...for readers who love animals, and animal lovers who read!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Getting to Know Goldie (A Not-so-minor Character)*

as told to Sheila Webster Boneham

Good morning! Oh my, I’m so honored to be here. I mean, how did you even get my name? Oh, wait, I’m sure Janet gave it to you, yes? Or maybe Tom? But let me back up a step. I just wasn’t prepared for this, and look at me, I’m a mess. I’ve been out in the garden since before dawn. Like to beat the heat, you know. Here, have a glass of mint-basil iced tea. All fresh from the garden, except, of course, the tea. I order that from Charleston Tea Plantation. Did you know that it’s the only place in the U.S. that grows tea? Mmmm, that hits the spot. It’s their green tea with my own fresh basil and mints, pepper and spear. Made it this morning.

Okay, well, about that step back. I’m Goldie. Golden Sunshine on my various papers, but just Goldie to my friends. You found your way here, so you know that I live next door to my best friend, Janet MacPhail. Such a lovely person, and a talented photographer. When we’ve finished our tea I’ll show you some of the wonderful macro photos she’s taken in my garden. I have several framed in the living room. Most of her photos are of animals, of course. Most of her life is about animals! I think it’s great, and I adore her critters. 

Oh, here's Totem. Isn't he the most gorgeous kitten you've ever seen? Careful, though -- he gets a bit rambunctious, and he'll leave little black hairs all over your clothes! I wouldn't have this guy if not for Janet. Her handsome Leo taught me about cats. He's a beautiful ginger…is that right? Ginger? Or is he red? Or orange? I think I’ll call him golden. Leo is the best cat, other than Totem, of course. Leo's quite the courageous little guy, too, as he has proven more than once. He helps me in the garden and keeps me company on the patio when I’m reading, and he's been teaching Pixel how to be a proper cat. When Janet is away for a dog show or something, Leo stays with me. 

And then there’s Janet’s dog, Jay. He’s just the most handsome, smart, funny, lovely Australian Shepherd. If I see he’s outside in the morning when I’m making my toast I always make him a piece, too. I bake my own bread, you know, so the toast isn’t like store-bought toast, well, you know, toasted store-bought bread. I think Jay especially likes my sunflower seed whole grain with homemade cinnamon clove butter. It’s one of my favorites, too. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. Except Totem. Janet begs me not to bring her any because she’s trying to lose a few pounds. Has been ever since she met Tom, although I don’t think he really cares.

The Money Bird
That’s Tom Saunders. He and Janet both train and compete with their dogs, and they’re a perfect match, although they sure are slow to do anything about it. Funny thing is, I knew Tom years before Janet did. He’s an ethnobotanist and I took a class from him many moons ago. Didn’t know he was a dog-sports guy or I’d have introduced them back then. He has a terrific black Lab named Drake. Isn’t that a brilliant name for a duck dog? Ha! Tom’s become something of a confidante, although there are some things I won’t tell him. If Janet wants him to know what she’s been up to, she can tell him herself.

Maybe one of these days I'll get a dog, too. We shall see.

Hang on a minute while I take the cookies out of the oven. Ooooh, they smell pretty good, don’t they? Ha! I’m experimenting again. You can tell me whether they work. I like to put edibles from my garden into my cooking, and not just the usual suspects, either. These are lemon with bits of home grown rose hips and violets. I didn't grow the lemons, of course, but the flowers are fresh from the backyard. Here you go. Don’t burn yourself!

Drop Dead on Recall
I’ll say one thing—I found adventure in my younger days all by myself. Got arrested in Birmingham, I’m proud to say. Worked with different social programs in the Bay area for years. But I’ve been pretty quiet and well-behaved and, frankly, boring the past few years. Until Janet started playing Miss Marple from time to time, and I aided and abetted. That’s something else I won’t be telling Tom! What fun! But I don’t have time to tell you the whole story right now. I need to go clean the Japanese beetles off my roses. Do it by hand, you know. No chemicals in my garden, other than the ones the plants make themselves.

Here, take some cookies with you. They’ll be good to munch while you read about Janet and Jay’s latest adventure. And let me show you those photos in the other room.


Sheila Webster Boneham the Animals in Focus Mystery series. She is also the author of seventeen nonfiction books about animals, including the highly regarded Rescue Matters!How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion AnimalsHer work has appeared in literary and commercial magazines and anthologies, including the forthcoming 2015 Best Science and Nature Writing anthology edited by Rebecca Skloot.  Sheila’s work has won numerous honors, including the Prime Number Magazine Creative Nonfiction Award and multiple Maxwell and MUSE awards in fiction and nonfiction.  Sheila also writes narrative nonfiction and poetry, teaches writing workshops, and, yes, competes with her dogs. Learn more at www.sheilaboneham.com, or keep up with Sheila’s latest news on Facebook or at Sheila”s_Blog .

Sheila's books are available from retail and online booksellers. You can support independent bookselling and get your personally autographed copies of Sheila’s books from Pomegranate Books – information here: http://www.sheilaboneham.com/autographedbooks.html

*A slightly different version of this piece appeared in August 2013 at dru's book musings.

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