Should A Dog Have Possessions?

Can lamb bones buy happiness? Kate Shrewsday shares the cautionary tale of Macaulay the Dog and his newly acquired wealth.

Kate Shrewsday

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Oh, the poor dog.

He has become rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and it has – I can categorically confirm – made him unhappy.

This is not the first tale of a bone which has been connected, here in these cyberpages, with Macaulay the Dog. But it is a living, whimpering metaphor; a shadow on the creature who has always been such a happy-go-lucky surfer of life’s waves. Possessions, mark my words, do not always make one happy.

On Sunday evening there was a ring on the doorbell and there stood our kindly dog-friendly neighbour. She had with her a lamb bone. It was huge. Enormous. And delighted, we took the bone and introduced the dog to its rancid charms.

Was it naive to expect a twinkle in the eye, a jauntier gait as those paws clattered out into the garden, carrying jaws bearing gifts?  Because the dog was…

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James Michener Didn’t Object

I blogged at Austin Mystery Writers yesterday, but the post is still fresh. If you’ve a mind to, click over and read.

Austin Mystery Writers

By Kathy Waller


Last week, Valerie wrote about why she writes. Here’s my take on that subject:

When I was four years old, I took a pair of scissors and a roll of red, gooey adhesive tape and wrote my name on the inside of the kitchen door. It didn’t occurred to me I shouldn’t, and my parents never said a word. I’m sure they discussed it, but I wasn’t privy to that conversation.  The crooked red letters stayed on the door for years. When they were finally removed, a heavy red stain remained.

file4721273872327Image by DuBoix, via Morguefile

When I was eight, my father gave me a ream of legal-sized paper. I produced a newspaper, one copy per issue, focusing on the social activities of dogs, cats, and horses in the neighborhood. I reported on the wedding of Mr. Pat Boone, my fox terrier, and Miss Bootsie, my…

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A Tale of Two Sisters and Hamlet

I’m posting at Writing Wranglers and Warriors today. Hope you’ll visit.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors


By Kathy Waller

Do young female college graduates still worry about being consigned to the typing pool?

English: Smith-Premier Typewriter Company of S... English: Smith-Premier Typewriter Company of Syracuse, New York – Model 2 – December 1905 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That was a big issue when I was in college in the 1970s: It was well known that educated, qualified women often had to settle for clerical work while their male counterparts filled professional positions.

At a women’s conference I attended in the early 1980s, a college junior announced her plan to prevent such gender discrimination: Both she and her sister had decided they would never learn to type.

Her tone hinted that they looked at typing as royalty once looked at writing by hand: a variety of manual labor reserved for lesser folk. It occurred to me they might regret skipping that skill: after all, because Prince Hamlet could write, he was able to ensure…

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Books for Soldiers: Can You Help?


A U.S. Army chaplain is requesting donations of books to help soldiers he is counseling. His wish list is here, on the Amazon site.


Operation Paperback, a nonprofit organization that collects and sends “gently used” books to members of the military and their families, has approved his request.


If you can buy a gift book, Amazon will send it directly to the chaplain.





I thank mystery novelist Sandra Parshall, a Facebook friend, for sharing this information and the Amazon link. Visit Sandra at her website and on Facebook.








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Poems for My Nieces by Abbie Taylor

Abbie Taylor, one of my fellow bloggers at Writing Wanglers & Warriors, shared with the WW&W readers a poem she wrote for a thirteen-year-old girl. It might not have made me smile when I was thirteen, but now it does, so I’m sharing it with you.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors

I just received word from Wilda Morris that one of my poems is a March winner in her monthly poetry challenge on her blog. Last month’s challenge was to write a lullaby poem so I wrote one for my niece Isabella who is ten years old. You can read it plus other winning poems here.

Isabella’s not the only niece for whom I wrote a poem. Anna isn’t technically my niece, but she’ll be my step-niece in July when her mother marries my brother. After visiting them in Florida last Christmas, I was inspired to write the following poem which will appear in my new chapbook, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, to be published by Finishing Line Press.


 For Anna


Oh you of thirteen years,

when told you can’t go to the mall

or sleep over with a friend,

please understand that’s the…

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Monkey Mind

I am a distractible adult. I suffer from Monkey Mind.*

I wasn’t a distractible child. I listened in class, turned my assignments in on time, and made the honor roll. It’s true that I didn’t practice the piano or the clarinet as I should have, but there were extenuating circumstances.

