Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE

August 3, 2018

photo

Believe it or not, this wedding-cake topper dates back to August 4, 1944, the anniversary of Helen and Frank Daley, my parents. Actually, the wedding dress should be an Army uniform too. I’ll be posting (and re-posting) a few pictures in August because my publisher has selected WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE for their August promotional, offering the e-book version for $2.99.

I’ve written a lot of books, and I’ve been grateful for each opportunity to tell or create stories. But in the back of my mind was this story of my parents’ experiences as Army doctor and nurse in WW2. For a couple of decades, I’d been writing down stories I grew up on, amazing stories full of details of the war and how my parents met in boot camp, married, then had nothing to keep them together but their letters, since they both served overseas in different countries. Until my dad died, I had no idea that they’d managed to keep every one of those 600+ letters. I inherited that treasure, packed inside an old Army trunk in the attic. Eventually, I was able to blend the letters, stories, and research into WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

 

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CHEYENNE

June 8, 2018

Joe and I began looking for a horse we could afford. limiting our search to local trades and newspapers and word of mouth. We wanted a bombproof horse Joe and our kids could ride, but a horse that had enough spirit for me to really enjoy riding. We soon learned how hard it is now to find a horse that you can trust. I don’t know how many horses we investigated, but they were all nervous. Most had disappointed their owners, who had hoped to show them. The two Quarter Horses that were close to what we were looking for cost much more than we could afford.

Finally, one evening we drove to a farm to look at a horse of undetermined breeds. He was a sweetheart and calm enough for anyone to ride. I admit I feared he might be too calm for me. But I wanted a safe horse for our family. We decided to sleep on it. When we woke up, we agreed that it was a good horse and in our price range. We called the owners–the horse was sold. “But we have another horse you might want to look at,” said the owner. We sped to the farm, determined not to be outdone by another horse seeker. Running in the pasture was a beautiful Quarter Horse Paint. The mare was in a small herd, and they all charged in to be fed. Sure, she bucked at the other horses on that brisk morning–why not? And when I asked to ride her bareback and she wanted to run with me, the owner said she’d never been ridden bareback and the other horses were upsetting her. And besides, her ground manners were so friendly. And we didn’t want to lose out again.

We bought Cheyenne. There’s a reason I’ve included two pictures of her. Working with Cheyenne on the ground was a pleasure. She was a cuddler (picture on the left) and so sweet. She loved to be scratched and brushed, and she’d follow me anywhere. The picture on the right shows the “other Cheyenne,” the horse she turned into with a rider on her back. Can you see the tension? Her eyes weren’t actually glowing like they appear in that picture, but she’d get very wide-eyed. Right away I loved riding the spirited, ready-to-run Cheyenne, but she was far from bombproof and definitely not a kid’s or beginner’s horse. The kids could sit in a saddle while I led her. Joe, however, had no desire to ride the “wild” horse. Eventually, our oldest daughter could ride her, but I never relaxed when she did. I’ve always loved riding Cheyenne . . .except one day in early March, the first hint of Spring after a too-long winter. I should have lunged Cheyenne and taken it slowly, but I couldn’t stop myself. I hopped on her bareback. She wasn’t ready for me, and she bucked and reared until I slid off her backside in mid-buck. Her hooves connected, twice, and left me with two cracked ribs and a trip to the ER. Totally my fault, though Joe still hasn’t forgiven her.

BUTCH

May 11, 2018

Butch

While I continued to enjoy Misty, my “backyard horse” and bestest friend, my older sister, Maureen, began to dream of fancier horses. At first, she just wanted a “tall, skinny” horse. And eventually, Butch came into our lives, thanks to a previous owner, who seemed happy to give the gelding a new home for a token amount of money. Up to this point, every horse we’d encountered had been good-natured and bomb-proof. So we weren’t at all surprised when Butch unloaded at our house and backed down from the truck with no problem.

