The Money BirdGood morning! Oh my, I’m so honored to be here. I mean, how did you even get my name? Oh, wait, I’m sure Janet gave it to you, yes? Or maybe Tom? But wait, let me back up a step. I just wasn’t prepared for this, and look at me, I’m a mess. I’ve been out in the garden since before dawn. Like to beat the heat, you know. Here, have a glass of mint-basil iced tea. All fresh from the garden, except, of course, the tea. I order that from Charleston Tea Plantation. Did you know that it’s the only place in the U.S. that grows tea? Mmmm, that hits the spot. It’s their green tea with my own fresh basil and mints, pepper and spear. Made it this morning.

Okay, well, about that step back. I’m Goldie. Golden Sunshine on my various papers, but just Goldie to my friends. You found your way here, so you know that I live next door to my best friends, Janet MacPhail. Such a lovely person, and a talented photographer. When we’ve finished our tea I’ll show you some of the wonderful macro photos she’s taken of my plants. I have several framed in the living room. Most of her photos are of animals, of course. Most of her life is about animals! I think it’s great, and I adore her critters. Leo, her beautiful ginger cat…is that right? Ginger? Or is he red? Or orange? I think I’ll call him golden. Leo is the best cat, and quite the courageous little guy, as he certainly proved last May. I don’t have any pets of my own, but Leo helps me in the garden and keeps me company on the patio when I’m reading. When Janet is away for a dog show or something, Leo stays with me. Maybe I should think about getting a cat. Not right now—I have a few things going on. But I’ll keep it in mind.

And then there’s Janet’s dog, Jay. He’s just the most handsome, smart, funny, lovely Australian Shepherd. If I see he’s outside in the morning when I’m making my toast I always make him a piece, too. I bake my own bread, you know, so the toast isn’t like store-bought toast, well, you know, toasted storebought bread. I think Jay especially likes my sunflower seed whole grain with homemade cinnamon clove butter. It’s one of my favorites, too. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. Janet begs me not to bring her any because she’s trying to lose a few pounds. Has been ever since she met Tom, although I don’t think he really cares.

That’s Tom Saunders. He and Janet both train and compete with their dogs, and they’re a perfect match, although they sure are slow to do anything about it. Funny thing is, I knew Tom years before Janet did. He’s an ethnobotanist and I took a class from him years ago. Didn’t know he was a dog-sports guy or I’d have introduced them long ago. He has a terrific black Lab named Drake. Isn’t that a brilliant name for a duck dog? Ha! Tom’s become something of a confidante as I’ve been negotiating a little bump in the road and I don’t really want to worry Janet. Still, there are some things I won’t tell him. If Janet wants him to know what she’s been up to, she can tell him herself.

Hang on a minute while I take the cookies out of the oven. Ooooh, they smell pretty good, don’t they? Ha! I’m experimenting again. You can tell me whether they work. I like to put edibles from my garden into my cooking, and not just the usual suspects, either. These are lemon, not from my garden, with bits of home grown rose hips and violets. Here you go. Don’t burn yourself!

I’ll say one thing—I found adventure in my younger days all by myself. Got arrested in Birmingham, I’m proud to say. Worked with different social programs in the Bay area for years. But I’ve been pretty quiet and well-behaved and, frankly, boring the past few years. Until Janet started playing Miss Marple last Spring and again a few weeks ago, and I aided and abetted. That’s something else I won’t be telling Tom! What fun! But I don’t have time to tell you the whole story right now. I need to go clean the Japanese beetles off my roses. Do it by hand, you know. No chemicals in my garden, other than the ones the plants make themselves.

Here, take some cookies with you. They’ll be good to munch while you read about Janet and Jay’s latest adventure. And let me show you those photos in the other room.

Meet the author
Sheila Webster Boneham is the author of The Money Bird and Drop Dead on Recall, the first two books in her “Animals in Focus” mystery series, and seventeen nonfiction books about animals, including the highly regarded Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals. Six of Sheila’s books have been named best in their categories by the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers Association, and several others have been finalists in the groups’ annual competitions. Sheila also writes narrative nonfiction and poetry, teaches writing workshops, and, yes, competes with her dogs. Learn more at, or keep up with Sheila’s latest news on Facebook or on her blog.

Books are available from retail and online booksellers. You can support independent bookselling and get your personally autographed copies of Sheila’s books from Pomegranate Books – information HERE

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