Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Must Love Cats

We've been thinking for awhile of getting another dog. As I've blogged about before, we currently have the Best Dog Ever - a lab mix named Homer.

But the truth is, Homer is lonely. Oh, he won't say it in so many words. But as an outside dog, he spends his days looking in the window or waiting at the door for someone to come out and spend time with him. And although we do play with him every day, when I'm at the computer for hours writing, Homer spends a lot of time at the window. Waiting.

But it's hard to find another Good Dog. We don't want a puppy, and I'd never get a dog from a breeder, because there are too many wonderful dogs waiting at the animal shelter that need to be rescued. Still, we have a lot of qualifications for a new dog, and we're picky. Here's what we're looking for:

1) Must Love Cats. Have you read Kathi Appelt's wonderful book called The Underneath? One of the characters is a hound dog named Ranger, who adores and protects cats and kittens. Our dog Homer is like this (all of our four cats LOVE him) and we need a dog who has been around cats and won't chase them.

2) Short hair, low maintenance, must live outside (except for brutal weather conditions when we do bring our animals inside.) Size - medium to medium-large.

3) Must be good with livestock, and not inclined to chase donkeys or horses. (For obvious reasons.)

4) Must be all around good natured, with no biting, fighting, or excessive barking.

5) Must stay home. We don't allow our dogs to wander, and we much prefer a dog who just likes to lie on the porch and sleep. *grin* A bit on the lazy side is just fine.

Yes, that's what we're looking for, and hopefully it's a dog that Homer will like and get along with. If the dog is still young enough and not too set in its ways, maybe it can learn from Homer how to be another Best. Dog. Ever.

I'll let you know how the search goes.

So tell me - do you have a good dog?

How did it end up coming to live with you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reading like a Maniac

Yes, folks, I've been reading like a maniac. Ever since I joined the Goodreads 2011 challenge, that is. If you remember from this post, I challenged myself to read 111 books in 2011. You can follow my progress on the chart at the bottom of my sidebar (on right) or by going to my Goodreads profile right here.

At the moment, I've read 53 books so far this year, and that will be 54 by this afternoon. Goodreads even leaves little comments on my chart. Right now it says: Awesome work, you're 20 books (17%) ahead of schedule!

Hey, who doesn't need little incentives to work harder? Besides, after our long dreary winter, it's been one of the coldest springs on record, so reading in front of a sunny picture window sounds better than braving the elements outside.

Plus, our wonderful library system lets me order books online, check them out and return them at our nifty drive-up window, and my stack of books to read usually stands at about 10-15.

Do you belong to Goodreads? (Feel free to friend me on there.)
Has the ability to track your reading progress made you read more?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

GPS - Love or Hate?

Do you get lost without a GPS? Or do you have an innate sense of direction, or map reading skills that help you find your way?

I recently got into an argument with my hubbie (we rarely argue) because he wouldn't quit listening to that English woman. You know the one - the demanding voice inside the GPS that says (in a revolting accent) "Turn Right. In point. two. miles. turn right. In one. point. seven, miles, keep left. Keep. Left."

And when you pull into a Burger King so someone *raiseshand* can use the restroom, the woman becomes confused, and the voice gets more strident. "Recalculating" she says, and then "Drive point. four. miles. and Turn Right. Then Turn Left!"

I get so upset at that woman I end up calling her names. "Turn it off," I begged my husband. "I have a map - I can get you there."

But Noooo . . . He is addicted to the British woman in his GPS. Actually I think he's addicted to technology, period, like most of us.

But I worry - not only do I think it's unsafe to take your eyes off the road to keep looking at the little, ever-changing map, but whatever happened to our innate navigation skills? I learned them horseback, riding over mountains and through deep canyons and fording streams and having to find the way home, or else. And I learned them by hiking, and looking ahead of me (and behind me) and learning my way around.

Is technology taking those skills away? Are we becoming incapable of finding our way out of a paper bag without a GPS navigator?

(As for me, I'm going to fix hubbie. If I get my hands on that &*%#$ GPS of his, I'll change the voice to some Australian Bloke. heh heh heh)

What about you? Are you in love with your GPS? Or can you follow directions, or figure out where to go by your wits and skill?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Mish Mash of Things

Some Unrelated Items:

1) The Ocean

The water goes in,
the water goes out,
the water goes in and laps at your toes,
you chase it back out and play with the flow,
the sand squishes deep and relaxes your feet.
A day at the beach is the best thing I know.

2) I read two great books in the last week.

Both are adult fiction with YA crossover appeal.
Both have bright young main characters named Christopher.
Ah, but that's where the similarities end.

THE OUTSIDE BOY, by Jeanine Cummins, is about a Pavee Gypsy boy in Ireland, 1959, attempting to find his true identity. You can smell the woodsmoke with this one and it is now one of my favorite books of all time.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, by Mark Haddon. Hilarious, heartbreaking, and quite moving - this one is narrated by an autistic boy, who is trying to find out who killed his neighbor's dog, and he finds out quite a lot more. It's very well done - and I'm so glad I read it.

3) You have 3 more days to enter your name in the comments section to win Jen K. Blom's adorable new book called Possum Summer on this blog.

Here's the link if you haven't seen it: Meet Jen K. Blom.

Contest closes on April 15th, so Go Now and jump in while you still can!

(Would you raise a baby possum? What do baby possums eat, anyway?)

Good Luck. Hope you Win!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Few Kind Words

Don't ever underestimate the power of an encouraging word.

Or the harm of a rude one.

Here's a little story: When I was in high school (back in the dark ages when we had to wear skirts to school - seriously) I fancied myself becoming a writer.

I was smart, creative, sensitive, and I'd ALWAYS wanted to be a writer. When a writing club formed at school and asked for submissions for a school literary rag, well of course I had something, because I wrote songs and poetry constantly. So - for my very first submission anywhere - I chose a poem about something dear to my heart - that feeling of empowerment while riding my horse.

I don't remember all the words now - and God how I wish I'd kept it. It was really good, I think - something about my horse's broad back, and burying my face in his mane as I float to a place of my own. Yeah, that was the name of the poem - A Place of My Own.

But oh - the agony, the defeat, the feeling of failure when my first. rejection. ever. came back (from a girl editor, a junior I think, who I'm sure had never even ridden a horse!) with a thick, red remark scribbled in the margin of the poem - "OVERBLOWN."

What?? What the heck did that mean?

But obviously, to a bright, sensitive, creative teenager, it meant that I could. not. write. And I didn't - for many, many years.

Fast forward many decades. I dropped out of college at twenty (ah, first love) started several businesses, decided at age 48 to finish college, which I did at age 52. And God, did I have to write to do that. Essays, essays, and more essays. Overblown, oververbaged, overworded, over anything, just words, words and more words to get it turned in and the assignment finished.

And somewhere in there, on one of my senior theses, a college professor scribbled another note in the margin. You know what it said?

"You are a good

Me. Me? A Good Writer?

But I took those five little words to heart, and they gave me courage, and confidence, and when I finished college and started in on my new career as a writer for young people, they sat there in the back of my brain like a little mantra -

You are a good writer. You are a good writer. You are a good writer.

And you know what - I am.

So in your daily interactions with people - written or verbal or any other kind of communication -

Never Underestimate the Power of an Encouraging Word.

How about you guys? Ever have anyone make a difference in your life (good or bad) with the power of a few words?