I had to admit Butch was a handsome horse. Not only that, but he seemed friendly and calm. He led easily to the barn, where he seemed to feel right at home. He didn’t bite or buck or rear. We could not wait to ride him.

And then Maureen rode him. I can still see my sister sitting tall in the saddle on a sunny afternoon, urging Butch to walk up our dirt road. Only Butch had his own ideas. He walked backward. And backward. Maureen stopped and started over. Butch walked backward. When urged on, he trotted backward.

That horse never walked forward–not one step, not with a rider on his back. We didn’t have Butch for long. In fact, I have to admit that this picture isn’t actually our Butch, though the resemblance is nearly perfect. Neither Maureen nor I could come up with a single picture of Butch. I suppose Maureen wasn’t in a picture-taking mood, and I was laughing too hard to take a good one.

I haven’t yet started writing the fourth book in the new series, Winnie the Horse Gentler: The Early Years. But I’m planning on giving Winnie a problem horse that only wants to go backward. Should be interesting to see how she handles the problem. . . .

BEST (HORSE) FRIEND EVER

May 8, 2018

My Misty (2)

Although Misty doesn’t look his best here, he was always his best. And he looks a lot better than this Dandi anyway, if you ask me. I remember the day Dad took this picture. I’d rushed home from school to see Misty. As usual, my friend met me at the fence and put his head in my lap for a snuggle and a good scratching. Later, I’m sure I brushed that mud from his winter coat and went for a ride, bareback. We likely stayed out until supper. We would have stayed out longer if it hadn’t been for that annoying activity called homework.

In the Winnie the Horse Gentler: The Early Years series, Winnie forms a deep friendship with a big ol’ plow horse named Chief. Winnie often climbs the top rung of the fence so Chief will join her and put his head in her lap for a snuggle and a good scratch. Sound familiar?

I hope I never took Misty for granted. I remember being grateful for the gift of Misty’s friendship. But I didn’t know then that all good gifts come from God. And it was only later that I came to understand friendship with God through Christ. I’m still thankful for Misty. And now I’m not only thankful, but I know the One I’m thanking. I know Who deserves my thanks.

MISTY

May 3, 2018

Misty (2)

After the loss of my first horse, I was afraid I’d never find as good a friend as Sugar. I was so wrong. This amazing black gelding came into my life: MISTY.

My Misty was the sweetest, most wonderful horse a kid could have. We were never sure of his breed, but I always considered him a Morgan. Misty had a Morgan’s calm, trustworthy nature and good sense. We bonded instantly. I could ride him bareback the first day, barely signaling turns and gaits, as if he could read my mind. In the mornings, I’d open my window, and Misty would stick in his beautiful head to say hello. I could hardly wait until school was over so I could see my friend again.

4-H Horsemanship came to town, and Misty was the perfect horse to teach me the tricks of the trade. He was a natural, getting the right lead before I even knew what that meant (leading with the inside leg at a canter). He rode as well with an English saddle as he did with western gear, so I was able to learn both.

In the first book of the new series, Horse Gentler in Training, from Winnie the Horse Gentler: The Early Years,  young Winnie teaches a horse o say yes and no.  I really did teach my horse to say yes and no, much as Winnie teaches Royal Princess in this book. Misty proved over and over that a horse can definitely be a kid’s best friend.

 

ANGEL & ROCKET

April 30, 2018

Angel and Rocket

The bottom picture shows Angel and Rocket in our pasture. Some of our horses let us ride them into the pond, and some did not. We set up jumps in the back pasture, and there was a very short trail  that circled the pond behind the trees. I learned to drive our old station wagon on the long, dirt lane that led from the gravel road down to the pasture gate. Far too young to drive on the road, I’d steer down the lane (under the supervision of my dad), then back up the long lane when done riding. To this day, I’m better driving backward than forward.

