Wildlife in Suburbia

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CochranKelly-1

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Please welcome Kelly Cochran, author of Buying Time: An Aspen Moore Novel, the first in her humorous mystery series. Buying Time was a finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award and is currently, a quarter-finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Kelly is a lover of all animals and has even been known to have her husband capture and release spiders to the outdoors.

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My entire life I’ve lived in the suburbs. I’ve never had to wake up in the morning to feed the chickens, slop the hogs, or clean out the horse stalls, and therefore, I’ve never lived on acres of land that are a natural habitat for wildlife.  Animals, in the suburbs, include the neighbor’s dog, the robin on the perfectly manicured front lawn, or the relentless squirrel frantically digging to find the nut he was sure he’d buried under the mulch.

The only similarity between me, the suburban dweller, and those who live in rural settings with acres of land, is the wish to keep development to a minimum. So, when my suburban home, located only eight miles from the St. Louis city line, became a condominium complex for groundhogs, we protested and took action to stop the over-development of our community.

Gregory-1A call to a critter control company that relocates animals ended with traps being set in the front and back of our home. In the end, one raccoon, and two groundhogs were caught. One of those groundhogs was Gregory, who’d been a part of our lives for several years, even making it into our Christmas letter twice. I was sad to see him go, but the man said he would take all of them to a 300 acre property far from our home and release them. What animal wouldn’t love acres and acres to roam? The next time I saw the man he informed me that Gregory was now in a better place. Well, I’m not sure about you, but in my youth, when a person told you that someone was in a better place, they didn’t mean a 300 acre piece of land. I could only hope that Gregory was indeed living out the rest of his life on those 300 acres.

Two years later, I noticed leaves left over from the fall had been disturbed at the corner of our porch. My husband said it was just the wind. I didn’t give it another thought until the next day as I headed out the front door to the get the mail and I came across Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe, and Bob.

babies-1Although I thought the groundhog babies were adorable, my husband said they had to go. We kept an eye out for momma, but she never showed. Luckily the man we use to trim our trees said he’d take them to his house and keep them in one of his rabbit hutches until they were old enough to release in another location. Over a period of a week, we enticed them with cantaloupe and were able to trap a few. The others we ended up grabbing with our hands (gloved of course). By that time, the crew had grown to include a brother named Charley and two other unnamed siblings. Total count: Eight!

 

The truth is, even though I didn’t want our suburban lifestyle overrun with wild animals, I missed those little babies in our front yard….until I looked out at the pool in our back yard!

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Aspen Moore has a new life in a new city, complete with a new career. As a personal concierge, she sells her time to those who don’t have enough. One of the perks of her business is focusing on other people’s lives so she doesn’t have to face the demons in her own.

When Aspen’s most loyal customer dies and his suicide looks eerily like murder, she anonymously tips off the police so she won’t expose a secret she desperately needs to keep. But, murder and mayhem are a bothersome duo and she soon finds herself caught in a web of chaos.

A string of crimes, long enough to make a real detective sweat, threaten her livelihood and ultimately her life. Aspen’s only hope to untangle the mess before they cause permanent damage is to track down who’s responsible. Pursuing the truth means solving the mystery of a decade-old land deal, while juggling a quirky DJ and his dog, an eccentric paraplegic, a curious set of twins, and a flirtatious neighbor with spy gadgets.

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Buying Time is a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  Read the excerpt, see the fine reviewers’ comments that helped Buying Time advance in the contest, and leave your own review of the excerpt!  http://www.amazon.com/Buying-Time-2014-ABNA-Entry-ebook/dp/B00JOU31MG 

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Buying Time available at Amazon
www.kellycochran.com
Blog
Facebook
Twitter: @KellyLCochran
The Series: www.aspenmoore.com

 

Categories: animals, critter control, ducks, groundhogs, humorous mystery, Mystery, suspense, Uncategorized, Wildlife in suburbia, woodchucks | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

My Pants Will Say What?

katewyland:

Fun blog about a somewhat scary future. I’m not sure I want my pants talking to my refrigerator.

