Wednesday, July 30, 2014

rambling thoughts about writing, reviews, etc etc etc

I love doing research

ANY kind of research.

I was one of those nerdy kids who thought writing a term paper was just the coolest.

Sitting in a library surrounded by books, writing on index cards - loved it!

But then I grew up and I became a secretary.

Now my life consisted of sitting in an office answering the phone and typing other people's notes and research.

Then I got a little older and realized, "Hey!  My real life is NOT confined to this office!"

I decided I wanted to do "stuff!"

I wanted to not be too tired to do fun things with Donald

I wanted to take pictures

I wanted to write

Truth of the matter is, it wasn't until I had a piece published in a regional anthology and received about enough "Attaboys!" from the people I worked with - make that "worked for," for me to realize it was past time to move on.

And why this is coming out today?

Well, actually, I have no idea.

I started out wanting to write something entirely different, but this is just what came out.  Guess it was time, huh?

Anyhooooo  -  I'm going to get back on track and tell you what I started out wanting to say.  It does, truly, tie together in a tangled sort of way.

When we first write a novel and we first start seeing reviews pop up at amazon, a lot of those reviews are from friends and family.  And they mean a great deal.  They help validate our efforts.  And they help balance out the really bad One Star reviews that crush our spirits.  And, in many cases, that is exactly what they're meant to do.  Not to be critically helpful, but to crush us.   And, admittedly, in my case - it worked.  I cried some mighty big tears.

I mean.




But then I realized, hell's bells, I was crying some mighty big tears over those great reviews too.  And in my own convoluted way of thinking, I decided, tears are tears - just let 'em flow.

'Course, what I really wanted to do was write back and say ugly words to the ugly people who said ugly words about a piece of my heart.

But, of course, I didn't.

But only because my friend Deborah Crombie reminded me that I just could not do that.  'Course, Deborah Crombie is also a much nicer person than I am . . .   She's also a brilliant writer, and an author who encourages other writers.  I'm proud to call her friend, and she's a person I listen to (even if I'm just eavesdropping on things she's actually saying to someone else).

Then there are those good and great reviews being written by people we don't know.


And we wonder how they even heard about our work.

And we're stunned.

And even more stunned that they took the time to write a review.

And we're grateful.

and humbled.

And we realize this is how it was supposed to work, but we maybe didn't realize it would work for us.  For "me."

All the promotion we worried about being too much is maybe paying off after all (but, was probably still too much).

And those people who do like our work are telling other people, and so it goes.

And we're just about getting used to all that.



Here's the cool thing.

The VERY cool thing that is happening to me and to Whimsey right now.

Since doing the three-day give-away at amazon's kindle store, I have started receiving reviews from new readers.

Some of those 3,000 people who took advantage of the give-away are starting to leave reviews.

I am stunned by the fact that Whimsey found its way to 3,000 new readers.

Brand new readers have discovered my Whimsey a year and a half after publication.

The word of mouth thing we all hope for is starting to pay off.

Now, don't get me wrong - I do know some of the people are going to hate it.  And they're going to say things that will make me cry.  But right now, the people who are leaving reviews and saying nice things are making me cry.  So. I'm back to my tears are tears - just let 'em flow thing.  I mean, really, what else can you do?

I'm sure there are many answers - including don't read the reviews.


That may be something a seasoned writer with loads of confidence can do.


I'm going to go read the reviews and I'm going to cry.

good tears/bad tears - I'm gonna cry.

What does any of this mean?

I have NO idea.

Maybe it's just that writing is, at least for me, a tear inducing labor of love.

And that it is way past time for me to get back to my Whimsey #2 manuscript.  Because people - people I have never met - have asked for it.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Are there benefits?

Some people question the wisdom in the amazon Kindle give-aways.  Is there a benefit to giving away your work for three days?  Is there a benefit to giving away your work for three days once those three days have ended?

Well, truth be told - I don't know.

