Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Luke needs a new home

We had an "incident" yesterday. Jacob was petting Luke, petting his face, albeit working around the Elizabethan collar, when for no reason that I could see Luke growled and snapped. Jacob pulled his hand away and no damage was down, except that Jacob was scared. I put the dog in his crate and Jacob in the office and we continued with homework. Late that afternoon, Jordan, neighbor Jay (the handsome one), and I had a happy-hour discussion--it required wine and beer--and after much talk agreed that Luke is trainable and I should hire a trainer. I went to call, made the first appointment for a consultation that I could--October 22. Until then, I was to keep child and dog apart. Then I left a message for a second trainer who has not yet returned my call.
Last night I prayed about Luke--yes, I'm a praying person and I talk to the Lord when I go to bed. The Lord chose five o'clock this morning to wake me--you know how those five o'clock thoughts are--and suddenly it was clear as a bell. Luke needs a new home, without children or other dogs, where he can get the love he craves and the training he needs. I began the process today, registering with sites, contacting a couple of people whose names were given to me.
This breaks my heart because Luke is the sweetest, prettiest, most loving dog ever. His whole body wiggles in excitement when I come near him. But truth be told, he's high energy, excitable, and unpredictable.
My main concern--and I will not give up on it--is to find him a good and safe home. I read a post the other day quoting a dog fighter who told how he gets bait dogs and cats (good gosh almighty, I didn't know they used cats!) and it scared me. His wife dresses up nicely and goes to take a dog offered for free. For that reason, I put a fee on Luke. After all, he comes neutered (newly) and with a crate, plus antibiotics. I don't want him to fall into such hands, and I don't want him to go to another shelter--I got him from one.
This has been a learning experience for me--yes, an expensive one. But it answers the question of whether or not Sophie wants a companion. She doesn't, and she and I were fine alone. We have a house that is open to all and many guests come to my door. I want them to be welcome and relaxed, not on guard. Of course I don't want to endanger Jacob, but I also don't want to endanger the neat teenager who pet-sits...or Sophie...or me. And I don't want to change the wonderful lifestyle I enjoy because of a dog's problems. Believe me, this was a wrenchingly hard decision.
If you know of someone who will love and train Luke, let me know. I will require references, veterinary referrals, probably a promise from God. But I will find him a good home.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday night and the high life

Ah, Saturday night when people party and celebrate the weekend. I'm home with Jacob, who is glued to Fox 4 waiting for the Baylor game. We had wonderful sweet corn (so sweet!) and buttery broccoli for supper--you know it's good when he eats two helpings. I worried about a "meat" or "protein" dish--gave him peanut butter and honey and had tuna left from lunch for myself. A satisfying meal.
Things progress well on the dog front--last night we had the two dogs in the same room. There was no hostility, but an electric atmosphere of excitement...with a measure of jealousy thrown in. Today I put Sophie out for a couple of hours and let Luke in--he wandered the house. Turns out he loves toys, which is okay, and loves to get on the couch, which is not okay.
After all my denial, Luke definitely has kennel cough. Went by the vet's for yet another antibiotic--the dog is now a walking pharmacy. But he gets sweeter by the day. Greg came by to mow today--loved on Luke outside and said, "You can tell he hasn't had much love." Then of course he had to come in and love on Sophie who was having conniptions of jealousy.
Not exactly a lazy day--by eight this morning, I was putting meat and sauce in the crockpot for pulled beef barbecue for tomorrow night's dinner. Still have to do the finishing touches to the sauce and pull the meat (the part that really frustrates me) tonight. Went to the vet, the bank, dropped off a book, and, finally the grocery. Came home and made a Bundt cake--also for tomorrow night when there will be eight of us. I'm a big believer in potluck, so Subie and Phil will bring cole slaw, Jordan will bring potato salad, Jay and Susan will bring sweet northern beans. I have Texas caviar and a block of cream cheese to cover with raspberry chipotle for appetizers. Sounds like a good meal to me.
All that activity called for a long nap. When I woke up, Jacob was sitting in the living room. He said his mom told him not to answer the door for anybody and to wake me at four-thirty.
So now the big dilemma--will I write or keep reading the book that has me so intrigued. It's The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elias McNeal. I'm hooked on that series--so much WWII history. This one leads up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the intelligence that could have prevented it. Guess that settles it--I'll take book and a glass of wine to the deck and visit with Luke (do you know how hard it is to learn to say deck and not porch?).

