Lee Barwood

Paranormal, Mystery, and Environmental Fiction

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Gail Gipp, manager of the Australian Wildlife Hospital, and friend

Dr. Jon Hanger, head veterinarian at the Australian Wildlife Hospital, and friend

The Environment:
The Beat of Gaia's Heart


September 7, 2007


Forever Homes

Welcome to the third issue of The Beat of Gaia's Heart, the newsletter about the other Web – the one that connects us all to each other and to the animals, the environment, and the Earth.

July was a busy month. The highlight was my trip to Binghamton, NY, for the Teddy Bear Artists Invitational (TBAI – go to www.tbai.org for more information) – a collectors’ teddy bear show that raises money for the Ross Park Zoo. Last year mystery author John Lamb premiered his teddy bear mystery series there, and this year the board was kind enough to allow me to sell my koala book, Klassic Koalas: Ancient Aboriginal Tales in New Retellings (www.koalajo.com) there – as well as Koala Jo Publishing’s other koala book offerings – to benefit the Australian Wildlife Hospital. It was wonderful to reconnect with all my friends there – I’ve been to TBAI four times now – and to see all the wonderful creatures the artists had made. They are so gifted!

Lots of people have mixed feelings about zoos. Others hate them outright. But if there’s one thing I know without a doubt, it’s that animals that are in zoos deserve the best possible habitat, treatment, and medical care we can give them. We owe them that much. TBAI has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the animals at the zoo, and for that I’m grateful.

Since the show is frequented by animal lovers and teddy bear collectors, I was thrilled to be able to sign and sell books there. I was also delighted to meet a teddy bear artist, Charlotte “Lotta” French, from Australia, who had come all the way to Binghamton to sell her bears – and kangaroos and, of course, koalas! If you want to see her wonderful creations, check out www.lottazbearz.com. I’ll be posting photos of various artists’ tables on my website soon. And of course I met loads of wonderful people – hello to all my new subscribers from TBAI! – and had a great time raising money for the Hospital.

This month’s big event is Long Branch Day. Saturday, September 8, is the end-of-summer celebration for the town of Long Branch, NJ, with a walkathon in the morning, entertainment, and tables for vendors to sell their wares. Several of my friends and coworkers and I will be walking for the Hospital – if you’d like to contribute, donations are very welcome; just e-mail me at lee@leebarwood.com to find out how to contribute – and then I’ll be signing/selling books and koala gift items to help the Hospital build its new facility. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello!

Honoring Animals’ Lives

Dear friends of mine lost their little dog in July. She was only 11, but had heart problems that were genetic in nature. They loved her so much that her loss was really devastating.

At first they weren’t going to get another dog right away, but life without her was so lonely that they realized the best way to honor her memory was to bring home another canine companion to love. So they considered all the options – and I’m very happy to say that the option they chose was adopting a rescue dog.

They got in touch with an organization called A Forever-Home Rescue Foundation (www.aforeverhome.org), and found the perfect dog. She’s a sweet little thing, also with genetic problems, and had been abandoned by her breeder (a breeder who cared more about money than animals, if she even considered allowing this little creature to have puppies that would carry on the same genetic health defects she had). Rescued by A Forever-Home Foundation, she was spayed and treated for several ailments, then fostered out to a home with other dogs There she was socialized (her breeder had kept her in a cage for a year), loved, and allowed to be herself. At last she was adopted by my friends – after a thorough home and background check, so that this truly would be a forever home – and they brought her to live with them about a month ago. Now she has a wonderful new home, and my friends have allowed this little one a chance to have as happy a life as their other dog had. What a wonderful way to honor the memory of the little dog they’d lost!

Please think about rescue when you’re considering getting a pet. Shelters are overwhelmed all over the country, and in summer resort areas often the problem becomes worse as “summer people” return home and simply abandon the pets they’d gotten for their children over the summer. This is a really dreadful thing to do – they teach children that animals are disposable, and the animals themselves – who were loved and played with all summer – are suddenly on their own, with winter coming on, and no idea of how to survive in the wild. Rescue organizations run by dedicated people do the best they can to step in and take them in, foster them, and find them new “forever” homes – but the demand is always greater than the supply. If you’re thinking of taking an animal into your home, please consider rescue. Not only do you give one animal a home, you give another animal a chance to be fostered till his or her forever home comes along.

To learn more about rescue options, Google your favorite dog breed’s name and “Rescue” – you’ll be amazed at how many organizations come up!

Last month I promised you a review of Kangaroo Dog, by Marlies Bugman (www.zumayapublications.com). The book is truly wonderful, and I recommend it without reservation.

Seven-year-old Ben Arthurson lives in Tasmania and is basically a happy child, although he misses his mother Kathleen. She died of cancer less than a year ago, and Ben’s memories of her are strong. He remembers particularly well her love of animals; she would take in and care for young injured or orphaned wild creatures, and his grandmother has taken over that job.

