This is both what I want and have in my life. It’s not everything, but it’s been a full life. I’m old enough to have attained the things most important to me. And not. It depends on how one looks at it. The difference between success and failure, contentment or emptiness can be your attitude. This is not to say that there are no real losses. Of course there are. Deaths, partings, endings are inevitable, but they don’t define our life, however painful they are. Nor are we defined by the worst things that have happened to us.
I’ve done most of the stuff I wanted to do, been most places I wanted to go. I took chances. Sometimes the risks paid off. Other times, the results were unfortunate. I regret the chances I never took far more than those I took that didn’t work out.
Look at your life, see good times and happy memories — or focus on failure and losses. Life is never all joy or entirely miserable. There are good times and bad. We all fail. We all succeed. Life is like a baseball season, made up of wins and losses.
We have ultimate freedom to choose which is more important and how we evaluate the balance. In this one thing, we answer only to ourselves.
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- ForThePromptless – S. 2, Ep. 2 – Vision Board (rarasaur.wordpress.com)
- ForThePromptless: Vision Board (livelovelaughdancepray.wordpress.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 10 – Saudade (teepee12.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 10 – Saudade: Remembering Mom (teepee12.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless, Season 2, Episode 1: Other Self (starvingactivist.wordpress.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 9 – Gallows Humor: Dying Is Easy (Comedy Is Hard) (teepee12.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless – What’s A Litmus? (teepee12.com)
The Iron Druid Chronicles includes (to date) five books: Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, Tricked, and Trapped. The books follow the adventures of the last of the Druids,a 2100-year-old survivor of the Roman massacre of the Druids back in the reign of Claudius (41 AD to 54 AD).
The Beginning: Hounded (May 2011)
Atticus O’Sullivan — not his real name, but we never find out what his real name is, though many hints are dropped — survived the long ago massacre by fleeing to North America which had not yet been discovered by the Old World. After many years, he has established a peaceful life in Arizona where he runs an occult bookshop, does a bit of shape-shifting that lets him enjoy hunting with his Irish wolfhound, Oberon. Atticus’ shifted shape is also a Wolfhound and his friendship with Oberon goes far beyond dog and master or even dog and dog.
Atticus’ appearance suggests a young man in his early 20s, belying his two millennium life. Through his long years of survival Atticus has gained a great deal of power, drawn mostly from the earth to which he is bound. Personally, he’s pleasant, witty and hyper aware of the forces of earth, air, water and other. He has not survived for so many centuries without gaining enough wisdom to know when to fight and when to run. He has power, but he is also a survivor, choosing his battles with great care.
In the course of ages, he has come to possess a magical sword — Fragarach, the Answerer. Fragarach is coveted by an ill-tempered and powerful god. Although Atticus initially prevails and keeps the sword, many wheels are set in motion by the battle for its possession and the scene is set for the next five books in the series.
Hounded was recently reissued as a Mass Market Paperback.
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Most Recent: Trapped (November 2012)
I’ve followed the adventures of Atticus, Oberon, and more recently, the beautiful Granuaile, his apprentice who is now about to become a full Druid in Trapped, released November 27, 2012. I had Trapped in hand the day of its release. I finished reading it, then got the audiobook and read it a couple more times. Just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. That is a pretty fair indicator that I very much enjoyed the book.
Hounded was the first of the series and while I did enjoy it, I felt each subsequent book has been better than the one before it. Trapped was the best to date. With Hunted due to be released soon, I can hardly wait!
All of the books are rousing good fantasy yarns. Even better, Hearne has done his homework. His Pantheon(s) of Gods are pretty accurate, much more so than most fantasy books that call on various gods. The writing is intelligent, witty, fast-paced and original. Kevin Hearne‘s world is constructed with care. Within that world, the characters and nature itself are subject to natural law and logic. There is symmetry and order. The world feels right. It’s a different reality, but nothing ever falls upwards.
Each story has more than enough action to satisfy any fantasy reader, but it is graceful and elegant.
Atticus is the kind of character I’d love to hang with, but if I had to take my pick of one character with whom to spend some quality, it would have to be Oberon the wolfhound. Oberon has a delightful “dog’s eye view” of the world and human relationships. He is the first “talking dog” who is a dog, not a furry human. He thinks doggy thoughts, lusts after sausages and poodles. He has a big vocabulary and exceptional communication skills, but he is a dog. And a funny dog at that. He has a thing for poodles which I have actually heard criticized as sexist. Folks, if this bothers you, perhaps you are taking life too seriously. Really.