Friday, September 26, 2014

In defense of Facebook

At dinner last night I was telling a friend how I found my new dog on Facebook and how involved I am in posting about lost and endangered dogs. Her reply was, "I just can't do it. I know there's good stuff, but I'd have to scroll through so much junk. I just don't have the patience for it." I also hear people complain about how FB keeps changing how they do things--I've noticed a few changes but nothing serious. So I'm here to say I really like Facebook a lot. I realize it's a time-suck, and I spend far too much time on it, especially late at night.
But for one thing FB is a place where I learn not only about my friends but about world events--it's often the first place I read breaking news because I'm not inclined to keep the TV on all day nor to check the news. I can't remember now which news but I think, for instance, it was the first place I read about the shooting of the young black man in Ferguson, Missouri. And it may well have been where I learned that we were sending air strikes against Syria. Yeah, it's not always good news and you have to be careful of sources, but it keeps me informed.
Facebook is where I've come to know a lot of people--some who share my political beliefs, many fellow mystery authors, a few random people I've met once or twice and then developed a FB friendship with. I've got a whole world of friends I wouldn't otherwise have.
On a purely practical note, Facebook gives me the perfect place to tell folks about my books--an important tool in my marketing plan--and to share my blog, which now attracts a goodly number of readers daily. When people say they can't do FB, I say it's a necessity for me to advance my writing.
Finally, it gives me a platform. Call me egotistic or whatever, but I like somewhere to push for causes that I care about. A big one is animal welfare, as you may have noticed. I post so many pictures of endangered animals, mostly dogs, that a good friend threatened to unfriend me because they made her so sad. I felt that way once and asked friend Kathy Edwards why she posted so many sad pictures. She replied she simply had to. Now I'm on her team. Proof of the pudding, a week ago I brought home a dog I'd seen on FB. When I saw that he had until eleven o'clock the next morning to live, I promptly went and got him. He has lots of needs--heartworms, neutering, and--most of all--love, and fitting him in with the dog who thinks she rules the roost is not fun. But we're making progress. There are so many pitiful creatures out there.
Finally, I have pretty strong liberal views, and I make no bones about it. I hope that won't stop anyone from buying my books--which do not push my political views. But when I see blatant lies and crude criticisms on FB, I find myself unable to keep quiet. I know, I know--lots of people say they don't discuss politics or religion. I think it's important to stand up for what you believe, and I keep remembering Nazi Germany where no one spoke out. So I voice my opinions, I criticize politicians I think deserve it, and I praise those I think deserve that. I've lost some friends over it, but strangely I've made some friends from the other side of the fence. I think we enjoy exchanging diverse opinions. I'll keep speaking out until November. I can't walk the block, can't donate heavily, but this is what I can do.
What to ask me about religion? I'll gladly be open about that. I'm a believer, a Christian who goes to church often but not regularly but makes God and prayer a central part of my life. My faith is essential to me. Somehow that's not as controversial as politics.
Yeah, I'm a fan of Facebook.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What happened to civility, let alone respect?

