How Peppa is like Carrie Mathison


I wrote the character of Peppa Mueller before I started watching Homeland. Do I like Homeland because Carrie reminds me of Peppa? Yes.
Has Peppa been influenced by Carrie? No doubt.

• Intense, skinny blondes with a wild side.
• Career women who put their passion into their work
• On the other hand, they’re not averse to a roll in the hay
• Daughters who fear having inherited their fathers’ psychological problems
• They look intently. They see the truth.
• Uneasy relationship with their older male mentors, who occasionally try to restrain them
• Just when you get used to them being in one country, they’re someplace else.


Why go to all that trouble for a dog?

Some initial readers for The Girl who was a Falcon questioned the idea of a IMG_2257girl going into danger just to rescue her pet dog. In subsequent drafts, I played up Peppa’s fascination with Unruh’s experiments, and her susceptibility to the right kind of flattery.

But she does love her dog.

The Falcon series explores the place animals and plants have in the lives of humans, and how they enrich our experience. Flora and fauna form the body of Gaia, the living biosphere that includes humans. While we choose to interact increasingly with machines of our own manufacture, our brains are hardwired to respond to natural surroundings—the shift of day into night—the movement of the seasons—the sounds of the sea that echo the pulsing of our own salty fluid, our blood. Plants and animals, even when placed in our homes and gardens, evoke the natural state humans inhabited for so many centuries. We still bring the outside in, and cherish it.

Most of us have heard of companion animals, animals that help ground and stabilize emotionally or mentally fragile people. But really, almost anyone can benefit from companionship of a loving, trusting furry friend. Different species bring various gifts. Since adopting my first dog, Ellie, pictured above, I’ve learned to think of many dogs as psychic sponges. They’re adept at absorbing their owner’s emotions, and perhaps, neutralizing them, in certain instances. I’ve even had friends ask if they could take Ellie for a walk in the woods on days they’re feeling particularly anxious. With her warm, sturdy body, and innocent acceptance, she comforts people.

It seemed logical then, that Peppa, a girl who feels alone, would risk her safety and sanity to get Simone back.

Maybe my Falcon series will even inspire you to visit a shelter and adopt your own dog. If you live in the USA, you’ll find a lot of pit bull mixes in the shelter. Let me assure you that pit bulls are maligned unnecessarily. Don’t tease your pit bull puppy, be firm, but show love, and given time your pup will reward you.

If you end up adopting, send me your story.


The intersection of fantasy and reality.
A fairy tale—
Once upon a time, in a far way place, there was a girl.
You could be that girl.
That time is the recent past.
The place is foreign, but not unreachable.

Above a RainbowThis photograph was taken in the Canton (state) of St. Gallen, Switzerland, close to where Peppa has her first psychoactive trip. You can get there by taking a train to a place called Wasserauen. No poison potion needed.

Intersectionality Externalized

My title sounds like an Orphan Black episode, but actually refers to the Hive in London’s Kew Gardens, which is a surreal representation of the lives of bees.

I’ve always found bees comforting, with their furry small bodies, like a bee-100928_1920fairy’s teddy bear. The susurration of their explorations brings to mind lazy warm days. They prefer the small knotted blossoms of oregano and pendulous flowering swathes of butterfly bushes to overbred flowers like cactus dahlias, with their scimitar petals, and red tea roses, an adman’s wet dream.

Bees only sting when threatened. As a child, I fished them out of the swimming pool filter, and let them air-dry on my finger, before they flew off. Bees have had a hard time adjusting to our evolving world, and their numbers are shrinking. They’re vital for pollination. In Switzerland, where personal lawsuits haven’t become routine, bees are kept next door to us, in the park belonging to an insurance agency.

The day the editor-spouse and I visited Kew, the park was filled with strolling mothers and excited children. It’s a challenge these days for botanical gardens like Kew where they have the best trees thanks to the GTC services online, as well as zoos, to lure children away from the tempting screens that bring the world to their homes. The Hive meets the challenge, drawing children to it. It’s described as “a unique, multi-sensory experience designed to highlight the extraordinary life of bees. A feat of British engineering, it stands 17 metres tall, set in a wildflower meadow.”

I stood within the hive, giving myself over to its complexities. I felt moved by the panoply of sounds and the spatial design. It was like a visit to the Rothko chapel in Houston, with subtle ambient music instead of stillness, sunshine rather than dark. But I wanted to look up at the oculi, IMG_0680the sky unencumbered by metal, the clouds scudding by. I sat, titled my head back, made myself comfortable, and listened:

After some serious drifting, I started noticing what people around me did.

Adults entered the Hive and migrated to the periphery, standing against the metal lattices. Many wore serious expressions, and stillness settled over them.

IMG_0686The children, who came and went in giggling groups, met in the middle to look down.  The hive is accessed by steps, and built on a high platform. In the center, you can look through the transparent floor a flight down, to the people clustered below on the unimposing cement base.  Nothing fascinating to me. But the kids came together naturally, leaving their parents standing soberly at the edges. They wriggled around on their bellies, made room for each other gracefully. What did they seeing? Would they still be in the middle if there were no people below?

I remember how we loved to climb trees, hide in the leafy heights, spy down on unsuspecting grown-ups. Unobserved and out of reach, we briefly had the power balance shift to our side. Do the kids think about the bees, as the lights on the hive change in response to the movements of the actual hive outside, and the humming music ours out of the speakers.

Or all we all still just observing each other?

The hive was like the internet, connecting us through a thousand binary-1607196_1920points of intersection, bringing what’s on the inside to the outside, exchanging the private for the common sphere.  A structure that was built to symbolize the life of bees became the embodiment of human interconnectivity, the social understanding that guides our behavior. If we’re all observing each other, can we even imagine what’s past the top of the dome, what lies beyond?

Let us hope to leave the hive, and to return, bringing exquisite messages and the bright songs of flower petals.

The poppy promise