Saturday, April 4, 2015

Botanical Oddities

Nature fascinates me, and I love all growing things.
 
But this one is a real head-shaker.

First, note this lovely Hawaiian Tree Fern.
 
Stepping back, notice the lovely blooming azalea, and the small blue-grey Deodar Cedar in the foreground, as well as the branching oak to the left.
But is all as it seems?
 
 
That Oak Branch to the left? It is actually GROWING out of the trunk of the Tree Fern.
And the Deodar Cedar tree is also.
 
 
In fact, here are some more starts of both cedar and oak sprouting just above the large oak branch.
 
There is a large Cedar of this variety about thirty feet away, as well as many oaks quite close. So I suspect birds sat here and dropped the seeds. Or perhaps woodpeckers planted them there.
 
Anyone else have some plausible explanation? *cue spooky music*
 
File this one under: Life Will Find a Way.
 
What do you think happened?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Cat Who Came To Stay

A few weeks ago a friendly, half-grown bright orange cat wandered out of the woods below our house, meowing loudly. My husband was working there, and called the little thing to him. Then, kind man that he is, he cradled the small cat in his arms and walked it up the hill to me. "I think it's hungry," he said.




And indeed it was. The little orange cat tore into the dish of dry food like he hadn't eaten in a week. Then, starved for attention, he crawled into every lap he could find, and asked for all the petting we could give him.

But where did he come from? As the cat rested and made itself at home, I began calling neighbors (we don't have many) and even going further afield to some outlying houses. No one knew of a small orange cat.

Because we live in the country, I assumed that someone dumped this adorable cat. But then, he might have snuck under someone's vehicle and accidentally been transported from somewhere else. I watched the ads for awhile, and made some overtures to find an owner, but I kind of knew that was a lost cause.

We figured him to be about 4-5 months old. An absolutely gorgeous cat. We thought about keeping him, but that was a ridiculous idea. We were already overloaded with three lovely tabbies, and guess who's in charge of feeding and litter box duty?

Our cast of lovely felines included: Lucy, eleven years, our ex-barn cat, (found as a tiny kitten in a briar patch) who now arthritically totters around the house in her old age.

Lucy

Bugs, whose adorable face on the website of the local animal shelter made me drive there and bring him home.

Bugs

Fred, AKA Fred the Bad Cat, also adopted from the animal shelter. This cat morphed from trouble-making kitten to mouse and rat-killer extraordinaire.

Fred

How would my current cats take to a stranger? Alas, not well. When Fred walked in the door and spotted the orange newcomer, he began yodeling in an eerie, high-pitched "I will destroy the interloper" voice. It scared the heck out of me.

Little orange cat, however, just stretched out in the hallway and napped. "Do your worst," he seemed to say. "I'm pooped."

But I was sure a fight would happen soon. Would I have to lock them in separate rooms? Frantically, I phoned a couple of friends who had recently lost their old cats and might be ready for another. We had to find a home for this small cat. We could not keep him.

One couple came over and visited, but did not totally fall in love with him. "Take him with you," I pleaded. "Please." But the cat stayed.

Another friend offered to take the cat, but was leaving on a trip and wouldn't be back for 9 or 10 days. "Okay," I said, tentatively. "Maybe. Unless . . ."

I knew the window of cuteness was closing fast for this handsome young cat. Everyone wants adorable tiny kittens, and older cats are almost impossible to place. If I expected to find him a home, I needed to do it now. So I should have said "Yes. You can have him. Definitely."

 

The Toy Basket

But I am afraid to say (against all of our better judgment) that this little orange cat was worming his way right into our hearts. The first night he slept tucked up close against my husband. Then he proceeded to find every old bit of string or ancient toy mouse in the house and throw them up in the air for hours, before leaving them all over the hallway for us to trip on.

And of course I vaccinated him. And then I wormed him. And then I vaccinated him again, and got him a rabies shot. Now, he has an appointment to be neutered. Oh, did I mention that we named him Chester?

Chester

He and Fred are the best of friends now. They rumble all over this property, and tear through the house like wild ruffians every night. And I suppose we are now a four-cat family. *sigh*

People sometimes ask me where I get all of the ideas for my Cat Tales.

Silly People.

*grin*


Monday, March 9, 2015

Walking the Dog - again

For those of you who've been wanting to read this one, or for those who'd like to read it again -

Walking the Dog is once again available, sporting a brand new cover.


Can the school therapy dog help Sophie overcome her troubled past? Or will it take the friendship of a boy named Jared?

Filled with guidance dogs, shelter animals, and one memorable orange cat, this timeless tale will stir your emotions as two young friends learn to navigate the sometimes difficult waters of growing up.

Here's the link for the ebook: http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Dog-Linda-Benson-ebook/dp/B00UEXAP2G/

and it's also available in print: http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Dog-Linda-Benson/dp/1619378361/

Have you read this one?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Favorite Part

For those of you who write, or for those of you who wonder about writers, I'll bet you believe that the favorite part of it all is either a) finishing the first draft, b) finishing the final edits, or c) seeing the final, completed product either in paper or digital format for the first time.

And you are close! For an author, these are all great milestones, to be celebrated with a glass of wine, a hot bubble bath or perhaps flowers (if you're very lucky.)


But my very favorite part of being an author? Believe it or not, it's picking out the cover.

I've been published by two different publishers, with varying degrees of choice in the cover design of my books. One of these publishers just went out of business, releasing me from my contract on two back-list titles. Which was okay with me, because after re-releasing The Girl Who Remembered Horses under my own imprint, as well as the Cat Tales stories, I was more than ready to bring these two titles out into the world once more.

In fact, I absolutely relished the idea of finding new covers for both Walking the Dog and Six Degrees of Lost.