A friend of mine is spending the fall in Hungary while her husband fulfills a Rhodes teaching fellowship. I'm vicariously enjoying the entire experience with them, including their European tour before settling down in Debrecen. But she wrote last night that she thinks she will have to temporarily unfriend me until they come home. She is dismayed at the vituperative nature of some comments on my posts and, feeling that she and her husband are representing the United States, doesn't want her Hungarian friends to see how crass and disrespectful some Americans are toward their president.
I know what she's talking about. Recently a photographer caught Michelle Obama in an unguarded moment, playing with some children, with a expression on her face that mixed mock surprise and horror. It was spontaneous and the kids probably loved it, but it was not the most charming picture of our First Lady. Some of the comments were so mean and in such poor taste that I was moved to comment--and the vile comments continued about how ugly she is.
Now the "coffee cup salute" has gone viral on the Web and shown up on TV. I agree--the President should have handed the cup to an aide and saluted properly, but I don't think it's calls for such responses as "He's an ass" to "Don't insult an ass that way." It's turned out to be a tempest in a teapot since there is slight history of the presidential salute (President Reagan started it) and there's a funny picture of George W. Bush trying to salute while holding a dog. All but die-hard critics of the Obamas have dismissed the incident.
But there are those die-hard critics, waiting for one of the presidential couple to make the tiniest mis-step. Come on folks, this is the President and his First Lady, elected twice by a large majority of the American public. In spite of that, he has aroused more hate in a minority than I ever thought possible--and they are loud, crude and rude in expressing that hate. The Ugly American come back to life. Makes me, for one, embarrassed to be an American, especially a Texan.
I said it before in a post but it bears repeating: it's one thing to disagree on politics or policy in a reasonable and polite manner; it's another to attack personally (one person refers to him as a Muslim Marxist, after insisting on calling him the "half-Kenyan" for a long time).
Saddest of all, despite vehement denials, these remarks betray the deep strain of racism that is still strong in our country. Makes me despair!
This has taught me a strong lesson and I'm going to watch my posts more carefully. I have been a little too quick to make a joke or laugh at one--as when Gov. Perry said Juarez was the most dangerous city in Texas. But I hope I've never sunk to using profanity and crude personal attacks. Even so I'll be more careful.
One thing I don't understand: the list of achievements the President has made for this country is impressive: lowering the deficit, lowering the unemployment rate, the Affordable Care Act (hush! it's working in states where it is allowed to). The Republican House on the other hand has offered no credible bills, stalled bills from the Senate, defeated minimum wage increase, equal pay, veterans' benefits. They've been on vacation more than they've worked. Why do people dump on the President for failures in our country? It goes beyond partisanship, though that too is alive and well unfortunately.
Maybe Nancy can just hide my posts so I can still see hers but the lack of class in some Americans won't embarrass her in Hungary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let’s Put Out an Anthology

Please welcome my Wednesday guest, Kaye George, national bestselling and multiple-award-winning mystery writer, who writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy (humorous mysteries), Cressa Carraway (Eine Kleine Murder, Silver Falchion Finalist Musical Mystery - Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Neanderthal Mystery - Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat (Berkley Prime Crime cozies). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.


Does anyone remember the old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movies where the solution to everything was, “Let’s put on a show!” Or reruns of them? I wonder if an updated version could be, “Let’s put out an anthology!”

It started innocently enough. My own hubby rode the Megabus to DC, about an eight-hour journey. That’s not bad, because it takes about the same amount of time to drive it. There was one brief stop in Virginia and the rest of the time they were rolling. It got me thinking about the mysteries where everyone is marooned somewhere together. Someone is murdered, and everyone knows that one of THEM is the killer. Would not a Megabus be a great place for one of those?

When I was considering taking the same trip myself, Kathy Waller, a fellow member of the Austin Mystery Writers, told me to be careful of “Murder on the Megabus.” Laura Oles countered with more in the series to be called “Trouble on the Train” and “Mayhem on the Motorcycle.” Things spiraled from there, with more titles than we could possibly write ("Felony in First Class" "Butchery on the Bicycle" "Rub Out on Roller Skates" "Bloodshed in the Barouche-landau" "Scream on a Scooter" to name a few). I don’t think a single one of these was used in the end, but Kathy named the series “Murder on Wheels,” and then Gale Albright suggested an anthology. We were off!

We put together a timeline that we stuck to for a short time. We started writing in June of 2013 with the goal of editing each other’s stories in January. We wanted to have all our rewrites done by end of February 2014, format the ebook and paperback and publish in April.

Somewhere along the line, it occurred to us that we might acquire a publisher. To make the work more appealing, we invited two well-known Texas writers, Earl Staggs and Reavis Z. Wortham. To our surprise, they both said yes and sent in awesome stories with a “wheel” theme. We also hired Ramona Long to edit all of them and suggest a story order.

Gale started gathering names of possible publishers, but we still thought that was a long shot. Since I had done work on the Guppy anthologies, published by Wildside Press, I volunteered to query them first. Lo and behold, they accepted our project! We were a happy group of Austin Mystery Writers! We missed out April pub date, but maybe we’ll make next April—and with a real publisher.

I have an urge to tell Mickey and Judy.



