Coming home from school one day in early spring when he was seventeen, my dad found a small dog on his front porch. It was all black except for a white stripe on its chest, it had a hound’s face, an English bulldog’s body, and a stubby tail. Its coat was matted, every rib in its body was showing, and all told, it was a very lonely, hungry, and exceptionally ugly dog. Continue reading
The squirrels scattered when I went outside to pick the mint that grows at the back steps, a single mourning dove remaining, placidly pecking at the ground. I gathered a few stalks and then went back inside, glancing out the window to see if the squirrels had returned yet. They hadn’t. However, from the woods at the other end of the lawn, I watched a black bear emerge. Continue reading
It’s the Chinese Year of the Rat. It was also the Year of the Rat when a little rat named Betsy was born.
Let me tell you about her.
I was in a pet supply store buying food for a rescued field mouse I called Stinky (for good reason) when I saw a cage of young rats. They intrigued me, and after the clerk let me hold one of them, I went straight home where my husband and I built a roomy cage, placing it next to Stinky’s cage in the kitchen. The next day, I went back to the store and bought a “hooded” rat. (Hooded rats are marked like little pinto ponies.) She was sweet and shy, and so I named her Betsy, which seemed to match.
When I heard a cat yowling, I figured she was looking for a lover, but then it went on for too many nights, which made me wonder if the toms didn’t like her song. I really couldn’t blame them. Her pitch was off.
And then I saw her—a young calico walking along our dirt road. I knew all the neighborhood cats, and she wasn’t one of them.
Certainly, she had to be hungry and thirsty, and so I scrounged in the fridge for anything a cat might eat without harm, bringing it out onto the lawn along with a bowl of water. I did this for a week, always retreating into the house because, otherwise, she wouldn’t go near the food. When the week was up, I could remain outside as long as I stayed on the back steps. Continue reading
A turkey is beneath the bird feeder, our local dining room, and is intimidating the regular customers. Some peek through branches, others from the shrubbery, and more are around the corner. They wait while the turkey hogs the space. It doesn’t belong there. This is just plain wrong. (Image by 272447 on Pixabay)
A young squirrel, late for breakfast, blasts around the side of the house, sees the turkey, drops down spread-eagle onto the sidewalk, and holds its breath. “Now what?” Being a gray squirrel, it decides caution is always better than valor and so rises slowly to carefully walk away.
First we have a pandemic. Then along comes a nationwide protest over a heinous act, the protests being usurped by rioters. We need a portal into a world of peace, a portal that, unfortunately, doesn’t exist. What we do have, however, is the escape-hatch novel.
The escape-hatch novel has no room for serial murderers lurking in the alley, lizard aliens dining on humans, or evil shadows slithering across the bedroom floor. It’s a place filled with likable and often unique characters. It’s the cozy mystery. For us animal lovers, it’s best when populated with animals.
Maybe that’s a bit too strong. What I hate are reviews that blabber on and on about everything from scenery to characters to plot and theme and style, all of it interspersed with opinion. By the time I’m done reading such a review—or trying to read it—I’ve lost interest in the book.
(Image by OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay)
I don’t want to know all the details. That’s what reading the book is for. And then there’s the reviewer’s personal opinion. If you love lobster and someone else hates all seafood, do you care? No? Neither do I, and I don’t care if the reviewer dislikes a book because it has snakes in it or because they like mysteries but not the cozy variety. Continue reading
I couldn’t read at all for a while. I cleaned closets and drawers, cooked batches of meals to fill the freezer, learned how to brew my own flavor extracts, planted an indoor herb garden, made doughnuts and bread until I ran out of yeast, composed some music, and watched movies on TV, and though all of it filled the time and some of it was even productive, I needed more. I needed to escape the tension of being cooped up because of the pandemic. One day, several weeks down the road into madness, I glanced out the window and saw a deer placidly eating her breakfast in the tall grass, paying little attention to her fawn, which was leaping and bouncing and doing comical arabesques all around her. Happiness. Peacefulness.
(Image by smarko on Pixabay)
“Bambi,” I thought. “I need Bambi,” and that’s when I remembered the book I’d borrowed just before the library had closed due to the pandemic. It was a fantasy for grownups. I opened and started reading “The Catswold Portal” by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, but I did it slowly, a half chapter at a time, wanting to remain in the book’s world as long as possible. Continue reading
As the coronavirus spreads throughout our world, people are staying home, sometimes by choice, sometimes not. My own state is currently “on lockdown,” and many people are quickly running out of things to keep them busy. We readers, however, can travel to faraway places, joining interesting people (and animals) by simply picking up a book.
Those of us who own e-readers are truly in luck. We don’t have to go to a bookstore, and we don’t have to go to the library, both of which are probably closed anyway. However, we can go to our library electronically, downloading books for free. Continue reading