I've done the give-aways before, but I've never really tracked what it does other than in the "Top Free Kindle" section of amazon.

This time, I watched it a little differently to see what it was doing elsewhere.

At first I watched only the Free rankings and "Whimsey: A Novel" did consistently well in the Free Contemporary Women's Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Southern Fiction, Girlfriends Fiction, Lowcountry Fiction, and Magical Realism novels.  Its ranking in the "Top Free Kindle" section surprised me by breaking the Top 100 for a while, and then hanging in the 100-120 range.

How did I come up with those particular categories to search?

Well, they're the categories I search fairly often at when I'm looking for something new to read.  I guess it only makes sense that because those are books I enjoy, that that's the kind of book I wrote.  

Yes, I love mysteries and thrillers and suspense and gothic and young adult and some westerns, but one book at a time . . . .  Whimsey has already drawn some criticism for not having a hard and fast niche, can you imagine this newbie writer attempting to force even more elements into a debut novel?  Pfft.  Readers would throw it against a wall.  Deservedly so.

Anyhoooo -

So this morning I carried my search for my Whimsey: A Novel into some of these same categories to see how it's doing now that the give-away is finished.  Remember now - these rankings are updated hourly, so they're very fluid.

Here's what I found:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,764,087 in Books

Searching in the KINDLE STORE:

Southern Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #47  (Behind Dorothea Benton Frank's THE HURRICANE SISTERS at #33, ahead of Mary Alice Monroe's THE SUMMER WIND at #48 - two of my favorite writers).

Southern Women's Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #2

Lowcountry Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #1

Girlfriend's Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #6

Magical Realism Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #3

Searching in BOOKS (rather than just in the KINDLE STORE):

Southern Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #70  

Southern Women's Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #6

Lowcountry Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #3

Girlfriend's Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #8

Magical Realism Fiction:  WHIMSEY is #5

Some more information that some of you considering whether to do Kindle give-aways at amazon or not.  

The first Kindle give-away I did was when Whimsey was first published.  There were a few hundred takers.

This time, after Whimsey has been out for over a year, there were over 3,000 takers.  

I didn't do any more promotion for this give-away than I did the first one.  I think the difference in the number of takers comes from the fact that people who have already read Whimsey jumped on the bandwagon and helped promote it by telling their friends, who told their friends, etc.  If you were one of these folks - Mwah!  Thank You!

Some of you may be shaking your head saying, "you GAVE AWAY 3,000 copies of your book?!"  Well, here's the thing - those 3,000 people weren't buying the book on its own, or they would have already bought it.  So now I have 3,000 more people knowing about it than I did 4 days ago.  Hopefully, some of these people will enjoy it enough to pass the word. 

Word of mouth is still the best selling tool for books, in my opinion.  And for an indy author, that's a "for sure."

You notice I said, "Hopefully, some of these people will enjoy it enough to pass the word."

There's always that other side of the coin.  Some people are going to hate it.  And they are not going to hesitate to tell me and the rest of the amazon reading world just how much they hate it.  

And yes, it's gonna hurt.  But, there's not a thing in the world I can do about it.

I mean, I "could."  I could attack right back, and those of you who know me, know just how likely I am to jump back into the fray . . . 

But.  I'm not going to do that.

What confuses me is the number of people who don't like a book, but will still read it till the end.  Why??  Life is too short to read a book you hate.  Isn't it?  It is for me.  

But, anyhoooooo - - - 

I started putting these numbers and rankings together just to see what was what.  

Some of you may be considering whether or not you're going to do a Kindle give-away, and if you want to do it for one day, or five days.  Simultaneously, or broken up day by day.  Maybe this will help you decide what you'd like to do.

Whatever you decide - I wish you luck.

Just as I believe women should stick together, I believe writers should stick together.  Be they traditionally published, indy published, whatever.  Writers of literary fiction, genre fiction, whatever.