Originally posted on Writing Wranglers and Warriors:

by Neva Bodin

Recently I received a magazine in the mail know105182105411111CDPn as Website Compass. It is touted as “The World’s #1 Internet Magazine.” And it’s scary!

http://websitecompass.com/subscribe.htmen

It says, in the future, my toaster will be able to communicate with my refrigerator, which will then tell its secrets to my smart phone. So far, I am not smart enough for a smart phone, and I’m not sure I want to invite one over if it’s going to share all my secrets! I bet it doesn’t stop by sharing with just the refrigerator!

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The article,  Smart Revolution, page 2, says “And that’s just the beginning. Some researchers predict that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected objects—about seven times more than people on the planet.”

I’m beginning to believe we don’t need to worry about revolutions between humans, but revolutions between our appliances! Perhaps that’s fodder for a…

View original 376 more words

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Kentucky Horse Park

Kentucky Horse park.

Last month, guest Kathryn Jane told us interesting facts about the Kentucky Derby. This week I’d like to talk about the Kentucky Horse Park, a unique facility celebrating America’s horses.

Located in Lexington, the home of the Kentucky Derby, the Park is a tribute to the racing Thoroughbred. A huge statue of Man of War stands over his grave in a courtyard near the entrance. On the path leading up to the memorial are markers showing the stride length of a few of the most famous Thoroughbreds of all time. The distance that Secretariat covered in one leap vividly demonstrates why he is still the fastest horse ever. All throughout the park you will find statues and graves of many famous racers and other tributes to the state’s most important industry. In addition, at the Haman of warll of Champions you can see retired Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse racing champions exhibited daily.

The Park was designed as a living museum dedicated to all horses, not just Thoroughbreds. One of its most fascinating features is the International Museum of the Horse, the world’s largest museum chronicling the history of the horse and its importance to man. Associated with the Smithsonian, the IMH uses its 60,000 feet to educate the public about the horse’s unique contributions to human history. As you walk up a long, winding ramp you follow the development of the horse and its various roles throughout time. Also there are interactive exhibits about the Arabian horse, the Kentucky Thoroughbred, Draft horses, Horse Shows, the famous Buffalo Soldiers, and horse-drawn vehicles. In addition to the IMH, there are the American Saddlebred museum and the Wheeler museum, which details all aspects of the hunter/jumper world.

KHP tourOne of the most popular attractions is the Horses of the World. Over thirty different breeds live in the Park and are featured in daily shows or tours. Many unique horses with costumed riders are presented and after the shows visitors can meet and pet their favorites. In addition there are horse drawn tours and carriage rides, horseback riding and pony rides, and in the Spring mares and foals to visit.

If you are at all into horses and end up near Lexington, you should try to visit the Kentucky Horse Park. It’s a fascinating and totally unique experience that the whole family should enjoy—especially any horse crazy female members.

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Photo Kentucky Horse Park courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbglasson/3742826141
Photo Mar of War Memorial courtesy of http://www.fotopedia.com/items/kweaver2-JCMfVLC4B
Photo Horse Drawn Tour courtesy of myoldkentucky.blogspot.com/2007/10/kentucky-h
 
Categories: Horses, International Museum of the Horse, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Horse Park, nature, outdoors, Racing, Show jumping, stables, Thoroughbreds, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

A PARTY OF PEACOCKS

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Alice Fitzpatrick

Today I’d like to welcome Alice Fitzpatrick author of the Kate Galway mysteries. Toward the Pebbled Shore, the first book in the series, was a semi-finalist for the 2012 and 2013 Unhanged Arthur Award 
for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel and a finalist for the 2013 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel. Her novels are currently looking for their forever home with an agent and a publisher.

Take it away Alice.

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That folly was past now—but still he could not visualize her except against the background of the great white house in Riverside Drive, with the peacocks and the swimming-pool and the gilded tower with the roof-garden. “The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey” by Dorothy L Sayers

I have always been fascinated by peacocks. As a Brit now living in Canada, I spend an inordinate amount of time during my trips home touring Georgian mansions and exploring ancient castles. For me, no British stately home is complete without a pride of elegant blue peacocks, their green trains trailing across a wide expanse of lawn. These iconic birds are as familiar as the maid in her black uniform and stiff white apron or the mistress in the morning room sipping tea in a sweater set adorned by a single row of pearls.

Having grown up reading the novels of Agatha Christie, when I came to write my own books, there was no question that I would choose the Peacock 3traditional mystery known as the cozy. These books are often set on a rambling country estate, a seemingly uneventful place. Yet it isn’t long before the shrieks of peacocks are announcing the discovery of a brutal murder.