Mickey Rooney Judy Garland picture from Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The dog saga continues

Yesterday I took Luke to the vet to be neutered, micro-chipped, and whatever else needing doing. Because I had a book signing--whole different story--last night, I left him at the vet's overnight. It was, I admit, a vacation from having to juggle two dogs. The signing went well, and lots of good friends came and had a jolly time. Jordan and I were exhausted by the time we got home, and I was grateful to have only one dog to deal with.
But this morning early I went to get Luke who was greatly happy to see me. He was wearing what must people call the cone of shame, but I prefer to call an Elizabethan collar--poor dear has to wear it for 10-14 days. But I had the go-ahead to put the dogs together and decided a small space was best for control. So I put them in the office with me. After some initial play, chasing each other, lots of barking on Sophie's part, things settled down. Sophie hid under my desk, and Luke paced though he eventually lay down and watched me.
I put them outside together and they seemed to have a grand time, but they were both running--Sophie can outrun him. Great exercise for her but Luke is not supposed to run until his heartworm treatment is complete--8 weeks. Of course neither dog would listen to my commands to stop, but I happened to grab Luke on the fly-by and put an end to that game. So they still have to go outdoors separately.
The afternoon did not go as well. Jacob got as hyper-excited as the dogs and yelled at me that Luke was biting Sophie. It was play on both their parts, though Sophie sounded pretty ferocious. Still when Luke would back off, she'd go after him. I figure it's a matter of time until they get used to each other, and Luke still has all his puppy enthusiasm.
Luke, who has shown no interest in toys, found a toy he would not be parted from. At first, the cone kept him from picking it up, but Jacob gave it to him. When he got it stuck under the couch, Jacob went down to get it for him--and disaster struck. That sweet loving dog growled and snapped, caught Jacob on the side of the head and the ear. No serious damage, a small bruise, and a tiny bit of blood, but Jacob cried for an hour. We've always told him not to put his face near a dog's face, but he's surrounded by dogs where it doesn't matter, and I guess he didn't even think about it.
Jay came and talked to him, explaining that we don't know the dog and he doesn't know us, plus he's a bundle of anxiety now. Within a short space of time he's gone from roadside stray to kennel to strange new home with new people, had surgery, and is wearing the cone. His nerves are a bit frayed...as are mine as this point.
Jacob had a great story to tell at dinner at the Grill tonight--he'd brightened by then--and I'm sure will tell it tomorrow at school. By the time I took Luke out tonight, Jacob came out on the deck and loved on him. Feelings do mend...and so do ears.
I have faith it will all settle down, but I admit I go to bed much earlier these days and bone weary. Oh, oops, Sophie's still outside. Got to go get her.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What a lovely day!

I had a book signing this morning at my favorite spot--The Old Neighborhood Grill right down the street from my house. Seven in the morning is kind of early to get there--I was up at 5:30--but that's when readers come in. And a lot of my friend came for breakfast, which is down home and really good.
My younger son, Jamie, and his wife and two daughters came last night for the occasion.
We had a jolly good time at Joe T.'s for dinner. Above, Jamie's wife and my beloved DIL, Melanie on the left, and Jordan on the right. I am blessed with sweet girls who are also beautiful. I thought it was such a lovely evening with a breeze--then realized it was one of their giant fans blowing on us. Three grandchildren loved it--Jacob got to talk "serious" golf with his beloved Uncle Jamie; Eden entertained herself by sketching hands--she is really good and I foresee a career for our fashionista. (When I suggested she didn't need her sunglasses since it was already dark when we got there, she said, "They're part of the look." Eleven years old!). Maddie did what fifteen-year-olds do--busied herself on her phone. Here's me, leaning back at an awkward angle so everyone sees my double chin, with Eden and Jacob. Jacob has his "I know there's a camera" look on and Eden is just plain gorgeous--ok, I'm prejudiced.
This morning, Jordan was, as she always is, an enormous help. She plans my signings, down to flowers and sign up sheets and raffle drawings; she takes the money, gives change, and charms everybody. I was flattered that most of the people who bought books came exactly to do that, so the Grill got some extra business, not that they needed it. It was, as always on a Saturday morning, crowded. If you read my blog often, you will know about my friend Betty and our dinner adventures--here we are together at the signing this morning. She and her husband, Don, came for breakfast, but Don (a restaurateur, was disappointed that his friend Peter, who owns the Grill, wasn't there). I sold a nice number of books, had a great breakfast, and then we moved on--everyone but me went to Jacob's baseball game (they won! first time this season, and he scored a run or did something else wonderful--not sure about that) and I came home. The Frisco Alters came in about 12:30 with Burger King and Ernesto's (Jamie's favorite tacqueria). I ate cottage cheese--Mexican food once a week is enough for me! Then they left, and I did a little work at my desk and took a long nap--5:30 is too early for me!
Three grandchildren at the Grill--Eden, eleven, Maddie, fifteen (who can believe that?), and Jacob eight. With my longtime friend, Margaret, in the background.
But it was still a dog day--let the dogs out in shifts, with Luke second. Gave him a long lecture on not leaving the yard. (He'd been good earlier in the day.) Looked out after 15 minutes, and he was gone. Drove the neighborhood (while my quiche dried in the oven), finally gave up to come home--and found him across the street. When I called him, his look said, "Hi, Mom, am I glad to see you!" and he hopped right into the car. Calling my friendly contractor Monday morning for fence control. Meantime I have to babysit when he's outside, which means he spends a lot of time in his crate. Will be so glad when we're past this transitions period.
But all in all, a great day. My quiche wasn't too dried out--a bonus.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A two-dog day

