Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A friend remembered

Today I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend.

Almost eight years ago to the day, a colleague delivered a spectacularly beautiful, excitable, affectionate bundle of Australian mongreldom to our front door. Patches' previous owners had decided that they didn't have the time to care for her. We were looking for a dog for our son and there she was. I took one look at those anxious brown eyes and was lost.

She was a funny mix of a dog. Her broad forehead and stocky torso screamed Queensland Heeler, as did her need to protect everything and everyone in the household. That chunky body was perched precariously on delicate Australian Shepherd legs and her coloring was clearly a legacy from the Aussie Shepherd side. She was beautiful, with absurdly large, pointy ears and a kissable pink spot on her muzzle.

Patches also dispelled the myth that mongrels enjoy rude health. Her mixed parentage led to a damaged hind leg, probably from racing like a fool around the backyard. There was the time I was summoned home from work to take her to the vet when she was bitten by something and one side of her face swelled up so much she looked more like a pit-bull. Then, there was the arthritis in her neck and spine. A cruel ailment for such a lively dog. We were lucky there because she only ever had a couple of flare-ups. Our other dog, Otto, kept her young.

I had a host of nicknames for her. Fusspot was one of them, because of her fussy little anxious steps and her worried expression. Plus, if my husband and I ever argued she would push between us and bark at him, warning him to keep away from me. She loved to have her chest rubbed and would rest her paw on my arm to keep me from stopping while she sat there grinning.

Then, there's Otto, a lumbering, good-natured chocolate labrador who was twice her weight. Yet, when it came to rough-housing in the back yard, all Patches had to do to bring him down was dive for one of his legs, pull it out from underneath him and that was the match won. They adored each other. They slept side by side, they cleaned each other, fussed over each other but she was always the boss. Today, Otto is subdued and quiet. He saw his friend get in the car and saw me walk into the house with an empty collar and lead. He knows, somehow, that she's not coming home and his sad resignation breaks my heart.

I'm sitting here watching Otto sprawled on the floor without his fussy little shadow. My eyes are burning a little. The Valley Fever that he seems perfectly able to live with, made his friend cough, killed her appetite and left her lethargic. We're leaving in a few days, we can't take him with us and we're hoping to leave him with a good home. He's young, he has a chance. Patches wouldn't have had that chance. I hated the thought of her spending her last days in a crowded, noisy shelter among strangers. It wasn't right, it wasn't the way I wanted to leave my good friend. Luckily, our vet saw that letting Patches go quietly and peacefully in that special, quiet room in her surgery was the kindest thing to do.

Since I was the one who welcomed Patches into our home, since I was the one she protected and fussed over, it seemed only right that I be there when she left this world. I can barely see as I write this. I know, that somehow, somewhere, I'll see my little Fusspot again.

Love you, Fusspot.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I picked up a Stray.

It's been a while since I've played with my blog. To be honest, I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it in the long term. Then there's all the drama of orchestrating a trans-Atlantic relocation to factor in. Thanks for my former employers we're now up the Swanee with a teaspoon instead of a paddle and have to return to the UK.

I've been distracting myself with a lot of writing and a little reading between spurts of paperwork, booking things, etc. I bought my first e-book the other day. It was written by Ash Penn who is a very fine writer and an ace Beta-reader. Since she's patiently reading through the chapters of my WIP as I finish them I thought the least I could do was to review her latest release, 'Stray'.

Stray is available through Loose-ID and it's frightening how easy it is to buy a book from them. This may bode ill for my bank account in the future.

Anyway, let's stop the babble and talk about 'Stray'.

The protagonist, Terry, is a bit of a bastard when we first meet him. He's cynical, damaged, hopelessly lusting after his housemate, Marc, whose just brought a stray home. The stray, in this case is a pale, delicate waif called Dan. Terry takes an instant dislike to him, believing the lad to be Marc's latest squeeze and, worse, someone who's out to take advantage of Marc's generosity. Terry's way of putting Dan in his place is a rather perfunctory (but hot) shag over the kitchen table.

Alas, that first taste of forbidden fruit ends up not being enough for Terry. In spite of his, apparently, hostile feelings towards Dan, it doesn't stop Terry from availing himself of Dan's charms again.

Where this all leads to is well worth the read. Penn has a real gift for creating very believable, flawed characters, all moving around in very real settings. The story is emotionally engaging and you'll want to know how it all shakes out. There's plenty of misunderstandings, heartache and trouble on the way but that's real life for you. 'Stray' is well worth a read. It's certainly a book that'll be hanging around on my hard drive for a long time to be visited again. It's m/m erotica at its best. It's not just about the sex, it's about the story.

You can click on this link Stray to find out more. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.