The Difference.

If anyone says animals don’t communicate, don’t feel, don’t emote, don’t love, lose, experience pain, well, I say he is wrong.

Animals are not so different from us. They have relationships, friends, favorites, loves, likes, mortal enemies. They mourn the loss of their friends and family.

Even our little parrot knew when her friend and companion, Alston, was sick. She mourned her loss so much I bought Little Girl to be her new friend.

Jake, for example, has a mortal enemies list. The dogs on this list are dogs that bullied him when he was a puppy, when he couldn’t fight back. He can see them coming from a mile away. Let’s see… There’s Cody and Timothy (of course most dogs don’t like Timothy because Timothy, bless his evil heart, has a chip on his shoulder due to being named Timothy so he’s pretty much on every dog’s mortal enemies list. Dogs don’t appreciate a three-syllable name. The other dogs snicker when his owner yells out– “Timm-mooooo-theeeee!”) Then there are the dogs whose names we don’t know. I imagine Jake has his own names for them. We know them as big shaggy black dog, killer golden retriever, white dog with gray head. And of course there’s Truman, but he’s just plain meshuggah.

Jake also recognizes his friends, both human and animal. He loves his cat. And he’ll let other cats slide if I say, “That’s one of Ichi’s friends.” He loves his family. He loves the people he knew when he was a puppy – never forgets them. Oscar tells me they ran into Jamie at the park. Jamie was one of his counselors at puppy camp when he was just a little tiny thing. He jumped all over her. People thought he was killing her but he was kissing her. He adores her.

Jake still mourns the loss of his best friend, Daisy. He actually cries when I say her name. He loves Carly and Hector and Kia and Hannah and Ford and Winston. He gets excited when I say, “Your brother is coming and he’s bringing Hastur.”

Even cows make really close friends with other cows. BFFs for life. Horses do too, and they maintain a strict pecking order. Believe it or not, there are dorky horses and there are cool horses. Not only does a horse look dorky to us, he looks dorky to the other horses. Some horses are considered cool by the other horses and everyone in the herd wants to hang with him or her. My mare, Image, was the cool one. The other horses looked up to her. She was the boss mare. Even the biggest geldings deferred to her.

Elephants, whales, dolphins, the great apes — all have big brains and all seem to feel emotion in the way we conceive of human  emotion. All these animals exhibit altruistic behavior, some use tools – so neither of those traits distinguish us as human. (Once upon a time the definition of a human being was a species that uses tools. No more. Even crows can use tools.)

Animals make themselves understood via verbal and nonverbal communication. So do we. Perhaps our means of verbal communication is more varied and complex. But the one difference?

The written word.

Does being human mean we write? Or does writing make us human? I suspect it’s the latter that made us modern humans.

I have this theory of the Biblical Garden of Eden. I’ve actually been there- in Northern Israel- Gan Edan- Banias. Seriously the Garden of Eden. Hiked there back when we still had to worry about Syrian landmines and there were no tourists anywhere.

Banias.

Banias.

So here’s my theory. I’ve always believed that the Garden of Eden story is our genetic memory. It’s our way of describing what it was like before we were self-aware, before we became fully human. We didn’t know we were naked and we lived in harmony with our environment. Yup. Genetic memory of before the moment we ate that damn quince, persimmon, apple… and we became self-aware. Self-awareness comes at a cost. Ne’s pas?

But the written word… worth every penny.

 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Our family Christmas in Montana was amazing.  As one of my daughters said, “The best thing about this trip is the isolation. If we were in Napa everyone would be off in different directions, spending time with friends, eating at restaurants, going to clubs… We’d be scattered. But here we’re all together, cooking together, working together, playing together. It’s perfect!”

Cows gotta be fed.  Horses gotta be watered.  Dolly, the milk cow, has gotta be milked, sick heifers gotta be doctored.  Christmas gifts gotta be delivered in an all-wheel drive trunk.  Wine and whiskey gotta be drunk.  If you want fresh crusty bread you bake it.  If you want a hot pizza you make it and you make the sauce from home-canned tomatoes too. Everybody works to keep the wood stove fired up.  There’s no slacking off when you live on a ranch.  Blizzard or no blizzard.  Well, especially during a blizzard.

Don’t laugh, but this is my idea of heaven.  I’ll take Big Sky Country any day.

Sledding on a crisp clear cold day.

Oscar and Julia sledding on a crisp clear cold day.