Although not native to Great Britain, these magnificent birds have been in residence for almost two thousand years. It was the Romans who brought them to the island, and the peacocks have never looked back. They soon became a favourite of feudal lords, landed gentry, and aristocracy. At a time when powerful men were looking for conspicuous ways to express their social position, the exotic peacock was an impressive symbol. There was no more ostentatious display of wealth than a roast peacock, often served with full plumage, on a medieval banqueting table.

As far as I can determine, no peacock has ever figured prominently in a mystery novel. What these birds are experts at, though, is providing atmosphere and, if the writer is so inclined, symbolism.

Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first British writers to use the peacock to refer to people who swagger and preen: “And yet as proud a pekok can he pulle.” Early Christian artists interpreted the many eyespots on the bird’s 200 tail feathers as the all-seeing eyes of God and the Catholic church. Because the peacock sheds these feathers annually and it was believed that its flesh did not decay, the peacock came to symbolize renewal and resurrection.

Peacock 5-1But to most of us, peacocks simply represent pride. Thus a peacock strutting through the garden of an estate allows the writer to pass comment on its inhabitants. My own novels, set on an island off the west coast of Wales, feature an abandoned gothic castle complete with peacocks who have reverted to their wild state. To the islanders, the peacocks are a reminder of the hubris of the rich Victorian industrialist who designed and built this architectural monstrosity.

So if you are looking to add a bit of exoticism or social commentary to your novel, look no further than a peacock. I’d like to say that they’d appreciate the gesture, but if they’re as vain as we believe they are, they’ve come to expect it.

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 Toward the Pebbled Shore

Kate Galway is no stranger to death. After all, she’d grown up under the shadow of her Aunt Emma’s suicide, her body having washed up on the beach the year before Kate was born. Now Kate has returned home to an island off the Welsh coast where she is forced to confront family secrets that are better kept hidden, including that her aunt was murdered and the killer is still on the island.

 

Eyespots 1DS Lazarus sat on the sofa in Kate’s cottage with Constable Byron Finch beside him. Lazarus had undone the top button of his shirt and pulled his blue and beige tie, wrinkled and puckered, to one side to get it out of the way. Lazarus was the kind of man who would look slovenly even if you put him in new clothes. What was it someone said about Dylan Thomas — he looked like an unmade bed? Lazarus wasn’t quite that bad — more like an untidy sofa — but it gave him the appearance of a man who coasted through life, quite content with his lot, happy to take orders, while ducking any responsibility.

Kate resisted the temptation to go over and brush what looked like toast crumbs from his jacket.

“So when was the last time you saw Hannah Sutherland?” he asked.

“The day Siobhan and I were attacked in her garden.”

“We’ve heard about this from the deceased’s sisters. I’d like to hear your version of the events. When was this?”

“A week ago — last Sunday. And no, we don’t know who attacked us. It was dark.”

“Were you at the Hall on a social call?”

She looked at Byron and, knowing what was coming, he lowered his eyes. “No, Siobhan and I were digging for a tea tin we’d seen Hannah bury in the garden earlier that day.”

“And why were you digging up a tea tin in the middle of the night?”

“Sgt. Lazarus, even on Meredith Island, eleven o’clock is hardly the middle of the night. But that aside, we thought that it might contain some evidence into the murder of my aunt.”

Lazarus glared over at Byron. “There’s been a second death? Why wasn’t I told?”

“It was over fifty years ago, sir.”

Kate was impressed with Byron’s ability to keep his voice steady and calm.

Lazarus leaned back. “Oh.” Painfully aware that he’d made a fool of himself, he focused his anger toward Kate. “Regular little Dorothy Sawyer, aren’t you?”

Kate resisted the temptation to smirk. “If you mean Dorothy L. Sayers, she’s the writer. That would make me Lord Peter Wimsey.”

Lazarus ignored her comeback and carried on. “Did you report the attack?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“We have no police on the island. We handle things ourselves.”

Lazarus’s eyebrows descended and knit themselves together. “I hope that doesn’t mean you take the law into your own hands. The police force doesn’t hold with vigilantism.”

