It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog.
Zorro here. Mommy told us an interesting story this week. A long, long time ago, before Ziggy and I were even born (Mommy says 1868), British Post Office cats started getting a weekly salary. They even got a raise later. Their job was to catch mice.
I think paying cats is a great a great idea. Ziggy and I are trying to think of things we can do to make money. There aren’t many mice to catch, but I help Mommy write by laying in her lap. When she gets stuck and has to think about something, she reaches down and pets me. She says that helps get her going again.
Ziggy sometimes helps, too. He walks on Mommy’s computer and adds things to what she’s doing. Mommy doesn’t seem to like it, though, so he must not be doing it right. He would probably need some training before he could get paid.
If Ziggy and I got a paycheck, it would be fun picking out things to buy. We wouldn’t need to spend any of our money on food, like Mommy and Daddy do, because they buy us lots of good kitty food.
We wouldn’t have to spend it on litter, either, because we always have plenty of that. And Mommy scoops the box several times a day, so it stays pretty clean. We don’t need comfy places to sleep, either, because Mommy and Daddy always let us sleep on the bed.
Maybe toys. Although, we have some pretty fun toys, too. There’s the red one with the scratchy thing in the middle and the ball that goes ‘round and ‘round. And the toy lizard that looks real.
At Aunt Kim’s house, we have a long fuzzy thing on a stick that Mommy shakes. It’s so much fun to chase.
We even have a kitty condo with perches to lie on, hidey holes to sleep in and posts to scratch on.
Hmm, I can’t think of anything we could buy with our money. Mommy and Daddy already give us everything we want.
It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog!
Ziggy here. You’re probably wondering why I’m starting out with a picture of a dog. No, I’m not having an identity crisis. It’s because Mommy has been talking a lot about dogs lately. She just finished writing a book about a search and rescue dog, and she’s really excited about it. Zorro and I think she’s a little too excited. She keeps talking about search and rescue dogs and how what they do is so interesting. Like how dogs have 600 million scent receptors in their noses and people have only 6 million. (I guess she didn’t even bother to look up how many cats have.)
Mommy’s been saying a bunch of other things about search and rescue dogs, too. Like how they have to get used to a bunch of different sights and smells and sounds. And how they learn to walk on all kinds of uneven surfaces, even climb ladders. And how they are able to pick one person’s scent out of a whole bunch of other smells.
But not all dogs can do search and rescue. Mommy said they have to be tested first to make sure they’re friendly and not aggressive. Zorro and I would pass that test, because we’re not aggressive and we’re both friendly. I’m friendlier than Zorro, though, because he’s afraid of strangers. When someone that we don’t know comes over, Zorro hides, but I run up and rub against their legs. I always hope they’ll feed me, but they never do. I usually get petted, though, which is kind of nice.
Oh, yeah, back to search and rescue dogs and how Mommy keeps going on about how talented and smart and wonderful they are. Zorro and I are starting to get a little worried. The next thing you know, she’s going to be bringing home a puppy.
Mommy seems really impressed, but we can’t figure out what’s the big deal. After all, cats are good at finding things, too. And we’re really stealthy. If a bad guy was breaking into a store to steal cat toys, we could sneak up on him a lot easier than a dog. I bet we could find a missing child, too. Especially if he rolled in catnip. I don’t even mind wearing a leash. Mommy and Daddy make Zorro and I both wear leashes and harnesses when we travel.
I don’t see any reason why Zorro and I can’t be trained to do search and rescue. In fact, I think that’s what Mommy’s next book needs to be about—a search and rescue cat, starring…me!
It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog!
Ziggy here. The other day, Mommy said something about Daddy letting the cat out of the bag. I got all excited, but when I looked around, I didn’t see any cats except Zorro. And he wasn’t in a bag. He was laying on one of the dining room chairs.
But Mommy said she wasn’t talking about a real cat. She said she meant “spilled the beans,” which really doesn’t make any more sense to me than letting the cat out of the bag. Mommy said people say that because a long time ago (before Zorro and I were even born), some farmers would put kittens in bags and sell them as piglets. When these people got home and opened the bag, a kitten would come out.