I work with a fabulous cover designer, who has taught me so much. She works, at the moment, solely for a donation to an equine rescue site, which makes us both feel good.

We discussed several pictures for the brand new cover of Walking the Dog. Besides the fact that we wanted a girl and a dog in the picture (which both had to have the right look) the picture also had to convey emotion, and portray the poignant feel of the story. The image had to fit on a vertical cover too, with room for both the title and author's name.

After the picture is chosen, then we must decide on the font choice, color of font, placement, etc. Lots of things go into making the right cover. But because I am a visual person, I love these choices. It suits another part of my creative side.

After much back and forth, here is the brand new cover for the upcoming re-release of my book Walking the Dog.



What do you all think? *insert loud clapping here for my cover designer, who pulled it all together so beautifully*

P.S. A print edition of this book (with the original cover) is available on Amazon right now. And this new digital edition will be out very soon! I will let you know when - stay tuned!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Saga of Rusty the Rooster

So I have five nice hens. Their names are Sally, Elizabeth, Dory, Fluffy, and Henrietta. And they all lay eggs quite nicely (you don't need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs.) But I figured they might need a husband.

And since Elizabeth tends to go broody at the drop of hat, it was the only easy way to get fertilized eggs that she would actually hatch. (Last year she raised two bunches of adopted chicks that I stuck under her, after setting on eggs that would never hatch.)

Young Rusty

Anyway, last summer I bought a young colorful Welsummer rooster, about four months old, for $3.00 There are many roosters one can get for free, but this one was a special breed, which produces hens who lay very dark brown eggs. And they are quite pretty, also. I thought I got a good deal on him, and we named him Rusty.

He was young and shy around my hens at first. But soon he was following them all over the yard, and it wasn't long until he decided he was all grown up. He became their husband and their protector.

Rusty was an excellent mate. He escorted his ladies out of the pen each morning, watched them as they went about scratching, eating, laying eggs, taking dust baths, and then made sure they all got back safely into the hen house each night.

 
Rusty, all grown up
 
As he got a little older, he became big and beautiful and more proud of himself. Flying up on fence posts, porch railings and crowing to the world (and all the neighbors) how wonderful he was. And Rusty was the epitome of machismo, also. When Henrietta or Elizabeth would cackle from the hen house, announcing that they'd laid their egg for the day, Rusty would rush across the yard and loudly accompany them back to the rest of the flock. Not to anthropomorphize (okay, of course I'm anthropomorphizing) but you could almost hear him say "Get your butt back over here, woman. Now.")

Still, the hens seemed happy (I guess) and everything was going fine until we went away for a few days. And our housesitter (who is quite animal savvy) called to report that the rooster had attacked her.

"What?" I said. "Rusty is the sweetest rooster. Couldn't be."

But when she called a few days later to report that Rusty had flown over an eight-foot fence, rushing all the way across the property to come after her (by this time she was carrying a rake for protection) I began to take her word for it. Dang rooster, anyway.

So when we got home, everything quieted down for awhile. Rusty was calmer now that we were home. He seemed to know who belonged here and who didn't. Oh, he did attack my pant legs ONE time, but I was so surprised that I instinctively kicked him, and he stopped immediately. Still, I always wondered about him after that.

Fast forward a couple of months later. Rusty decides to attack (in full force, flying furiously at him, over and over) our neighbor, who is a big tall man.

"That's it," I said. "I won't have a mean rooster. Rusty, you are outta here!" And because I'm too soft-hearted to put him in the stew pot, I advertised him, instead. Within three hours, Rusty had a nice new home in the country on many acres, with over twenty new hens to meet and greet. Hopefully that will keep him happy for awhile.

I was pleased. I got rid of our problem, and sold him for $5.00. "I made money on him," I exclaimed to my husband.

He raised his eyebrows. "Hmmpff," he said. "Right."

 
New Rooster, who needs a name
 
But of course, then I thought my hens were lonely again. So we found a new rooster. This one is the same color, but he is part Banty and much smaller. And, fingers crossed, sweeter in nature.

And it was an even trade. He was $5.00, also. See what a good chicken farmer I am?

Now, what shall we name this one?? Short stuff? Pee Wee? (Suggestions welcome.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just a Note

Just a note to announce that The Girl Who Remembered Horses is now available at B&N.com, iBooks, Kobo, and Scribd.



And on Amazon, both digital and print copies are available, so you can read it either way.


The print copies have the old cover, but it's the same book inside!

Have you read this one yet?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Keeping Pet Records

Recently I took my two bad boys to a shot clinic to get their vaccinations.

My two former shelter kitties, Bugs and Fred
 
Although I've given lots of shots to animals myself, these two characters are of the scratchy, clawing variety when it comes to holding still for shots. (I mean, most of the time they are very sweet.)

But since they needed rabies this time, I grabbed their records and headed down with them in a large pet carrier.

And the veterinarian remarked not only on how beautiful these cats were (of course he says that to everyone) but what an excellent job I did of keeping records. *grin*

So I thought I'd share my very simple method, which works much better than jotting it on a calendar, daily planner, or a note that is easily lost.

This one was set up for horses.
 
Simply take an unlined sheet of paper and mark out some columns, like I did in the picture.

At the top, put the animal's name, date of birth (or approximate) and perhaps the date you brought the animal home (from the animal shelter, in my case. )

Then, I mark the columns (for dogs and cats):
Vaccinations
Worming
Flea Treatments
 but you could put anything you want in those columns.

Keep in a folder marked Pet Records in your file cabinet, or some other safe place, and you'll always have it.

If you are lucky and have your sweet pets for a long time, those columns will fill up over time, with all of the wonderful things you did for your friend and companion.

That's all! Easy Peasy!

So tell me, how do you keep records for your pets or your livestock?