Category: Pets

Dear Santa: I Can Explain

Kathleen Rice Adams

 

Dear Santa,

Ed's teethI was framed.

You’ve probably heard by now that I’ve been bad this year. All those things? I didn’t do them.

For example, I did not snap at my brother, repeatedly. I was showing him what good dental hygiene looks like. And anyway, if he hadn’t tried to usurp my spot in Mom’s lap, somebody who wasn’t me never would’ve snapped.

I also didn’t hop onto the kitchen counter. I climbed up there using a stool. If Mom hadn’t left the stool in such a convenient spot, that wouldn’t have happened, either.

The trash bag incident was the fault of a marauding pack of wild Chihuahuas who broke into the house while I was occupied trying to remove a squirrel from the premises. Have you ever seen the mess marauding Chihuahuas make? It isn’t pretty.

As for the bathroom trashcan… That was my brother. He’s always committing crimes and then pointing the paw at me. Let me tell you, Santa, he’s no angel. I was just trying to clean up the disaster.

Ed cuteWhen I dragged the roast out of the shopping bag, I was trying to help Mom put away the groceries. Do you realize how flimsy the packaging is on meat? Someone at the grocery store needs to address that.

Likewise, I did not rip open the bag of dog food. “Ripping” is too strong a word. I carefully chewed off a corner—and I only did that so Mom wouldn’t have to wrestle the bag open on her own.

As for peeing in the house… That rule simply isn’t fair. Mom pees in the house. I’ve tried to teach her to go outside, but she’s stubborn. And besides, there’s no DNA evidence to support her claim that she caught me in the act.

I did not drag the clean sheets out of the laundry basket, scruff them into a pile, and lie on them. Everybody knows sheets are much more comfortable on the bed.

Neither did I hide Mom’s shoe. I was redecorating, and Mom left her shoes in a spot that completely destroyed the aesthetic. One shoe created a pleasing avant-garde effect. Two shoes was one too many.

Ed's earsMom was also to blame when someone bit her nose. She shouldn’t have tried to trim my toenails. I go to great trouble to grow my nails to the precise length required for gardening (which, by the way, isn’t being bad, despite Mom’s insistence she hadn’t planned to put a plant in that spot). It was just a tiny little nip, anyway.

I did not leave teeth marks on the corner of a book. I was checking to make sure Mom’s editor hadn’t missed anything embarrassing. (Mom is notorious for mixing up words like “desert” and “dessert,” you know.) I had to turn the page somehow.

And speaking of her editor… I admit I typed a message into a chatroom where Mom was conversing with the Prairie Rose honchos. I can explain that, though: The minute Mom stepped away from her desk, I could tell gossip was about to erupt. Was I supposed to sit quietly and let them savage Mom while her back was turned?

Ed's profileThe accusation that I ate the tamale Mom was going to have for lunch is nothing more than a vicious rumor. There is not the slightest bit of evidence a tamale was ever on that plate.

I also did not find a chicken bone in the yard and attempt to run off and gnaw on it. That was another case of me trying to tidy up the place. Indoors isn’t the only part of the environment around here that could use a good cleaning.

In my defense, I should mention that I try to atone for all the bad things I don’t do by being a fierce watchdog. Nobody gets into my house—not burglars, rapists, ax-murderers, or Mom’s family. (You can’t be too careful, and some of Mom’s relatives look pretty sketchy.)

Ed on Santa's listI hope you will keep all of this in mind when you decide who’s been naughty and nice this year. Just to be sure there’s no mistake, I belong on the “nice” list. If you have to put someone around here on the naughty list, I think it should be pretty clear by now that Mom’s the real troublemaker.

Love,
Ed

P.S.
I hope you will bring me my own treats. Otherwise, my brothers and sister will just claim I stole theirs. I would never, ever, contemplate snatching a treat out of someone else’s mouth, no matter what the others say.

P.S.S.
If the cookies and milk are gone when you get here, it’s because there’s a marauding cat in the neighborhood, too.

 

(Ed would like to convince someone to vouch for him to Santa, and he’s willing to stoop to bribery to do so. Leave a comment telling him what you want for Christmas. He’ll pick two commenters and send each an ebook version of the Christmas anthology Wishing for a Cowboy.)