And if you're read Whimsey - Thank You!  I hope you enjoyed it!  
If you haven't, I hope you'll give it a try, AND, I hope you enjoy it.

Donald (silly man!) spots Whimsey at Quarter Moon books, Topsail Island, NC
I'll be doing a signing there again this year in September

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Review

I don't do many reviews here.  

I'm just really not very good at it.

A review should consist of more than "OH!  I loved this book!"  And, sadly, that's about the best I seem to be able to come up with.

Except - every once in a while a book will find its way to me that I can't just put on the shelf without first sharing it with people.

Martha Woodroof's SMALL BLESSINGS is one of those.

I'm always a sucker for small town stories. You know you're going to meet some off-beat characters, and there are a gracious plenty of them living in this small college community. When a writer is able to bring them to life, rather than just drawing another caricature, it's especially satisfying. I loved every word of this delightful, heartwarming novel which never drifted into the "too sweet" side of storytelling. Miss Woodroof managed to throw some surprises at us along the way, and kept me on my toes waiting for the next one. Fans of "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" might want to give it a try.

And . . . breaking a hundred - wheeeeee!

You can still get your free copy today and tomorrow in the Kindle Store

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Whimsey is on the rise!

UPDATE:  Whimsey: A Novel is now #16 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction

Whimsey: A Novel is now #9 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Women's Fiction

AND -  Whimsey: A Novel is now #19 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Women's Fiction

Thanks to all of you who have downloaded the free eBook!

It will be free for two more days.  I hope you'll give it a try, and I hope you'll tell all your friends.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WHIMSEY: A NOVEL - free for three days

Planning a trip to the beach?  
Taking your Kindle?
Well, alrighty then.
You can load a free copy of WHIMSEY; A NOVEL to take along with you.
Free for three days at amazon's Kindle store ( )  - July 24, 25 and 26.  
I've given up trying to decide what section of your bookshelf it should go on, but you can choose one of these labels 'cause they're what others have chosen to label it, and they're all okay by me - girlfriend book, southern lit, magical realism, beach read, feel good book, lowcountry novel.  And now we can add "free EBook."
It's been compared to work by Sarah Addison Allen, Dorothea Benton Frank and Ellery Adams, which tickles the daylights out of me.

I hope you'll give it a try, and will pass the word to tell your friends and family about the free promotion.

And - I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

War. Peace. Prayer

Remember this poster?

If you're in a certain age group, you may have had this hanging on your apartment wall just like I did.

I wish I still had it.  

It would still be hanging on a wall in my home.

But, because we've become more sophisticated, we now have this sort of protest replacing the old posters.

Brings things up close and personal, doesn't it?

Just because it's not happening here, doesn't mean it's not happening.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saying Goodbye - - -

Saying goodbye is never easy.  Why is it hard even when it involves people you've never met?

Well, speaking for myself, I think it's because some people just shine a little brighter.  They touch so many of us in ways mere mortals just aren't able.  And when they leave, while they leave a hole in a place that was all theirs, they also leave our lives a little richer.

Elaine Stritch was, to me, bigger than life.  One of those salty old broads that makes that very term one to try to live up to.  Proudly.

Elaine Stritch 
February 2, 1925 - July 17, 2014

 and . . .

James Garner.
Oh, my. What woman my age didn't have a crush on James Garner?  

  1. James Garner
  2. April 7, 1928 - July 19, 2014

My first memories of Mr. Garner are watching Maverick with my dad.  I don't remember what night it came on, and I don't remember the entire line-up, but it seems like there was a never-ending cycle of cowboys.  Remember?  GunsmokeThe Lone RangerThe Rifleman, Wanted: Dead or AliveLaramieHave Gun, Will TravelBonanzaThe VirginianWagon TrainThe Big ValleyThe High ChaparralThe Gene Autry ShowSugarfootCheyenne,  Palladin.  I loved those shows.  But none more than Maverick.  

