Monday, March 26, 2012

Good Dogs, Bad Dogs

I was really going to write a post about how well our young dog Penny was doing. She is a border collie cross, and not an easy dog to live with, and in fact got on my every last nerve from the time she was six months old until just recently.

Hoping to become a better dog mother, I read everything I could about border collies. They are the smartest of breeds, they need a job, they bond with their owners, and they need lots of exercise. Exercise, exercise, exercise is what all the books said.

So I laced up my walking shoes, and took her and the old dog out on forest trails and logging roads every single day. I'd load them up in the car and take them to a nearby paved subdivision with a good hill to climb. I played ball, frisbee, bought her bones to chew on, and squeak toys, and even a non-destructible rubber ball with biscuits hidden inside.

And still Penny dug up the yard, pulled prize azaleas from the soil, destroyed rhododendrons, ripped fern fronds off one by one, and pulled the stuffing out of every single dog bed we bought her.

We made a joke out of her name, that she was the Bad Penny and we couldn't get rid of her if we tried.

My husband was fed up, and truthfully, as winter wore on, I was getting tired of defending her with the refrain "She's just a pup. She'll grow out of this stage."

At one point, several weeks ago, I even decided maybe we should find her another home. But I loved this dog, and didn't want to pass her down to someone who might treat her badly. I answered a couple of ads that I found on Craigs List with people looking for such a dog, but it wasn't the right match. I sent a long e-mail to a border collie rescue agency that specializes in placing such dogs. I never heard back. Finally, in desperation on a stormy winter night, when this jumpy, wet dog, who never seemed to calm down, was wreaking havoc on our normally peaceful marriage, I picked up the phone to place an ad in our local newspaper.

No dial tone. The phone was completely dead, and the telephone service was out.

It was a sign, I decided. No wavering. We are keeping the darn dog, making the best of the situation, and sooner or later she will turn the corner. I called a local dog trainer and signed Penny up for a dog class, thinking maybe a little socialization would help.

At the first lesson, we almost got kicked out, after Penny drug me across the arena toward a shepherd mix who growled and lunged at her. "You want a piece of me?" she said. "Come and get it!" Geez, talk about embarrassing.

Luckily for both of us, the instructor decided to put that errant shepherd in a "special" class, and Penny got lots of one-on-one attention at her second class. She did beautifully! She heeled, and sat, and every time she came unglued a bit, her teacher said she was only insecure. I can live with that.

Finally, we are making progress. Penny is 15 months old now, and I convinced my husband she is well on her way to finally becoming a good dog. She doesn't jump on people so much, her digging is less often, and surely her need to chew and destroy things must be over. A local feed store had pet beds on sale, and bless his heart, when my husband went to town, he not only bought two of them (one for each dog) but he made Penny her own little wooden box for the bed to go in.

 I breathed a giant sigh of relief, both for Penny and for our marriage. Things were turning out peachy-keen.

Until this morning. I fed the dogs, came in the house to check my e-mail, and inside of ten minutes, this has happened:

That was two hours ago. I scolded her (quite) strongly, locked her up in the dog pen for almost an hour, and came in to face my husband's wrath.

Penny is now in the dog pen again. She just destroyed the second bed (her own.)

I have no words, although it does help to have a sense of humor about these things. Maybe we can get on a television show called - Is there hope for this dog? or Is there hope for this marriage? Peace - out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Lucky 7

Fellow writer Sharon Ledwith tagged me in The Lucky Seven Meme

which sounded kind of fun. Here are the rules:

1. Go thou to page 77 of your current MS
2. Get thee hence to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating!
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let each and every one of them know

So, without further ado, here are 7 lines, starting with line 7, from page 77 of my new book, which will be released on June 1, 2012, called Six Degrees of Lost. (Ha! Got you on that one, huh? It wasn't a seven!)

“Paddle! Paddle!” yells James.

They each grab an oar, and I lean over the side of the raft and use my hands to pull hard downstream towards the highway bridge. My heart is beating so fast I can barely breathe. I steal one glance backward, and I see a column of black smoke drift up into the afternoon rain clouds, as orange flames lap hungrily against the sides of the barn.

“Holy crap,” says James.

“What?” asks Sherman.

“I left the BB gun up there,” he says. “In the barn.”

So, there you have it. Excited yet? I'll share the cover soon, but be assured that Six Degrees of Lost has dogs, cats, horses, a raft trip, a girl, a boy, pancakes, and a first kiss. What more do you need? Okay fine - a mother in jail, brothers in the military, an unplanned journey, and oh, you'll just have to wait until June to find out. Or, you can click on the title and follow the link to Goodreads to read the whole blurb. And add it to your to-read list!

