In Memoriam: Sam (1989-2011)

At 7:45 pm last night, our beloved grey-cheeked parakeet, Sam, passed away at the advanced age (for a grey cheek) of twenty-one. He died at home, in my arms, leaving this world with all the love and comfort Collin and I were able to give him. In the weeks to come, I’ll be telling the story of Sam’s long and surprising life here–through his eyes. I hope you’ll continue to stop by. I think you’ll enjoy the journey.



In the meantime, for anyone who has ever loved a creature companion of any kind, please feel free to share your own thoughts and memories.  Do all dogs go to Heaven, as a Disney movie once asked? I believe they do–as do birds, cats, hamsters, horses, lizards, etc. After all, when God saved Noah and his family from the Great Flood, they weren’t on that Ark alone….


I received this from our very dear friend Carolyn Crowe, who was also a dear friend to Sam. It kind of says it all….


May I Go

Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days and endless lonely nights?
I’ve lived my life and done my best, an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond, and set my spirit free?
I didn’t want to go at first, I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now to a warm and living light.
I want to go, I really do; it’s difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me and share your love and fears.
I know you’re sad and afraid, because I see your tears.
I’ll not be far, I promise that, and hope you’ll always know,
That my spirit will be close to you wherever you may go.
Thank you so for loving me. You know I love you too,
And that’s why it’s hard to say goodbye and end this life with you.
So hold me now just one more time and let me hear you say,
Because you care so much for me, you’ll let me go today.

by Susan A. Jackson



William also posted a blog in Sam’s honor. Have a look:
http://williamkendallbooks.blogspot.com/2011/02/giant-of-bird.html

Character Blog: James Lynde, The Unicorn’s Daughter

I’ve always been a loner. I suppose that’s what made me a candidate for the OSS back in ’41. No ties, nothing to distract me from my duties. Or at least that’s how it started.

I was damn good at it, if I do say so myself. I enjoyed outwitting the enemy. Once, I donned a Nazi uniform and walked right into their Paris headquarters. Then there was the time two of us were transmitting information right under the Nazis’ noses–I was in peasant garb, pushing a large barrel down the street My colleague was in the barrel with his equipment. 

After the war was over, things were pretty quiet–until the Cold War came along, and with it, the CIA. The spy game, as Hollywood calls it, changed dramatically. It wasn’t as exciting as the OSS had been, but still a challenge. My work in the OSS had been an adventure. The CIA was more like playing chess. 



I found myself spending more time in Moscow than I did in the US. I needed a cover, a position that would enable me to travel within the Soviet Union without suspicion. That’s where Harrison Colby and his daughter came in. A retired senator, Harrison Colby was taking over the reins of his father-in-law’s intenational banking firm. He had two daughters, Katherine and Frances. Long story short, a marriage to one of them would open doors for me to join the firm and establish my cover.

I was attracted to Katherine, but she was a strong, independent woman who would not have tolerated my long absences and unanswered questions. Katherine would have been a problem…so I married her sister. Quiet, bookish Fran was insecure and would be easily manipulated. She wouldn’t cause trouble. Or so I thought. She managed to get herself pregnant almost immediately. I was not thrilled. Being a father had never been part of my plans. I didn’t even like kids. They were an inconvenience I didn’t need. But if being a mother made Fran happy, well, she was the one who’d be raising the kid. I wasn’t planning to be a hands-on dad.



That all changed when Jaime was born. Right away, I could see that she was my daughter in every way. From her  red hair to her temper to her stubborn streak, there was no doubt. She was mine…and I adored her. She was the first and only human being I had ever loved. I would have done anything for that kid. I wanted to spend more time with her, especially after her mother’s death, but it was around that time that my cover was blown–and, for a number of valid reasons, I had to be dead to the world, including my daughter….



AUTHOR’S NOTE: I could see Tom Selleck playing “The Unicorn”…but he’d have to dye his hair and mustache red….

Character Blog: Kate McAllister, Final Hours

It still bothers me when I see photographs of Jamie with his wife–partly because that’s where he belongs, with his family, but mostly because it hurts so much. I love this man, and I don’t doubt for a moment that he loves me–but he’s still married to her. Legally and morally, he’s her husband. He’s the father of her children–and that brings to the surface yet another kind of pain. The knowledge that I’ll never have children with him.


As a photographer, it’s second nature for me to examine every detail of a photograph. One thing stands out in every photo I’ve ever seen of Jamie and Liz: the way he touches her, the way he’s always got one arm around her, much in the way one would embrace a platonic friend. This is something he never does with me. No, no touch between us is ever platonic. He holds my hand. Our fingers are always entwined, joined. He kisses my hand. He has this habit of stroking my palm that’s maddeningly erotic. He seems to just instinctively know what I need, we’re that connected. 


I remember once…we were in a fast food restaurant. I’d been eating a chicken sandwich and got mayo on my chin, or was it my lip? I don’t remember. What I do remember is how he gently dabbed it off with a napkin, the tip of his finger lingering for just a moment on my lower lip. Just enough….


Jamie’s the only man I know who can make love fully clothed, in front of a cast of thousands, and only the two of us are aware of it. 


Character Blog: Elizabeth Harcourt-Randall, Final Hours

I knew there was another woman in my husband’s life from the start. I also knew who she was.