And then we fell in love with him all over again as Rockford.

And, if that's not enough, here's the man he was away from Hollywood - - - 

James Garner with Diahann Carroll at the March on Washington 1963

Saying good-bye, and  thank you.  You enriched a lot of lives for a lot of years, which is no small thing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Journals, and Stickers, and Pens - oh my!

Those of you who have been checking in for the past few days will have figured out that I've been a bit consumed (and pissed) about politics.

I don't know how long some of you have been hanging around Meanderings and Muses, but if you've been here for a while, you'll know that I have a policy that I try to live by.  But one, sadly, I seem to have temporarily forgotten.


I remembered it and I'm here to set it right.

The policy was that after I had a rant, thrown a fit, pitched a hissy, whatever you care to call it, I would follow up the negative with a positive.

Enough with the negative already - here's my positive.

I am addicted to office supplies.

Hmmmmm - can an addiction be a "positive" thing?

Well, it could be worse, right?

So, yeah - we're going to say, "yes, an addiction to office supplies *can* be a good thing."

Well - I mean, hey, look at all the pretty colors!

How anyone on God's green earth can pass by a box of crayons, or colored pencils, a book of stencils or - oh, my god - fountain pens with colored ink!  Or, EEK!, a journal!  Without at least longing for them, well, that just beats the heck out of me.  Can you do it?  

I am able to pass by some of these things some of the time.  But, I have to say, if I allow myself to go into an office supply store too many days in a row, I am going to find myself to be a very weak girl.  

And am I going to allow myself to feel guilty about it?  Are you kidding?! 


Not one iota.  

Nope.  Not one.

I'm going to pull out my crayons and my stickers and a bright shiny new journal and I am going to play to my heart's content.

That's part of the fun of being a grown-up - being able to play when you want.  And take naps (or not) when you want.

I had forgotten - but only for a short little while - just how important it is to play.

Tonight I'm going to play.  

Politics be damned.  

I feel like coloring.

Where IS my crimson . . . 

So . . .

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lou Allin - RIP

Many of you knew Lou Allin

I have only just heard that she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday.

To honor Lou, I'm reposting two of the pieces she wrote for Meanderings and Muses.

Rest in peace, Lou, you will be missed.

Tell Me the Landscape by Lou Allin

Lou Allin is the author of the Belle Palmer mysteries set in Northern Ontario, ending withMemories are Murder. Now living on Vancouver Island with her border collies and mini-poodle, she is working on a new series where the rainforest meets the sea. On the Surface Die and She Felt No Pain feature RCMP Corporal, Holly Martin, in charge of a small detachment near Victoria. In 2010 Lou will debut That Dog Won’t Hunt, a novella in Orca’s Raven Reads editions for adults with literacy issues. Her website and she may be reached at
Lou's work view is of Washington State across from the Strait of Juan de Fuca looking at Port Angeles