And for the next seven writers to partake in this fun tag game, I choose:

1. Amaleen Ison
2. Cornell DeVille
3. Arley Cole
4. Devin Hodgins
5. L.K. Mitchell
6. Mindy Hardwick
7. Jennifer Walker

Don't worry, if you don't have a page 77 in a finished or unfinished manuscript, you can always use page 7. The Lucky 7! Ready, Set, Go!! Have Fun!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

To Catch a Cat

We have a long-haired black cat wandering around our place and occasionally peeking in the windows. When I open the door, she is gone like a flash. Is she wild, or did someone dump her? She looks sort of like this one:

I'm assuming it's a "she" because she looks a bit feminine, and lately she looks a bit pregnant. She is probably eating in the barn, because I leave food there for our spayed barn cat, Lucy. But if this black cat is pregnant, I don't want more wild barn cats running around. Not only do we have a big coyote problem (and sad to say, they eat cats) but I think cats should be spayed or neutered, so they don't contribute even more to the population of hungry, homeless cats.

So I borrowed a live trap, to try and catch "Blackie" and see if she is tame, or wild, or pregnant, and then figure out what to do at that point. (Raise and tame the kittens, get her spayed, something.)

Here is the trap:

You basically put food inside it, set the trap with the end wide open (it's in the closed position right now) and when the cat steps on the trigger, it closes and catches them. I've even used a blanket on the floor and a drape over the top so it appears more inviting.

But even though I've seen the black cat several times lately, do you think I can catch her? No.

All I keep catching in the trap is:

Lucy - our 8 1/2 year old barn cat - who is already spayed. And fat and sassy.

But we bring Lucy in for snuggles and loves each time, anyway.

Bet you didn't know I was such a Cat Lady, did you? Wish me luck, I am setting the trap again tonight. This time I'm adding a sign: "Black Cats Only."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Read An eBook Week

Hi Everyone! Just popping in to say that this is "Read an eBook Week." And Smashwords, one of the online booksellers that carries The Girl Who Remembered Horses, is having a sale!

Through March 10, 2012 you can buy this book for 25% off. Just use coupon code REW25 and the price is only $3.74. Here is the direct link:

Unlike Amazon (where this book is rated #5 in Best Reviewed Children's Kindle Horse Books) which only sells the Kindle format, or Barnes and Noble, which only sells the ePub version for a Nook, Smashwords carries all formats, including PDF, which you can read on your personal computer, for those of you that don't own an eReader yet.

So if you've been waiting to read this great book - Go. Now. It's a great time to buy.

That is all. Tune in next time to hear about my adventures in trapping (or not) a pregnant wild kitty. Assuming I survive. *grin*

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Skinny (or not) on Chocolate Wine

It's no secret that I love all things Chocolate, in fact I publicly state it in my profile.

I even have a donkey named Mr. Chocolate!

And although I'm not a big drinker, I do enjoy a good glass of wine. Until recently, that has usually been white wine, and my preference Chardonnay.

But last fall, for the first time ever, someone brought me a bottle of Chocolate Wine. O. M. G!

I swooned. And now I seem to see Chocolate Wine popping up everywhere. So, since I have now tried three different brands and two different types, I will share with you what I know.

There seems to be two distinct types:
One looks like regular Red Wine, only it's labeled Chocolate Wine.
One, also labeled Chocolate Wine, looks like a bottle of wine filled with Chocolate Milk.

For me, I prefer the wine-colored type. It tastes like rich red wine, with heavy flavors of chocolate. It's a great after-dinner drink, served with, or in place of dessert. It also goes well with cheese, nuts, and apples.

I've also tasted the chocolate milk looking stuff. That's exactly what it tastes like. Chocolate milk with a slight wine taste. Even though I'm a huge chocolate lover, for me, this one isn't quite as good. (I'll finish and enjoy the bottle I have on hand, but probably won't buy another.)

The two brands that I have tasted and recommend are: Chocolate Shop

and Confectioner's Chocolate Wine

If you love chocolate, you've got to find a bottle and try it. (Oh, assuming you're old enough, of course.)

But wait, you wanted to know the skinny on these wines, didn't you? Actually, I googled "calories in chocolate wine" but could not bear to look. Sorry.

Have you tried Chocolate Wine yet??? What did you think??