Horse Feathers

Benjamin Franklin is attributed with saying, "Only believe half of what you see and none of what you hear." I don't know that that means he is the first person to say it, but he's getting the credit.

Here are a few things I don't believe:

  • Those diet ads. Some young, gorgeous hardbody with muscle tone and a tan, telling me that only 6 weeks ago she looked like a pasty-faced buffalo heifer with cottage-cheese-thighs. They're telling me that if I drink their concoction every morning, noon and night, I won't look like a middle-aged, mother of two, desk jockey with little-to-no natural suntan? Bull puckey.
  • The picture that goes along with "How to get a swimsuit body by summer". Some smiling person, no sweat shining on their brow, in a perfectly clean home and wearing SOOO fashionable workout gear....exercising on some device that looks like medieval contraption to turn a breach baby around.. C'mon, now. Really? Who smiles when they're working out? 
  • Politicians. Any of 'em.
  • About 90% of the recipes. Mix one can of cream of mushroom soup with one can of Underwoods Deviled Chicken and you'll get Chicken Tetrazzini. What ARE you smoking?
  • Celebrities + Judges + Juries = The Muppet Show. Who do they thing they're kidding, here? If Lindsay Lohan lived in Phoenix, Sheriff Joe would have her living in a tent by now, for sure. I don't even want to think about what would have happened to Charlie Sheen by now. He'd be the belle of the ball. Ewww. 
  • Jeans that promise to slim, trim, lift, sculpt, shape and not be like my daughter's. If you can lift, sculpt and trim me, you can't be made of mere denim. 
  • Shampoos that promise to give me thick, shiny tresses with no split ends. Well f*ck me running. Nothing is going to make that happen. Mother Nature gave me extremely fine, puny, flyaway hair. I've learned to live with it. Really, John Frieda, maybe you could apply your chemistry to fighting off pollen, instead. 
  • Name your price insurance. This one really just ticks me off. You can name your price with almost any insurance company. That is NOT the same thing as getting a policy that fits your needs. Name your price, my hind foot. Name your price, and get succinct directions to the door. 
  • Find your friends. Find your classmates. Find the police records of your ex-boyfriend. Find the love of your life, your new house, your lucky numbers and the answer to your dreams. Only cost you $9.99 a minute, too.
  • The estimated MPG on a car. 30 in the city, 45 on the highway. Yeah, maybe if it's a straight highway running down hill the whole way.
  • "Less fat" on almost anything. All that means is "less fat than we could have squeezed in here, but the same amount as it's always had."
  • Filtered dog water. We bought a drinker for our new Chloe. Couldn't find one that didn't have a built-in filter to make the water "taste better". The first chance she got, she drank out of a mud puddle. She really cares about better tasting water.
  • And the biggest bunch of hooey of all? "What are you doing in there, son?" ........"Nuthin'."

Comments always welcome!


Puppy Breath

We have a new member of the family. Her name is Chloe, and even though she joined us less than 24 hours ago, I'm already in love. How not? Look at that face!

I have written about having a puppy urge for a while now, but the time was finally right. I started scouring the humane society websites, and rescue organizations and classified ads, too. Then I started to get worried.

You see, we decided (after many long discussions) that the right dog for us would be another Australian Cattle Dog. That's what our wonderful, OCD, willful, barfy blue shedding machine is, and she is a terrific dog. Don't be fooled by all the bitching I do about her; she's a great dog and I love her. I started lurking around the Cattle Dog rescue sites. It was pretty scary.

After reading the "About Us" pages on most of those rescue organization's sites, and reading their applications for adoption, I started to get a bad feeling. They asked some of the most intrusive questions. OK, I get it. These folks put a lot of love and effort and heartache into helping animals that have been badly mistreated, neglected, abused or discarded. They don't want all that effort to go for naught and wind up placing the dog with a fate as bad as the one they saved it from. I get that. I understand why they want to know if I've ever surrendered an animal before and why. I understand why they want to know what behaviors I would find so unacceptable that I would give up on the dog. I get it.

Why do you need to know what I do for a living, my household's gross annual income, or if I live in a site-built home or a mobile home? Asking if I live in an apartment: I can almost see that, depending on the dog. But if I lived in a mobile home, how would that make me unsuitable? How is that your business, anyway? If you're trying to find out if I can afford to care for a dog, then ask me. You don't need to fish about for a financial statement.

The bad feeling increased when I read an article by Emily Yoffe about how she was rejected by an animal rescue place, and then I went on to read the comments. Oh my stars! Something is way off track here, folks. It looks a lot like a tax-sheltered, legal way of hoarding dogs and rejecting people. The article points out that some rescue organizations don't adopt animals out. They are more on a hopefully-permanent foster plan, and the organization will inspect at will, reclaiming the dog if they so choose.

