Confessions of a Critteraholic
I am crazy about animals. I’ve had cats, rabbits, horses, cows, a snake, a baby armadillo, dogs, and more dogs. I’ve had pedigreed dogs, rescued dogs, mutts, curs, big dogs, bigger dogs, and 100+ pound dogs. Of all the dogs I’ve been blessed to know, it has been two golden retrievers whose paws captured the biggest pieces of my heart.The first golden girl of my heart came to me when I was twelve and stayed by my side until cancer took her thirteen years later. Some folks may tell you goldens are not good watch dogs. They would be wrong! Mae was just ten months old the first time she came to my rescue. She and I were sitting on the porch of an old, closed feed store when a tall, lanky fellow in his forties came up and tried to talk me into going with him. I said no and started to leave. That’s when he grabbed me, and that’s when Mae went from being a big tail-wagging pup to Cujo. She jumped off the porch and landed on his back and held on. When she finally let go of him, he took off in one direction and Mae and I ran the other way.
I have a large American flag mounted on the southern deck of my house. We live in the mountains so nobody sees it except family, but that’s okay. I like watching it wave in the wind. Sometimes the wind whips the flag up and it gets wrapped around the pole. In the past, I’d run outside, take down the flag, and unknot it so it could once more fly free in the wind. An hour later, the scene would repeat itself. Some days, I’d make five or six trips outside to untangle the flag.
What's in a Heart?
“How do you know if a guy has a good heart?” This was the question my daughter asked me the February she was seventeen. The boy she liked and her date for the upcoming Valentine’s dance had done “something” (she wouldn’t go into more detail) that was causing her to have second thoughts about Mr. Wonderful. Summoning all the restraint I could muster, I didn’t push her to reveal what the “something” was, as I knew that would send her fleeing in fear of a pending inquisition.
Many thoughts jumped into my brain. Make sure he respects you. (I’d preached that one for years). Does he listen to his mother? (More important to me, no doubt, than to her). But I sensed she didn’t want to hear a rehash of the platitudes and pearls of wisdom I’d tried to instill in her since birth. I didn’t want to screw this up. Her coming to Mom for advice instead of to her teenage peers was more and more a rare event.
She wanted something new, something simple and concrete that she could use as a yardstick in an attempt to measure the true nature of a human heart. Years before, I’d read a quote from Immanuel Kant, a famous 18th century German philosopher and ethics professor. It had stuck in my mind, probably because I love animals so much. My daughter does too. The quote seemed to fit our situation. I considered it a pretty good yardstick. So did my daughter, who eventually found and married a man with a good heart, a man that adores her and shares her love for animals.
“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Immanuel Kant.
Thanks for stopping by,
January 10th, 2014
According to the dictionary, cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1918, for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period.
I can understand how early settlers in rural locations could get cabin fever. There were no cars, phones, electricity, or the many things we take for granted today. But in this era of television, cell phones, computers, Skype, IPods, streaming videos, Facebook, eReaders, and a never-ending list of electronic wonders, it takes a lot of work to be “disconnected” from family, friends, or world events.
I never get cabin fever. There is simply too much to do. Research for a book or article, write, cook hearty stews or soups, answer emails, clean out the closets or design that special project to build next summer …here too, the list goes on and on. There are shelves of books, baskets of books, a Kindle full of books waiting to be discovered. There are stories running through my mind, scenes playing out in my dreams, and characters waiting to be named and given life on pages I have yet to write.
When I need fresh air and just want to play, I let loose the hounds (in this case – golden retrievers) into the fresh fallen snow. They romp, frolic, and roll around making their equivalent of snow angels. They’re like two silly kids enjoying a snow day. When play time is over, we trudge back inside to find a warm fire, a treat for them, and cocoa for me. Nope, there’s no time for cabin fever here in our winter wonderland.
Thanks for stopping by,
A Mother's Gift
When I was five, my grandmother gave me her piano (a big, upright monstrosity that took six men to move) on the condition that I learn to play it. I did, and when I left for college, my piano went with me. I helped pay my way through school by being the pianist for a small church, giving lessons, and playing for weddings.
Three years after graduating from college, I moved back to my hometown and bought a small, older house. The piano was too wide to fit through the door, so it had to go back to my parent’s home. For the first time since I was five, I had no piano to play.
Early one afternoon about two months later, my mom showed up at my door and announced that she had bought me a “gift” and it would be delivered shortly. An hour later a moving truck pulled up and three men unloaded a grand piano. As I stood there in shock, my mother explained she’d been hunting me a piano that would fit through the door. Someone had told her that you could take the legs off a grand piano and turn it up on its side to fit through narrow spaces. When she saw an article in the paper about a new grand piano being donated to a large local church, she contacted them about buying their older grand. She’d spent three years of savings to buy me that piano.
The grand took up half my small living room then, and now takes up a good chunk of my den. I bought a small spinet piano about ten years ago and that is the one I play the most. Friends and family have asked why I don’t sell the grand, but I won’t sell it. Family photos of four generations grace the top and every time I look at it, I remember what extraordinary efforts my mother went through so I’d have a piano to play. It’s not really a box of strings and keys, it’s a mother’s love disguised as a grand piano.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a blessed holiday season.
Women With Attitude
Over the past fifteen years I have had the privilege to know,
socialize, and work with many women writers. I met some when I joined
the Authors of the Flathead, a local group of writers from all around Northwest
Montana. Others I met through critique groups, our Montana Women Writers group,
and writer conferences. It is an eclectic group, writing in various genres, and
coming from diverse backgrounds. Yet they all have one thing in common. They are
all women with a can-do attitude.