Kate was really getting tired of this fool. “What are you implying, DS Lazarus? That we convene secret courts in the pub at midnight, pass judgment in dark hooded cloaks, and then throw the offender from the highest cliff . . .” and Kate left the sentence hanging to allow the image to work its way into Lazarus’s brain.

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You can follow Alice at:

alicefitzp.wordpress.com
facebook.com/alicefitzp
twitter.com/alicefitzp
linkedin.com/pub/alice-fitzpatrick/55/4b5/5a.

 

 

Categories: Books, cozy mysteries, Mystery, peacocks, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

No blog this week

No blog this week due to a family emergency. Be back next week.

Happy reading, writing and riding.

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Kentucky Derby Facts

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May is coming soon  and with it the Kentucky Derby. Today author Kathryn Jane, a race horse trainer, tells us some interesting facts about the Derby and its traditions.

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With the approach of the first Saturday in May, better known in my circles as Kentucky Derby day, I thought I’d share six  interesting facts for writers and everyone else.

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When including the Derby in your writing, there are a some things that really shouldn’t involve artistic license so I’ll save you the embarrassment with a few details that may help you with your work, and those of you who aren’t writers will have a tidbit of knowledge to impress your family and friends as you settle in front of the television on May 3rd to watch the 140th Kentucky Derby.

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Fact 1
The Kentucky Derby has been tagged as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” because the journey begins before a horse is born, takes years of preparation to get to the race itself, and then the whole thing is over in about two minutes.

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Fact 2
The Derby is exclusively for Thoroughbreds in their three year old year. This year, all entrants will be foals of2011, and because Thoroughbreds are typically born between January 01st and May 31st, most of the horses competing will be literally, three years old. (Officially, Thoroughbreds are all considered to have the same birthday, January 1st.)

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Fact 3
The field will be made up of mostly colts. That is, unaltered (unneutered) males. Geldings and fillies are allowed to compete in the race, but fillies usually run in the Kentucky Oaks instead, a race restricted to three year old fillies. There have only been three fillies and nine geldings to win the Derby. Colts and geldings carry 126 lbs, and fillies carry 121lbs

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Fact 4
The Derby is run on a dirt racetrack, never on turf. (Turf is a grass track and a much different surface for horses to run on. Horses are very rarely successful on both surfaces as the two require different types of conformation and running style. It is not unusual for a well-bred horse that has been a racing disappointment on dirt to be switched to turf and show amazing talent.)

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Fact 5
Approximately 400 foals will be nominated each year, and no more than 20 of those will be allowed to compete in the Derby when they turn three. Entry eligibility is based on money earned.

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Fact 6
The race is a mile and a quarter, is run counter clockwise (as are all US horse races), and has never been run in less than one minute and fifty-nine seconds. Secretariat still holds the record for the fastest win at 1:59:4

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It’s been fun to stop by and I’ll stay posted for any questions you’d like to ask

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DaringToLove(2) final coverDaring to Love

A woman who reads hearts…
“Help me…” As an empath working for an organization dedicated to locating missing children, Liz MacKenzie is accustomed to using her unique abilities to sense the emotions of others. She’s not accustomed to hearing them call for her. That’s the specialized skill of a telepath.

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A man who reads minds…

Galen Keifer’s special method of interrogation involves telepathic seduction, a technique that drove away the love of his life two years ago. In spite of their rocky past, Liz has reached out to him again. He’s the one man who may be able to discover the truth about the mysterious voice calling to her.

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A voice from the darkness…

Liz can’t ignore the child’s voice, one that may be connected to a dark secret in her past. Barely recovered from her last rescue mission, she doesn’t trust her own senses, or a man who uses seduction in such a devastating way. But with the possibility of a child’s life in danger, Liz and Galen can’t afford to let it get personal again. Finding the child comes first, even though their hearts and minds are daring them to love…

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THE INTREPID WOMEN SERIES
Stubborn, self-sufficient women, and the men who dare to love them.

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You can find out more about Kathryn at:

Kindle : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I13NB9U
Print: http://bit.ly/1d8Wq0w
Website: http://kathrynjane.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kathryn.jane.921
Twitter: @Author_Kat_Jane

 

Categories: Horses, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby, Racing, riding, Thoroughbreds, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

Jumping For Fun or Ribbons

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Horses are good at jumping things. It was necessary for their survival in the wild. People love to ride horses over jumps. In the past it was a fun as well as useful skill. If you were running at speed chasing prey to eat or perhaps charging in a battle, the ground was unlikely to be perfectly level and you and your horse needed to be able to handle ditches, streams and other obstacles.

