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Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Excuses Abound

It's echoing in here something fierce. I've been hitting it hard in NANOWRIMO and now have over 30K words out of 50K for the month. I'm working on a book called MUDLARKS--a Dickens-style book set along the Thames.

I wasn't going to write this book until I went to London to experience the Thames myself. However it wouldn't wait. Sarah/Molly and Josiah/Joss couldn't wait any longer. The book that WILL have to wait, however, is FORLORN HOPE, a book about a band of people attempting to lift a siege on a castle. Hopefully in May I'll be kicking back in a real castle and can gather an inordinate amount of research...:o)

Anywho, there are all kinds of ways to avoid writing all day and today I used up several. I went and rescued a friend from walking home, had a good-sized chat about all things important, took the dog for a pint-sized run, and fetched the boy home from school. I'm sure tomorrow there'll be another load of excuses. But forcing myself to plant myself on my bed, open my laptop, and plow through my imagination is paying off. 

Anyway, I'm off to bed. I've been writing most of the afternoon/evening/night and I need to regenerate.

Me and This Belief of Mine



This month of December has been one of the more difficult months in Heidian history. I won't say why because it's personal. But I will say this:

It was a test. I don't know if I passed, but I'm being blessed by God with exactly what I begged Him for. I begged Him to let me feel His love wrapping around me. I asked to know my worth to Him. And He is answering those prayers in a hundred little ways, such that His presence cannot be ignored or chalked up to fate or coincidence or any other silly happen stance.

Even if I were a rank unbeliever, which I'm not, the body of evidence would be unavoidable and starkly evident.

I am so grateful for the gift of his Son, our Elder Brother. I feel His regard daily. I know He loves me. I know He thinks enough of me to test me with some pretty serious things. And I know He waits to talk to me and to listen to what I have to say.

And someday I'm going to take all this anguish and the things I learn from it, and because I'm a writer, I'm going to write it.

Jesus lives. He sits at the right hand of God, the Father of it All. He watches over us and cares for us and directs us in our quest to come back to live with Him. He is our grandest cheerleader, our lighthouse, our signpost, our shepherd, and our rescuer. He cares even for the smallest of our pains. And He is right there to point the way, if we'll only listen to and serve Him.

Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus the Christ built this world for us. He set the rivers in their courses and the winds to blow. He released the birds into the air, and caused the mountains to thrust into the sky. He built the lilacs and lions and lemons.

And most of all, he came to this Earth, gained a body, served God, bore His testimony thousands of times, suffered for all our ills and sins and disappointments and inequities, and died for us.

But then, trailing clouds of glory, He rose from the dead allowing us the same opportunity. He broke the gates of death, making it possible for all of us to rise once again and join those who have gone before.

This month is when we celebrate the anniversary of His birth. How can I let personal misery cloud that offering, for which He suffered already? I can but give him my perfect allegiance, my time, and my mistakes.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Snippet of THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS

I have fallen woefully behind in my posting. That's a thing which will be getting better in the new year.

Until my life gets back from being absolutely crazy, I'll post a snippet of THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS:


I still couldn’t get over how eerily quiet the city was. No hustle and bustle of scurrying feet. No lurch of bus brakes or people’s voices in a hundred different languages. But this silence lived and breathed like a crouching beast, waiting. After about a block I felt eyes on us from more than a dozen different locations.
“Rocket,” I said.
His eyes darted everywhere. “I know. I see them. One is up there on the ledge. Another guy is hunkered down behind that piece of store front. There are three more there, there and right there.” He went on, pointing out the rest. We would have to be careful of his eyes. If Vagio knew he was our scope, he’d do something about that. So I pointed out several places too.
We found cover on the street while I tried to figure out how to get higher than the snipers. Sitting down here would make me feel like one of those fish in a barrel people were always shooting.
Win ducked into a huge jumble of rubble which had once been the First National Bank. A few minutes later she came out with a rifle and a box of ammunition. She shot me a triumphant grin and ducked into a nook to load her gun. Her resourcefulness never ceased to amaze me.
Still we waited. The silence and the eyes itched at me. Who would blow the starting horn?
Then I saw it. A lone figure swaggered down the street, ownership in every purposeful step. I could tell it was supposed to be Vagio. But it wasn’t him. I could tell even though he wore a mask. He was too tall and stocky.
Rocket lifted an eyebrow at me and shook his head. He’d seen it too.
I skipped a look at Sparky holed up in a doorway. His hands glowed brighter. I shook my head, hoping he’d realize this wasn’t his target. Yet.
Rocket broke cover and skittered to a new spot further up the street.
“What are you doing in my city?” the man thundered. He must have found some kind of voice distorter, because his obviously wasn’t human, probably trying to pretend fire had roughened his voice. I wondered if any of these had been the ones who caught my mother. Had I seen this guy fight over her arm? I shuddered to my core, iced over with dread.
“I wasn’t aware we could own a city,” I said, loud enough for the man to hear. “I think I’ll go for Seattle, then: Great city, good fishing, lovely aquarium, plus the Seahawks. Nice. Thanks for the heads up.”
“So we’re dealing with a joker, is that it?” The man turned in a circle, trying to see where I hid, most likely.
I smirked behind my cover. “Naw. I’m more of the law and order type.”
“Well there’s where you’re wrong. It’s...my law here.”
“So not Vagio’s?” I let the barb sink in. It took a surprisingly long time before he realized I’d blown his cover. I could see it in his stance when he figured it out.
He ignored my question, repeating his own. “I ask again, what do you think you’re doing in my city?”
“I’m here in Chi-Town for a shopping trip and to pick up a friend. You? What are you here for, Nameless Guy?”
“What friend?”
“Just a guy I know. I don’t see that it’s any of your business, really.”
“It’s all my business. This isn’t the Chicago you used to know.”
“Clearly. So anyway, I’ll be off on that shopping spree.” I forced my voice to be light and airy like it used to be when I was a carefree teen.
“Come out and talk to me. I think we can offer you some things you need. Protection. Food. Friends.”
I snorted, pointing my knife at his midsection. “Uh, those aren’t things I’m shopping for. I heard there’s a sale at Nordstrom on really cute T-shirts.”
For a moment the guy made a choking sound that almost sounded like laughter. “Come to the old Sears Tower. We can have a chat.”
“I think we’re having a perfectly good conversation right here. I’ve got to go, though. I have an appointment to meet my friend.”
“If it’s Wilberforce Scroggins, he’s going to be late,” the man said smugly.
“I doubt that. He hasn’t been late for anything for quite some time.” Rocket made slashing motions at his neck. Time to abandon that area of discussion. “Anyway, if you’ll tell him I’m out here waiting for him, that’ll be great.”
“Sorry, little girl. He has decided to join The Red Watch force. He works for us”
“We still have an air force? That’s crazy. Well he must get a break sometimes, especially since I never see planes in the sky.”
Even through the mask I could tell the man had steam shooting out his nostrils, but with herculean effort, he maintained an even temper. A vein pulsed in his neck. “Vagio invites you all to join The Red Watch. In fact it’s less of an offer and more of a firm request.”
© 2015 by Indigo Chase
So that's a teaser chunk. I hope you liked it.
 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Of Babes and Toes and Floor Pie