I don’t see what the problem was. Why wouldn’t somebody be excited to find out that they got a kitten instead of a piglet? We’re a lot softer and we purr. We curl up in your lap and make great company. Pigs don’t do any of that. Besides, we’re really cute. I mean, look at this face:
Another weird thing that humans say is “Cat got your tongue?” Zorro and I never mess with Mommy or Daddy’s tongue. That would just be weird. Zorro likes to lick Mommy’s nose, though. Mommy encourages him, telling him what a sweet kitty he is. But I wonder about him sometimes.
People say other crazy things about cats, too. Like “It’s raining cats and dogs.” I haven’t talked to any dogs, but I’ve never met a cat that fell out of the sky, at least not that they could remember.
And why does everyone say “scaredy-cat”? I’m not scared. I’m brave. Mommy used to have a dog that was so scared of storms she would start shaking before it even started raining. She was a “scaredy-dog.” But no one ever says that. It’s always the cat who gets the bad rap.
And here’s another one: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” That one makes me nervous. I’m not sure what skinning a cat is, but it doesn’t sound like fun. When Mommy says that, I go hide.
But I’m not hiding now, because I just heard Mommy put our dishes in the sink. That means in a few minutes, they’re going to be washed and full of fresh food. Zorro and I will be scarfing it down, because we love to eat. Hmm, I wonder if there are any cat sayings for that. I’m going to make a cat of myself…I’m catting down my food…Zorro eats like a cat…
Nah, those just don’t have the right ring. We’ll let the pigs, wolves and horses keep those sayings.
Anyone who has read my bio knows that one of the activities I really enjoy is sailing. We’ve cruised several areas around Florida but have a couple of favorites. One is Charlotte Harbor, in the Southwest portion of Florida. This is the setting for my current work in progress, a story for Love Inspired Suspense that takes place in the aftermath of a hurricane and features a search and rescue dog. Although we weathered some pretty good thunderstorms on our little sailboat, we never faced a hurricane.
In spite of good weather, though, our first trip didn’t go at all like we’d planned. I recently came across this short piece I’d written years ago about our maiden voyage. I figured I’d share it with you.
Clean air. White beaches. Blue water. Salt spray. Seagull poop. Boating takes a person away from the worries of the world better than anything I know. Anything legal, anyway. Just being on the water has a way of soothing frayed nerves and untangling the knots created by everyday life. It’s no wonder so many people hit the water every chance they get.
My husband, Chris, and I started our sailing days on a Compac 16, then moved up to a San Juan 21 and finally a MacGregor 26. We are now what some might consider “seasoned sailors.” But that hasn’t always been the case.
We purchased the Compac from Chris’s uncle, who gave us a short lesson on a local lake. Then we began planning our first overnight cruise, our maiden voyage. We packed our little boat with all the necessities—bedding, clothes, Port-a-Pot, plenty of books and games so we wouldn’t get bored, lots of extra food and water in case we got lost at sea, and the dog to protect us if we happened upon some drug smugglers.
Our point of launch was Burnt Store Marina at Punta Gorda, Florida, where we encountered our first problem. When Uncle Owen launched the boat, a gentle push had sent her floating free, but now that we were on our own, the boat seemed permanently attached to the trailer. We tugged and pushed until we almost ruptured something. Then some guy felt sorry for us (or maybe he was just waiting to use the ramp), and the three of us managed to get her launched.
Our next major task was to crank the motor, a 3.5-horsepower hunk of metal which had been resurrected from the scrap heap. After several minutes of cranking, it finally sputtered to life, and we were at last ready to begin our three-day cruise.
We motored out of the marina then set sail – and waited. It didn’t take us long to discover a basic law of sailing: Sailboats don’t work very well without wind. For the next several hours, we sailed-uh, I mean drifted slowly across Charlotte Harbor. As the sun sank low in the sky, I heated our supper, a favorite casserole I had prepared at home. I was almost finished when I had a disturbing thought.
Me: What are we having for supper?
Chris: Shipwreck. Why?
Me: Think about it.
By the time we all finished our shipwreck, it was just about dark, so we headed toward Devilfish Key, where we had decided to spend the night. Before reaching our destination, however, we experienced another basic law of sailing: A sailboat that has a fixed keel and a two-foot draft requires a water depth of two feet plus.