Today, of course, we don’t have to face those challenges. Instead we ride and jump for the fun of it. Some people ride cross-country in Three-Day Events (see Not For The Faint of Heart) or follow a Hunt (see Hunting—With Horses–Not Guns). But most people ride in a ring and jump over artificial obstacles or fences. For those who like to compete there are horse shows with jumping classes.

Horse show jumping is divided into two separate disciplines—Hunters and Jumpers.

small__4458883343Hunter classes focus on the ease and style of the horse and rider as they go over jumps that are similar to what they might face on a hunt field. Hunters move with long, low, ground-covering strides and are very calm and collected. The rider almost looks like a passenger with the horse just casually floating over the fences. But the hunter must have perfect form as it jumps—knees up and forelegs parallel to the ground, legs even and tucked, and a graceful bascule (curved shaped). Style is all important. Besides way of going, this also includes appropriate tack (saddle, bridle, and martingale), braided manes and sometimes tails too, polished hooves, and the rider in conservative attire.

Hunter video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgXm9eR0lb0

There are different tysmall__4630636060pes of hunter classes and a couple don’t include fences. Flat classes, often called hunter under saddle or hunter hack, are judged on the horse’s gaits, way of going and suitability. In-hand or model classes judge the horse’s conformation and gaits. In these the horse is led and has no saddle.

Jumper classes are very different from hunters. The focus is on clearing the jumps in the time allotted. Style, looks, attitude—none of that matters. In a hunter class, your horse may clear all the jumps but unless he does it in an easy, stylish manner with exactly the right striding and take off, he may still not score well. It depends on the subjective evaluation of the judge(s). In a jumping class, numbers tell the story. How many jumps cleared, how many faults from refusals or knockdowns, how many time faults—these are what determine the results.

small__9633348424Instead of natural looking jumps, jumpers are faced with colorful and sometimes quite outlandish obstacles, which can be scary or confusing for the horses but fun for the audience. You can see some of the most dramatic at the Olympics. Not only are the courses unusual, they are also more difficult and technical. These require bold, powerful, fast horses that are also accurate and balanced. Faced with a high fence a horse naturally speeds up. In contrast to the relaxed, laid back hunters, jumpers charge their jumps and often look barely under control. In speed classes, the audience often has their hearts in their throats.

Jumping video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osAgyQtXWto

If you have the chance, go to a horse show that features hunters and/or jumpers. You’ll see some marvelously skilled athletes and have a great time.

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High jump:  photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/thowra/515302767/”>Thowra_uk</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
Hunter photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/nico/4458883343/”>Nico&#8230;.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
In hand:  photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/fivefurlongs/4630636060/”>Five Furlongs</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
Zebras:  photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rpmarks/9633348424/”>R~P~M</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;
 

Categories: animals, Horses, hunting, Jumping, Olympics, ponies, riding, Show jumping, Thoroughbreds, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Another Snippet

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I’m back again with another small piece. Be sure to catch all the other snippets posted by the many talented authors via Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors.

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Here’s a following bit from the second chapter of Wyoming Escape.  Let me know what you think.

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Wyoming Cover - 1600

One dead body is frightening enough. A second one, plus a dirty cop, sends chef Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She hides on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her attraction to an on-leave Marine threatens her fragile feeling of safety.

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Hiding her shaking hands under the table, Mikela offered a tentative smile. “I’m fine–just not good with loud noises.” Damn, when would she get over jumping at the slightest racket? How long before the memories of dead men stopped haunting her? She took a deep breath and willed her trembling to quiet.

Once she was sure she wouldn’t spill anything, she sipped at her cup and glanced around the small coffee shop. Not much to look at. Whoever was manning the stove knew their stuff, though. The scrambled eggs passing her table were fragrant with herbs and the coffee was the best she’d tasted in a week.

 
Categories: Cowboys, Dude ranches, Mystery, nature, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, writing, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

My Therapist Barks

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GenieGabrielPhoto600Today my guest is Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel. Genie is an optimist whose rose-colored glasses have bent frames and cracked lenses. She writes about people who find courage and integrity in the darkest times of their lives, who rescue stray dogs and kittens, who find a person they would willingly give their lives for, and who make their little corners of the world a better place.