The month of writing dangerously is over and I have stomped it. MUDLARKS is well on its way to the middle of it's finishedness. I have taken today off to get some chores done...you know...like mucking out the midden, scouring the garde-robes, blacking the guns and the shoes, and scouring all the dishes in the scullery, devising new tortures for the prisoners...that sort of thing.

We made a journey to the land of dented guardrails and vultures and ubiquitous stars to see the wee bairns--the heirs of our heirs. We did consume several tons of comestibles, not least being a large bird of the turkey variety. I wonder what ostrich would taste like?

The bairns are a total blast. Their energy and mischief are unbounded. A and I made some more pictures and should make a book together because she has inherited her mother's talent. N also shines in that area. W has a brilliant smile and a ready hug. And my dear B is a blast to tickle. I only regret not being able to play with them more this time, mainly because of The Toe.


I, the Queen of Grace, did kick the couch on my way down to put on my running shoes and go running with the Daughter of Racing, which resulted in breaking my toe. It blew up like a giant tick and looked about the same color. I couldn't even wear a shoe on it yesterday to church. Today it was almost as bad. I'm hoping it won't take long or I'll look like the Goodyear blimp fell to earth.

We played many games and made some particularly handsome gingerbread abodes and I broke my long-standing vow never to go to Walmart and never on Black Friday. But it was to hang with the Eldest and get Christmas presents. What can I say? I did not, however, wear my Walmart uniform (mukluks, a propeller beanie, and a mu-mu).


The trip home was interesting (part of it. The other part is West Texas, dull as dishwater and good for writing or sleeping through) mainly because we road on the cusp of an ice storm. In the warmest part of the day, the precipitation had iced the plants with hoar frost while leaving the ground still brown. Had we left any later, we'd have had to slow down and worry about skidding.

We did, however, learn about floor pie. It's a new thing. You take three kinds of otherwise delicious pie(pumpkin, apple, and mincemeat). Seal them on a plate in a zip lock bag. Place them on your dashboard and proceed to drive. Somewhere outside of Caldwell, we slammed on the brakes and voilĂ , floor pie. You get what you get. And if you step on the bag, it's shoe floor pie. Huh. And if you catch it mid-air, it's shoe fly pie.

So because of The Toe, the poor dog didn't get in his daily sprint today, so he's been especially...um...enthusiastically seeking a mate (although he has lost his cahones and shouldn't have nearly that kind of drive). Mostly he's in love with my black jacket. We left the poor dog home and he has been beside himself with joy to see us and reassure himself that we still love him.

Welp. The Man has come home, patted the dog, kissed the wife, and checked the preparedness level of the food. I suppose I shall crack the whip over the table slave so we can eat sometime this century.


Monday, October 26, 2015

In the Interest of All Hallows Eve

While not being a zombie fan, it's nearly All Hallows Eve and this year I've decided to do Johnathan Coulton songs, mainly because he writes fabulous (and crazy and fairly warped) lyrics. Enjoy, my crackpot friends!
Well gee. Nobody ever ruined a pony for me. I think I might be both relieved and a little misty-eyed over that fact.
For those of us who were painfully geeky in high school. And there were a crowd of us, luckily, so I could hide out in their midst and blend in a little. I HAVE managed to make dolphins speak. The rest can only be a hop and a whir down the road. And it would have to be a pony or something since I'm already happily married.

Code Monkey is funny but has some bad language, so I won't put that one on.

So here's one of my old favs:

Yeah, it's still zombies, but pretty darn catchy. And ghoulish. And yet sweet.

Happy All Hallows Eve!

The Spide

A Snatch of MARIN AT THE WELL

The year is winding down to NANOWRIMO--National Write a Novel in a Month month--November. Therefore I am getting as much done now as I can before the first of the month.
I have big plans to write MUDLARKS therein. I shall be wallowing in Dickens to my heart's content, as the above book shall be as close to a Dickensian novel as I can make it. I wish I'd already gotten to go over and actually muck around in the Thames mud, (I know. Barking mad.) but not only is that trip not happening until next May or so, but I don't know if we'll get down into London. We'll be up in Ireland--a place I've ALWAYS wanted to go, though not under a bridge near the Thames.

So. In preparation, I've just finished approving the first half of the rewrites for the second printing of SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO today. I also wrote an alternative ending for SUMMERHOUSE, the next book coming out. Later today I'll probably get into THE DAY IT RAINED GLASS if I have edits back. I'm also trying to finish sending out Beta versions of MARIN AT THE WELL.

For your viewing pleasure and because I think you're pretty cool for coming here, Here's a snatch of MARIN ATW. I hope you like it:


I wondered where the rest of the sheep and goats had strayed. I loudly cussed them out until I remembered it was all my fault. I was the shepherd. I should have been paying attention. Now I'd have to fix the problem or I'd cost us loads of money and food and wool for Martha to weave. Then I yelled at myself—something I never did. In my regular life, mistakes I made rarely showed a clear picture of the consequences as this mistake would.
But how could I get that fat ewe back up the cliff? The ledge she stood on was tiny. I could barely stand on the ledge and it didn't look all that stable. I couldn't see anything nearby that would work.
“Why don't you talk to Me, Marin?” I heard in my head.
“Great. Now I'm going insane and hearing voices,” I said to no one in particular. “Must be sleep deprivation and eating who-knows-what.” And then I caught myself and giggled a little hysterically. “No, it's sheep deprivation.”
I thought I heard a mental groan. Or maybe it was my pun-detesting side rearing its ugly head. But the voice was there, quiet but strong like my dad's heavy test fishing line. “You aren't delusional.”
“Said my crazy head. I doubt any really loony person thinks they're insane.”
“Be still and know that I am God.” I felt the power of that statement zip around my body, arcing between my fingers, lifting the hairs on the back of my neck. Power. Real power.
That got me. I would never have said that in my head. So I was hearing God now? Inside my head like it was coming over my headphones? “Why haven't I ever heard Your voice before?”
“You were not listening.”
“How is it any different today?”
“You are ready. Ask Me.”
“Okay. Will You...Thee...whatever...get this stupid sheep up the cliff?”
“It does not work that way.”
“Of course not.” I folded my arms and glared up at the sky. I felt like stomping, but I was afraid the ground would give way and I'd be down there with the dumb sheep.
“What do you really want?”
“I don't know. Help.”
“Study it out in your mind. This is your test.”
“Well if you won't get the sheep up the cliff, would You at least make me strong enough to do it myself? And could You strengthen the ledge so it won't fall away and take us both with it?”
“There is a stick over there.”
I looked around and spotted a broken sapling lying on the ground not far from me. I could have sworn it wasn't there before. I'd have noticed it and added it to my short list of things that probably wouldn't work. What was a stick supposed to do? I couldn't just lean the stick against the wall and hope the sheep could scramble up it.
Every couple of minutes I considered giving up. I mean, why was I putting all this effort into helping one stupid sheep? It's not as if I'd be around to miss it. Plus I was ignoring all the rest of the missing sheep to help this one. But a growing feeling inside me told me this was something I had to do. I'd never really pushed through in my former life. If a job was difficult, I bailed. Clean up dog logs? Bleah! Wash my own clothes? Mom's job. I mean, who wants to ruin her manicure if there are people payed to do the work for you?
This, though, I had to see to the end.
I wanted to ask for an idea, but I figured God had done enough helping, or at least He'd think He had. It was up to me to come up with something. I was still kind of freaked that He talked to me at all. I thought about calling for Joab, but he'd taken off as soon as it looked like I was crazy. He was probably far away by now. Even if he wasn't, he'd mock me for losing all my sheep. So that wasn't going to happen.
I picked up the stick and looked at it, turning it this way and that. I could use it to whack the sheep, but it wouldn't do any good if the sheep couldn't get up the cliff. I could maybe make a halter with my head scarf, fish it down with the stick onto the sheep's neck and haul the thing up, but the old biddy would just strangle. I'd just have to climb down on that ledge and boost her up. Maybe I could put the stick under her hind end and push with it. Hopefully I wouldn't get kicked to death.
I rolled onto my stomach and dangled my legs until they were about a foot from the ledge. There was nothing for it but to jump. Getting back up? Unless the sheep helped me out like I helped it, I'd be out of luck. And believe me, I already knew sheep were total ninnies.
I jumped.
The ledge crumbled alarmingly but most of it held.
“Tie your veil around the ewe's neck and don't let go of the end when she climbs out.” I heard those words as clear as tap water. So I did that. Maneuvering on the ledge was as hard as trying to share a bathroom with my little sister. Finally I managed to straddle the sheep and angle the stick under its rear and rest it on my bent knees. Talk about heavy! This one must have been grazing on lead. I pushed with all my might and felt it's legs scrabbling against the cliff side, knocking dirt and pebbles bouncing past me, reminding me how far it was to the bottom.
My whole body shook with effort, sweat slicking my hands and trickling down my back. At the extreme end of my strength, I gasped, “Some help here, please?”
Suddenly I felt strength flow into my body. I was able to bench press that fat old biddy the last bit up the wall until she could get purchase with her hooves. She lunged up and stood there like someone had carefully trained her, waiting for me to haul myself up using my delicate veil. Amazingly nothing tore. Inch by inch I staggered up the wall until I fell stomach-first at the sheep's feet, gasping for air, my muscles twanging guitar strings.
When I could, I sat up and looked that sheep in the face. She stood there placidly chewing her version of gum with a vacant look in her eye. I had a new yardstick for stupid. “Thanks and no thanks. I'm going to call you Ethel because it's the worst name I can think of, you fat tub of lard.” I felt a presence waiting. “Oh! And thank You, God.”
“You're welcome.”
© 2016 by H. Linn Murphy

Leave me a comment sometime...:o)

Friday, October 23, 2015

BRIDGES OF THE HEART Review


This is a book after my own heart. Not only is BRIDGES OF THE HEART a time travel book, but it's about finding one's roots. And the cool thing is that I am very loosely related to these roots through one of the many branches.

"What's the big deal about roots?" you might ask. "Those people are dead and gone." Which is true, but still pertinent. How can one know himself if he doesn't know where he has come from? Everything we know is the sum total of other people's work. Even if we make some kind of scientific breakthrough, we stand on the shoulders of people who have gone before.

Also, we wouldn't be here if not for those long-dead people who mingled their DNA and their experiences to form families. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of how much information communicates from our forbears through blood and shared memory, as well as word of mouth, written word, and extant artifacts.

Rachel Lisenby has lost her mother and her way. She blunders away from the man who wants to marry her, anguishing because her mother won't be there to adjust her veil or smooth her train or any number of other things a mother might do for her daughter's wedding.

In a fit of pique she tells Maxson to start dating again, which he does. Now Rachel has to watch as he gets ready to pop the question to her nemesis--a girl who swipes everything from her. As Rachel stews over the problem, she meets a strange man, who advises her to call Maxson and apologize. She thinks this Johnathan is a crazy person and isn't about to follow his instructions, especially not on his engagement evening.

But Johnathan has help. Rachel is somehow catapulted two hundred years into the past--to pre-Civil War North Carolina and finds herself trying to solve a murder mystery while still keeping the secret that she's a time traveler. She must unravel the mysteries, build bridges between family members she scarcely knew before, and keep from upsetting the time stream all while trying to learn how to use a flat iron, ride a mule, and dance around some strong-willed characters.

Three fateful pennies from her pocket make no end of mischief for Rachel. She's tossed into jail by a man who is the spitting image of her sweetheart.

Even though I had to sit at my computer to read the whole thing, I barely moved. This story was well written, delightfully plotted, and engaging. The characters are rich and well rounded. I could just see Lucretia's scrubbed floors and hear her grating, growly voice. I worried over Sam, the runaway slave, his eyes wide in the darkness of the outhouse. I wanted to hug Jane and kick Mr. Carter for his petty bigotry. Jane's and Rachel's problems were real and spoke to my heart.

I can also smell the jasmine from Jane's 200 year old blanket on Rachel's bed. I'll have to ask Joan if that's an actual thing. I'd love to see it, if so.