The Iron Druid has it all: intelligent plots, fully realized characters, lots of action, great detail. Best of all, the stories are never entirely predictable. There are enough surprises and plot twists to keep you hooked. The words are delightfully well crafted. For me, books are always about the words … and Kevin Hearne uses words beautifully.
I would not — as others have — compare Kevin Hearne to Jim Butcher. Although both write in the fantasy genre and I enjoy both authors, the worlds about which they write are significantly different as are the personalities and lifestyle of their protagonists. I’m sure Harry Dresden and Atticus O’Sullivan would appreciate each other and might enjoy a glass of brew together, but they move in different circles. I’ve never liked comparing authors as if all writers in the same genre are essentially interchangeable parts. There’s more than enough room for everyone and plenty left for those who have yet to set pen to paper. Atticus isn’t going to replace Harry and Harry is unlikely to be at home in Atticus’ world.
And that is the way it ought to be. Should they find reason to join forces, that would be cool. I bet Oberon and Mouse would get on well … but if they never meet, I’m sure both will play their part in saving this old world of ours.
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- Trapped, Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 5, by Kevin Hearne (Serendipity)
- Book Review: A druid, a dog, and a witch walk into a bar… (thecanaryreview.com)
- Trapped by Kevin Hearne (bookgoonie.com)
- Hounded by Kevin Hearne – Review (holowriting.wordpress.com)
- Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles #3) by Kevin Hearne (creativedeeds.wordpress.com)
Every morning, as I limp down the hallway from the bedroom to the kitchen, no matter how stiff I am with arthritis, no matter how poorly I’ve slept, as soon as I get to the kitchen, my heart becomes lighter.
“Good morning, fur children,” I chirp. They woof and growl and gambol and pant. They know it’s cookie time for the canine contingent, but coffee time for me.
I make a brief detour to turn on the coffee pot. Priorities.
There’s no more time to waste. Eager faces surround me as I approach the huge dog biscuit container on the table in the corner. It’s shaped like a giant dog biscuit — lest I forget. The dogs , with their acute senses of smell, are more than aware of where to find the biscuits. Eyes not required.
They know my hands are the true source of all biscuits, so they watch me with their eyes. Excitement mounts.
Bishop is an Australian Shepherd. Lacking sheep, he stares at me, with the apparent objective of engendering guilt. It works pretty well. He is also Bonnie’s love slave.
Then there’s Nan, the Norwich Terrier. Nan stares, but adds sound effects. Grunts and agonized moans. She’s starving she says. She hasn’t eaten in … minutes. She will repeat this performance whether she is still chewing the biscuit she just got or it’s been a whole night since her last treat.
And last, but not at all least, there’s Bonnie. She bounces up and down, bounds around the kitchen like a mad thing, twirling and spinning, yapping and prancing. She’s young and full of joie de vivre. Shortly, she will be full of biscuits.
They all believe if they don’t remind me, I will forget them and their cookies. These dogs have never missed a treat or a meal in their lives but you’d never guess it.
The sun streaks in through the windows, the smell of coffee fills the room. Joyous gurgling and crunching from the furry ones and I’m off to the office to check my email and see what surprises the night has brought. Another day is begun.
Happy morning to all!
Sunlight is sneaking through the blinds. It’s morning again.
Brain to Marilyn: Hey, get up. I’ve got stuff to do.
Marilyn to Brain: Shut up. I’m tired. Let me sleep or I swear I’ll take a pill and shut you down.
Brain (sullen): Fine. Be that way.
Marilyn drifts off to sleep for half an hour.
Brain: How about that dream I sent you eh?
Marilyn: That was horrible. Why did you do that?
Brain: I thought it was cool the way I turned butterflies into flying monsters. You didn’t like it?
Marilyn: No, I did not like it. And right now, I don’t like you.
Brain to Marilyn: Logic and Emotion are going at it again. Wow, this one’s a real knock down drag out fight. Loud, huh.
Marilyn to Logic and Emotion: If you guys don’t cut it out, I’m going to stop this car and you are both getting a time-out.
Logic and Emotion together: HE STARTED IT MOM!
Marilyn to Logic and Emotion: I don’t care who started it. SHUT UP! I need some sleep!
Logic and Emotion together (meekly): Sorry Mom. Don’t be mad …
Brain to Marilyn: I have a message from Spine. She says you need to take something for pain. Spine is unhappy.
Marilyn to Brain: Spine is always unhappy.