Last night was deceptively easy. Got each dog out by turns for a potty session, then each in to the proper crate (Sophie even had her belly rub), gave them treats and lights out. They were wonderful. Not a peep all night. Let Soph out first; put her in the office, and let Luke out until time for our vet apt.
Vet apt. was interesting—he weighs 43 lbs., has all the characteristics of a Bernese mountain dog—flat coat, coloring, head shape, bushy tail, intelligence. But he is about half the size. In good health but heart-worm positive so we have the treatment to look forward to. Also on Monday, he will be neutered and microchipped. (Taking in a rescue dog is anything but cheap.) Heart rate is slow and strong, so vet says he’s been a runner. None of us can figure out why he was on the side of the road—best guess? He was a ranch dog, where someone had so many they didn’t think to neuter and they didn’t look for one who ran away. Vet says timing to our last major storm is about right, and he could be thunderstorm phobic—escaped during a storm.
Well, he’s an escape artist—Got home from the vet, put him in the yard, and went to get his breakfast. When I came back, he was on the other side of the fence, in the driveway. Panting to get in and eat. When I backed out to go to the grocery there he was again—in the driveway behind the electronic gate. Went to bring him in, and he was gone—crawled under the gate. Panic! Called Jay. Found him in neighbor’s yard, and Jay lured him in. We think he’s digging not jumping. Jay is going to use rebar to weight down the fence. So we crated Luke, and left Sophie out. I started for the grocery again—and got worried about Sophie picking up on Luke’s digging, so came back. She was waiting by the back door, so I put her in the office. Third time’s the charm—finally did my errands. Luke still in his crate at lunch time but I took him out to potty under supervision. All he wanted to do was climb in my lap.
This afternoon Jacob had friends over—two brothers—and their father, Jay and I sat on the deck while they played. Luke loved it. When we came in I left him while I went to get his leash—by the time I came back he was in the neighbor’s yard. This time Jacob helped Jay bring him back home.
Luke would be the perfect dog is he didn’t escape and he didn’t have kennel cough, which he apparently does. I’ll have to keep them separated probably until the end of next week. He is also not to run, chase squirrels, etc. for six to eight weeks because of the heartworms. Fortunately he is not nearly as frantic about squirrels as Sophie is.
I keep telling myself this will all settle down but when I woke up this morning my first thought was, “What have I done?’ Today, even more than yesterday, though, Luke has wormed his way into our hearts, and we all keep saying, “He’s a good dog!”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A day gone to the dogs

