too bad, so sad.  In fact, double "demonios," which is how they translate "bad words" from English to Spanish on TV.  A) My phone connection with this gentleman whose number was "Unknown" was horrible because I had bought a really cheap phone and I couldn't understand most of what he said (lesson #1).  B) My Spanish is still so uncertain I couldn't understand the rest of what he said either (lesson #2).  So we said "Ciao" and hung up.
     As the call drifted into history and I replayed it mentally, I recognized certain words and phrases, "tiene ganar" being one of them, and realized that I had just run over my own foot with a free Honda Yaris I would now not be getting.
     The moral of this story? Aprende bien el español.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Publishing Pickpocketry - Beware Penguins Offering Deals

     I had heard dire warnings about allowing Penguin-owned vanity press 'Author Solutions' anywhere near my checkbook.  Author Solutions has been accused of cackling off to the bank with the life savings of over 150,000 very unhappy authors who allege that dealing with Author Solutions was one of the worst decisions they ever made.
     The latest news is that Penguin, after buying Author Solutions about a year ago, has not only NOT cleaned house, they are taking their scam show on the global road.  If you plan to self-publish and want to be shocked and alarmed, read this post from Let's Get Digital:     The Author Exploitation Business 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Whole Lot of Bull

    Dateline Panama: The Los Santos Feria comes once a year.  A sort of county fair, it features thousands of exhibits, hundreds of food vendors, lots of merchandising, and plenty of handsome animals.  Participants come for the fun from all over the province, and from all over Panama.
    My friends and I wandered through displays of pretend cane fields, cornucopias of piled papayas and mangoes and guayabanas and other tropical deliciousness, past a complex agricultural display tucked behind a truly remarkable fence made from corn dried on the cob in the shapes of pinwheels, flowers and geometric shapes, and on to the rows upon rows of prize bulls neatly tethered at precise distances from each other beneath a very long cow-port.
    I was particularly charmed by the bulls.  Cattle here tend to be extremely lean. Skinny, even. Not to digress, but nearly any meat you can buy at the store is lean and stringy. It doesn't make a good burger. (TIP: I often have the butcher regrind the meat with some fat. When I do that the meat makes incredibly tasty burgers, and costs me half as much.)
    These bulls would not need to be re-ground with extra fat.  But who would be crazy enough to do that? These big boys are valuable for their flesh in a different venue - their sexual prowess. They are breeders, at around $10,000 per ton, give or take.
    A variety of Brahma cattle, they are usually a gorgeous cream-rich-in-butterfat color, and so large that were I to dare the act, we could stand shoulder to shoulder.  They have the Brahma hump, and beautiful big brown eyes. They are magnificent.
    But I will state categorically that those bulls had to have been drugged. There is otherwise no way that much testosterone could stand around in the same place, placidly tethered and chewing its cud.
I watched one mammoth beast salute the bull next to him. Possibly their drugs were wearing off a bit. They butted heads, gently slamming together the flat planes across the fronts of their skulls. A bit of desultory pushing that didn't involve either of them moving half an inch, then they mutually decided eating would be more fun, and so returned their individual attentions to the bin in front of them.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blog Technology Revisted

     Took the dog out for a blog this afternoon. WHAT? I can hear you asking.  And I reply, my dog is a writer, too.  The technology is different, but it's the same functionality. You don't believe me?
When poochie and I perambulate, she stops and busily sniffs the news along the way.  Often she leaves a comment.  At least once a day, she leaves a post.
 The other dog bloggers read her post and her comments, drop their own comments throughout the neighborhood, and make their own postings.

     The dogs also tweet.  I refer to the howling that passes up and down the dog telegraph at night.  That's no tweet, you may cry. But consider the function.  One dog sees a potential "intruder" coming down the street. He tweets the dogs nearby.  Those dogs re-tweet the message.  Other dogs, not even in the immediate neighborhood pass the message until it circles back to indicate all the dogs have it.  Then one of the dogs comments on the extremely sassy cat he saw that day.  He is joined by tweeted chortles of appreciation.  He thanks all the re-tweeters for their earlier assistance, and that's it for the moment.  Perfect tweeting form.

