Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

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The Truth About Books (kindly hurry up with that steak!)

“Eureka!” says Mom the other day. I have no idea why she says this. But she says it a lot. Especially when she’s lugging another truck load of “books” home from The Book Place.

Me, I’m not crazy about The Book Place. Ever since Mom pointed out the “guide dogs and service animals only” sign. What am I, chopped Salisbury steak with extra gravy? Tri-tip roast? A nice, thick burger sizzling merrily on the outdoor grill?

Wait. What was I saying?

Oh yeah. “Eureka” and The Book Place.

“See what we have here?” says Mom, pulling out one of those big square reading thingies from a library “book bag” big enough to choke a Brontosaurus. “This is a book,” she explains. “Black letters on white pages.” She fans the pages.

I sniff said pages. Can I eat it? Something tells me no. As in, BIG N-O.

“David Copperfield!” Mom announces. I’m still sniffing. “A classic!” she says.

Am I supposed to be impressed?

“Wait! There’s more!” Mom crows, excavating deeper into the Bronto bag. She unearths more reading thingies. Like Pride and Prejudice. A Raisin in the Sun. The Black Stallion Returns. Thunder Rolling in the Mountains.

Still sniffing…

Meanwhile, I’m beginning to wonder about these reading thingies she calls “books.” They don’t have any buttons. Blinking lights. Bonus levels. App updates. In fact, books really don’t have any sounds at all. And not much smell, either. (Dust maybe.)

This doesn’t seem to slow Mom down.

“Look,” she says, cheerfully paging through something called Anchor in the Storm.

You’d think she just discovered filet mignon, medium well.

“Finding a good book is like finding buried treasure!” Mom continues. “It’s an adventure waiting to happen!”

She tells me that these reading thingies – “books” – can take you on travels only you can imagine. Through forests thick with facts. Whole galaxies dripping with starry fiction. A book can introduce you to lifelong friends, says Mom. Keep you awake all night until The End. A book can be a friend if you just want to be by yourself in the highest peak of a status-update-free mountain. And the only “storage space” that runs out in a book is what’s in your own head.

Also, a book doesn’t run on batteries. Never needs a recharge. Or a power cord. Doesn’t have an off button. You don’t need to remember a password to get inside. And a book won’t unfriend you. Ever.

At the end of the day, you can put down a book and it won’t mind. Because, says Mom, a book will always be there, waiting for you to come back. Pick up where you left off. Like an old friend welcoming you home. Whether you’re a “service animal” or not.

Mom may be on to something. I just hope she hurries up with that steak.






Brontosaurus image: Wikimedia Commons

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Which Reader Are You?

I’m gonna be two years old next month. I’m telling you this now to give you last-minute gift-getters a heads up.

Anyway, Mom insists I’m still a “puppy.” So embarrassing. I keep telling her I’m a lap dog. I mean, really. What’s a measly 62 pounds?

So. I may not be two yet. But I’ve been around long enough to make some observations. Like postal carriers aren’t always friendly. Neither are fences. There’s no such thing as a “ten second rule” when Yours Truly is on kitchen patrol.


Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. I’ve made some observations in two years-ish. One of them is there are lots of different kinds of readers. You may not think us canines notice stuff like this. But we do. Here are a few of the readers I’ve seen. Any of these sound familiar?

The soloist.

Hear, hear! Or more like, “Quiet down, pronto!” A “solo” reader is the person who Can’t Stand To Be Interrupted. As in, “Can’t you see I’m reading??!!!” They just want to be left alone, absent activity, noise, or conversation when they’re neck-deep in a good story. Or even a mediocre one. Interrupt The Soloist at your peril. (Don’t ask who I know this.)

The Techno Reader

Do you prefer reading on your mobile device? Love your Kindle? Audible? How ‘bout Ebooks or talking books? If the mere notion of thumbing through paper pages or creasing a physical book makes you break out in hives, you may be a Techno Reader.

The Dinosaur

The dinosaur reader doesn’t care how cool your Kindle is. Call ‘em Brontosauri (hi, Mom!), but for these readers, nothing beats holding a physical book in my hands or turning real pages. There’s something about a physical book that an electronic device can’t touch (pun intended).

The Librarian

Does reading at home present too many distractions or time crunches? The Librarian reader prefers the relative quiet and solitude of a library for reading. They value the personal interface with their librarian(s) for book suggestions and recommendations.

The Groupie

This type of reader likes to be part of a group reading effort. They find it easier to keep their reading on track if they know a title is available ahead of time and a discussion will take place a month out or so (hi again, Mom. What?). They also like being able to bounce ideas and impressions off other readers who’ve read the same title during the same time frame.

The Kimber

These readers are happy reading anywhere. Like me. I’m good anywhere my humans are. But I’m at my best on someone’s lap. Just think of me as a 62 pound fur baby. Mom does.

