Thursday, July 3, 2008

Off and Running

Well, hopefully not running off. First post, first introductions. I am a storyteller, a collector of stories and oral histories, a novelist. I love long pauses before a punch line and white spaces on the page, but get me comfortable and you may get too much information. And opinions. Mine, which of course are well founded, intelligent, and insightful. That's what you'll find on this blog. Stories, opinions, random information and snippets, and news of books. I love books and am on a mission to read more and write more. I think I will accomplish this by playing less computer solitaire. Check back and I'll tell you how that's going. That plan may end up being something like my idea of losing weight by cutting back on chocolate. Now really, who ever thought of that?

INTRO # 1: Fred. Fred was a spectacular two year old golden who chewed up my sweatshirt and licked my face when I cried. He chased our dog, Ralph, just enough to give the old boy his exercise and barked just enough to make you laugh at the display because, after all, he was a golden.

INFO #1: Fred died suddenly about a month ago and this is the info. He died from eating blue green algae. Yes, it's the same stuff that you can take in capsules for your health and it lives in lots of ponds and lakes and is generally benign. But, turns out that at some points in its bloom cycle, blue green algae produces a neurotoxin that is about 99.9 percent deadly to dogs. We had never heard of this. When Fred's back legs collapsed we took him to the emergency vet (of course it was midnight) and he sent us home to look for possible poisons that Fred may have eaten. I was thrilled to discover he'd just gotten into a bucket of algae we'd skimmed from our pond and hadn't yet dumped. "It's just algae," I said happily over the phone. The vet said that was probably good but there was one bad kind, "But we've never seen a case in our town." Well, Fred got into that bad kind and he was dead within three hours. No pain, apparently, but he stopped breathing. That beautiful yellow dog looked the same one minute as the next, but he was gone. It was the saddest thing.

OPINION #1: What you don't know can hurt you - or kill your dog. I think everyone should know about blue green algae and then tell their friends. I think everyone should know about a lot of things that can hurt you. What about those drug adds that say, "Side effects may include greasy runny stools," appealing, yes? Or maybe, "In rare instances serious side effects may occur including shortness of breath, stroke, or death." Death? That's a side effect? Who decided that and how much are you willing to gamble that that's not YOUR side effect? More in the next post, intro, and opinion. Enough today or we'll get into that realm of TMO.

BOOKS#1: OK, we started out with the idea of reading and writing more, and since this is a blog and you all may be writers - at least on line - let's launch a chat about reading. This week it's dog books, in honor of Fred. Here are a few I've read: Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Sounder by William H. Armstrong, Where the Red Fern Grows by Tara McCarthy, Old Yeller by Fred Gipson - now revealing my age. A big difference between Winn Dixie and the others is that in the last three the dog dies, and in the first one it's the mother who's gone. Dead dogs are very, very sad. I'd recommend Winn-Dixie. It's not as heartbreaking as the others. It's a little light - a fun, character read. The others I loved too. Interesting they all take place in the south. Is there something that makes southerners more attached to their dogs? Or do southern dogs just make good stories? Next post - more about dogs - dead and alive.


Susanne Gervay said...

Congratulations on entering the world of BLOG and sharing your writing life.

My blog is:-

Sorry to miss you at LA SCBWI Conference. Say hello to everyone there for me.


Tracy said...

Hey Suzy!
Love your blog.
You should read No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman. Really funny, and--no dead dogs!
LA won't be the same without you.

Suzanne Morgan Williams said...

Tracy - Susie Gervay must be talking about her not getting to LA conference. It IS a trek from Australia and I think she's doing a book launch. I'm planning to be there. Suzy

Tracy said...

I'm glad I misunderstood, but instead of missing Suzy, now I'll miss Susie!

Vaquerogirl said...

Death sucks! I blogged about that myself just a few weeks ago. I am so sorry for your loss! Wh knew algae was poisonous? I found out Chocolate was poison to dogs when my own dog ate a pound of sees ( with my then three year old Gin helping). She didn't die- but barely. Now I am a fanatic about where my dog goes even in my own yard! Nice to 'see' you Sue!

Anonymous said...


It's great to see you off and running. And it was so nice to see you at ALA! Zu

scbwi said...

Suzy, glad to see you blogging - gives me courage
to consider it. So sorry to hear about Fred; what a
horrible way to learn about blue algae! As for dog
books, MARLEY was my favorite fast read last summer because I thought I had the baddest yellow lab in the world until I read it, and it made me laugh so much.


Susan M. Botich said...

I am so sorry to hear about your losing Fred. I remember how handsome he was. At least he didn't suffer. I am glad that you are sharing your stories with us via your blog. I now have it on my Google home page. Pretty handy. My best to you!

Heidi Ayarbe said...

Hello Suzy!! Good to see you in cyberspace. Just another way to procrastinate (I'm not falling for this whole thing of this NOT keeping you from your writing tasks!!)
There's nothing ever too small to learn or too big to try, and I'm glad you'll be sharing your compendium of useful knowledge with us.
I'm so sorry about Fred. My love to you, your family and Emiliano -- my daughter's future.

Hope Anita Smith said...

Kudos for taking the leap into the blogging world! I am inspired. I wanted to recommend a dog book to you. It's called The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. What is it about dogs? I don't think any other animal steals our hearts so completely.
Can't wait to get more Too Much Information from you.

Be well.

Terri Farley said...

HI Suzy,
I'm so sorry about Fred. I still miss Eve, Rookie, Rosie, Cinnamon...and every dog I've ever had. They sure have a way of curling up in your heart.
Be right back. I have to go pet Zito.
Now, I love your blog & I'll be stopping by often!
Sending you an email, too!
Terri (Farley)

Suzanne Morgan Williams said...

I didn't know how fun this could be - meeting my friends in cyberspace. And we now have three good dog books on the table. The library calls.Heidi is right - this could be addicting. Thanks to all of you for stopping in. Suzy

The Lone Coyote said...

Welcome to Blogger. May it be as fruitful for you as it has been for me in terms of procrastination, an outlet for writing, making new cyberfriends, and keeping in touch with those you love.

Fran Cannon Slayton said...

You go girl!! And I can say I was there at the very beginning!

sunihali said...

Hey, Suzy!

Your first blog? Well, this is my first post to a blog. Hurray for both of us, yes? I would have commented sooner but I've been totally preoccupied with keeping up with news of the Big Sur fire while I'm online. So far, the friends I know down there are okay but the whole thing is so horrible it nags at me night and day.

You already know how sorry I am about Fred. He was such a happy, exuberant pup. I'll miss him so much! As for dog books? Well, guess I ought to mention that one of my faves is Wander, not just because I wrote it, but because though I may have killed off the mother, I didn't kill the dog.

This is much more fun than solitaire, btw.


Suzanne Morgan Williams said...

How could I have forgotten Wander? I'll add it to the dog book list, along with Love that Dog by Sharon Creech - recommended by Troy. The list is growing. One of us will have to become a dog book expert. Suzy

Sydney Husseman said...

Hi Suzy!

I love Gary Paulsen's books about dogs--like Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers.

Also, Hudson Stuck's Ten Thousand Miles With A Dog Sled is a great read.

Thanks for your recommendations, too!

Richard said...

Losing a good dog hurts. Yes, indeed.

Sally the Wonderdog entered my life as a stray pup. She was a cow dog ("the best of an uncountable number of breeds," according to my vet). She spent 17 years trying to herd the deer on my hill - with no success whatever, but with endless enjoyment. More basic decency than an entire Congress put together, and more smarts than a Guantanamo-full of our current, uhm, deciders.