     I'm telling you.  It's real.  Or maybe I have just been working too hard at learning social media.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Love Lamb

     The fact that I bought a book actually IS news, because I usually get them free.  I have to, or face bankruptcy, since I read 5 to 10 per week. For this one, however, I was willing to put down hard cash.  "We Are Not Alone" by Kristin Lamb has provided more help with my social media self-torture than any thing else I have read so far.  
     Like me, Lamb is a writer.  She gears her advice to writers.  Even fiction writers like me.  Yay!  She tells us our approach to social media needs to differ from IBM's and Westinghouse's, and she tells us in what way.  So I finally understand WHY I need to come out of my cave and WHAT I need to talk about.  Also HOW to do it on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter (i.e., the techie stuff).
     And you know what?  It's even an easy read. Entertaining as well as informative.
     OF COURSE she has a blog, darling.  Warrior Writers Don't you love the name?  And it, too, is worth reading.  I was charmed by her latest on "ambiverts" (the sweet spot between introvert and extrovert), but I especially liked an earlier one that focused on dealing with mistakes
     Have a quote from that one.
One of the strangest lessons I ever heard was that drivers, who are going at mind-blowing speeds around twisting, winding roads, are always in danger of hitting the wall. But, to avoid hitting the wall, they must train themselves to NEVER LOOK at the wall. Why? Because the car goes where they eyes go.
      Yes. And LIFE goes where the thoughts go. Kristin is inspirational, solidly grounded, and most informative.  Worth checking out.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life is like Coffee Movie

Life is like Coffee Movie: Do you know people that just seem to be happier in general? Do you say to yourself, "I want to be more like them"? Often, the happiest people in the world don't have the best of everything...they just make the best of everything!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ship My Pants - YouTube

 Go, K-Mart, go!  All my life I have sheepishly apologized for enjoying what I have been told is "potty humor suitable to 3 year olds."  Now, I am vindicated!  Kudos to the ad execs who (a) came up with this and (b) boldly said, "Yeah! Let's do it!" 

Ship My Pants - YouTube

Friday, April 19, 2013

Little Miss Muffet Revisited

Here in the tropics we have plenty of insect life.  Including spiders.  In fact, just this morning as I was hunting for something in one of my boxes (here, I keep everything in covered plastic boxes) something round and tiny scooted out from under it and ran off in a flurry of itty-bitty legs.  So when I read a blog post telling how the author thought she had swallowed a spider and that she had recently read we supposedly swallow 4 per year in our sleep, I had an Uh-Oh moment.

Don't you love Google?  I ran a search on "swallowing spiders."  Whew. Urban legend.  Read about it on if you need confirmation.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

To the overly sensitive nose of the loveless woman with no room at her inn:

The “bathroom”in the US often does not contain facilities for a bath. This misnomer is intended to divert puritanical attention from the fact that it DOES contain a toilet, and that said item is the modern equivalent of a “chamber pot,” differing from early models in that it contains water and is emptied by flushing rather than by the previous custom of pouring the contents out a window. These “bathrooms” are often fragrant with the scent of human urine and human feces for some time after use, and so another huge industry of cover-up-the-smelly-stuff has arisen to help maintain the illusion that people do not “potty” in the house.

For the price of picking up a few bits of fecal matter with a tissue and tossing them into the modern chamber pot as well as “enduring” an occasional whiff of dog urine on some paper towels (which I place for her use on a special piece of plastic), it is my much appreciated privilege to live with three pounds of pure love packaged in a furry, six-inch body.  That little body must be protected by a sleepy, and therefore less attentive, owner from hawks, owls, coyotes, roving dog packs, etc.  So my beloved "potties" in the same chamber I do, although not in the stinky bowl.  She is paper trained.   

Bottom line:  we BOTH “potty in the house.”  And so do you, madam. So do you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Meet the Author: Dale Furse talks about her upcoming "Secret of Wexkia"

What is the working title of your next book?
Secret of Wexkia and, after many revisions and edits, it is at proofread stage and will be published soon. The book is the continuation of Nell’s story from Curse of Wexkia and the second in the Wexkia trilogy. In Curse of Wexkia, Nell learns of her heritage and although she is willing to live with the changes, a lot of alien beings believe she is a danger to the entire known universe. They think she is a curse – a throwback to a cruel, ancient race that not only enslaved whole worlds but committed genocide more than once. Nell proved she wasn’t the menace they claimed her to be with the exposure of the Book of Wexkia and an account of what happened to the Wexkians. But not everyone was happy with the verdict and some would do anything to stop her from becoming a true Wexkian.