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Holding Hands: What I’ve Learned in 35 Years of Marriage

Snuggle Bunny and I celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this week. Where did the time go? More importantly, in an era in which a double nano-second constitutes a “long-term relationship,” how did we make it thirty-five years?

First off, we’re waaay too young to be that old.

Second, it hasn’t always been easy. Marriage is hard work. It’s the union of two imperfect, self-centered, hard-headed people with feet of clay. Throw in some job losses and “down-sizing.” Too much month at the end of the money. Four kids. Health issues. A couple cross-country moves. Misunderstandings, the untimely loss of loved ones (three parents in just over a year), and the usual trials and tribulations of life, and you’re in for some major stress.

How have we kept it together for 35 years? Here are some key ingredients, suggestions, and lessons learned over 35 years:

  • Make Jesus Christ the center of your heart, home, and marriage. Like this. Sung at our wedding in May 1983. It still rings true today:
  • Pray for your spouse daily. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve muffed this over 35 years. But I keep trying. You can, too. Incidentally, the person whose heart will be most changed when you pray for your spouse is yours. (Don’t ask how I know that.)
  • Cultivate a sense of humor. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Develop your “funny bone” and exercise it often. Look for things to laugh about. If you can’t find any, I might lend you some of mine. If you ask real nice.
  • Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Another thing you can’t do on your own. It takes Jesus. Trust me on this one.
  • Learn and use those three little words: “I was wrong.”
  • Give your spouse room to grow, stretch, and learn. Allow them the freedom to fail. When they do, be the first person to pick them up, dust them off, and cheer them on to the next endeavor or adventure. Be your spouse’s #1 fan.
  • Show an interest in and participate in your spouse’s hobbies and interests if at all possible. Is he a football, baseball, or basketball fan? Into NASCAR? Boating, hiking, fishing, camping? A history buff? What kind of books or music does she like? What’s her favorite cuisine, color, movie, style, or get-away spot? How does your spouse like to spend his or her down time?

Snuggle Bunny and I love the Great Outdoors. We’ve spent more time around a campfire singeing perfectly good marshmallows than I can shake a charred stick at. We’ve also hiked millions of miles over most of the western U.S. and quite a few Eastern Seaboard states, too. (Well, okay. Maybe not a million. It just feels that way.) The idea here is to adventure together. Savvy?

Also (throwin’ these in for free):

  • An ounce of Hershey’s is worth a pound of cure.
  • Flowers. Don’t ask me to explain this.
  • Honesty is the best policy. (Don’t confuse this with undue harshness or acting like a jerk. Tell the truth. In love.) Also, be trustworthy.
  • Love without commitment only goes so far. Like, around the block. Commitment lasts forever. Don’t confuse the two.

  • Snuggle Bunny and I have worked hard to implement and maintain what has been derisively dubbed The Pence Rule. By people who don’t get it. Like, whenever possible, we avoid being alone with someone else’s spouse or a member of the opposite sex. It’s called protecting our marriage pro-actively. It works. For 35 years. And counting.
  • Don’t take each other for granted. Ever.
  • Say “I love you” every day. Find creative ways to express your love and appreciation for your spouse in ways that’ll speak to their heart. (Did I mention Hershey’s?)
  • Realize that marriage vows are vows, not suggestions.

07 May 1983

On an eighty-degree evening in southern California in 1983, Snuggle Bunny and I promised to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health….” We’ve seen plenty of all of the above. But we made solemn vows “to have and to hold… until death do us part.”

Not just when things are going great. When it’s all moonlight and roses, champagne and fireworks. Because guess what? The last couple to “live happily ever after” was Snow White and Prince Charming. You’re neither. There will be times when your spouse seems as attractive as an overcooked cabbage. As prickly as a porcupine. Is galactically irritating. Selfish. An insensitive clod.

Well, guess what again? So are you. So get over it. Choose to honor your marriage commitment and hold fast to your vows. Even when you don’t “feel” like it. Maybe especially when you don’t feel like it.

If you need professional help, get it. Remember #2. Also remember that you have an Enemy. The Thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That includes your marriage. Be on guard. Be prepared to fight for your spouse and your marriage. Take the gloves off and do it!! Like this:


  • I still have a lot to learn.
  • If I live a thousand years, it still won’t be enough to deserve the good man who gently won my heart so many years ago. And still has it. Hey, Babe. This one’s for you. Happy Anniversary!

One day, far away, you gently won my heart
And one night, by candlelight, we made a vow to never part
And then it seemed just like a dream
When wide eyed, side by side
We faced the future holding hands…

Everyone’s favorite pup, Kimber the Magnificent, returns next time. Stay tuned!