Monday, November 21, 2016


Hi Folks!

As you can easily see, I haven't kept up on my blogging for quite some time. I've been busy writing a monthly column - address below - and working on getting Book 3 published. After that, I'll be starting Book 4. So I'm suspending my blog activity for the foreseeable future. I will be posting the occasional guest blog, and will let folks know about those on Facebook as they happen. Be sure to check out my column - it's all about animals! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

My column address:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Feather Brained: Bob's Birding Book

Hi Folks!

As you know, I've been hard at work on Book 3. Right in the middle of my efforts, though, Bob Tarte's publisher sent me a copy of his brand-new book, Feather Brained. I'm not one to pass up a Bob Tarte book, or a free book, for that matter, so I set my keyboard aside and took up Bob's birding book. I read the whole book in less than 5 days, and am happy to report that I enjoyed it immensely. The following is my review.

If Bob Tarte wrote about something other than animals - the political machinations of the European Union, say, or the mating rituals of New Guinea aborigines - his books would still be a delight to read because Bob injects so much of himself into the pages. He makes an art form of laziness, and his short attention span is legendary. Indeed, Bob's pokes at himself are some of the best parts of all four of his books. One of the funniest bits in Feather Brained is how he casually mentions, over the course of 198 pages, the numerous pairs of binoculars he purchased, the price of which continued to increase commensurately along with his interest in birds.

Bob utilizes those binoculars with a deft touch as he plods through woods, swamps, fields, and the occasional waste-water facility, in search of the perfect bird. I'm not sure he ever actually found it, but he certainly saw a large enough variety of feathered creatures to keep his chaotic mind occupied for more than the usual minute or two.

While the subtitle of Feather Brained is My Bumbling Quest to Become a Birder & Find a Rare Bird on My Own, Bob is rarely alone in his search: wife Linda actually started Bob on the birding path years ago, and pops up regularly in Feather Brained's pages, and Book Character Bill Holm - the beloved curmudgeon featured in Bob's first three books - brings along his unique brand of caustic wit as Bob's birding sidekick.

Over a period of twenty years, Bob and Bill do their guy-bonding thing over a mutual interest in birds, and a mutual apathy toward their fellow humans. Their friendship is the icing on the critter cake, and with every new book, I look forward to another peek inside their world. They may be on an avian quest, but Bob and Bill are rare birds, too! I urge you to get your copy and check them out for yourself.

That's all for now, Folks! Until next time, please be kind to all the critters!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Helping A Different Kind of Critter

Hi Folks!

My goodness but I've neglected this blog! In my defense, I've been hard at work on Book 3 and I'm hoping I will finish it in the next month or so. I wanted to touch base with you, though, and I was going to write a piece about how we recently brought home a couple more ducks, but something troubling happened today that supersedes my duck story. I hope you'll forgive me that the story is not about animal critters, but rather, human critters.

I was shopping today at my local Maytag's Mart. It's the sort of place that sells groceries, furniture, shoes, seasonal items - in short, it tries to cover all the bases. I went there around 1:00 in the afternoon, and spent far too much money on the junk food I so adore: miniature Heath bars, a box of Milk Duds, and some fruity snack that claims to be good for me but probably isn't. Between the junk food and the cat supplies (litter and expensive food), I managed to spend $50! I stood at the self check-out being mildly appalled, but not so much that I returned any of the goodies to their shelves!

It was as I neared my car that I noticed the one parked right in front of me. It had two small children in it, and nothing else. Frowning, I put the groceries in my car, left the cart next to my parking spot, and got behind the wheel. I sat there for a time, thinking about the fact that someone had left two small children alone in a car, and was at a momentary loss for what to do. Presently, I got out the car and grabbed that shopping cart I'd left nearby, and I pushed the cart past that car, making a point of looking inside as I walked by. There were two young blonde girls, one in the front passenger seat, and one in the back. They'd been left in there with a meal of McFood. I pushed the cart on into a cart corral, and as I walked back to my car, I took note of the make and color of that parent-less car. When I got back into my own car, I dug my phone out of my purse and called 911.

I gave the dispatcher the identifying information on the car (a grey Malibu with a temporary tag on it), told her where the police could find it, and rang off. I started my car and got half-way across the parking lot before I realized that the right thing to do was to stay put and make sure no one messed with those kids. I turned around, drove back to my same spot, and stood vigil, waiting for whoever was going to show up first.

Now, you know how these things go: the shithead never gets their comeuppance, they show up just in time to drive away before the cops get there, leaving you completely vexed at the unfairness of it all, and the shithead completely oblivious to the monumental stupidity of what they'd done. Happily, however, the police actually did show up before the shithead came out of the store. I hopped out of my car, waved the cruiser over to where I was, told the officer that I was the one who had called, and pointed to where the children were. He drove around the parking lot, pulled up next to the grey Malibu and got out.

I heard him ask the children inside how old they were, but I was only able to hear one of them answer: she was six. I got back in my car and waited, not knowing whether the officer would need me for any reason or not. After a couple of minutes, he walked over and we chatted briefly. He told me that one of the children was 10 years old, trailing off his sentence with, "so..." as though 10 was old enough to be left in a car. In this day and age, though, 10 didn't seem old enough to be responsible for one's own safety in a world full of pedophiles and other creeps, and certainly not old enough to be responsible for a six year-old. I trailed off my own sentence with, "still..." as in, "They were still left alone in a car in a parking lot." The officer nodded, and repeated my "still..."

He went on to tell me that while Whoville police had jurisdiction over the Maytag's store, it was actually Northland police who had jurisdiction over the parking lot. He shook his head, acknowledging how ridiculous the situation was, but assured me that Northland police had already been notified. "You're going to wait here until they arrive, right?" I asked. He said he would.

I didn't appear to be needed anymore, so I started my car and drove off across the lot. Except that I have an insatiable curiosity about things, and I wanted to know how this situation would play out. I turned around and drove back to a different parking space, one that afforded me a view without any of the other players knowing who or where I was. It was a good enough vantage point that I turned off the engine and settled in. Twelve minutes after I had originally called 911, the mom came out of the store, pushing a cart full of groceries. There was a minivan blocking my view of mom the shithead (MTSH), but I saw enough of the by-now three cops - two Whoville officers and one Northland officer who had just arrived - to know that they were reading her the riot act, trying to put the fear of God in her.

I had hoped that she would be cited - or, in a perfect world, hauled away in handcuffs - but alas, such was not the case. The officers all headed back to their respective vehicles and slowly drove away, and, happily, the minivan that had been blocking my view pulled out just in time for me to see the look on MTSH's face. Let's just say she was not a happy camper, and, in fact, looked as though she'd readily pay a million dollars to find out who in that parking lot had ratted her out.

It was me, you shithead! I hope you learned something, but I frankly doubt that you did. Just be glad your children remained safe, and that someone cared enough to look out for them.

Especially since it wasn't you.

That's all for now, folks. I hope you'll forgive me if I neglect this blog until I get the new book finished. In the meantime, be well, and please be kind to all the critters!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016