The theme of attitude verses gratitude brings to mind a quote by the famous
physician and missionary, Albert Schweitzer. He said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
This is so true for writers. Whether it is writer’s block, a plethora of
rejection letters, or just the sense of being overwhelmed that comes from trying
to carve out a few minutes to write while holding down your “day job” and caring
for a family, I wager there are few writers who have never thought about just
giving up and getting out of the business. Sometimes, I’ve felt that I was
running on fumes. At these times, one or more of these wonderful women with
attitude stepped in to rekindle my fire for writing and reignite the hope that
the elusive perfect prose is within reach. I am forever grateful for their
supportive attitude and generosity of spirit.
Drop me line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me in 100 words or less about a woman with attitude who has enriched your life, and be entered in a contest for an autographed copy of Breaking TWIG. Last day to enter: Nov. 30,2013.
Thanks for stopping by,
The Power of the Written Word
Where does your inspiration come from? Is it the vibrant colors in a treasured
painting or the pulsating beat of your favorite rock band that gets your heart to pumping and makes your hands itch to pick up a paintbrush or guitar and produce your own masterpiece? Maybe you’re like me and find yourself surprised by a plethora of sensory delights that stir your imagination and inspires your creativity.
I find my greatest inspirations in literature. Amazing novels take me on journeys of imagination that open up new worlds to explore. They can make me
laugh, cry, and empathize with people who start out as fictional characters and evolve into friends by the last page.
Poetry speaks to the soul and entreats me to be best version of myself that I
can be. Nonfiction educates my mind, causes me to ponder new possibilities, and
entreats me to ask, “What if?”
Histories and inspirational biographies reinforce my deep-seated belief that
we can overcome life’s trials. We can persevere.
After years of tragedy and triumphs, Becky, the main character in my novel,
Breaking TWIG, concludes that, “We all filter the realities of life through our own personal fears, individual experiences, and the human need to cling to hope despite the circumstances, regardless of the odds. And in doing so, we each determine our own truth.”
Inside the pages of a book is where I find the people, places, words, and
ideas that inspire me to continually seek and reevaluate my own truth.
Have a great Labor Day holiday,
The print, “Dig”/Sadie Wendell Mitchell, artist, is courtesy of the Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/pictures
VIEWING LIFE ON MONTANA TIME
Have you noticed how many times Montana is mentioned in movies, commercials, and country songs? The implication seems to be that somehow life is better in Montana. After twenty years of being inspired, awed, and befriended by her
majestic vistas, remarkable animals, and amiable neighbors, my family heartily agrees. However, the differences in living in Montana are not limited to its natural resources, wildlife, and people. Native Montanans have a different mindset than those of us who are transplants from whirlwind hubs like Atlanta, Houston, or Los Angeles.
According to the encyclopedia, Montana is in the Rocky Mountain Time Zone. Those of us lucky enough to live here know life often unfolds according to the unwritten
time concept affectionately dubbed, “Montana Time.”
I first became aware of the practice of living life according to Montana Time when
we were building our log home. The carpenters would show up around 10 a.m. and would leave by 4p.m. When questioned, they explained that the fishing was best early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Admittedly, I didn’t see the connection between fishing and getting my house built. The craftsmen took pity on me. With great patience, they explained the concept of Montana Time, so that I wouldn’t remain forever clueless in Montana. Why, they wondered, would someone move to this breathtaking Eden and not take the time to enjoy its cornucopia of
During my first fifteen years here, I didn’t fully appreciate the Montana Time concept. I was busy running my retail store, raising children, and writing my novel. Today, the business is sold, the kids are grown, and Breaking TWIG is out in paperback and eBook formats. Now, as I make my way around a family of wild turkeys and head for the hammock to contemplate the new novel swirling in my head, I realize a subtle conversion to a different view of how to make the most of my time here on planet Earth has seeped into my psyche . . . a conversion to Montana Time.
Thanks for stopping by,
P.S. How do you enjoy your Montana (or its equivalent) Time? Leave a comment by Aug, 7, 2013 and be automatically entered into a drawing for a free copy of my novel, Breaking TWIG.
So many of my favorite things are being celebrated in June, I wanted to list a few.
Along with the all important Father’s Day, D-Day, and the first day of summer, June brings us National Fishing and Camping weeks for the outdoor enthusiasts. For my fellow animal lovers, June is Adopt-a-Cat month, as well as Zoo and Aquarium month. And if you’re looking for an excuse to eat chocolate (and who isn’t) June is the month that officially celebrates chocolate ice cream, chocolate éclair, and chocolate pudding days.
The Tasmanian Devil, Garfield (the cat, not our 20th President), Donald
Duck, and my daughter’s favorite Sesame Street character, Oscar the Grouch, have
birthdays in June. For all those who adore out-of-this- world experiences, June
brought us the first U.S. Spacewalk (1965), the premier of the movie E.T. (which
I saw on a first date with a fellow that I have now been married to for 30
years), and this Sunday, June 23, there will be a Super-moon, the largest full moon of the year.
To celebrate all the celebrations, I am giving away free Kindle downloads of my book, Breaking TWIG, on June 23rd. So treat yourself to a free book, some
chocolate ice cream, and the wonder of a Super-moon.
Wanted to wish all mothers a very happy Mother's Day. My daughter called first thing this morning, and my son fixed a wonderful breakfast of Eggs Benedict. This was on top of mowing the grass and weed eating for me, thus giving me time to write. I don't know about you, but "TIME" is the best gift they can give me (not counting their love, of course).
Another great gift today came from the wonderful folks at The eReader Cafe. I am their Author of the Week. A big THANK YOU toThe eReader Cafe. Check out my interview with them at: http://www.theereadercafe.com/p/author-of-week.html
I hope your Mother's Day is full of joy and love, and thank you for checking out my blog. God Bless.