Tell Me the Landscape by Lou Allin
Northern Ontario and Canada’s Caribbean are as far apart in reputation as in distance, but they’ve been my home. Seven months of winter or of rain, I made peace with my environment by taking Ortega y Gassett’s advice:“Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are.” 
The Nickel Capital of Sudbury, ravaged for a century by logging, mining, smelting, and acid rain, is no longer the black moonscape where astronauts supposedly trained. In the thirty years that I lived there, an immense regreening program turned the city into a model of environmentalism. Rye-on-the-rocks brought back the grass, and over twenty million pine seedlings were planted in an effort shared by community, business, and government.
Living on a vast meteor-crater lake north of the city, I was blessed with crown land in all directions. Not only could I forge for hours on my own paths with my dogs, but I could paddle a canoe to quiet inlets where bass bit and peregrines nested on high cliffs. The landscape called me to sing its praises. In a paradise of two hundred lakes, I gave my realtor sleuth Belle Palmer a specialty in cottage properties so that she could roam, too.
My first mystery, NORTHERN WINTERS ARE MURDER, opened with a snowmobile accident and the cover picture of a hand frozen in a lake. Like me, Belle rode a modest 250 Bravo, VW of the snowmachine world. What better ending than a rip-roaring chase from jewel to jewel with the ice thawing at the edges? Winter freed us from summer’s limitations.
Switching seasons, BLACKFLIES ARE MURDER’s cover had a pail spilling blueberries and suspicious blood dotting the bushes. The bear-baiting in the initial scene was taken from memory, an ursine smorgasbord of doughnuts tied into alders and lemon pies on rock shelves. Bug dope stained every page, and I have the memory welts to prove it.
The wilderness was ideal territory for dogs, and Belle lived with Freya, a hardy German shepherd. But what about sending a mini-poodle puppy into a blizzard? BUSH POODLES ARE MURDERfeatured an apricot devil whose paws had to be thawed from ice balls every ten minutes on the snowshoe path. Tiny Strudel (Friday in real life) became a mighty huntress of shrews. On the cover she posed proudly in her Anna Karenina cape.

The beauties of autumn presented a new challenge in MURDER, EH? The final chase scene ended at Thor Lake, faithful to topographical maps. Since each of my books featured a relevant recipe, luckily a deserted cabin had the ingredients for nutritious bannock. To add a macabre touch, the remote lake, accessible only by train, was the scene of a murder-suicide this year.
The final entry, MEMORIES ARE MURDER served up the fly-ridden Burwash area, former scene of an Ontario prison from which no man ever escaped. Elk had been relocated there in a pilot program a few years ago. Belle’s old high-school boyfriend, a zoologist, came north to study the animals and drowned mysteriously. In another life-imitates-art moment, just before the book appeared, hunters found the body of a missing woman very near the opening scene location.

Though evidence pointed to the husband and an accomplice, charges have not been laid.

After leaving behind my plow truck, two snowblowers, five shovels, and a scoop, I moved to Canada’s Caribbean, the southeast coast of Vancouver Island, where the rain forest meets the sea. Bananas and kiwis grow in my yard. Bugs flee the salt air. “Welcome to Paradise,” the realtors say, but they know that BC also means “Bring cash.”
The climate is mild, neither too hot nor too cold. The snow-capped Olympic Mountains in Washington State across the Strait of Juan de Fuca assume a life of their own as mist rolls in and foghorns moan. But gone is the wilderness. The timber companies have been raping the land for over a century, threatening job losses if challenged. They own the major portion of the island and prefer to log near the water where it’s more convenient. Only through world pressure was the treasured Clayoquot Sound saved from the saw. With the market for lumber floundering, their latest plan is to convert their leases to real estate and reap a million dollars an acre. Only sensible zoning can prevent that, and it’s going to be a hard fight.
In my new series, starting with AND ON THE SURFACE DIE, Holly Martin, RCMP corporal, commands a small detachment west of Victoria. She may not have blizzards, but the book ends with a century typhoon that hit as I arrived in 2006. There was no Christmas that year, only two five-day power outages as thousands of three-hundred-foot Douglas firs fell uprooted across power lines, crushing cars and houses. It’s a rough way to make the front page of The Globe and Mail, my neighbour said, her seven-acre waterfront estate of Sitka spruces now a war zone. Woodpiles will be stocked for years, but burning the debris (landfills are scarce on an island) filled the air with smoke January to June.

