Le: Hey, y’all! Please welcome Charlene Ann Baumbich today, author of Divine Appointments, and her adorable dog, Kornflake! Hi, Charlene! Thanks for stopping by today! Let’s just jump right in, okay? What is your favorite kind of a pet? Dog, cat, guinea pig? And why?
CAB: My favorite kind of pet is a waggin’ tailed, cuddle right up, licking your face, enthusiastic dog. Medium to large, although I’ve met many a tiny fascinating dog too. It’s hard to beat that swishing tail, an outward sign that all is well with the dog’s love for his friend, and anyone else he or she wants to bless.
Le: How many pets do you have today?
CAB: One pet: my dog Kornflake. However, in my past pet parade, horses, goats, gerbils, parakeets, a catfish, and hermit crabs have entertained me, as well as wondered about me. ;>).
Le: Ah, I have my own pet parade too. Love it! Have you ever rescued an animal?
CAB: Yep. We adopted Kornflake (considered a rescue in my book) from the Winona Area Humane Society in Winona MN. They thought he was about 18 months old. Bone skinny, stinky, ear infection … Now, he is silken and healthy and so grateful for every little thing.
In my youth, I once rescued a fish from a creek bed that was almost dried up. And I found a distressed baby rabbit. In the end, the rabbit did not fare so well, but I tried.
Le: Sometimes that’s all you can do. Do you ever incorporate animals into your novels?
CAB: Absolutely. Dogs and cats, mostly. And mostly dogs. ☺
Le: What was your favorite character animal?
CAB: Kornflake, the big red dog who appeared in the Dearest Dorothy series. Funny how he “just happened” to arrive in Partonville, not long after Kornflake (named by the volunteers at the humane society) arrived in my home.
Le: Funny how that works, huh? Has one of your own pets been the inspiration for a pet/character in a novel?
CAB: Yep. I think I pretty much covered that base. But just for the record, Kornflake actually typed a line (no kidding!) in my nonfiction book, Don’t Miss Your Life! Pretty funny story, told in its full glory in the book. I was so happy the editors decided to leave it in!
Le: Terrific! What is the funniest thing you’ve seen one of your animals do?
CAB: Kornflake bonded with the neighbor’s cows, as in they did, and continue to, surround him, lick him, and treat him like a calf! Of course he had to initiate the contact by slipping under the fence and carefully sauntering among them.
When we first got Kornflake, I worked hard to have him pay no attention to the cows, as his early instinct was to chase them if they moved. So, I took to making him settle down (training) outside the fence, not far from the cows, until he paid no more attention to them—or so I thought. Since cows are very nosey, they loved it when he was near. Something new to stare at while they chewed. Then one day when he was off leash, he just scooted under that lowest wire, believing, I guess, he’d “become one with them” rather than having learned to ignore them. And so, it was. They belong to each other—which isn’t that fun when they’re all standing in piles of cow pies. Thus, I try very hard to discourage their ongoing “oneness.”
Le: My dogs like to bark at cows. But one of mine has taken a roll in a cow pattie. So pleasant. Is there a secret that only our pet knows?
CAB: I’m sure there are many. There is something about the way Kornflake smiles and cocks his head ….
Le: What is your pet’s pet peeve about you?
CAB: Accidentally rolling over his tail with my office chair as he cuddles near my feet while I write. He also doesn’t like it when I yell at my computer, which I’ve been known to do.
Le: What is your pet peeve about your pet?
CAB: How he goes deaf when he puts his nose to the ground and takes off chasing a scent, or acts like he LIKES standing in cow pies.
Le: Thank you so much, Charlene, for taking the time to be with us! Now, I’d love to ask Kornflake a few questions. Don’t forget to give your sweet pet a treat afterwards. ☺ Hey, there, Kornflake! Thanks for coming by. What would be the title of your autobiography?
K: I’d like to think it would be My Peculiar and Happy Life With An Author, but I dunno. There is perhaps a better title, one that encompasses my life before her. Some things are difficult to think about … [I stop here, stare into space, doze off for twenty minutes during which I have a bad dream, one that causes me much whining and thrashing.]
[I awaken, yawn, stretch, sit and look out the window.] I’d love to tell the story about how and why I got to the place where I needed adopting, although I’m sure it would induce tears. My previous owner loved me, taught me commands, how not to pee in the house … and then one day—and this in-between part is what I’ve never told my owner, the one that would no doubt make her cry—there I was, all alone, out in the country, starving. I was on my own a long while, and oh, the adventures and loneliness. The heartache. But then, a kind gentleman discovered me (I was rolled up in such a tight ball, he thought I was a fawn!) and turned me in to the Winona Area Humane Society. Then came The Author, who loved everything about me, including all the good stuff my previous owner taught me, which, thankfully, I didn’t forget while I was out fending for myself.
So, autobiography title? It could be complicated if I started from the beginning. Maybe The Lifetime Adventures of a Big Red Dog.
Le: Ah, I love rescue stories. If you were to write a novel, would your friend inspire one of the characters?
K: Where to begin with that question! Some days, I think she’d be a great bleeding-heart protagonist. Others, I’d write her as the bad witch in the Wizard of Oz. She can really YELL! But she gets over it quickly, so … I’m sure she would inspire something. Likely a series, since there is no end to how fascinating she is.
Le: That’s funny. What’s your favorite movie?
K: Anything starring the Chipmunks. I like to chase their cute little rascally backsides!
Le: What musical instrument would you like to play?
K: Banjo. My friend tells me I look to her like happy banjo music.
Le: That would be fu to watch! What do you think about cats? Dogs?
K: I think they can be interesting—or mean. Since I spend a good deal of time on a farm with seven cats that don’t belong to us, and are much beloved by the landlord, my friend tries to make me be Very Nice to them. But I am so curious … I don’t like their hissing, and when their tails “wag,” I’ve learned it means nothing. As for other dogs (or cows or any other critter that looks at me), let’s play!
Le: Where do you sleep at night?
K: When we’re at The Farm, where my friend goes to “hide” and write, I have a cage covered with blankets. The door is always open, but it’s my favorite hideaway. When it’s too hot though (no air conditioning there), I plop down wherever I can catch a breeze. When we’re home, I usually sleep on a cheap dog bed (an overstatement, since it’s really more like a rag) near the couch.
Le: What do you do when your friend is writing?
K: Mostly, I keep her company, near her feet. Sometimes she waits too long to get up, and she’s old, so I worry about her getting all stiff and kinky. So, first, I put my nose on her keyboard to lift her hands and make her pet me. If I wag my tail real fast, she knows it’s time to get up and walk around a little. Or play ball. Yes, let’s play ball! Let’s play ball! Let’s play ball!
Le: It’s good that you’re there to take care of her. What is your idea of bliss?
K: “Wanna go for a ride?” or “Wanna chase the ball?”
Le: What is your friend’s idea of bliss?
K: Me at her side, family and friends across from her (especially her grandgirlies), sitting on the front porch at The Farm (where we can all see the cows), a nice breeze, and maybe a margarita.
Le: Sounds perfect! Thank you so much, Kornflake, for being with us today! You take care of your friend now, ya hear?
K: You betcha.