Speak to your ancestors. If you learn their stories, they become real people, not just an amorphous mass of DNA in your far past. Often fact can be freakier than fiction, even.

I loved BRIDGES OF THE HEART and I think you will too. You can buy this book here. Thank you, Joanie. Tell me another story.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Our Shooting Star

Someone greased the hourglass. Seriously. Everybody's growing up and getting all gorgeous and stuff. Except me. I still head off to that alternate universe where I'm a twenty year old ballerina. Yeah. Pay no mind to the old bat at the controls.

So hey, I'm going to take a break from book reviews and tout a fantastically gifted young lady.
Sophie Kleinman is my niece. She and her sisters are the coolest kids. In fact I like all my nieces and nephews.

But this one stands out in a crowd.

Not only is she a pretty stellar student, but she also plays in her school band as well as classical guitar and the piano among other lovely talents.

Then there's this:
On a dewy autumn morning, just as the sun is topping the horizon, a young girl wades through the grass to a good spot. She stops, pulls an arrow from her quiver, nocks it, pulls it smoothly back to her cheek, and lets fly. The arrow finds it's way unerringly to the absolute center of the bull's eye. Every time.

She calls to her dad, who comes to join her. "Let's have a contest," he says. She grins and nocks an arrow. In the flicker of an eye she has shorn him of all delusions. "Okay, let's do another." Sorry, Dad. It won't help.

It's not Katniss Everdeen this time. Sophie is a real world class archer. She took first in the USA nationals in NASP archery and was only a point off the boy's score. In the recent NASP World Archery tournament in Nashville Tennessee, Sophie's group of four took first in the world. She is sixth in the world for eighth grade girls and thirty second in the world for all school-aged kids. That includes high school students. And it includes boys. Sophie is in eighth grade.

Just recently Kentucky started back into its archery tourney year with the Kentucky state games. Sophie soared to first place over all comers, including her father, who won first place for adults.

I'm so proud of her I could just bust. But what makes me even prouder is the kind of girl she is. Sophie knows who she is and basically where she wants to go. She loves Christ and wants to serve Him. She has a beautiful light about her, which radiates outward to all who meet her, shining through clear blue eyes.

I don't get to see Sophie and her wonderful sisters often enough. Maybe they could teach me a thing or two about actually hitting what I'm aiming for, in more ways than one.

Sophie, You GO, Girl!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ripple Effect Novellas--IMMERSED Review

The last Ripple Effect Novella is IMMERSED by Jennifer Griffith.

Konichiwa! It's graduation day for Lisette Pannebaker. She knows several languages and parts of many others and has developed a language immersion company. She has it all planned out, along with marrying her college sweetheart. Only he actually has used her all along and dumps her right after the commencement ceremony.

All she can do is shove off into uncharted waters, offering her services as a language immersion specialist. Unfortunately, due to Lisette's gorgeous looks, her clients misread her services, expecting escort services she has no wish to offer. Dating clients is a no-no in her book. It's either dump her company and go back to work for her father's company answering phones, or get uglier.

She takes her Aunt Corky's advice and gets a make under. It's bad teeth, disgusting wigs and moles--all of which ensure that she can safely go back to work unmolested.Eh bien.

Then she meets Erik Gunnarson, a businessman from Iceland. He needs her to put a shine on his English. The more time Lisette spends with Erik, the more she finds out how kind and sweet and brainy he is. He doesn't seem to notice how ugly she is. In fact, as time goes on, she's tempted to do away with more and more of her disguise.

Erik asks her to accompany him to an awards banquet. There she finds out he's been hiding a secret of his own--one that could decide the course of their relationship.

This book is all about appearances and learning to look beneath them to spot the sweet, caring, intelligent individual. I give this book four umlauts out of five because, like the other Ripple Effect novellas, I think it should be a full length book. Otherwise it was a sweet read. Zero bad language, zero sex. Some nice kisses. Danke, Jennifer.

Totally get IMMERSED by Jennifer Griffith here.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ripple Effect Novellas--SECOND CHANCES 101 Review

The fifth book in the Ripple Effect Novellas is SECOND CHANCES 101 by Donna K. Weaver, a favorite author of mine.

Francie Davis spent years catering to an abusive husband. She feels like she's been trodden under foot by him and by life. But now he has died and she finds life opening up in ways she never expected. Her son gets accepted to Harvard and goes off to school, leaving her to pick up the fragments of her life.

For one thing, she has to get a job to support herself while she goes back to school. She's so broke that she has to grow and can her own food. She also goes to work at the university as an assistant for several professors, one of whom yells at her on her very first day. The other hits on her.

Alex is dealing with a crazy ex who wants to move to France with her boyfriend and their Gothic-loving daughter, Sam. That's the last thing their daughter needs. She's starving herself into stick figuredom in a bid for attention.

Unbeknownst to Alex or Francie, Sam meets Francie under an assumed name. The two hit it off and soon Francie is teaching Sam how to cook and can and Sam is helping her garden. Both are helping each other come back to life.

I really loved this book. I liked the idea of Francie finally getting a chance to shine. I'm glad she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made something of herself instead of sitting back and moaning about her insurmountable problems. I think she's a good role model. I also loved how she finds a way to help Sam bloom into a well grounded young lady in spite of the damage her own mother has inflicted. I think a good motto for parents is the same one as the medical motto: First, do no ill.

The book is well written, poignant, and timely. I loved the characters and plot. The only thing that keeps it from being 5 radishes is it's too short. I know it's a novella, but this potato needs to be a full book. I give it 4 and a half jars of pickles out of five.

If you'd like to purchase SECOND CHANCES 101, you can do so here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ripple Effect--LOST AND FOUND Review

Ripple Effect book number 4 is LOST AND FOUND by Karey White next.
Workaholic Blake is on a mission from his dead grandfather: he has to retrieve a box from a girl his grandfather once dated and lost. Unfortunately he couldn't find the woman and is heading home to go back to work.

Lydia Sutton has been on a mission of her own: to have an adventure--the first one of her quiet life. Unfortunately her entire summer has gone by without one smidgeon of excitement. She's boarding the plane for the flight home when she meets her adventure in the form of a movie star look-alike.

Their flight is delayed and Blake and Lydia take a step into the unknown. She suggests that they work together to find the box and he agrees. The two sleuths hunt down Grandfather's old flame, only to find that she has passed away. They're stopped at every turn. The box works its magic for all involved.

I enjoyed this book greatly. It, like Lydia's leap of faith, paid off in hours of enjoyable reading.

