Robin Minnick is proud to say she's a friend of Kaye Barley whose Meanderings and Muses blog has graced us for just over two years now. Kaye, who as her fans know is no slouch as a writer herself, could classify as a patron of the written arts because she gives out so much in attention, accolades, and support. She is one of the many reasons Robin keeps at it, and one of the many reasons Robin has completed one novel (looking for an agent, people), nearly finished the next, and will work on a new Christmas story during November's NaNoWriMo. Robin lives in Fayetteville, NC with her husband and some of their children. Previously they lived in Nashville, TN, and they have family scattered, it seems, across the universe.
VILLAINY BEGINS AT HOME
by Robin Minnick
Children and pets are great. And despite the fact that my husband practices being a curmudgeon on a daily basis (he’s planning on buying a dump truck when he’s 80 and driving on the highway crowding the passing lane at only 53 mph), despite his desire to attain true orneriness, he loves kids and animals.
The loving kids part is pretty obvious; we have six of them. One is married, one is working in New York City, one is fresh out of college, two are in college, and the youngest, who just turned 17, is a junior in high school. Possibly too much information, but I wanted you to get the picture.
We’ve always had animals, pets and otherwise, and at the heart of all of it you could find my husband.
There were the frogs that migrated into our backyard kiddie pool that we allowed to mature and hop on their merry green way. Only to learn the next year that some frogs are migratory when Dave discovered three of them trying to climb our driveway. This was followed by the bullfrog who made his way up the overflow pipe into the sump pump closet, living in the pool of water below. He stayed with us about a year, harrumping periodically. We didn’t know what it was until I opened the closet at an opportune moment. After that, in response to David’s remarks about ‘little green frogs’ and ‘burping frogs’, there hasn’t been a Christmas go by that he didn’t receive some kind of frog – including a stuffed one that sings carols.
Then there was the possum invasion that Dave was called upon to deal with. Starting with the adult possum that, upon a wildlife handler’s advice, we captured ourselves and released onto a local horse farm. Per the handler’s instructions, Dave suited up in sweatshirt and flak jacket and heavy gloves, pulled the 30-pound animal by its tail out from under the table, dropped it into a cat carrier, and slammed the door shut, avoiding with shudders the 3-inch sickle claws and vicious teeth. We removed two others, one that fell into a trash barrel, and another large one that, prodded with a curtain rod, followed a can of cat food into the carrier. Oh, and the babies! Six abandoned babies that tried to live under our house but kept crawling from the crawl space into the ceiling of our downstairs family room. Dave took to yelling “Possum!” every time someone went downstairs. Including the time I landed on the second step, staring eye-to-eye one of the babies hanging from the pipes!
There was the stray cat who stalked us and laid siege to our house until we let him in.
Turns out my husband, who is the first one to complain about our numerous felines, had been slipping him cat food, because “Well, jeez, we couldn’t let him starve!”
There was the time he took our pit bull/black lab cross up into the unfloored attic because CLEARLY the dog needed to see upstairs. Freaked out that Domino might take off across the non–existent floorboards and come crashing through the ceiling, I dubbed this “Letterman’s Stupid Pet-Owner Tricks”. He could have made a mint off that category.
Most recently my wonderful man decided to see what our new puppy and our older dog would make of raw eggs in the shell. Our more mature dog dropped hers on the floor and rolled it around. It leaked egg, and she licked that up. Puppy, being puppy, ate the whole thing. Mmm, calcium!
But, you have to love a man who grouses and then gets up to take the dog out at 2 a.m. because even though it’s the son’s job, there’s no reason the dog should have to wait for a teenager to wake up. Who invests thousands in dance recital costumes and miles in travel to dance lessons and years later says he wouldn’t have spent it any other way. You have to love a man who will get his kids – and dogs -- up in the middle of the night to watch for meteors.
Kids and animals have long been a yardstick by which we measure the ‘good guy’ factor.
“He likes kids and pets; he can’t be all bad!” Even books have been known to follow this simple precept. How many bad guys have pets – other than working guard dogs or snooty sycophant cats? How many characters who avoid children turn out to be the maladjusted, crazed villain? So, maybe it would be a twist to have the cookie lady off the Scoutmaster for not awarding badges, or to have the animal rescuer systematically murder the members of the city council. And maybe a detective who genuinely dislikes kids.
I’m very glad my husband loves kids and animals. I truly don’t expect to see him committing foul deeds any time soon. But that doesn’t mean I won’t model a villain on him.
You wanted to see where I write. Well, one of the places I seem to do a lot of writing is in my car! Over the years I’ve had to do a lot of waiting. So I perfected the art of traveling ‘heavy’, always having some kind of materials for writing with me. Here you see the latest vehicle I use, along with tote bag, netbook, clipboard, pens, and paper. I’ve written in two different vans, a Datsun, a Ford Galaxy, and at least 3 Subarus. When I shop for a car, I definitely have to consider its ‘office potential’!