PEOPLE AND PETS
For those of you who like to know about the personal lives of writers, here are some snippets about the people and pets I love. I put this link here, even though some sources advise not putting anything on an author website that doesn't have to do with writing, because I like to see these things on other people's websites. For those of you who don't want to know...see you on another page!
My Husband, Mike: If Mike had a lot of entertaining foibles, I could include a lot of stories here that might tickle your fancy, but which would probably not have a beneficial effect on our current state of marital bliss. Since he's pretty much perfect, the marital bliss is probably safe, but your funny bone will have to find relief elsewhere. Mike is a certifiable genius with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He currently works as an environmental engineer specializing in treating wastewater with aeration. That's a fancy way of saying he cleans it with bubbles. So I say my husband works with bubbles, and he says he works with shit, and both of us are right. Either way, it's a very specialized field, and I'm proud to say that he's probably one of the top five people in the world in his area of expertise. Here he is with my mother's cat, Murphy.
The Menagerie: Currently, my husband and I co-habit with 2 dogs (Karma and Luca), 2 cats (Cinnamon and Edgar), and 2 African Grey parrots (Corky and Kesha).
Karma is a Tibetan Spaniel, 14 years old. If you're wondering what a Tibetan Spaniel is, you can check out the Tibetan Spaniel Network. She's very photogenic,and if I can ever figure out the whole picture-posting thing, I'll put some up here. Most of them show her making what I call her "Baby Seal" face. I've read that Tibbies are not the easiest dogs to train, but that it doesn't really matter because they are so easy to get along with, and I've found that to be true. Karma isn't big on trick training, but she is so naturally sweet and well-behaved she doesn't need tricks. I used to say I never wanted a small dog, but Karma has changed my mind about that. (Well, Karma and the fact that big dogs, wonderful as they are, are so heart-wrenching when they get old and begin to have health problems. It's easy to pick up an 11-pound geriatric pup, not so easy when that pup weighs almost a hundred pounds.)
Luca, also known as His Lordship of Eternal Cuteness, is a papillon puppy. He's cute, smart, sweet, adorable, precious, and...did I say cute? I've written him into the second book of the Jared series so he can go to book signings with me.
Edgar, a big beautiful white cat with gold eyes, is 5 years old. He is relatively new to the family but is beginning to settle in. Luca adores him, but we're not sure the feeling is mutual. Edgar likes to sit at one end of the hall carpet while Luca bounces like a pogo stick at the other end.
Corky, our African Grey male, is 18. Like most Greys, he's uncannily smart, with a vocal repertoire that includes both sound effects (like bombs dropping, the beep of the microwave, the answering machine) and phrases, some of which include, "Whatcha doin', Reilly boy?", "Hey, Gorgeous!", "Whew, it's hot in here!" and "Ma, where's my lunch?" Corky is something of a practical joker. Once, when he had to be hospitalized for a few days and was on the upswing, his vet called me and asked, "Can he bark?" "He can do a lot of things," I said. "But yes, we have dogs, and he has a pretty good bark." It seems that there was a kennel next door to the vet's office, and Corky found it great fun to bark until all the dogs were in their own barking frenzy. Then he'd sit back and laugh. When the dogs had calmed and all was quiet again, Corky would wait a few minutes and start the whole process over from the beginning.
Kesha, my African Grey female, is 14 now. She's a little Pisces, born in March, the same week as my husband, my mother, and my grandmother. Kesha isn't much of a talker. She whistles, imitates some of Corky's sounds, and says, "I love you." But really, what else does she need? She's more of a cuddler than he is, and a fiend for Nutri-berries and bananas. (Corky prefers grapes.) I started clicker training her recently. She doesn't do any tricks yet, but she targets pretty nicely. She would like for me to sell a million copies of my book and get a movie option, because then I would have more time to stay home and play with her, and she could "help" me write. Also, there is a big bird room in her future, with fountains (shallow so nobody drowns), playgyms and climbing trees throughout, and sprinklers in the ceiling to simulate rainfall. Also, Lafeber meal bars, which cost more a month than it costs to feed me and my husband. I've promised her and Corky these things, so if you are a fan of mysteries, please check out the sample chapter and if you like it, pick up a copy and help spread the word. I need all the help I can get, because a million copies is a lot.
If you'd like to know more about African Greys, here are a couple of links.
These first links are to articles about an African Grey named Alex who has been the subject of a 20+ year study by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. Alex could identify shapes, colors, numbers, and letter sounds. He understood concepts like categorizing, same, different, and none. Many of his intellectual abilities were equal to a 4-year-old child's. These just blew me away. If you want to know more about this remarkable bird, go to Google and type in "Alex 'Irene Pepperberg'". There are some very interesting articles out there.
The Alex Foundation: www.thealexfoundation.org
That Damn Bird: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pepperberg03/pepperberg_index.html
Here are a couple about African Greys in general:
At the Rainbow Bridge
Capo was a mixed breed of indeterminate heritage. Not long ago, I saw a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever for the first time, and the resemblance was uncanny, even though I'm sure he hadn't a drop of Duck Tolling Retriever in him. I got him in college, back in the dark ages. I have no good pictures of him, at least no digital ones. I still miss him.
Kiri was my first purebred dog. She was a brindle Akita who lived to be 15. It's been years since she died, and I still can't go past the Akita ring at a dog show without getting tears in my eyes. Jared's dog, Queenie, is based on Kiri.
Pagan was a brindle, 95-pound Akita mix. We lost her at 14. The best thing about Pagan was that she was a very huggable size. We have no good photos of her, because she hated to have her picture taken. She also hated thunderstorms, fireworks, the vacuum cleaner, and anything else that makes noise. On her "love" list were cuddles and anything yummy to eat. Yes, our girl was a slut for treats. Akitas get a bad rap sometimes, but ours have been wonderful.
Reilly was our Slug Boy. They say cats are graceful, but Reilly never got the memo. Our 16-year-old black-and-white Love Sponge was occasionally known to wallow himself right off the couch in sheer tummy-rubbing ecstasy. He'd look momentarily surprised, then put on nonchalant expression: "I meant to do that." Reilly wormed his way into our hearts when we passed by a wire cage in a mall pet shop and were snagged by a tiny paw attached to a tiny kitten with enormous ears. Well, how could anyone say no to that?
Tai Pan was the best wedding present we could have ever gotten. He was a beautiful lilac-point Siamese cat. We called him our "Buddha cat" because he was so calm and wise. When we first got Kiri (she was 9 weeks old and already bigger than a breadbox), she would playfully pin Tai to the ground. Tai never scratched or even hissed at her; when he'd had enough, he'd just cry to be rescued.
Cinnamon, the Calico, was 20 when she died. She got her name as a kitten when we brought her home from the Humane Shelter and a friend of ours said, "She's beautiful. She looks just like a confection!" She was a stunning girl, with vivid calico markings against a startlingly white coat. While Cinnamon loved us both, she was definitely a Daddy's Girl.