Brain to Marilyn: Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh, and Bladder wants a trip to the bathroom.
Marilyn: Oh fine. (Muttering all the way)
Marilyn gets up, hauls self to bathroom. Comes back with Tylenol. Takes pills, crawls into bed pulling covers up over head, sighing as she settles into the embrace of the best bed in the world.
Brain to Marilyn: Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a story! How about our little morning chats, huh? Wouldn’t that be cool? Come on, get up before you forget the whole idea. Lazy daisy get your butt outta bed.
Marilyn to Brain: I haven’t even had 6 hours of sleep. I’m too tired to write.
Brain to Marilyn: You are never too tired to write! Get up, get up, it’s morning again.
Sounds: Dogs howling, yapping, more howling.
Marilyn: Can you make the dogs shut up?
Brain: Sorry, no direct access to doggie brains.
Marilyn to Brain: Okay. You win. I’m up, I’m up. Coffee. I hope we aren’t out of half and half. I’m never going to get a whole night’s sleep, am I.
Can you set a price on love? Can you set a number to it? Can you calculate it by the cost of health care, toys, dog food? Grooming?
Tinker Belle was a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, also called PBGVs or Petites. They are a medium-sized, shaggy rabbit hound from the Vendée region of France, but have become over the past 20 years, quite popular as pets, though they are definitely not a dog for just anyone. They are smart, funny (they will do almost anything to make you laugh), noisy, and into everything.
Tinker Belle was special. From the day I brought her home from the airport (she had just flown up from her breeder’s home in North Carolina), she wasn’t like any other puppy I’d ever met. She was incredibly smart. As a rule, hounds are intelligent, but she was something else. Housebreaking? We showed her the doggy door. She was henceforth housebroken. She could open any door, any gate and close them behind her. She would open jars of peanut butter without leaving a fang mark to note her passing. All you’d find was a perfectly clean empty jar that had previously been an unopened, brand new jar.
She was deeply sensitive. Probably born to be a therapy dog, she knew who was in pain, she knew who was sick. She knew where you hurt. She was the only dog who would never step on a healing incision, but would cuddle close to you, look at you with her dark, soft eyes and tell you everything would be fine. She never hurt a living thing, not human or anything else … except for small varmints she hunted in the yard. She was, after all, a hound and a hunter at that, born to track, point and if necessary, kill prey.
She was the smartest of our five dogs, the smartest dog of my life. Not just a little bit smarter than normal. A huge amount smarter. When you looked into Tinker’s eyes, it wasn’t like looking into the eyes of a dog. She was a human in a dog suit. She knew. We called her Tinker the Thinker because she planned, she remembered. She held grudges. More on that. For all that, she was Omega (the bottom) in the pack, we thought it was mostly her own choice. She had no interest in leadership. Too much responsibility maybe? But the other dogs knew her value. When they needed her, other dogs would tap into her expertise in gate opening, package disassembly, cabinet burglary, trash can raiding and other criminal activities. Throughout her life, she housebroke each new puppy. A couple of hours with Tinker, and the job was done. It was remarkable. Almost spooky. She then mothered them until they betrayed her by growing up and playing with other dogs.
When Griffin, our big male Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen came to live with us a few months after Tinker, they became The Couple. inseparable, deeply in love. They ate together, played together, slept together, sang together. When about a year later, we briefly had a little Norwich Terrier pup and Griffin (what a dog!) abandoned Tinker to go slobbering after Sally … well … Tinker’s heart was broken. She became depressed, would not play anymore with humans or other dogs. For the next 10 years, Tinker refused to so much as look at Griffin. Worse, she apparently blamed us, her humans for having brought another girl into the house. In retribution for our crimes, Tinker began her Reign of Terror.
Tinker took to destroying everything she could get her fangs on when she was three years old. She’d done a modest amount of puppy chewing, but nothing extraordinary. She was more thief than a chewer. She would steal your stuff and hide it. Shoes, toys (Kaity was very young), towels, stuffed animals. After Griffin betrayed her with that stupid little bitch — Sally was indeed the polar opposite of Tinker being the dumbest dog I’ve ever known and ill-tempered to boot — Tinker was no longer a playful thief. She was out to get us.