 

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It’s a Dog’s World–Book and Dog Toy Giveaway

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When two people share the same dog, there’s bound to be trouble

The Twelve Brides of Summer collection has just been released. My story The Dog Days of Summer Bride features a cow dog, which is just another name for a herding dog. I’ve always loved border collies so that was my breed of choice. Since the dog in my story has the annoying habit of disappearing every week for a couple of days, the independent nature of these dogs was a trait that served me well. His herding instincts also made him the perfect matchmaker. I mean, if a dog can herd sheep and cattle, he can bring people together, right?  Here’s a short blurb:

Music teacher Marilee Davis and blacksmith Jed Colbert don’t realize they’ve been sharing the same dog until…it digs up a stash of stolen loot.  The reward will go to the dog’s owner—if only that can be determined.

Border collies have an interesting history. In the 19th century a Northumberland man created the ideal herding dog by combining several breeds.  TMozarthis particular dog was especially  suited to herding sheep along the border dividing Scotland and England, which is how it got its name.  Collie is a Scottish dialect word to describe herding dogs.

Scottish sheepherders immigrating to America brought their border collies with them.  Some of these same sheepherders were lured west during the California gold rush, dogs by their side.  It didn’t take long for cattlemen to note the value of these black and white dogs and this led to a whole new way of herding.

A good cow dog can do the work of seven cowboys. (Today workers are replaced by machines and robots; back then it was dogs.) By the end of the nineteenth century, border collies and Australian cattle dogs were a familiar sight on every working ranch and cattle drive.

The dog in my story has the annoying habit of disappearing each week.  Tell us about a habit (annoying or endearing) that your dog or a dog you know has, and you could win a copy of The Twelve Brides of Summer and a dog toy made by yours truly.  (Note Giveaway Guidelines apply.)

 

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Updated: May 26, 2016 — 6:21 am

The Outlaw Kathleen Rice Adams Confesses

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Why do so many women named Kathleen become romance authors? They’re everywhere.

Filly Fun 2016Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Kathleen Kane, Kathleen O’Brien, Kathleen Baldwin, Kathleen Eagle, Kathleen Kellow, Kathleen Maxwell, Kathleen Bittner Roth, Kathleen M. Rodgers, Kathleen Ball, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Kathleen Winsor… They’re all somewhat celebrated, and some are still writing today.

Then there’s that other Kathleen—the one who finds humor in the most inappropriate places at the worst possible times. The Kathleen whose wardrobe consists primarily of egg on her face and the taste of shoe leather on her tongue. The Kathleen who encourages fictional characters to cuss and steal and murder and commit all manner of other dastardly deeds because they can get away with it and she can’t.

The troublemaking one. The one who reveres sarcasm as high art. The one who should be rich and famous by now if for no other reason than name association.

The Hideout

My current hideout. Forget you saw it.

To tell you the truth, I find it more satisfying to be poor and infamous—which is a good thing, since I’m a pro at both pursuits.

Here are a few more truths:

1)  I’m the eldest of four siblings: two girls and two boys. (Yes, four middle-aged hooligans with similar DNA remain at large. Be afraid.) Three of us are overachievers: My sister is a retired judge, the eldest of the boys is literally a rocket scientist, and the baby of the family is a computer systems engineer. And then there’s me.

2) My sister, brothers, and I played cowboys and Indians a lot when we were kids. I was always the outlaw. Why no one saw that as a warning remains a mystery.

3) I retired from the U.S. Air Force at the ripe old age of 22. No, I was not mustered out on a Section 8, although that would’ve surprised no one.

4) I still have my wisdom teeth, my appendix, and my tonsils. My mind, on the other hand, hasn’t been seen in years.

Hole in the Web Gang

The Hole in the Web Gang, clockwise from top left: Dog, age 12; Underdog, 7; Little Ol’ Biddy, 15; Mr. Ed, 4.

5) As a journalist, I’ve worked the scene of a major airline disaster, covered political scandals, written columns about poltergeist-infested commodes and human kindness, won awards…and found myself staring at the wrong end of a gun—twice. Thankfully, I’ve yet to be ventilated. (A more astute individual might have realized it’s unwise to antagonize crazy people.)

6) My author bio says I come from “a long line of ranchers, preachers, and teachers on one side and horse thieves and moonshiners on the other.” I did not make any of that up. Some of my relatives still ranch, preach, and teach. The horse thieves and moonshiners found other lines of work.

7) My paternal grandmother’s mother was American Indian. Grandma never knew what tribe; consequently, neither do I. In the late 1800s, Kentucky hillbillies considered marrying an Indian shameful, so no one talked about great-grandma’s heritage. My grandmother never met her mother’s relatives. (My dad, who as a child helped his father run moonshine, was the first in his family’s history to earn a college degree. He referred to himself as a “hillwilliam.”)