Wow, such a day that I hardly know where to start, but many of you have asked about Steadman, the dog I vowed to rescue last night. I was told to call the shelter (about an hour away) at 8:30 this morning; called at 8:15 and was told they already had someone to take him. Disappointed but relieved. Figured it just wasn't meant to be, but I did get them to promise he would not be put down and take my phone number, just in case. The lady sounded bemused, but she took it, and I went on about my business--principally a quick trip to the grocery. Just after I got home I got a phone call saying that Steadman was available. Called my neighbor Jay, and we hopped in his truck and headed up to Decatur and the Wise County Animal Shelter. I figured the call was karma--this dog was meant to come home with me.
Long story short, we came home with Steadman, now renamed Luke. He is so sweet, so anxious for love. He was a stray, found on the side of the road, so we have no background, but he has obviously known love and had some training--he will sit, lie down, and stay. He and Sophie have to stay pretty much apart for three days, just in case he develops kennel cough. That's hard, but the couple of times they've been together--one going out, the other coming in--they danced around each other with tails wagging. I think it will be fine.
Jacob adores this dog. He said he'd be spending the night a lot more these days. And I once told him a six-second hug releases endorphins, so he has now proclaimed he'll give me 12-second hugs. And he did tonight--One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.
Luke appears to be an outside dog, although right now Sophie is outside and he's lying quietly in the study. Any movement, and he'll be up, wagging his tail, pacing, looking for love. I hope he'll do well in his crate tonight. He has a vet appt. tomorrow morning, and he will have to be neutered. I was amazed at that, but neighbor Jay says he was probably a ranch dog and nobody bothered.
So I've been juggling dogs today, but with lots of help from Jay and Christian. Sophie topped off the day by sneaking out the door when Christian brought Luke's new crate in. Poor Christian chased her probably six blocks until a home owner helped him catch her on his front porch, and Christian had to carry her all the way home. He was pleased that she seemed content and did not squirm.
I have visions of someday soon working at my computer with two dogs lying peacefully at my feet. Meanwhile we're in transition.
And Jamie, his daughters and one of Maddie's friends, are coming to spend the night tomorrow and bring their two dogs. Guest house for them!
I'm exhausted and going to bed early tonight, but I have to say I live a blessed life, and retirement is far from boring. A bonus to Luke's arrival in the family: it was so much on my mind last night that I dreamt about acquiring a dog and suddenly figured out how a dog would play a major part in my work-in-progress. As my mom always said, God works in mysterious ways.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How many dogs are enough?

I thought I was going to write a blog tonight about my indecision over whether or not to get another dog. At various times in my life I’ve had three dogs or more. I have one, and I’ve been wondering how many dogs are enough.

Over the years, both married and single, I have had collies, Irish wolfhounds, Cairn terriers, bearded collies, an Aussie and now a bordoodle (Border Collie and poodle cross). I’m proud to say that each of my children has a dog—I raised them right.

But Sophie, my bordoodle, is a lonely only, and I debate the wisdom of getting another dog. I think Sophie’s pretty happy basking in the love of all who are around—she gets lots of attention, and I’m home most of the day with her. She has her bed, her crate, her chair in my office. She has her routine, including our nightly loving session with tummy rubs. But she spends a lot of time sleeping in the chair in my office. She’s only three, but I’m afraid she’ll age prematurely for lack of exercise—I can’t walk her because at an energetic 30 lbs. she’d pull me down (my balance just isn’t that good).

So some days I think another dog would be a good idea. If you know me, you know I post pictures on Facebook of lost dogs, dogs in danger of euthanasia, pitiful dogs who need love. I’m a sucker for them, and there are more than a few that I want to rush right out and rescue. I haven’t done it because I wonder if Sophie would be happier or angry (and because my kids are firm that I don’t need more than one dog—but two of them have two dogs!).

I concluded the draft of the blog above with the thought that one day I’d see a dog I couldn’t resist. Well, it’s happened. My neighbor, Jay, is driving me to Decatur tomorrow to rescue a collie/Aussie mix scheduled to be euthanized at 11:00 a.m. I’d posted his picture last week, and a friend from College Station expressed interest, then decided it was not the time. When I saw him on the EU list, I just knew I couldn’t let that happen. If you’re on FB, look at my wall—there’s a picture of Stedman, though I may well rename him. He’s four years old, 60 lbs. How can you feel a soul connection with a picture on FB? But I do.

I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, Sophie has had a haircut—a real haircut. She looks so skinny but Kirk, my friend who grooms her, says it’s a doodle cut. She meanwhile is exhausted, and it’s a good thing she’s resting because tomorrow will require a lot of adjustment from her. Haven’t figured out sleeping arrangements or any of that. Winging it. Wish me luck!