Our sailing lesson didn’t include the “What to do if you run aground” chapter, so we began discussing our options. Chris thought about getting out to see if he could push us free, but not knowing what lurked beneath the dark surface, preferred to keep his feet in the boat.
At last we decided that if we could heel the boat, our two-foot draft would become even shallower. So we moved the dog, toolbox, ice chest, captain, first mate and crew to the same side of the boat and started the motor. Our ploy was successful, but after running aground a second time, we abandoned our plans to reach Devilfish Key, motored about 100 yards off the shoal, and set anchor.
Our daughters, 7-year-old Kristi and 2-year-old Andrea, went promptly to sleep in a small bed in the bow under the anchor well, and I stretched out on my bunk. Chris, however, when faced with the task of unloading his bed, chose instead to sleep in the cockpit with the dog.
Thirty minutes passed. Then the wind, which had been conspicuously absent all afternoon, suddenly made an appearance, and we discovered we were anchored on the windward side of an island. The boat began to rock violently, and I looked through the open hatch at Chris who lay with one arm and leg over the side of the boat, trying to keep from falling off the cockpit seat onto the dog.
Kristi slept peacefully while several feet of anchor line uncoiled on her head, and Andrea sat up clutching her stomach. “Mommy, I don’t feel good.”
That was all the encouragement we needed to find another anchorage. We pulled up anchor, raised the sails, and found we had a pretty decent breeze. Andrea’s shipwreck stayed where it was supposed to, and I decided sailing might be enjoyable after all.
A 4-second green marker flashed just about due east of us, and we set a course for that. Some time later, we saw a white light flashing every 2 to 2.5 seconds a good distance away on our rear starboard quarter. The chart showed only red and green beacons, no white, so we decided our mysterious light was a new channel marker. Then it sailed past us on our starboard side.
“Must be some kind of boat,” Chris said.
When we looked for the light again several minutes later, it had moved to our port side. It was circling us. At that moment I found that the presence of the dog wasn’t quite the comfort I had anticipated. Chris continued to study the chart trying to find out where in the heck we were, and I kept sailing toward our green beacon. The next time I found the mysterious light, it hovered eerily above the water directly behind us.
“Chris,” I whispered. “Look!” I closed my eyes and waited for the command-“Beam ’em up, Scotty.” Chris, though, saw a shaft extending from the light to the water and decided it had to be a submarine periscope. (When alone on the water in the middle of the night, the mind plays tricks.) We held our breaths as the threatening object loomed closer. Then Chris realized with relief that we were not being circled by an alien spaceship, nor were we going to be attacked by a Russian sub. We were in the middle of Charlotte Harbor in a shipping channel, and our roving white light was actually a stationary mid-channel marker. The closer we got to the middle of the channel, the stronger the current and the less forward motion we made. Near the center, we were actually sailing backwards. Relieved to have the mystery of the roving white light solved, but disappointed to find that we had been diligently sailing for almost two hours and hadn’t really gone anywhere, we changed course and headed for the nearest island.
The next morning, we awoke refreshed and ready to face another day on the water. After a quick trip to shore for the dog, we set sail and headed for the mouth of Charlotte Harbor. Our plans were to sail to the Gulf side of Cayo Costa and spend the day at the beach.
We had almost reached the mouth of the harbor when we saw two barges moving toward us from the Gulf. The closer they got, the bigger they looked, and we decided that it might be to our advantage to get out of their way. Since we had almost as much wind as we had the day before, a hasty retreat under sail wasn’t likely. I kept my fingers crossed, and to our surprise, the motor roared to life after only two pulls on the rope. Our relief was short-lived, however, when we realized we weren’t moving. Chris killed the motor and leaned over the back of the boat. The propeller was gone. Fortunately, both barges passed without incident, but we decided we would be pushing our luck if we didn’t turn back.
Two hours later, it was mid-afternoon, and we still sat at the mouth of the harbor. At that point, we knew we couldn’t put it off any longer – it was time to break out the paddles. When loaded with two adults, two children, one large dog, and three months of supplies, a 16-foot Compac seems incredibly small. When paddling one, it feels huge.