Peaches by Kathleen Rice Adams8) My short story “Peaches” was based on my maternal grandparents’ courtship. Granny, a young widow who taught in a one-room Texas schoolhouse and had her hands full with three rowdy boys, took a peach pie to a church social. The man who was to become my grandfather, a bachelor rancher in his 50s, won the accidentally over-seasoned pie at auction. He nearly choked to death on the first bite. His response? “I s’pose I ought to marry that little woman ‘fore she kills somebody.”

9) My house celebrated its 100th birthday last year. Compared to some of the other homes on Galveston Island, it’s a youg’un. The Capt. H.H. Hadley House (yes, it has a name) was completed in August 1915…two weeks before a deadly Category 4 hurricane struck. More than three dozen big blows later, it’s still standing.

The Dumont Brand by Kathleen Rice Adams10) Four Chihuahuas ranging in age from four to fifteen live in this house. Whatever they’ve told you about the intractability of their servant, don’t believe them. If they didn’t want to be deviled by a spoiled-rotten delinquent, they shouldn’t have rescued me.

There. Now you know all of my deep, dark secrets. Before you decide to pursue blackmail, read “The Ransom of Red Chief.”

To compensate for the loss of financial opportunity, I’ll give away a copy of The Dumont Brand, which contains the first two stories in a series about a Texas ranching dynasty with more skeletons in its closets than there are in a graveyard. “The Trouble with Honey,” a new story in the series, will be published this summer.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment revealing something about you. Oh, c’mon. It’ll be fun! Your life can’t be any more embarrassing than mine.  😉

 

Parrots, Birdcages and a Giveaway

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Hello everyone.  Winnie Griggs here.  I’m very excited about the recent release of The Road Home, the new novella I wrote as part of the Journeys of the Heart collection.  This story is one I’ve been wanting to write for some time, but it’s a little bit of a departure for me.  For one thing Anisha, my heroine, has a mother who was born in India and a father who is an American merchant sea captain.

For another, I pictured her with a pet that was a bit out of the ordinary, something to match her own exotic appearance.  And since her father was a sea captain who sailed all over the world, I wasn’t limited to animals in her native country. After trying out several animals, I finally settled on a parrot.  But this in turn spurred me to additional research.  I never realized there were so many species!  From small to quite large, from colorful to drab-in fact there are more than 350 species that belong to the order parrots are members of.  It was quite fun to browse through all the pictures I could find of these colorful, exotic birds.

But I had to narrow my search so I came up with a list of criteria for what characteristics I wanted her feathered companion to have.  He needed to be long-lived, intelligent, loyal, imposing and able to talk (not all parrots can).  I finally settle on the African Grey parrot.  African grey’s, while not the most colorful of the parrot family, have a lot to recommend them.  They are long-lived, in fact have been known to live for upwards of 80 years.  But more importantly, they are considered the most intelligent of the parrot family and can develop quite an extensive vocabulary.  They have been described as having  “… the intelligence level of up to a five-year old with the temperament of a two-year old…”  Bingo – this was exactly what I was looking for.  And thus Anisha’s companion, Sundar (which means ‘beautiful’ in Hindi) came to life for me.

Parrot

 

My research into parrots, however, led me down a fun rabbit trail of additional research.  During all of my digging into keeping pet parrots, I found some really gorgeous Victorian birdcages.  I thought I’d share just a few of the images I found with you.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

collage

 

So what about you?  Do you have first hand experience with parrots?  If not, how do you feel about them as potential pets – can you picture yourself with one?  Leave a comment today and be entered into the drawing for a copy of the novella collection that contains my story, The Road Home.

 

 

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 Here’s a short excerpt from the opening of the story:

Where had they gotten off to?

Wyatt Murdoch’s irritation was turning into worry. This was the third time his two young charges had tried to slip away from him on their journey from Indiana to Texas, and they’d only made it as far as Arkansas.  Thank goodness they’d arrive at their destination tomorrow.  Of course, that assumed he found them before the train left.  This was the longest they’d managed to keep out of his sight and the train would be resuming its journey in less than twenty minutes.

Why did they keep running away when they had no place to go? And how could a ten year old girl and eight year old boy have so completely disappeared when he’d only turned his back for a moment?

He supposed he couldn’t really blame them for wanting to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and warm spring sunshine, especially when they’d been cooped up on the train for four very long days.  But they could have just asked him.

He scanned the horizon and caught sight of the circus tents off in the distance. Of course. That would have drawn Hallie and Jonah like ants to a picnic.