You can find this book here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ripple Effect Novella--RIGHTING A WRONG Review

Number three Ripple Effect book is RIGHTING A WRONG by Rachael Anderson.

As soon as Jace kisses Cambri, his best friend, she bolts for parts unknown, never to return for years on end. While she's gone, she gets her degree in landscape design and builds a successful business.

Jace can never replace her, however. He tries with other girls, but it never works. He can't forget the girl who kissed and bailed.

Cambri's curmudgeonly father develops health problems and she temporarily returns to Bridger to take care of him. He refuses to be grateful for anything she does, which includes re-designing his whole yard. He stubbornly undermines everything she wants to do.

Her secondary goal is to avoid Jace Sutton, out of shear embarrassment because she never called or wrote after her headlong race to get away. His goal is to avoid her and to keep his family hardware business afloat.

But Bridger is a tiny town. You're bound to meet even the people you want most to stay away from.

Jace just can't seem to stay away, even though she has crushed his heart. He's  there to do everything she needs, just like the great best friend he was before. Finally she starts to realize just what she's lost, but fears it's too late to begin again.

I enjoyed this second chance book. It's a sweet thought to be able to go back and fix the mistakes you made with your first love. I would have liked a little more spice, but was glad not to have to deal with sex or bad language. I give this sweet romance four out of five shrubberies.

You can buy RIGHTING A WRONG here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ripple Effects--SILVER LININGS Review

The second Ripple Effect romance is SILVER LININGS by Kaylee Baldwin.


Eden Torresi has major stuck-in-the-mud karma. Because of her mother's cancer bills, she finds she has to drop out of college, sell her house, and get a job at Silver Linings, an old folks home. Her life seems to be caught in a holding pattern like the old folks at work.

Drew Westfall has family problems. They want to control everything about him. He takes off, getting rid of his trust fund to a charity. He makes his way to Bridger, Colorado, arriving in a snowstorm. The nearest place to find a haven is with Silver Linings and its cute young caregiver.

The wonderful old people of Silver Linings have nothing other to do than matchmake, and no one to do that for than Drew and Eden, who never stood a chance.

I found this story charming, full of heart and...well...silver linings. The writing was fresh and the characters likeable. I give it four out of five happy faces. I'd have loved to hear more about that sizzling kiss. I'd also have liked to have the whole story fleshed out a bit more. I'd like to have known the old people's stories a little better. Clearly, though, it's a novella, which means it's exactly right for its size. Can you fault me for wanting more? Thank you, Kaylee. I loved your book.

You can purchase SILVER LININGS here.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

GALDONI Review

My back log of reviews is staggering. I guess I'll chop into it today along with writing another less mysterious ending for SUMMERHOUSE.

My review today is for GALDONI by Cheree Alsop.

Kale is a Galdoni, genetically engineered by the government as one of its multi-species gladiators forced to fight to the death in an arena while massive amounts of betting cash change hands. It's enough money to keep the Academy pumping out warriors forever. The problem is that the Galdoni have no freedom, no ability ever to leave the Arena alive. Fighters are bred to viciously attack, without mercy, and ask for none in return. They are told it's a matter of honor.

 Kale, however, escapes when the Arena is temporarily closed (a slight plot hole I wish had been better explained). He is beaten and scarred and near death when friends find and hide him, nursing him back to health. He hides his massive wings and, for the first time, gets to go to school and learn something other than killing tactics.

We find that Kale isn't as much of an animal as some of his classmates, even. His choices ennoble him. He begins to let himself bask in the life-giving affection of his new friends--especially of Brie, while still asking the question, "Do I really have a soul?"

His time in the sun is short, however, because Galdoni are "vicious animals" to be rounded up and systematically slaughtered or returned to the Academy and their old non-lives. He knows he's going to have to go back in, if only to break the system. Kale and his friends devise the best plan they can think of. You'll have to read the book to see if they were successful.

I really "got" this story. For decades I fought in armour with sword and shield in a re-creative setting. I fought through the pain of massive welts, bruises, and sometimes cuts, feeling the life course through me as I plunged through the line of men, whacking as many as I could. The main difference being that I didn't kill anyone permanently. That would have ended the game for me. I also wasn't forced to fight. I did it for the camaraderie and fun of it. There was a certain rush in knowing you'd bested a man several inches taller and pounds heavier. It gave me a confidence I hadn't had as a child.

I give it one out of five daggers for violence (it's not a Disney movie, but it's also not going to wake me up screaming at night). I'll call it a one alarm fire in the romance section, mainly because the love sprang up seemingly from almost nowhere, but it's sweet--mostly giving Kale something to live for. I give Kale major kudos for having morals and standards despite being raised without any.

My reservations are these:

1. How did Kale learn early on to have compassion if he'd never seen any?
2. Why didn't they always target the guy's wings? That would grounded the fighter, making it easier to kill him.
3. Why didn't the unlucky Galdoni, after they banded together, overpower their guards and escape? They could have done it without even killing the losers.
4. What other animal characteristics did their makers use?
5. Armour weighs a ton--especially chain-mail. Plate, which is what these guys were wearing, weighs only slightly less. It's why castles had moats--because it sank straight to the bottom. Armour is difficult to run and fight all day in, let alone fly in. How did they get off the ground?
6. I wish there had been a little more initial fear when Brie met this hulking bird monster who had been trained to kill from infancy. He's more like a demon than loveable boyfriend material. That would have made it all the sweeter when she finally fell for him.

This book was well-written, interesting, and engaging. I liked the characters. I wept for David and worried over Kale, a little like Brie did.

GALDONI by Cheree Alsop is a great book to curl up with your husband or boyfriend with. He won't gag over it because of the fighting, and you won't because of the sweet sense of hope they weave together.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Ripple Effects--HOME MATTERS Review

More after I pick up the boys. Actually picked up the boys and had two days worth of fun. So now on to the Ripple Effect books.

The first book in the Ripple Effects series is HOME MATTERS by Julie N. Ford.

Olivia Pembroke knows the drill but thinks she'll never make it as an actor. When she tacks down a sweet job at Home Matters, it's a dream come true. She gets to act the part of a designer but someone else does all the lumbering around.
The show's premise is based on giving homeowners a choice. They can choose to move into a new house they saw with William Blaine, handsome realtor. Or they can go nuts over having their old home renovated using Olivia's "designing expertise" and Pete's finesse.
Unknown to the raspy producers, Olivia really can design and has great taste. She just can't get anyone to take her seriously, least of all William, who she has the hots for. When the real designer tries to chisel her legs out from under her, it's Pete standing by to screw things up for her. Or so she thinks.
Pete finally hammers home the idea that Olivia has something to spring for joy about. Unfortunately it's almost too late and Olivia's plumb job is nearly wrenched away from her. She bolts for home, only to find things aren't quite as they seem.
Julie nailed this clean and sweet romance. I give it a lug wrench up.