I was thinking very seriously about giving up on adopting a rescue dog and looking instead for a puppy from a breeder or just a family whose pet had a litter. I looked at a lot of breeder sites. We still felt like it would be better to get a rescue dog if we could. Since I'm not one to give up too easily, I kept watching and reading, looking for the right place for us.

I saw a very promising dog on one listing and emailed the organization. After several days with no reply, I called the foster person. She told me that the dog had been adopted out right after Christmas, and they just never did seem to get her taken off the site. Now I was wondering if I was looking over lists of dogs who weren't available, anyway.

And then. Then I found Noah's Ark Rescue. I read their adoption application. Every question was about reasonable fact-finding, not intrusive anima-naziism. I looked at the pictures of the adoptable dogs. I kept checking. I noticed that dogs were added and removed from the listing regularly enough that someone was actually attending to their web pages. Then four days ago, I saw Chloe. She was listed as a four-month-old Australian Cattle Dog (aka ACD, Queensland Heeler, Blue Heeler, Cattle Dog). I think she has some Australian Shepherd, too, since you don't see the blue eye or a blue merle coat in a Heeler. She was the right age, has a great look of intelligent interest in her striking eyes and she is the breed we were looking for. Deep breath: I emailed the person on the listing.

She replied right away. We exchanged a few emails over the next two days and the Sweet Hubs and I were approved as adoptive parents to a young bundle of furry joy. We met her yesterday, fell in love immediately and took her home. The kind woman with Noah's Ark Rescue was very helpful and friendly. It is clear to me that they haven't lost sight of their mission. They are more interested in finding suitable, loving, forever homes for the rescued pets than in over-zealously staying in control of every aspect of the animal's lives ad infinitum.

Chloe is a darling girl. Ruthie approves of her, too. I feel so incredibly lucky that we are the ones who got to bring her home. She is out helping the Sweet Hubs get the garden ready for spring right now. True to her breed(s), she is every bit the Velcro dog. She sticks like glue to either one of us. She got to see and smell her first javelina, and knew right away that he was not someone to fool with. She bristled and barked and stuck close to her people. She is also nonplussed by Chihuahuas. Smart dog.

She has a lot to learn in life. That's what being a puppy means. She comes when you call her, though, and is learning to sit. She takes a treat oh-so-nicely. She is already learning the family whistle that means, "Look at that!". And she learned that she does not get a good result when she tries to take the ball from the old OCD ACD. Ruthie isn't about to put up with that. She also has a good start on "Give", dropping her chew-toy into my hand when I ask for it. I start that one quickly with a puppy because I like my shoes. :D

Please do visit a humane society or a rescue if you are looking for a new member of your family. Don't be scared by the horror stories; just do your homework. If you live in Arizona, I HIGHLY recommend Noah's Ark Rescue.

(With my apologies for being so INactive on last week's linkup. I've been sick. :-(  Waaa waaa waaa.)


A Fearful Child

When I was a baby, I was afraid of stuffed animals. My Mom tells me that she never had to put me in a playpen. If she was mopping the kitchen floor and didn’t want me crawling on it, all she had to do was put a teddy bear in the doorway.
She could put a stuffed animal in front of anything she didn’t want me to touch or go near. It’s a strange kind of baby-proofing, but it worked. Mom says I would sit perfectly still, with what she calls “the big eyes” and I wouldn’t move an inch. I’d be ashamed to admit how old I was before I didn’t feel uncomfortable around stuffed animals, although I did outgrow it eventually. Even my kids noticed that in all the pictures of childhood Christmases, you never saw me unwrapping a stuffed animal.

I can remember a nightmare I had before I was 5 years old. I dreamed my Dad was killed in a war. In my dream, the soldiers were the nutcracker kind of tin soldiers, and they were lined up in ranks. One fell over and I knew that was my daddy and he was dead. I had that dream over 40 years ago and I recall it still. I had lots and lots of the garden-variety monster in the closet nightmares. My sister was wonderful: she would let me climb into the upper bunk with her when I had one of those nightmares.

My uncle had a puppy: a Husky named Slingshot. I was absolutely friggin’ terrified of the little thing. I had never been bitten by a dog. No idea why that little ball of fluff scared the jellybeans out of me like he did, but I would climb onto the back of the couch and scream. The picture above shows me at about 8 years old with Slingshot’s puppy, Tumbleweed. I had just finished crying when Uncle snapped the photo.

Sometimes I think that my early fears might have been because I understood consequences rather early. I saw possible outcomes of a given action and recognized that negative results were a genuine risk. That doesn’t explain being terrified by an 8-week old puppy. Or a teddy bear, either. It does, however, explain why I was never a child to do particularly stupid things. I got into trouble, but it was usually because I knew what was right and chose wrong because it sounded like more fun.