He started off in that direction at a fast walk. If they missed the train because of this nonsense…

He was some distance from the circus tents when he caught sight of his charges. But they weren’t alone. A woman, small in stature but big in presence, walked between them holding onto a hand of each. There was something faintly exotic-looking about her—it had something to do with the warm golden color of her skin and the shape of her eyes.

There was also the fact that she wore some kind of padded leather affair on her left shoulder, and regally perched upon that shoulder was what looked like a large gray parrot.

Someone associated with the circus, no doubt. Was she an actual performer or just an assistant?

More importantly, had she caught the children trying to sneak into the big top or one of the side shows? Or worse yet, had they gotten too close to her parrot and hurt it in some way?

He hoped she was looking for their caretaker—namely him—and not the sheriff. But from the frown on her face and stiff determination of her posture, she was obviously unhappy about something.

He quickened his pace. “You two have a lot to answer for,” he said as soon as he reached them.

But it was the woman who responded. “You are the person responsible for these children?”

He noticed that she had a faint accent of some sort, but he couldn’t quite place it. “I am. And I apologize for whatever they—”

She cut through his apology. “It appears you are not doing a very good job of watching out for them.”

Her accusation and tone got his back up. “Keeping up with them is not the easiest job in the world.”

“So watching over them is your job? Are you their nanny?”

“Are you their nanny?” The parrot squawked. “Are you their nanny?”

There were muffled giggles from the children at the bird’s echoed words, which Wyatt chose to ignore.

He tugged on his cuff, trying to maintain his dignity. “No, I am not their nanny,” he said. “I am their escort. Now if you will just hand them over, we have a train to catch.”

If anything, the woman clasped their hands tighter. “They tell me they ran away because you have not been treating them well.”

Wyatt glanced from Hallie to Jonah, making his displeasure clear. Another loud squawk from the bird did nothing to smooth his temper. “What you should know about these two runaways is that they are not only slippery, but they also lie.”

Her frown only deepened. “Those are harsh words to use about children, sir.”

How in the world had he gotten into this ridiculous discussion with a circus performer? Before he could respond, she turned to the children.

Her expression was that of a schoolmarm handing a failing grade to a favorite student. “Have you been telling me untruths?”

Both children shook their heads vigorously.

“He doesn’t let us do anything fun and he’s always fussing,” Hallie said.

“Anyone can tell he doesn’t even like us,” Jonah added.

The woman once again turned an accusing look his way.

But it was his turn to cut her off before she could speak. “That is neither here nor there, madam. It is my job to escort these children safely into the keeping of their great-uncle, and I intend to do just that. Now, I don’t have time to stand here and argue with you. We need to be on that train when it pulls out from the station.” He held out his left hand, keeping his right carefully down at his side. “Come along you two.”

The children looked up to their circus-performer friend, obviously ready to ask for her support. Had they formed such a quick bond because of the exciting nature of her life? Or was it just that they thought anyone better than he?

To his surprise, the stranger gave them a shake of her head. “Go on with your escort as he asks. It’s his job to keep you safe. And you should apologize for causing him worry, even if you don’t think he likes you. He may not be the most pleasant of people, but he is trying to look out for you, and you should respect him for that, not make his task more difficult.” She shot him a quick glance, then turned back to the children. “Besides, I’m sure he’s not really a bad man at heart.”

Was that condescension in her tone? His irritation changed to shock when the children came to him without further argument.

“We’re sorry, Mr. Murdoch,” Hallie said. “Aren’t we, Jonah?”

Jonah nodded.

Wyatt was dumbfounded. How had she gotten these two mischief makers to obey her without argument?divider002a

 

 

 

JOTH_mediumJourneys Of The Heart

From merry old England to the wilds of Texas, take a delightful journey into adventure and romance in these novellas written by authors Camille Elliot, Winnie Griggs and Erica Vetsch.  In these three stories you’ll travel alongside a feisty spinster, an English lord, a trail boss, a determined widow, and an unusual train companion—a parrot.

The Road Home by Winnie Griggs

Wyatt Murdoch feels his life is over—his career certainly is.  In fact, he’s agreed to escort two orphans halfway across the country mainly because he needs a distraction.  But when the task proves more than he bargained for, he seeks help from the exotic beauty with the talkative parrot who befriended the children when they slipped away from him.

Anisha Hayes, who’s hiding wounds of her own, has left her uncomfortable home to seek adventure.  However, something about this unorthodox trio touches her heart, so when Wyatt asks for her help she agrees to put her plans on hold to accompany them. After all, it’s only a temporary detour.

But when they reach their destination, both Wyatt and Anisha find it’s not as easy to part ways as they’d planned…

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