Learning about my new home has brought more guidebooks. Instead of blueberries, we have salmonberries, salal berries, and the toughest plant in the world, Himalayan blackberries. Tomatoes won’t grow on this windy coast, but artichokes thrive. Bald eagles soar, and western jays squawk. We still have bear aplenty, and deer, too, but elk have replaced moose. How odd that the island has no foxes, but small wonder that it has a rabbit overpopulation. No poisonous snakes, but poisonous salamanders. And an unusual gift, banana slugs, a helpful detrivore which scours the environment and has only one lung! Always present is the generous beast of the Pacific, bringer of crab, shrimp, salmon and “hali,” in this former fishing village, Sooke. With its intertidal zones, world-famous Botanical Beach sets the murder scene in AND ON THE SURFACE DIE. At low tide, the sea creatures emerge. Mussels, starfish, anemones, rock crabs, and the primitive chitons, especially the gum boot variety, huge pink erasers weighing several pounds.
As I was an ambassador for Sudbury, showing its beauties to the world, I’m now sounding warnings for this spectacular part of Canada. Vancouver Island stands on the brink of disaster not only because of the logging, but because so many people want to come and live here. Locals feel like “pulling up the drawbridge,” and perhaps the rising ferry fares will do that. It’s not just our whales that need saving from “development” and the attendant pollution. It’s the land itself. Will the green forces succeed or will we be paving paradise again?

I'm the Bush Poodle, not the Blind Poodle by Lou Allin

Born in Toronto, Lou Allin grew up in Cleveland. She received a PhD in English Renaissance Literature and spent three decades in Northern Ontario as a professor of English.
With a cottage on a frozen lake as her inspiration, she started her Belle Palmer series, featuring a realtor and her German shepherd, beginning with Northern Winters Are Murder.
Lou has moved to Canada’s Caribbean, Vancouver Island, with Friday the mini-poodle and Zodie and Zia the border collies, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Her island series stars RCMP corporal Holly Martin: And on the Surface Die, She Felt No Pain and the upcoming Twilight is Not Good for Maidens.
Lou’s standalones are A Little Learning is a Murderous Thing (set in Michigan)and Man Corn Murders (Utah). That Dog Won’t Hunt is designed to appeal to reluctant adult readers. Watch for Contingency Plan in the same series.