FREE BOOKS!
Genene is offering a free PDF copy of her most recent book, St. Batsy and the Time Machine, to 5 commenters!

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Raz150x174Love unconditionally. Dream big. Play with great seriousness. Bark at strangers and skateboards.

These are some of the lessons my dogs have come to teach me. I’m working on the first three, but think I’ll leave the barking to my herd of doggies.

Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. My mom used to tell stories of me as a toddler, sleeping with my head pillowed on our Collie’s belly.

I grew up on a farm, and we always had a dog. I wanted a horse too, but was in high school before my dad gave in to my begging to have one. Do you think you can become addicted to the smell of a horse? To this day, even the memory of that sweet aroma totally relaxes me.

However, after graduation, I moved to the city to claim a job and my own life. A back yard isn’t the best place for a horse, but I could indulge my love for dogs. A small, mixed breed Lady became the first beloved companion in my adult life. She tried to teach me to choose my relationships wisely. Ah, if only I had listened to her. An ill-fitting marriage ending in divorce turned my focus back to dogs as companions.

Batman150x194I was almost forty years old when I discovered the joy of shelter dogs and living with more than one canine. The more time I spent with dogs, the more I learned.

When I began writing, dogs naturally turned up in my stories. My first novel, published as The Rock Star, featured a dog who turns on the coffee maker for his mistress and has an attitude similar to my first shelter dog, a Border Collie mix.

Two of my romantic comedy novellas also feature dogs inspired by canines who have shared my life. My latest book to be released in print, St. Batzy & the Time Machine, features a terrier with a penchant for misadventures. His attitude is quite similar to my own terrier, who views fences as something to try to dig under, jump over, or wiggle through.

Dogs will definitely continue to be strong characters in my writing. In fact, I will soon be publishing a book about my journey with dogs and how they have guided me through traumas and brought me face to face with sometimes uncomfortable truths. However, underlying all their actions is pure, unconditional love and the support to make our most precious dreams a reality.

Oh yes, and to play–no barking needed on my part!

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StBatzyCoverFront200An eccentric inventor is determined to reclaim his wayward time machine and save his beloved wife from her latest misadventure. If only they can travel safely past the black hole…
 

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When they were seated, he told Dorinda the story of how he and Maddie had met. How he loved her from the first moment, and never thought a woman as bold and brave would ever love him in return. “My Maddie still goes on grand adventures to change the world. I worry about her, but I’m so proud of her.”

Dorinda remained quiet for a few moments after Horace stopped talking, then said softly. “I would like to live in a world where there is plenty of food and women are allowed to follow their passions.”

In the next breath, she pushed out a sigh and stood. “’It is not productive to grumble about what cannot be. I will leave you to rest, and I have much to think about. Thank you for a look into the future. You have given me hope.”

“Let me accompany you back to the village.” Horace also rose.

However, Dorinda shook her head. “As an elfenchaun, I’ll be quite safe with the creatures of the forest.”

Still, Horace watched Dorinda from the entryway of the time machine until the trail of shimmering green faded into the night. Elfenchaun or not, he worried about the delicate creature who had shown him such kindness. Would she truly be forced to give up the life of relative freedom she had known and marry a man who would control her every move? He would not want to smother his Maddie’s bold spirit, even if it cost him days of worry when she was gone.

All the next day, Horace toiled under the watchful eye of Dorinda’s grandfather. As the light of day faded into twilight, the man shook Horace’s hand and presented him with a curved piece of metal to repair the time machine.

Though exhaustion threatened, the desire to return to the year 2011 and rescue his Maddie gave Horace the energy to drag the metal back through the forest and replace the damaged panel of the time machine.

As Horace gathered his tools and placed them back inside the time machine, he looked forward to seeing Maddie again. He walked the short distance to a small stream and splashed cool water over his face, any tiredness dripping away with the water that ran down his skin. Soon he would see his Maddie!

The short distance back to the time machine took only a few moments, yet Horace knew something was not as he left it. His steps slowed and he looked cautiously around, listening carefully for any clue to what might have happened in the moments he had been gone.

A moan near his feet was all that prevented him from stepping on a tiny crumpled body on the ground. “Dorinda?”