The day he was rescued, I was there, waiting. I saw the rescue team lift him out of the rubble. I also saw him look back. He was searching, looking for her–the woman who was with him down there. I saw the look in his eyes when they pulled her out. I saw the smile on his face, the relief.


When he was in the hospital, I saw the look on his face every time he had a visitor–the hopefulness that was quickly dashed when he saw that the visitor wasn’t her. I entertained the possibility that they had been together–been intimate–while they were trapped. He was shirtless when they were rescued, and there was little left of his pants. She was fully clothed, but the rescue team told my father they’d found a sleeping bag down there. Just one. Had my husband slept with that woman down there? Was that why he was so anxious to be reunited with her?


I imagined the two of them in that sleeping bag, making love. I imagined their passion, their hunger for each other. I imagined the things they might have done to each other, and how they had enjoyed it. The thoughts sickened me.


After he recovered, Jamie spent more and more time away from home. I didn’t have to ask where he was spending his time. I didn’t have to have proof. I knew in my heart that my husband was with his lover. Had it just been for physical satisfaction, I would not have blamed him. I haven’t lived up to his expectations in that respect.


But I knew he was in love with her, and I knew I was losing him. 


Character Blog: Kate McAllister, Final Hours

We were only fooling ourselves, Jamie and I. It was only a matter of time before our feelings for each other got the better of us.


We tried. God knows we tried. We should have known better. A man and woman can’t feel what we felt for each other and be just friends. Not for long, anyway. At some point, all reason goes out the window. Funny thing about love–it’s stronger than any other force on the planet. 


I should have sent Jamie packing the first time he showed up on my doorstep. I knew what we were doing was wrong. Even before there was any physical intimacy, we were committing adultery. It began when we were trapped in the aftermath of the earthquake, sleeping in each other’s arms in my sleeping bag in an attempt to keep warm. Dependent upon each other for our survival.


I should have had the presence of mind to end it the day we were rescued. I didn’t, because I wanted him in my life. Even if we could never be together, I wanted him in my life. He would come to my place once or twice a week, whenever our schedules permitted. I’d make dinner or he’d bring takeout. We’d eat, maybe take a walk on the beach or watch a movie. And we’d talk. We became each other’s best friends and confidantes. We could talk to each other about anything and everything–except his marriage. We both avoided that subject.



We never avoided physical contact. We hugged, we held hands, we danced. I’m not sure it would have mattered if we had avoided any form of touching. As Jamie liked to remind me, we’d already slept together. 

Character Blog: Jamie Randall, Final Hours

I didn’t want to hurt Liz. It may not seem that way, especially not to her, but I have never wanted to hurt her. I was a faithful husband in the years we’ve been together. Until I met Kate. Falling in love wasn’t something either of us planned. Fate intervened, and threw us together in a situation in which we only had each other. We needed each other in order to survive…and in the process, I discovered that I needed something else, something that had been missing in my life. No matter what else I had accomplished, I had not filled that most basic human need.


Kate and I were fiercely protective of our relationship–in the beginning a friendship, later becoming love. We understood each other as no one else could. Once, I was in Milan on business. I was exhausted, frustrated, and I missed her terribly. I came back to my hotel suite with nothing to look forward to but a long night of reviewing reports. Kate was on an assignment in some remote part of China. But shortly after I returned, a room service waiter arrived at my door with, of all things, a platter of cookies and a pitcher of cold milk.


“I didn’t order this,” I told him, confused.


The waiter assured me it was for me. He gave me a card. I opened it and smiled when I read the short note inside: “I hope you get fat. I’ll love you anyway.”


She couldn’t be with me, but she had managed to let me know I was in her thoughts and her heart. 

Character Blog: Elizabeth Harcourt-Randall, Final Hours

I was young, barely twenty-two, when I met Jamie Randall. While I wasn’t overwhelmed by passion (a state I’m not sure I could ever reach), I saw him as my prince, my knight in shining armor. He was going to rescue me from my prison, though he was not aware of it. He was such a gentleman when we were dating, never even trying to kiss me, I was certain I’d found the right man, the solution to my problem.


Even when he asked me to marry him and presented me with a ring, an appropriately-sized diamond, I was sure he did not love me. I didn’t love him, either, though I made sure he and my parents believed I did. He needed me, needed my family’s connections. And I needed him. In that respect, we were a perfect match.


After the wedding, we went on a honeymoon, then came home and began our married life in the townhouse my parents had given us as a wedding gift. Even then, my father had to be in control. When I found myself pregnant within our first year of marriage, I was terrified. Jamie and I had agreed to wait five years before starting a family. He was resentful during my pregnancy and spent even more time away from home than he had before. Even so, I never doubted his faithfulness. In spite of his reputation in the business world, my husband was an honorable man.


He turned out to be a wonderful father. Once the twins were born, he could not get enough of Noah and Ethan. Still, he spent so much time away on business…. 


Then he went to Rome. When I heard about the earthquake, I was terrifed for him. I thanked God he was eventually rescued, but after we brought him home, I became aware of subtle differences in him. Coming so close to death had changed him. The passions he’d channeled into his work now found release elsewhere…. 



AUTHOR’S NOTE: I could see Kimberly Williams as Liz….