You can find this book here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

RIP Roberto

Roberto has passed away. The details of his death are at best shadowy and may or may not have included a dose of Benedryl.

I first met Roberto at the same time I met my Aunt Nita. Both of them had come up from Uruguay to marry (and live with) my Uncle Ray. Nita is tiny and fiery as a ghost pepper but also extremely generous. She loves animals and her daily tea party of matte and soapapillas, and has a delightful sense of humour. I really miss Aunt Nita. (I don't get up to Utah to see her very often.) She always provided the leavening in the house between Uncle Ray and the kids.

For years Nita was a labour and delivery nurse at Utah Valley Hospital. In fact, she was both my mother's nurse when I was born, and mine when my daughter was born. She made that whole process much easier to bear.
She always fed us until we passed out from bloating when we went to her house. Sometimes she didn't really have the means to, but she always fed people. And her food was great. She made some of the best chicken ever. (I'll provide the recipe later.) And her ka-ka dip was to die for, despite the name.

Roberto was colorful, irascible, and could mimic a thousand different voices and laughs. He'd also peck your ear off if he had the chance, since he was a grumpy old parrot. Their stories are bound together.

Roberto's entry into this country was, if anything, questionable. He's actually an illegal alien. My sweet Aunt Nita didn't want to quarantine him for months, so she got him drunk on tequila and carried him over the border in a shoe box. At least that's what she always told us. I believe her. She's fully capable of lawful circumvention in the pursuit of caring for those she loves.

For years that bird sat in his cage or in a tree in the back yard, taunting people with possible ear loss and cracking nuts with his big beak. Sunflower seeds always littered the ground wherever he was. He'd call my cousin Erika in precisely Nita's voice and accent. "Eighty-kaaaaa!" Or it was Uncle Ray (Harold Ray, sometimes called Hal). "Hald Drey!" or "Hal!" The bird also mysteriously swore in Spanish. I couldn't figure out how that happened, since Nita was always very careful never to say "sheets" as it was too close to a swear word. It was always "leenens." That was her favourite joke.

Once I stayed with them during the break-up of my first marriage. I was alone in the house. Nita and Ray were away at work and the kids were off living their own lives. The house was tomb-silent except for...

Maniacal laughter. Gales of it.

Already freaked out of my head at what I thought my ex might do to me, I was pretty squirrelly. I grabbed up a bat and went charging through all the rooms to see who was skulking around in a locked house. Bedrooms? Check. Living room? Check. Kitchen? Check. Ba...Basement? Check. Phew.

Then I heard it outside the front door.

Muhahahahahahahaha!

That bat nearly took the head off of...

Roberto as he sat on the front porch in his cage, "laughing" at the children walking past on their way home from school. I swear he sounded like an axe murderer.

Nita also kept horses, llamas (one once spat in my sister's hair) and dogs. The dogs ranged from Piquola, a beagle so ancient he leaked when he sat down, to Schnausers, to a phalanx of fairy-like miniature greyhounds, like rats on chopstick stilts, who had few teeth and would go absolutely bananas when she announced an S.N.A.C.K. Those dogs were hilarious. We'd play with their little flippety tongues and vie for the chance to test their spelling skills.

Once we visited them at Thanksgiving. We loved to play with Erika, who was between me and my sister Janelle in age. We three musketeers were entrapped at the table, long after everyone else had choked down my mum's gag*dressing*gag. (Disclaimer #1: My mum is a FABULOUS cook of everything but turkey dressing. And egg plant. And turnips. But everything else is absolutely delicious. Okay wait. Her cattail pancakes are pretty wretched too.)

We couldn't leave, caught in a Sisyphean dilemma. It was either eat, and thus die of an exploded stomach, or sit there and petrify into glum-looking gargoyles. I thought we were all well on our way to stone when Erika got up and left the table. Janelle and I exchanged looks of utter disbelief. How had she gotten a reprieve? And how could we get a similar stay of execution?
It wasn't until we heard the dogs in the back room, projectile barfing, that we knew the truth. But how could we, then, get those dogs to come back to the kitchen and do the same thing for us?
Clearly we were eventually sprung from the trap. The funny thing is, I don't remember how. It may be that the statute of limitations on dreadful dressing simply ran out.

A couple of years ago my mountainous Uncle Ray headed off to the Electronics Lab in the sky. He and Nita had always, inexplicably, shared a water bed. To this day I don't know how she managed to do it without getting bounced right back out or rolling towards him the second she got in.
When he died, the house seemed to echo with his ghost, puttering around in his workshop downstairs, sighing from his chair near the TV. By that time, I had my own family and lived in a different state. It was difficult to get up there to see them very often.

The last time I went to visit, Nita was still the pint-sized dog-whisperer and purveyor of matte and dinner. She plied me with stories of her travels, tales of her doggies, and titbits about her friends and children. I got reacquainted with her dogs, took some casserole to the llamas, and petted the horses.

At one point I strayed too close to the big beautiful tree in her back yard. Before I could turn around, Roberto nearly beaked me in the head. Only fancy ducking saved my ear from extinction. That thing was probably well over fifty five years old and still trying to send people to the hospital.

As per my daughter's news at her last visit, things have changed slightly. Nita no longer lives in the house she shared with Uncle Ray and her children for longer than thirty years. The animals are gone, and she has been remanded to a care facility. Which she apparently hates. She has escaped on numerous occasions with a purloined knife stuffed down her cleavage. They're not certain how she keeps finding those. She bemoans the fact that someone has swiped her car and dogs, and tries to get people to spring her, with that same Nita sense of humour.

I think it'll be time, soon, to go visit her. If I don't hurry, she might actually get away. There is still also the questionable demise of Roberto. I wonder if I'll ever really know the details of that story.
RIP, Roberto.

&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*&*
Nita's Fabulous Chicken Wings Recipe 
 --5 lbs chicken wings (broken in half and de-tipped)
--1 C. soy sauce
--1 C. brown sugar (can be white if you don't have brown)
--2 T. vinegar
Optional:
--1/2 C. chicken broth
--1 tsp. ginger
--2 crushed garlic cloves 

Marinate chicken in the sauce. Place chicken in baking pan with lid (or foil). Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs. Baste occasionally. Sauce may be frozen and thawed for more batches.
*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*(*

(Disclaimer #2: This computer is, for some reason, a picky old British hag. To cut down on the vast number of jagged red lines, I have bowed to her nagging and written in English English.)