What genre does your book fall under?
Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy. The Science Fiction tag is because Nell’s stories take her to other planets with cool aliens and space ships but it is far more fantasy inasmuch as it’s all fiction – no hard SciFi facts. But then again, who says there are no planets like the ones featured in Wexkia or beings like the ones who inhabit those planets? I think they are all real.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Although I grew up with four brothers and five sisters, I was often lonely. That’s where a lot of my stories originate. Nell’s story was just one of my daydreams but it was, and is, the one that has stayed with me the most. Like all children at some stage, I wished I could fly and as Nell, I could. I could also visit unknown planets and meet the beings inhabiting those worlds. Of course, a lot has changed – title, names, characters etc – but it is still the same story.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Ha, that’s easy, finishing it. I always find that the hardest part of writing any book because, just like when I read a good book, I never want it to end.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I like the idea of going it alone and will continue to self-publish. You can read about my writing and news on my blog at

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Meet the Author: Yvonne Hertzberger talks about her new book, The Dreamt Child

My current work in progress is the third volume in the “Earth’s Pendulum” trilogy “The Dreamt Child”. I call it “Old World Fantasy” because it is set in a pseudo,  early medieval period with little technology. While many fantasies have a great deal of magic or mythical beasts and such, the only paranormal in this series is a seer who has visions and a relationship with the goddess Earth. This seer also communicates with certain animals via ‘mind speak’ and sometimes this adds a little humour.
In “The Dreamt Child”, the seer, Liannis faces major changes in her world and what it means to be a seer amidst these changes. The goddess has decided one seer is not enough in a growing society. This is a story of transitions, relationships, good guys and bad guys, and a good smattering of action.
I never intended to write a trilogy. It just happened. When I attempted to write a short story all these amazing characters wormed their way into my consciousness and demanded that I tell their story. It’s been a fun and unpredictable ride.
As with the first two instalments, “The Dreamt Child” will be Indie published on Createspace, Kindle and Smashwords.  I hope to have “The Dreamt Child” available for the holiday shopping rush (Rush? Well, a girl can dream.)
Each book seems to take me roughly two years to complete. I really thought this one would take less time but I got involved in social media, promotion and marketing, and with a wonderful group of authors called Indies Unlimited.
I truly cannot say my work compares to any other writer’s work, though I would love to have Robin Hobbs or Juliet Marillier say they liked it.
While my books are labelled Fantasy because they are not historically accurate they will also appeal to those who like historical fiction and historical romance. These are traditionally considered ‘women’s genres’ but several men have read and enjoyed the first two, “Back From Chaos” and “Through Kestrel’s Eyes”, because they have enough action and there are such strong, well-developed characters – both male and female. That is what readers say they love best – my characters.
You can find me at for a closer look, sneak peeks, and my blog.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Dinner with Og

 I knew it! All that flap about eating like our caveman ancestors - btw, did none of these diners ever notice said cavemen seldom lived past 16? Now it turns out man did not live by meat alone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Asthma Attack in Panama

Ever hear of "treasure house" dreams? That would be a dream in which, for example, you walk into a high end clothing store where everything you might ever want is on sale for $20.
Well, how about a medical treasure house?  My buddy Dennis, who is currently visiting and speaks no Spanish, had a bad asthma attack last night. When he knocked on my door, choking, to say he needed to go to the hospital, I called a taxi and we raced to the Urgencia entrance of the hospital here in Las Tablas (Panama). There, they immediately shooed him into the treatment area, hooked him up to an oxygen feed, gave him a breathing treatment, an injection of something powerful, and two more breathing treatments over the course of the next two hours.  Meanwhile, I went to the reception area and paid his bill.  It was $2 - two dollars.
No, that is not a typo.
The nurses and the doctors were extremely competent, had great bedside manners and were most solicitous of his well-being.
The only potential fly in our ointment was something I came prepared for: the hospital is air conditioned to the point of refrigeration.  For whatever reason the place seems to be maintained at 40 degrees or less.  All the staff wear sweaters and jackets.  Having taken one previous trip there from which I departed with chattering teeth and incipient chilblains, I brought along a couple of blankets and we were quite cozy for the duration.
For a $2 medical bill and excellent care, I am quite willing to freeze for an hour or so.  Wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Meierz Musings: Two Five's Adventure, Part 4

A little sci-fi from Christie Meierz...