The next two hours, we built up our triceps and made very little progress. I won’t elaborate on what Chris had to say at this point about the wonderful sport of sailing, but I will say that he was able to think of a hundred places he would rather be – at work, at the dentist, behind the lawnmower, under the lawnmower…
At last a small breeze began to blow, so we put away the paddles and cruised along at the blinding speed of one knot. At dusk, we reached a peaceful little cove and anchored with two other sailboats, 40-footers whose dinghies were almost as big as our boat. We enjoyed a quiet dinner, then a bedtime snack of popcorn and hot chocolate.
The next morning, we paddled out of the anchorage. Once away from the protection of the island, we were hit with 20-knot winds. Several other sailboats moved about the harbor, a sight we hadn’t seen the prior two days. Perfect sailing weather. However, the sensation of suddenly tilting 25 or 30 degrees seemed more terrifying than fun. We took down the jib, stuffed the dog into the cabin next to the Port-a-Pot, and continued to sail. I began making plans in the event we should capsize.
“I’ll get the kids,” I said. They, of course, wore life jackets. “You rescue the dog. She’ll be trapped in the cabin under 30 pounds of you-know-what.”
We never did capsize and, over the next three hours, gradually gained confidence, though not enough to venture outside of Charlotte Harbor. At noon, we turned back toward Burnt Store Marina. Our “cruise” wouldn’t be over until we reached the ramp, something that was going to involve two hours of paddling, maneuvering around all the other boats.
We were just coming into the channel to the marina when a sailor with a new F-27 was motoring out. He looked over at us, working industriously, paddling our Compac 16.
It’s Zaturday, the day we (Ziggy and Zorro) take over Mommy’s blog.
Zorro here. I have to admit. We have a pretty good Mommy and Daddy. They give us lots of attention, feed us really good food, and give us fun toys to play with.
A while back, they got us something we’d never had before—a kitty condo. Daddy put it all together and set it up in the living room, but Mommy moved it in front of the window. We liked Mommy’s spot better, but we did our best to ignore the new addition to the house for the appropriate amount of time. (We have to show a certain level of indifference. If we act too interested in what the humans are doing, it’s too much like dog behavior.)
After about a week, though, we couldn’t hold out any longer.
This thing just has too many temptations—scratching posts. Soft, carpeted perches. Hidey-holes.
And when the sun shines in the window, those hidey-holes get cozy warm. That was really nice a couple of weeks ago. It was cold for a few days (cold for Florida, anyway.) I took lots of naps in my “heated” room.
Unfortunately, we’re in North Carolina now, and we don’t have a kitty condo up here. So we usually just snuggle up on the couch.
But it would be really nice if Mommy would buy us a kitty condo for up here. Maybe you can drop her a hint.
I just finished reading A Fool & His Monet, by Sandra Orchard and loved it!
Special agent for the FBI, Serena Jones, is investigating the theft of a priceless painting. With multiple suspects, any of whom could be involved, along with lots of twists and turns in the plot, Sandra keeps you guessing all the way to the end.
The book is full of great characters, too. Serena is fun and quirky and will have you laughing out loud. Her Aunt Martha is a hoot—a detective wannabe, bold and fearless, and Serena has her hands full trying to keep her out of trouble. Mr. Sutton, Serena’s neighbor, has made it his mission to help everyone in the neighborhood expand their vocabulary with his “word of the day.” Serena’s mom’s greatest desire is for Serena to give up her dangerous job, marry and have children, and she makes her wishes known at every opportunity, much to Serena’s embarrassment. Several men show interest in Serena, but the two most likely candidates are Nate, Serena’s building superintendent, and Tanner, her FBI trainer. We’ll find out in future books which one will win her heart, although readers are being given the opportunity to vote. Lastly, we have Serena’s cat Harold, who loves to lie around and refuses to kill the mouse that is terrorizing Serena.
A Fool & His Monet is the first in a series. Though Serena solves the mystery of the stolen Monet by the end of the book, another mystery remains unsolved—Who murdered Serena’s grandfather during the theft of a painting years ago? This event was Serena’s reason for going to work for the FBI and their Art Crime Team, and she has hopes that one of her cases will lead to her grandfather’s murderer.
This is a fun start to a great series. I can’t wait to read the rest!
A Fool & His Monet is available now. To check it out on Amazon, click here.