Thursday, August 13, 2015

Eating the Elephant



You know those times when you're played out, there are tire tracks across your face, and you just can't seem to reach the itch in the middle of your back where the silverware is poking out? Yeah. That time.

It's the middle of the American Ninja finals. You're reaching up to grab the next ring to heave yourself up. It's raining and your energy is flagging. Your muscles are discussing a mutiny. The announcer has given you a vote of no confidence and a dorky nickname. You know if you don't get moving, you'll plunge into the giant vat of ice water and your dreams will be over.

Your kid has just told you he doesn't plan on making any of your dreams for him come true. He's got his own life to live. You have no information he can use and he wants you out of his purple dreadlocked hair. He's taking his stuff and finding an apartment with three of his loser buddies. Oh but you can hold onto the junk he doesn't want right now.

You've just come from a particularly difficult class, the one you're teaching that contains all the delinquents in the school, somehow. The one you have to teach or you don't get to keep your job. You can't do a thing about their insolence, and they know it. They've taken the ship and cast you adrift in the dingy.

Your dog has decided she no longer thinks you're her sun, moon, and stars. She wouldn't come running to you if you tied a steak around your neck and slathered it in gravy. You tried to clip her toenails and she detests you for it. You thought she was the one being on earth who would love you through the Last Big Bang. Sadly, your happy partnership barely made it past the fourth season of Big Bang Theory.

You've auditioned for the most cherry role of your life--the part you've been dying to play since the womb. You, with your spiffy new wardrobe, whitened teeth, pasted on smile, and your stomach in Gordian knots, check the boards after an entire night of hopeful pacing. You are (wait for it. Drum roll...) the understudy's understudy.

I could go on ad infinitum, but you've got ten stories just as discouraging boiling around in your gut at this moment. Everyone does. There are always going to be disappointments and mistakes, foibles and fallacies, misunderstandings and shortfalls. It's life.

How many times do we look at others and only see the part where they hit the finish button to become the fastest, the brightest, the strongest, the most beautiful, the best? Look, there goes Suzie Homemaker with her ten perfect children all lined up in their matching self-sewn outfits to take the widows in their neighborhood loaves of homemade bread and chokecherry jelly? We don't see the long line of failures in their wake.

We don't see that she actually has twelve kids, but one of the boys ran off with a pole dancer and the middle daughter is pregnant with twins with no daddy in sight. We don't see the umpteen previous drafts before Jane Austen got Pride and Prejudice right. We miss the part where Shaq started playing basketball and couldn't hit the hoop to save his life.

So what's the difference between Shaq and Suzie and the rest of us losers (besides the six extra kids I'm not willing to have and a penchant for dribbling)?

Maybe it's vision. And drive. And a will to pay the price with years of hard work and sweat and tears. It's telling yourself, "I'm not that person. I'm more. I'm not going to settle for mediocrity. I'm worth the trouble." It's time to shake off the dust of other people's false impressions. It's time to break the mold, endure gracefully the polishing, and emerge shiny and new-made. It's what we really are.

Yeah. It's that time. Here's a spoon.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

LONGBOURN by the Apron Strings (a review)

I'm always on the hunt for fresh takes on Austen books. I have to say the playing field is about level between decent and pathetic. I've never found an Austen-ic book of her exquisite quality before, though some come close.

Recently I read LONGBOURN by Jo Baker. Because of a few problems, I have filed it in about the middle of the pack.

Pluses:

+This is Pride and Prejudice told from a servant's point of view.
+I enjoy the fresh take on the story. It's like looking at one of Queen Elizabeth's massive court dresses from the inside. Interesting.
+Hearing how the lower half lived and worked made me glad to be a modern woman with real choices. I'm more grateful for modern medicines and creams.
+I enjoyed knowing the otherwise invisible servant's thoughts and dreams and hopes.  I wanted to see things work out well for her. I wanted her to be able to find her love, get married, and have children.
+The book answered the same questions often running through my mind when I thought about Elizabeth's hems dragging 6 inches deep in mud or who would watch the children when the little nieces and nephews came to visit.
+The book was well-written and nicely edited.

Minuses:

--It's a very democratic, modern treatment. Jane didn't really concern herself with the below stairs people at all--nor did many of that time, Dickens excepting. We hear of the rich and the nearly rich. Servants were to be seen and not heard.
--There were several modern topics which took me completely out of the story because they were topics Austen would NEVER have broached (homosexuality, graphic violence, illegitimacy, and sex to name a few). I'm not saying the sex was discussed graphically, but the mention was there, as it was not in Austen.
--There was some bad language.  There is a way to write  without resorting to swearing because Jane herself did it, and I have done it, as have many other authors. It isn't needed. We have extremely well-developed imaginations when it comes to inserting bad language.
--At times I found myself echoing Jemima Rooper in LOST IN AUSTEN when she says, "Jane Austen would have been surprised to know she had written that."
--I felt at the end of the book Jo gave up on the story. She nearly flung Sarah down the road to hunt for James and catapulted them both back, as if the story was now in the point of view of someone else altogether. And she shows up with a baby. Where's the rest of the story, my friend?

I think one reason Austen never wrote about servants is that they are on the bottom of the social pond. There is very little lateral for bobbing around, down on the bottom. The Bennets are closer to the middle. They can marry up. They can make mistakes (such as Lydia's) which sink them to the bottom. It's a much more dynamic story.
Jo tells a story based on someone who really couldn't have married much further up without causing a massive scandal. And there isn't very far Sarah can fall, either.

For me, the language and adult themes really battered the story. I'm sure Ms. Baker could have found a way to introduce interest into her work without them, if her aim had truly been to .

My grade? A solid three out of five bonnets.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Conversations With the Canine

We recently acquired a dog. Which is big, since it was always my children's wildest wish that we would get one. We always used to tease them by getting stuffed animal dogs or the kind you add water to and they grow. The kids were not amused. But we always had The List of reasons why a dog would not come to our house (or pupy as my eldest son once called it).

