the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kittens! And Other Second Chances

My neighbor fosters dogs and cats until she finds them homes.  I have her to thank for my cat Harley (as if I needed help finding cats!)  Several other neighbors have dogs from her, and she didn't even have to twist arms; she's good at finding the right people for the right pet.  This was her most recent success story a few days ago:

Chewy was a four year old head-strong, rambunctious dog rejected by the shelter because they couldn't handle him.  That means he was headed straight for euthanasia.  But my neighbor took him and had him evaluated by a trainer who snatched him up, saying he had the perfect disposition and abilities he looks for when training  tracking dogs.  Chewy will soon be a search dog for missing people, the dogs often used to find Alzheimer patients who wander off and get lost.  A close call and a happy ending because someone bothered to look for an alternative.

This is Whitney, the latest stray cat.  She arrived with perfect house manners and a loving disposition.  Unfortunately, she'd been a little too free with her love, and she was pregnant.  (A lot of romance novels start this way!)  Sunday she delivered these five kittens.  They will all be adopted into good homes by eight weeks, but for now I get to enjoy watching them grow.  And because kittens are an automatic dose of feel-good, I'll share with you here.
Five days old, and looking more like rats than cats.  One will be like mom, long-haired and black.  A couple are tuxedo patterned, one is all gray, and the little tiger on the right is a black tabby who, we think, will be a big handsome hunk.
One of the tuxedoes.  Stay tuned - more unbearable cuteness to come!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

RITA® Awards

This morning I dutifully sat down to write and got halfway through my first sentence when the phone rang.  There was possibly a moment of cursing.  Then a civil, if strained, "Hello."  Then the shock of my professional life when I was told I was a finalist for the RITA®  Award.

Since then I've received a lot of congratulations.  Also, a lot of "Huh?  What's that?" queries.  So I will explain.

The Romance Writers of America® (RWA) sponsors a contest for published authors named after their co-founder, Rita Clay Estrada.  About 1,200 authors enter their romance books in the RITA® each year, in one of 12 categories.  Books are judged by our fellow romance authors, which is what makes this contest so important.  It's the Academy Awards for romance writers, with an awards ceremony attended by a couple thousand romance writers that strongly resembles the Oscar ceremonies you watch on TV.  Yes, we know how to do it right!  And just as the Oscar nominees say, it is truly an honor just to be nominated.  Because - with all apologies to my lovely readers - there is something special about your fellow published authors saying, "This is a great book!"

So that's why I had a completely giddy, unproductive day today that was all about feeling proud of my book, SILVER SPARKS.  Tomorrow I will get back to writing.  Or maybe dress shopping, because that awards ceremony is impressive, and if I wear my simple black wrap dress again my daughters and friends will disown me.  I've already been warned.

I think we need to get in touch with those Big Name dress designers and jewelers who make the Oscar nominees look so great.   I'd like to be Halle Berry, please.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Coming Around

I warned you all about this back in November ( here ) when I began writing my next book.  I said my brain would be a dysfuntional mess until April.  I wasn't kidding. 

I count it an amazing achievement that here in March I can blink at the blue sky, focus on objects, and murmur with wonder, "Look, I have a blog!  I could probably write something for it if I tried. . ."  Then I sink back into the bubbling muck and plot more problems for my heroine.

But I'm awake, and I have found you, internet.  I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

And Then There Were Three

I lost one of my four hens today, a leghorn. 

She was seven years old, as are the other three.  I bought them as chicks, shipped from factory farms at one day old.  It's one of the signs of spring around here, when the back room of the post office  is alive with peeping baby chicks.

Chickens can have long lifespans, like dogs or cats, living 15-20 years.  Those are mostly the specialty or "heritage" breeds.  The factory-bred birds that were developed for egg-laying capabilities produce early and often, and typically die at far younger ages, usually by 4 years.

In 2005 I bought ten hens - five leghorns and five Aricaunas (the ones that lay green eggs.)  Three are left - one leghorn and two Aricaunas.  When they're gone, that's it.  We don't use enough eggs to make it worth the trouble of cleaning the coop and buying grain. 

I laid my little hen's body in the tangled growth in the tree line behind our property, as I have with dozens of others.  Tomorrow she will be gone, not a feather left.  I don't know what takes them, but suspect it's usually raccoons.  Sometimes I prefer to let Nature work without knowing the details.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Now Hiring: Barn Cat

Experience preferred, but not necessary.  Must be able to work independently.  Pay commensurate with skill at catching rodents.  Base pay is kibbles.  No vacation days.  Male cat preferred, neutered status a plus.  We are looking for an individual who can work all shifts in all weather.  Must be able to get along with two resident female (spayed) cats. Apply within, Sophie's decison final.

Applications are still coming in!  For the past two days the mysterious black cat has been absent, and a long haired white cat with a dark raccoon tail has been slinking around.  Both were absent today, and I believe Sophie is still interviewing.  And both, I am sure, are male cats because Sophie has not tangled with either, but TC has.  He came home a few days ago with a pierced ear from a bite that went clean through it.  Maybe I shouldn't have let it heal - it's a good spot for an earing.