Ben has a cat, Ziggy, and goes exploring with her. Ziggy begins to act a bit strangely at night, coming into his room through the window as if frightened and staying inside with him instead of roaming as is her custom. And one day the boy and his cat go wandering past the duck pond, and Ben continues on, crossing the creek – something he’s not supposed to do by himself. But curiosity draws him on, and soon he sees something – he’s not sure what – but thinks it might be a “kangaroo dog.” This is the name he has for a stuffed animal his mother had given him a few years before.

On his next trip over the creek, curious about the kangaroo dog he thinks he’s seen, he goes farther – and then he sees the animal close up: a young thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger. These animals are, of course, thought to be extinct, and Ben can hardly believe his eyes – but the little creature is playful and lets him touch, and even stroke, its fur. But its mother comes by, and Ben scurries away, wondering what he should do about his discovery. If he tells about the kangaroo dog, he will be admitting that he crossed the creek when he wasn’t supposed to – but the secret is one that is very hard for him to keep.

His Aunt Steffie, who was his mother’s sister, comes for a visit, and follows him on one of his walks. Unaware of her presence, he once more crosses the creek, and Steffie sees him playing with the young thylacine. Now she, too, is on the horns of a dilemma: concerned for her nephew’s safety, she is afraid not to step in, but she too is beguiled by the wonder of seeing an animal thought to have vanished from the earth.

Steffie is engaged to be married, and her fiancé is an ambitious reporter who thinks only of his next story. When he discovers photographs that Steffie takes on yet another expedition across the creek, the whole family has to get together to figure out how to stop him from revealing the creature’s existence – lest it be hunted or carted off to a zoo, its peaceful life in the wild gone forever.

This is a gentle tale about the love of a young boy and his family for the native wild creatures around them. Its approach to the ethical dilemma of wildlife survival reveals a strength of character that is rare in today’s children’s literature, and its conclusion is both satisfying and heartwarming. The author, a very gifted artist, has illustrated the book with black and white drawings that capture the spirits of the animals she shows in a way that gives them character without losing their winsome appeal. The drawings alone are worth the purchase of the book. And the full-color cover depicts the thylacine beautifully.

Bugman is also the author of Bluegum Christmas, Tazzie Devil Double Trouble, Quoll Quandary, and Golden Wings, with Bat Whispers due out this year. Each book looks at native animals, and the delicate environment in which they live, teaching children in the best way possible to care about the creatures and plants that live around them. Next month we’ll look at Bluegum Christmas. More information is available at www.zumayapublishing.com and www.tasmanianartist.com.

Women’s Issues:
WIMN’s Voices

Women’s E-News/Resources for Journalists

Medline Plus: Women’s Health

Feminist.com, filled with resources on everything from domestic violence to women-owned businesses

Australian Wildlife Hospital

Wildcare Australia

The Planetary Coral Reef Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation, with local chapters in many coastal areas

Koala books and gifts at Koala Jo Publishing

A Dream of Drowned Hollow, Gryphon Award-winning environmental suspense/thriller

Environmental strategies:
Live Earth

The Lazy Environmentalist

Clean Ocean Action, working to clean up NJ shores

Oregon Swap – a way to trade what you don’t need for what you do

Vegetarian/vegan eating:
Klassic Koalas: Vegetarian Delights Too Cute to Eat; Vegetarian and vegan recipes –
some of them free!

A Forever-Home Foundation for animal rescue

First Strike: The Connection Between Animal Cruelty and Domestic Abuse

Farm Sanctuary

Other newsletters:
Bobbing Around, a potpourri of useful and valuable information

“To speak of harvesting other living creatures, whether deer or elk or birds or cottontail rabbits, as if they were no more than a crop, exposes the meanest, cruelest, most narrow and homocentric of possible human attitudes toward the life that surrounds us.” – Edward Abbey

For more links, information, reviews, and suggestions, go to www.leebarwood.com. Or check out my blog on MySpace at www.myspace.com/leebarwood. See you next

Copyright 2007 by Lee Barwood

Selected Works

Love and death tread the boards at a haunted Victorian theater
Love can survive death -- but so can hate. The two collide in this haunted Ozarks tale of betrayal and heroism -- on both sides of the grave.
Australian wildlife images to stimulate creativity in children and adults alike
Vintage wildlife photos illustrate a children's story about koalas
Retellings of eight Australian Aboriginal tales, mostly focusing on the koala -- a powerful figure in Aboriginal lore
Gryphon Award-winning ecological fantasy novel, now available from Double Dragon Publishing (February 2006)
Volume I of The Ribbons of Power, this was Honor Book Award winner in Andre Norton's Gryphon Award competition
Volume II of The Ribbons of Power
A professor is murdered. Can the plot be unraveled?

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