The List

*We'd have to spend $$$ on food
*If it runs away you have to spend $$$$ getting it back.
*You have to find people to take care of the dog if you go somewhere you can't take them with you.
*They gnaw on everything.
*They poop everywhere.
*They sometimes bite people, who then sue you for all your $$$.
*They get diseases and die, rendering you tragically sad.
*Shots and neutering.
*Puppies if the neutering doesn't work.
*The Cone of Shame if the dog gets his nuts whacked, which the dog then uses to herd humans into doing their bidding.
*Fleas, grooming, tooth brushing, medicine, gas emissions, sharp toenails, and other maintenance.
*Bodily emissions on the carpet, plus gnawing and wear and tear on said carpet.
*Bulky furniture and having to secure the yard.
*Following the dog around with a plastic bag to pick up his steaming pile of dog logs.
*Possible complaints from sleepless neighbors.
*It's HOT here, so a puppy would have to be inside for the summer, tearing around the house like a maniac.
*And the biggest argument of all? They used to have a bunny and because of everybody telling us they'd fed the poor thing, the bunny took a long dirt nap. We were not amused.

So in the past, the list has prevailed past Christmas lists, birthday wishes, and the hopeful housing of strays.

The funny thing was, we adults had both always actually wanted a dog, but the list prevailed for us too.

Enter the heartless abandoner of Dog Murphy. He dumped the dog complete with dog food in the back of the truck. At first the list loudly proclaimed the dog must go. But all of us fell in love with him. He was like a baby--a brilliant, mischievous, silky, sharp-toothed, sweet little baby. One by one the planks of The List were ploughed under by the adorable things he did. Until one day I called the Hubs and said, "I either have to go get the dog some things, or we need to give him away." And the Hubs said the magic words which sealed the animal's fate. "Get the stuff."

So now Dog Murphy is a beloved member of our family. He wasted our carpet for a couple days until we finished training him to ring bells to tell us he has to go out (a fact he exploits constantly--but we can't do anything about it). He barked at the corner of the couch for nearly a week. He cries when I put him to bed, until I sit down and tell him it's time to lie down and go to sleep. And he follows me, touching me on the leg with his wet little nose to tell me he's there. 

He's a brilliant little thing. We've taught him to ring a bell to go out, sit, stay, lie down, and when we shoot him with our finger gun and yell BANG, he flops down and waits for his treat. Yup. Cool little dog.

He recently got bits of him lopped off, which will enable us to make him a permanent Murphy and render him increaseless. Upon emerging from the place of nugget lopping, he gazed up at me blearily and promptly flopped over, completely stoned. It was both hilarious and a little sad to see him staring for fifteen solid minutes at the file cabinet, listing a little to the left. Walking was out of the question for the next little while. I mistakenly thought he'd be easy to keep quietly sedate. Doh. I should have known. At the least provocation he tears around the house like all the Pamplona bulls are after him. One day he's going to knock himself out cold ramming into the couch.

We have conversations all the time, mostly centered around mealtime (ours). They go something like this:
Him: Whatcha doing?
Me: Cooking human food. You seem to be a hungry little dog.

Him: You're quick. You went to college for that knowledge?
Me: Funny. Stop begging. You're perforating my arms.
Him: You know I'm the food taster, right? You need me to make certain everything is safe."
Me: Is that a fact? Well I don't think fudge is good for dogs.
Him: Then what are you eating it for? You should be feeding me at least half of whatever you're eating. Come on. Get it moving. I'm right down here patiently waiting. I won't take no for an answer. Just shoot a little right here into my mouth. I'll bark until you do it. Come on. You know how.
Me: (only not if it's bad for him) Here, little beggar. Knock yourself out.
Him: (grinning) Keep it coming.

I'm sure he laughs all the way to the bone bank. So if it's good for dogs he usually gets a taste or three. I know. I'm much more soft hearted with the dog. He helps me with the dishes far more than any of my kids, and much more willingly.

When we're outside, supposedly finding the exact right spot to defecate in, he's actually looking for his next stick or June bug victim or lizard. June bugs are big, bumbling beetles which allow for hours of hilarious fun. Apparently their wiggling little legs astonish the little guy, so he tosses them up and paws and bites them until they expire or fly away.
Sticks are less likely to fly away, but he does chew them up and leave bits all over, along with swallowing a fair share. I've banned the bringing in of any more sticks because he has plenty of roughage in his diet already. Before, when he brought in a new stick, it went like this:

Him: Doot duh do do. Just luggin' my stick inside. (and he shoots me one of those looks a cockroach gives you right before you stomp him two dimensional--that look that says, "ACK! Where can I hide?")
Me: What's the glance for?
Him: Hey, look over there. It's a bunny!
Me: Nice try, Joker. I see that stick in your mouth.
Him: What, this old thing? It was inside before. It's an old one.
Me: Not true. That one went in the trash. Hand it over.
Him: But it's a stick. For chewing. Like gum. You chew gum.
Me: I don't swallow it. You do. Ergo the painful bathroom visits.
Him: That has nothing to do with this delicious stick. Besides, I don't have hands. I can't hand anything over.
Me: Nice try. Drop it.
Him: Kill joy. I may or may not but absolutely will chew up your shoes. Or something else you love. Just waitin' for the chance. (And he gives me the chin lift you get from New York cabbies when they're checking you out in the mirror.) Then he trots inside, his head bobbing. Now and then there's a pounce involved. Completely adorable.

We wander all over the yard (mainly because we don't want him to get parvo)
in search of that magical spot in which to lay logs. At least that's my aim for him (I of course don't lay logs outside). His aim is to eat grass, sniff the stuff on the mulch pile, examine old log stacks, dig big holes in the yard trying to eat ants, and attack grasshoppers. I've never been so intimately acquainted with the yard before, not even during egg hunts at Easter. I can't wait until we get to explore the neighborhood at a run.


Welp. We're keeping him. He's a gift from God to keep me from going barking mad this summer. He loves without reservation, even though we...uh...had him altered. He loves us even though we have arguments about whose turn it is to pick up his logs or respond to the bell ringing wildly (or in my case his 4 am yipping wake up calls). He loves us despite having to sit there and watch as we consume all our dinner without sharing. Yeah. That's rich. Love without exceptions. 

Welcome home, Little One.

Addendum:
Dog Murphy has a shiny new bone-shaped tag on his new collar, and a hatred of the doggy thumbscrews (better known as nail clippers). He also gets to roam the neighborhood, sniffing other dogs' poo and tripping the runner. Now it's time to teach him to actually come when you call him instead of fixing you with his not-in-your-lifetime stare. And to ride in the car gracefully without having to stand on the driver's lap so he can see out the window.