It doesn’t seem like a complete answer. Why are some children such worry-warts? What baby is afraid of toys? And what pre-schooler has any real notion of death? Well, both my grandfathers were gone by then, so maybe I had an inkling. Something in me has been wired for caution and worry right from the day I was born.

Fear is a battle I’ve been fighting all my life. Most of the time, I can convince myself…reason with myself and assuage my fears enough to continue with my day. And, oddly enough, there are things that other people are afraid of that don’t bother me at all. I’m not afraid of new situations, tests, horses, snakes, spiders and lots of other things.

The passage of time has allowed me to trim some of my fears down to just caution. I wish I could lessen all of them. I’m never reckless, and certainly no kind of adrenaline-junky. I fought down my inclination to be overprotective with my children. I guess I knew they’d have to get a few bruises to grow up whole. Also, I force my mind away from my husband’s adventures: I just see too many worrisome possibilities there.
If I were to dwell on them and cave in, I think my fears could unhinge me. It takes a conscious effort of my own will to not let fears run my life.

My dad’s mom was a terribly fearful woman and it RAN her life. I don’t ever want to live that way. Is this something that could be inherited? Who knows? I hope that my husband’s total lack of fear would balance out the DNA department and let our children be appropriately cautious, without worrying themselves into inertia. For me, it's a daily struggle.



M-m-m-m-My Conundrum defines it as:
1. a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words, as What is black and white and read all over? A newspaper.
2. anything that puzzles.

I have dreamed of being a successful author ever since I was a child. I learned to read and write early, thanks to my big sister, and have been having a love affair with words ever since.

Look at that messy, windblown, tomboy of a girl. Do you see the dreams spinning around in her head? (If you could really see my face, you'd see that I was terrified of that puppy...but that is for a different post.)

And yet...I'm shy. My daydream never included fame. I didn't dream of appearing on television to discuss my latest novel. I didn't dream of press conferences, book signings or magazine articles about me. I hate having my picture taken so much that I actually get a knot in my stomach when I know I have to stand in front of a camera. I can't even imagine being on TV. I'm sure I would be tossing my cookies. Blechhh. I always thought I would write under a pen name.

What I wanted, what I still want, is for my BOOKS to become famous. I want them to be widely read, wildly popular and talked about. I would love, Love, LOVE to have my book made into a fabulous feature film. In my fantasy, of course, the film would be a blockbuster. Who would play Sarah? Or Hixson? Oh, it's lovely to think about.

The trouble is, I want all of that, without having my face attached to any of it. I want to be a literary hermit, cranking out wonderful books from my gorgeous little office in the pines. I want the royalty checks and rave reviews to stream in like the sunlight streaming in through my oversized windows.

Is this a place to WRITE, or what?
I love my small life. I have no desire to change it: it's quiet, simple and comfortable. Sweet Hubs and I enjoy our time together living with the greatest measure of simplicity we can manage. I don't hunger after notoriety of any sort. Fame doesn't interest me and I don't want to be wealthy, though I would love to be comfortable enough to not worry about money ever again. I don't want a big, fancy house or a limo. My car suits me fine and that sweet little house in the trees (way up north) is exactly what I want.

When I write it out that way, I realize it sounds like I'm wishing for a half a dream. But I'm a big girl now. Childish fantasies have long since floated away. Instead of looking for a publisher who wants to give me a big, fat advance, I'll plug away at writing and I'll continue to publish via e-books. For at the core of that dream is the physical, constant, unassuaged urge to write.

(Here's a sneak peek at one idea for the cover of my any-day-now book. What do you think?)

Recently, SOME dear person pointed out that I needed to add some images to my blog. Don't hold your breath, waiting for current pictures of me...but maybe she's right. :D Thanks for the tip! And thanks very large...for picking me as last round's editor's choice. (Blushing modestly).

P.S. Yes, that IS a bottle of wine on the table in my heavenly little home up north. I have my priorities straight.


My Resolution

OK, it's not really a resolution. You may recall that I don't believe in New Year's resolutions.

I am **THIS** close to finishing my second book in the "Light Gatherers" series. So for the remaining two days of this New Year holiday weekend, I will by typing my little fingers down to the nub.

Shame on me: I have been revising as I go along, which would cause me to be tarred and feathered in some writing circles. I try to control myself, but sometimes... the temptation overpowers me and I revise.

I have also decided to change the name of one of my characters, so I'll be hunting for just the right name. Browsing through my book of baby names always makes the Sweet Hubs look at me with a hilarious mixture of alarm and puzzlement in his handsome blues. You can almost see the fight or flight instinct kick into overdrive. I love that man.

2011 went out on a happy note for me. I've been getting extremely positive feedback on the first novel. And not only from friends, thank you very much. Complete strangers are giving the story 5 stars. It's a lot like seeing your child make the honor roll. You send your baby out into the world and they MAKE IT!

Bless you all, dear ones. I hope that 2012 is a prosperous, healthy and happy year for you.

What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...