And ‘Oscar’ (with help from our girls) gave me the best Christmas present ever:

A New Coat!

A New Coat!

I hope your Christmas was bright and shiny.  After a challenging 2013 I’m wishing you all a better 2014.  (Please let us all have a better 2014!)

Monday Monday…

What did I do this weekend? Apparently I spent a way too much time clenching my teeth because my TMJ, which I haven’t felt in years, really flared up. I think I was channeling Sheldon Cooper–

Yeah, that's me...

Yeah, that’s me…

Okay, all the news that’s fit to print! Speaking of print…

Come Back To Me and One Foot In Heaven, Journey of a Hospice Nurse, will literally be out in print this week.  If, (big if), I can get the books uploaded to Createspace without, in addition to turning my face into a frozen mask, going bald due to hair-tearing. I’ll keep you apprised of my progress.

I made terrific progress on my YA over the weekend (which is not really YA but I have no idea how to classify it other than to call it YA). Working title? Caleb Wiseman. It’s another one of them dream-inspired stories like Captured and My Everything.

Speaking of dreams– mine have been really weird and vivid. Dreams of catastrophes, talking horses, birds in my kitchen, dead relatives. Tom Stronach got a cameo in one.

Oh! I’m working on a cookbook. This is gonna take some time, maybe a lifetime. Who knows?

In the meantime I’m sending you to several thought-provoking blog posts.

Is it Me? Tom Stronach Lunch on the Thames.

Grace Beyond Grace- Unstoppable Souls.

The Best Chapter- Give Mourning Time Time.

 

 

Blog much?

I tried to stop, to kick the habit, but as you can see here I am.

Anyway, what I want to say today is this– A few dear friends and family members are going through some pretty tough times.

I won’t mention names, but please know my thoughts and prayers are with you every day.

Coming soon – thoughts about fall.  Maybe we’ll talk football, books, blogging, education, food, dogs and cats living together…  This is a really weird time in history, folks.  I hope there’s a future for my children, and if I ever have them, grandchildren.  Your children too, of course.

Frankly I’d like to stay the hell out of Syria.  That is a door we do not want to open.

You know, once you open Pandora’s Box it’s pretty hard to stuff all that shit back in.

Okay, enough politics.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

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Incorporeal

Sara Wise is sick of ghosts. They’ve haunted her since she was a child, destroying her family, endangering her life. When an incorporeal being appears in her shower, she curses him soundly and orders him out, but this ghost is sticky. Not only does he invade her shower, he moves into her home, invading her dreams, sharing her bed. The reluctant Sara finds herself falling in love with a dead man.
Despite Sara’s objections, Natan de Manua isn’t permitted to leave. Protecting the woman is both his penance and his means to redemption. She’s not easy to protect, she fights him nearly every step of the way, except in her bed. Nathan may have come to regain his soul, but instead he risks losing his heart. 

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In the Flesh

Lightning in the middle of a blizzard? Dr. Sydney Blake has read about it, but this is the first time in all her life she’s experienced it. Has her truck been struck? Blinded by the flash, she slams on the brakes and dives from the driver’s seat, right into a snow drift. 
As a shivering Syd gropes to her feet, she keeps her eyes shut tight, praying she didn’t actually see what she thinks she saw in that flash of light… a golden giant standing smack dab in the middle of the road. No way. Not possible. Or is it? 
In The Flesh is Book Two of The Soul Series. It is the sequel to Incorporeal.

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Stay

His boss may be the woman of his dreams but ranch manager, Lucas Jennings, thinks Dr. Sidney Blake is few cans short of a six pack. She insists he’s someone else– her lover, this mysterious Wolf fellow who magically appeared in a blizzard, got her pregnant and vanished without a trace. 
If Lucas was smart he’d head back to Nebraska, but every damn time Sydney turns those big brown eyes on him, he’s hooked. He might be able to hide his attraction to her, but he’s not about to leave her on her own to run a ranch during calving season.
What’s really driving Lucas crazy is that the longer he stays, the more he remembers. He’s not Wolf. He’s not the baby’s father. Then why does he know Sydney’s body inside and out? Why does he remember the taste of her? When he looks in the mirror, why does the man named Wolf look back? Stay is Book Three of the Souls Series, the sequel to In the Flesh..

Or get all three…

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The Soul Series, Special Edition– $6.99.  This Special Addition contains new material not published in the previous three books.

Be back in a week or so… Love you.  Julia