The Kitten Who Wrote a Book

Queenie, my childhood pet, was part border collie, part standard collie, the family’s guardian, and a working dog in search of a job. On an autumn day, the kind requiring only a sweater, Queenie and I were raking colorful maple leaves into a heap in the front yard when a dainty calico cat magically appeared. Maybe she wanted a bit of food or perhaps someone to say hello to her, but Queenie and I decided the little lady might enjoy living with us. We invited her in and she accepted.

Many weeks later, Kitty surprised us with a litter of kittens, and since Queenie needed a job, she volunteered to be the babysitter. She’d always wanted to be a mommy, so it suited her well. This allowed Kitty periodic respites outdoors to sniff grass, watch birds, and indulge in small musings.

One of the kittens was a busy black bundle. If he wasn’t causing trouble amongst his siblings or harassing his mother, he was off in search of adventure, often having to be retrieved by his mother or his babysitter. When his blue eyes changed, as kittens’ eyes do, it was to a glowing emerald green.

This simple memory of a calico, her dog, and a beautiful green-eyed kitten was the seed for a novel about whispering cats and the dog who protected them, most of it narrated by Pilgrim, a black kitten with brilliant green eyes. It’s a tale of great loss, great love, and the search for a perfect clearing in the forest. Don’t we all seek such a clearing? Continue reading

Zippy Chippy, the Horse with Attitude

Zippy Chippy dined on Doritos and beer, and he stuck his tongue out at visitors. He might run down a track or saunter if he felt like that instead, and on a number of occasions, he refused to run at all. If he wasn’t in the mood, he ignored his trainers. Zippy did what Zippy wanted, how he wanted, and when he wanted. Pedigree be damned.

Born into the same bloodline as Secretariat and Man o’War, there was early hope for Zippy, but it was unwarranted. Four losses in a row at Belmont sent him to the lesser tracks where he lost 16 more times, and where he was eventually banned at one of the tracks for refusing to move out of the starting gate. Continue reading

Free Book Bonanza

Much can be said for printed books—the feel and aroma of the paper, the ease of flipping back and forth in them. Much can also be said for digital books—portability, no dusting required, less expensive and sometimes even free, but do you know all the freebie sources? The following list has been whittled down so you don’t waste time with badly constructed web sites or those without variety. My four favorites are listed below, and there are even more. Is there anything better than free stuff?

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Christmas Animal Books Plus One

Queenie was a shepherd mix, the collie portion contributing long black fur that set off the ambitious red bow we always attached to her collar on Christmas Day. She enjoyed her big bow, but only until it slid beneath her chin. People don’t like things poking into their chins, and dogs don’t either. She showed her unhappiness in the doggy way:  head tipped down, eyes tilted up. It’s a look we humans can’t ignore, and so we removed her décor. However, she got a new red bow the following year and with the same result.

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Dream Animals and Their Books

Though the size of a large rabbit with fur almost as soft, it wasn’t a bunny. The solid little creature was black and white like a lemur’s tail with a white face that drew me to it like a kitten face does with those irresistibly large, sparkling eyes. Innocent eyes filled with the wonder of the world.

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The Spider and The Roomba

My little Roomba vacuum was opposite me, having completed the living room, but it moved an inch, stopped, moved another inch, stopped, and continued that way. Normally, it would trundle off down the hallway toward “home,” but it was Inch. Stop. Inch. Stop.

 

 

What the devil? Was it broken? Something maybe caught in a wheel? But then I saw it—a large black house spider two feet in front of the Roomba, facing it.

 

 

 

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An Ugly Black Mutt

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

A Bear Drops in for a Visit

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

Remembering a Rat Named Betsy

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.

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