Nothing was safe. She had a particular passion for destroying expensive electronic devices. Cell phones, remote controls, portable DVD players, computers. If she could get a fang to them, she killed them. She would do more damage in under a minute than I thought possible. For Garry and I, it meant we couldn’t leave the room together unless we put everything away where Tink couldn’t get it. Tinker would strike quickly and she was lethal. If we were going to bed for the night, every single movable item that was less than 6 feet off the ground had to be put away. If she couldn’t get to any small expensive electronic items, she ate the sofa, the rocking chair, the coffee table, a lot of books, many DVDs …. and for dessert, shoes were always yummy. For many years, I didn’t own any shoes without tooth marks. We called such items “Tinkerized” and we had a grading system ranging from 10 – Utterly destroyed, to 1 – Only shows if you look closely. Most of my shoes fell into the 2 to 3 range and since she tended to start at the heel, I figured most folks wouldn’t notice.
Kaitlin’s toys were safe if Kaity was currently paying a lot of attention to Tinker. If not, she was punished with the beheading of any doll Tinker could find. She didn’t bother with limbs, but always went straight for the head. She gutted stuffed things with grim efficiency.
During one memorable intermission, Garry and I went to the kitchen to grab something to drink and she dismembered our remote controls. We were gone, by the clock, about a minute. The kitchen is adjacent to the sofa were we watch TV, so she managed to do this with us not 10 feet away. It cost me a couple of hundred dollars to replace them. She pulled off the backs, tore out the batteries (but never ate them), then ripped out the wiring and boards. She didn’t waste any time, either. If she had the leisure, she’d also tear out the keys and generally mangle the cases, but if time was limited, she went straight to the guts of the thing. She was good.
For 10 years, we lived under siege. If you didn’t want it Tinkerized, you couldn’t leave it exposed, not for a minute.
Yet we loved Tinker and for the last year of her life, after we brought Bonnie home, Tinker became a real dog again. Under the influence of Bonnie, the friendliest, happiest, most charming Scottie on earth, Tinker came out of her sullens and played with Bonnie. She ran around the yard and played tag, joined the chorus when the other dogs pointed their muzzles at the sky and sang. Hounds have such beautiful voices and Tinker’s was the most beautiful of all. When she sang, nature sang with her. I suppose this is a matter of taste, but for those of us who love hounds, you know what I mean. Singing is a social function for canines. When a pack sings, it isn’t an alert. It’s a chorus. They are really truly singing together. Each dog has a part, joining in, then pausing and rejoining at the right moment. Tinker was a baritone, the deepest and loudest of the canine voices and Bonnie is a coloratura soprano, very musical, but light.
Almost exactly a year ago, Tinker died of cancer. She had shown no symptoms except a slight slowing down and a very minimally reduced appetite. One day, she collapsed. She was riddled with cancer. There was no organ in her body that was unaffected. How in the world she had so effectively hidden her illness is mind-boggling, but she did. A couple of weeks later, Griffin had a massive stroke and died. They were almost exactly the same age and I don’t believe for a minute that the timing of their passing was mere coincidence. Despite Griffin’s infidelity, the two PBGVs were Karmically joined and could not live without each other.
The house was so quiet with the two hounds gone. We didn’t have to hide everything anymore, though it took us months to realize it was safe, that I could leave my laptop out at night and no dog would bother it. After the two hounds passed, the pack did not sing for half a year. One day, mourning ended and they started to sing again. Now, they sing twice a day, early in the morning (get up Mom) and in the evening (pause that show, time for the chorus).
What was Tinker’s true cost? We paid $700 for her when she was a puppy. Who knows how much her medical care cost over the years? Who remembers? That’s such a basic part of the contract between dogs and their keepers. They love us, we care for them. Other damages? Thousands of dollars in electronic gear, furniture, shoes, books, DVDs, videotapes, dolls, stuffies and who knows what else.
But she paid us back, you see. Because when I was terribly ill, Tinker never left my side. When I was back from surgery, missing another piece of me and in pain, Tinker was there, never placing a paw where it would hurt me. How does it add up? How much was the love worth? What is the true cost of a lifetime love of my dearest friend?
- Crufts 2013: Jilly the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen beats 20,000 other dogs to be named Best in Show at Crufts (dailymail.co.uk)
- You little beauty: rare dog breed Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen wins Crufts Best in Show (independent.co.uk)
- Crufts 2013: ‘Naughty’ hound Jilly – the petit basset griffon vendeen- is top dog (express.co.uk)
- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 7 – True Cost - TCO (fishofgold.net)
- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 7 – True Cost (cognitivereflection.wordpress.com)
- Prompts for the Promptless – Ep. 7 – True Cost (rarasaur.wordpress.com)
- Jilly, a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, is Crufts Best in Show (thetimes.co.uk)