I’m the Bush Poodle, not the Blind Poodle
by Lou Allin
          "The hunchback of Notre Dame with a Rastafarian haircut. Cute," Belle Palmer observed as a six-pound bundle of coppery fur with a woolly chest squirrelled past, leaped to pose standing on thin, shaved legs on a rocky outcrop, and then sprang off to clamp onto Freya's nodding German shepherd tail until long hairs dangled from its tiny jaws. An insult to the dog kingdom, she thought, a $700 rodent.
          "Strudel's her name. She's good enough to eat," Miriam MacDonald said.
          How many dogs have their own mystery novel? I’m a writer and a dog lover, so all of my dogs get that privilege. This excerpt comes from Bush Poodles are Murder,written in 2001. Friday (her real name) is now ten and blind. It’s both a special responsibility and a great honour to have her as my friend and companion.
          I first saw Chile Pepper (as she was called by her breeder) when she was eight weeks old. We had gone down to southern Ontario to buy a mini-poodle to fit well with our German shepherd when traveling in our truck’s extended cab. At that time we thought that poodles were low maintenance since they didn’t shed. Big mistake, that.
          The GMC’s rear seats had been replaced with a padded platform. That’s where Friday’s crate went. Her 120 pound  “brother” Nikon was instructed firmly not to approach the baby. He became her guardian for the five years he had left, a gentle giant.
          On our honeymoon night we camped in a crowded provincial park near a shale beach. It was humid and hotter than hell, even for Ontario. As we took her leashless around the large campground, she stayed by our feet like a furry magnet. But just in case, we put a collar and rope on her and tied her to a picnic table while we made dinner. Like a wild colt, she thrashed and screamed like she was being tortured. What she was telling us was that she was bonded. Friday was smart enough to know that she was home wherever we were.
          As we sweltered in the small tent, flaps open, with our two dogs and bulky air mattresses, Nikon stepped out for a breath of air. Fumbling in the dark, I went after him. When he got back in the tent, he stepped on the keys and hit the remote horn. The truck started blasting all over the campground, waking two hundred people before we found the control tangled in the sleeping bags. It was an auspicious start.
          How could I resist putting her in my next series book? To hype the necessary conflict, I made her a spoiled little girl, but a gutsy heroine in the final scenes where she and the main character find themselves without shelter during a Northern Ontario blizzard. There’s a reason that in the picture she has blood on her mouth and a look of satisfaction. She’s also wearing her Anna Karenina cape. A picture of her jumping with snow in the background put her on the cover of Dogs in Canada. Not bad for a six-month pup.       
          Since we lived in the woods, aka the bush, she was out every day, winter and summer, hiking or snowshoeing. A mighty mouse, she was fearless but prudent. Speed was her salvation. Once an agile young Doberman met us around a corner and started chasing her. Off they went down the woodsy paths and out of sight. “My money’s on the poodle,” my partner said. I envisioned the worst, but in a few minutes, back she came, having led the hapless Dobe on a wild chase and looping back through the woods. Agile lightning.
          Even at -25C, she never missed a trek, wearing her monogrammed purple fleece and nylon parka with slots for handwarmers. The corkscrew nature of poodle hair meant that her paws would become duck feet and have to be “deballed” every fifteen minutes. Once we tried a pair of Mutlucks, but they flew off as she sped along. I tied them in a fir tree on our favourite path.
          As five years passed and we moved to Vancouver Island, Friday’s night vision was worsening. An exam showed the beginning stages of retinal atrophy, a  common genetic weakness. Since the onset occurs after the age of five, her parents wouldn’t have shown the disposition.
          She carried on normally for a few more years as we moved into border collies and started agility training. Friday would chase hell for leather after the bouncing tennis balls from the Chuck-it. Woe to the border collie who got in her way. She was Alpha Bitch at fifteen pounds. She soon adapted to the winter rains and traded her parka for a yellow rain slicker.
          Two years ago, cataracts put her lights out. There was no use operating on them with the underlying retinal problem. But the blindness had come so slowly that she adapted perfectly. Now she uses her sense of smell and hearing to follow our feet into the rainforest and up and down clear-cut roads. Only near a precipice do I use a leash just for precaution.
          When we reach a lake or creek, she remembers that she used to dive for stones, pull them onto shore, and then paw at them in an homage to her terrier roots. She still does this at shore’s edge, but we spit on the stone so that she can better locate it and drop it only inches from her powerful nose. She’s still in on the game! Next treat for her will be a salmonberry or blackberry as they ripen on our magical island. As for mud, she slogs with us through the worst bogs in spring, navigating roots and rocks and up to her knees in muck. At home it’s into the bathtub with me for a good soaping.
          Does she bump into things? Of course. She gives an “oof,” has a restorative shake, and marches on. We never leave her behind, even when we’re backpacking into the wilderness where she might (and we might) might be cougar bait. Life is no fun behind the door. Inclusion is a debt we will happily pay for the years of happiness she’s given us.
          In the tri-level house, she goes up and down the stairs like a pro, then jumps onto the ottoman where she holds court in safety while the border collie chases a toy. The ritual is familiar. “Ready, steady,” then “break!” On the last word, she jumps to a pouncing position. “Ruff, ruff!” she calls down in that commanding poodle way. She’s still participating.
           While she used to jump on the bed with aplomb, that was one trick she had to abandon, or so I thought. Having been in a kennel for a few days while we flew to Arizona, she was very excited on my return. She leaped up on pure faith when I patted the bed. The other day she did the same thing in the rear of our Ford Focus wagon where she rides in a crate. So eager was she to leave for the walk that she leaped up into the back by herself. Our border collie Zia, already crated, might have been telling her that the way was clear.
          Friday depends on us to watch out for her without setting too many limits.  She is as much a lover of life and challenges as she ever was, teaching us lessons about bravery and adaptation AND the sheer joy of action. I’m not her owner. I’m the partner of one very intelligent and truly amazing little dog.