He bent over the little elfenchaun, stunned by the pallor of her face and the broken remnants of her iridescent wings. “What happened?”

“Over here! I saw her fly this way.” Strident shouts tore the peace of the night to tatters as lanterns bobbed closer and closer.

Adrenaline surged through Horace. As carefully as possible, he lifted Dorinda and carried her into the time machine. Laying her on a pad next to Batzy, Horace locked the door panel and started the sequence for the reactor. “Clement, can you give us a boost to get us out of here?”

“Thank the heavens!” Maddie appeared on the monitor beside Horace’s cousin.

Clement’s fingers flew over the computer keyboard. “What took you so long to make repairs?”

************

Print version of St. Batzy plus Genie’s other books on:  http://tinyurl.com/mozwtzd

ebook version of St. Batzy also available at Rogue Phoenix Press:  http://tinyurl.com/mwzuj4v

Categories: animals, dogs, healing, Horses, Paranormal, Relationships, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Time travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

I is for Horse Illnesses

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small_185495090For such large, athletic animals domestic horses are surprisingly fragile, due to the artificial environment man puts them in. Wild horses are sturdy, hardy animals—smart, wily and able to take care of themselves. They graze all day, move constantly and only the healthiest survive and reproduce. They are also relatively small, not particularly pretty and very strong-willed.

Consequently, when man decided horses were good for more than providing meat and milk, he began breeding them for specific traits. Good temperament, large size, speed and beauty were some of the prized characteristics. Over the millennia horses morphed into creatures that often would have a hard time surviving in the wild and even have problems surviving in man’s care. The desire to win races has resulted in many Thoroughbreds being very fast but having weak feet and overly sensitive emotions. Show ring “fashions” have encouraged huge bodies with slim, tiny legs and feet that cannot stay sound for the long run. And, of course, miniature horses, as cute as they are, would be hard pressed to survive on their own.

small__598978125Add to that, being confined twenty-three hours a day in a small stall, being fed large amounts of hay, instead of eating grass, and being asked to do intense work instead of moving casually, and today’s horses develop problems that they wouldn’t encounter in the wild.

One of the most common and deadly problems is a result of how they are kept and fed. The horse’s stomach is designed to digest small portions of food all day long. While some horses are kept in large pastures where they can graze naturally, this kind of open land is disappearing and most horses, by necessity, live in confined areas, either stalls or paddocks. Then they are fed calorie-dense hay and often grain too, usually twice a day because that fits best with human schedules. As a result their digestive systems can be easily upset and they can colic.

Colic is basically a painful bellyache that can be relatively easy to treat or can develop into something deadly. It is the most common cause of death in horses. Bad food, dirty water, parasites, lack of exercise, a sudden change in the weather are some of the many things that can provoke a colic attack. In most cases, the problem can be solved by a visit from the vet. Sometimes surgery is required (a very expensive proposition) and other times the only thing to do is to put the suffering animal down. Good management is vital to keeping horses healthy and happy.

freeimage-144227Another illness connected to food and care is known as laminitis, a very painful condition that affects the hooves. The equine digestive system cannot handle large amounts of concentrated, high-carb food. If a horse should get loose and into the grain barrel or pig out on high-sugar Spring grass, this can trigger an inflammatory response which destroys the tissues in its hooves that hold the boney structures in place. Depending on the extent of the damage, the result can be devastating. Conditions such as Cushings Disease or Metabolic Syndrome can make horses susceptible to laminitis problems too.

As odd as it might seem, horses have many of the same problems that humans do. They can have allergies, COPD, arthritis, thyroid dysfunctions, bursitis and a host of other disorders. And they are treated with many of the same medicines. I used to give my daughter’s mare powdered Synthroid for her low thyroid and albuterol for her breathing problems. Horses with stomach ulcers often get Tagamet.

Of course, wild horses are unlikely to have ulcers or allergies or a lot of the other problems. These tend to be the result of living with man and doing the work he asks of them. So it behooves us to be aware of the consequences and do our best to take good care of our equine friends. Today, because of advances in understanding and veterinary care, horses are living and working into their thirties. Something very rare in previous times.

Race horse photo: http://tinyurl.com/mtxc7uo
Stable photo: http://tinyurl.com/lu8ysme
Categories: horse care, Horses, nature, outdoors, ponies, riding, stables, Thoroughbreds | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

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