Meierz Musings: Two Five's Adventure, Part 4:       The ventilation shaft reminded Two-Five of a broodmale’s tunnel: a tight fit for an adult Slash Second. He was flat on his long b...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Neon Treats in Panama

            I love Central America! I love the flash and the verve, the willingness of the people here to live in Technicolor.

            Last night as I rode the bus home from Panamá to Las Tablas, I saw three different trucks decorated with neon.  The first was one of those enormous long-haulers, the kind with the wolf-style snouts, flat-hooded and tapering to a snub.  That snout / hood and the front of the cab above it were striped in green neon, emphasizing the sheer machismo, the size and power of the machine.

            And, of course, making it infinitely more visible on the road.  How eminently sensible, no?  As well as lots of fun.  Imagine that looming out of the darkness behind you.

            The other two trucks were  smaller, more short-haul types, with rounded noses outlined and details picked out in orange-red neon.  One was especially charming – where the green truck resembled a wolf, the cat-like qualities of this one were emphasized.  The decorator had also placed a couple of round lights on top of the cab where ears would be.  Sooo cute.  I must tell you about the buses, too.  Next time.  I do love these little treats in Central America.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Lovely Surprise and a Surprising Reframe

When your only reference for book sales is based on JK Rowling or Stephen King or Nora Roberts or Mark Victor Hanson's runaway "Chicken Soup for the Soul," it's easy to consider your own efforts as not worth snorting at.  My novel, "A Chip in Time" was (only) downloaded approximately 1600 times, although (I confess) nearly all of them were priced at $0. But just today I ran across some very interesting  information presented by the intrepid Jonathan Fields of

 According to industry wonk, Morris Rosenthal, the average mainstream published book sells a mere 2,000 copies. And, though estimates vary widely, most self-published and POD books cap out at anywhere from a few copies to a few hundred.

Well, now. 

The gurus of manifesting and quantum physicists (ok, ok, the people who popularize quantum physics) all - to a man/woman - say that you get what you subconsciously expect to get.  And that telling yourself better stories is the best method for adjusting said expectations. So I am going to do exactly that, since I am obviously already a pretty successful author, hey-hey, ho-ho.

Expect to hear a lot more from me about purposefully collapsing ye old quantum wave.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Philosophizing Cows

Indies Unlimited - an unlimited source of great advice for authors - has a writing contest each week. While winning it seems directly related to your personal popularity as opposed to your prose (you have to cadge votes from friends and relatives), they suggest using your entry as a blog post.  It provides exposure after all, as well as excellent writing practice.  So here's my 250 words about a Philosopher Cow.

Henrietta stretched her lovely white face on its brown, bovine neck as far as she could. She was oh-so-careful not to move laterally – the barbed wire on the fence was inconsiderate about poking holes in a girl's hide. All she wanted was to reach that gorgeous clump of green deliciousness barely beyond reach of her mobile tongue and lips. Was that so much to ask from life?
Across the field, behind her, men loaded the unfortunates chosen for this week's 'bad ride.'  Henrietta ignored them, in spite of the piteous cries from her aging, now-barren friends Gertrude and Mildred as they were hustled into the truck.  Henrietta knew her turn would come, but before it did she wanted more from life than the desiccated hay and sparse, picked-over growths in this field. She did not know why, but she believed: the grass on the other side would surely taste better – fresher. Cleaner. Free.
Blowing a great sigh, Henrietta lifted her head and stepped back from the fence for a moment.  Beyond her painful boundaries, the fields rolled in gentle, green waves, their flow to the dusty azure of the distant mountains interrupted only by a line of trees that followed a creek.
The truck was loaded. The cowboys slammed the gates and locked them; the driver honked twice.  The herd purposefully ignored the terrified lowing of their members making the final journey.
Henrietta pushed carefully at the barbed wire again. She would taste that clump before her turn came.