Regarding the piano, my mother encouraged me and saw that a certain miminum standard was observed. But she also said she wanted me to learn to play well enough for the piano to be a pleasure rather than a burden.

The piano was a pleasure. I amused myself for hours playing pieces I wanted to play.

Pieces I wanted to play included anything my teacher hadn’t assigned. Scales, arpeggios, Czerny exercises–all those repetitive activities designed to develop skill–fell into the didn’t-want-to column.

As a result, the piano is now a major frustration, and I wish Mother had declared all-out war on her musical slacker.

The clarinet situation was more complex. As a fifth- and sixth-grader, I played daily for my own amusement, and for the amusement of my white-faced Hereford, Marie, who stood on her side of the fence while I entertained from a lawn chair on mine.

But when the euphoria triggered by receipt of my very own Boosey and Hawkes in its very own case had worn off, I realized that, in the hands of a novice, the clarinet is at best a noisemaker. And in concert, the trumpet gets all the good parts, like the melody. Practice was all tootle-tootle-tootle-rest-ooh-ooh-ooh-rest-tootle-tootle-tootle-rest-tootle-rest-rest-rest-repeat.

I loved music, so listening to myself was misery. My mother loved music as well, so being part of a captive audience must have been worse. Consequently, I believe my mother, realizing the clarinet would never be a pleasure to me or to anyone else in the family, except Marie, made certain accommodations. Possibly something like, The less tootling I have to listen to, the less I’ll nag her about the piano.

(No. That’s unfair, even in jest. Music was in my mother’s DNA. She’d have gladly put up with all the tootling I thought necessary.)

(For his part, my father was a saint. He used to joke that when he didn’t want to listen to something–or someone–he turned off his hearing aid. But he kept it on through all my noise. I know because twenty years later, Mother told me that during one evening’s tootling, “Polly Wolly Doodle,” to be exact, he looked up and said, “She’s playing a song.”)


Well. Having concluded that digression, whose connection to the rest of this post isn’t clear to me either, I’ll return to the original topic, and say that, aside from a talent for locking myself out of my car, the tendency to ditsiness lay dormant until a sudden surge six years ago this month. That’s when I left my position as a paralegal (and the structure it provided) to stay home and write. Or, to be more specific, when I bought a laptop and discovered wireless connectivity.

It’s strange how a device that should aid writers can be such a hindrance. Even when good intentions coincide with opportunity, there’s that tempting little Firefox icon lurking at the bottom of the screen. Throw in a tinge of curiosity about anything at all–the current state of your email inbox, the definition of a particular word, the spelling of distractibility, a peek at who’s doing what on Facebook, how old Peter Vaughn is and what Billie Whitelaw, who married him in 1952, looks like, since you know you’ve seen her but you can’t for the life of you remember her face . . . and you have to know now, and then one click leads to another . . .

It’s a slippery slope.

Anyway, I chose to write about Monkey Mind because after sitting in this coffee shop, staring at a blank LibreWriter screen and watching my mentor across the table just typing away, I grew restless, both physically and mentally. After a time, I gave up and in, opened Firefox, and surrendered to the lure of the Web.

Then a funny thing happened. Surfing usually stops the jiggliness I feel when staring at a blank page. Instead, the feeling increased. My mind scattered. My hands shook. To make things worse, an intense irritability set in. I was not in good shape.

Finally, just as I was ready to slam my laptop closed and stalk out, a word unrelated to icons and mice floated through my brain: hunger. Breakfast was only a distant memory. I wobbled to the counter. One orange juice and one banana later, jiggliness abated and writing began.

End of story.


Now for the Moral, which I direct to all those people–and they know who they are–who claim Monkey Mind is completely psychological, a self-indulgence created by literary Camilles, would-be writers who like to talk the talk but don’t want to walk the walk:

The Moral

Monkey Mind can’t always be cured by meditation, relaxation, Artist Dates, discipline, yoga, warm showers, outlining, daily affirmations, or a good swift kick.

Sometimes the only cure for Monkey Mind is lunch.


 * a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable” ~ Wikipedia

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