The top picture shows the pen, or the fenced-in yard beside our house. You can see how close the house is to the fence. Farther to the left was my room. At one time, the outside wall of my bedroom formed one side of the pen. If I opened my window, I could hop out and join the horses . . . or they could stick in their heads. In the bottom right corner of the first picture you can see the rim of a round, metal horse’s trough. On hot summer days after a ride, that trough became my tiny swimming pool. My horse drank while I cooled off.

Two of the books in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series feature foals. In Gift Horse, Winnie helps with the difficult birth of a foal. Then we see more of that foal in Friendly Foal. I was, of course, remembering Rocket and Angel.

SUGAR THE SUPER HORSE

April 24, 2018

Bareback on Sugar

I want to pay a final tribute to my first horse, Sugar. She put up with me when I was just beginning to ride and to understand horses. She taught me about friendship and loyalty, and I credit her with my lifelong love of horses. Sugar is the Pinto I write about in the first chapter of Horse Dreams, the first book in the Backyard Horses series, the shaggy mare that becomes a best friend. She probably made an appearance or two in the Winnie the Horse Gentler and Horsefeathers! series, but I’d have to look that one up. (Or, if any of my wonderful readers would like to inform me, that would be great. Many of my horse-loving readers know the details of those books better than I do!)

I remember sitting by Sugar’s side on that last day. Her chest barely moved, and I watched it to make sure it did. Her breath was raspy, but she didn’t seem to be in pain. I stayed out in the pen with her well after dark, missing supper, until I couldn’t take it anymore. I returned to the house and curled up on the couch. I pretended to be asleep, but minutes later I heard my sister ask Mom, “Should we wake her up?” And Mom answered, “No. It will keep.” And I knew Sugar was gone.

But not completely. That night I broke out a fresh Big Chief tablet and started writing down everything Sugar and I had ever done together–the morning rides before school, the “explores” after school, the races with Maureen and Rocket, the Cowboys and Indians games with neighbors and cousins. When I ran out of stories, I made up more. I created “Sugar the Wonder Horse,” followed by the sequel, “Sugar the Super Horse.” So maybe that first horse taught me even more than I thought.

HORSE PALS?

April 13, 2018

Sug Rocket Dan Mo

This foursome–Dandi, Sugar, Rocket, and Maureen–made some fearsome rides in Hamilton, Missouri. Note the sleepy horses and the flashy dressers in their striped shirts, cardigans, and barrettes? We usually rode bareback, though our parents insisted we use bridles (at least when we rode outside the pasture). Hamilton offered us country dirt roads and rarely a car to get in our way.

Maureen and I got along very well for sisters, and you might assume the same could be said of Rocket and Sugar. You would be wrong. Sugar owned us before Rocket came along, and she never let any of us forget that. Poor Rocket took a couple of kicks from Sugar before realizing who was boss. When Sugar died (more on that sad day in the next blog), she lay on the ground while the vet came and we did all we could as Rocket looked on. Then miraculously, Sugar got to her feet. Ears flat back, she walked up to Rocket and kicked her. One last time.

HAPPY (HORSEY) NEW YEAR!

January 1, 2018

dandis-christmas-card_edited.jpg

The pretty one in this photo is Angel, obviously. He was the first colt born to one of our mares, Rocket (not pictured). Angel did not like the big red bow we stuck on his forehead. Shortly after this photo was taken, our sweet “Angel” turned and bit me. Ah, memories…. But I learned a lot about horses as we grew together.

The first day of a New Year makes me think of God’s amazing forgiveness, a grace offered to us through Jesus Christ. We get a fresh start, a clean slate, something no one else can give us. I pray that 2018 will draw us closer to God, to family and friends. Resolutions–they can help or depress me. My amazing husband gives me a gift every year, something I’ve never heard any other person willing to do. He lets me give him 5 things I’d like him to change about himself. Can you believe that? He’s such a good guy that over the years, he’s stopped chewing gum (like a 12 year old) in my presence; refrained from shutting down my backseat driving; started cheering for Mizzou, the Cards, and the Chiefs. I hate to admit it, but I’m running out of resolutions for him.

Anyone feel like sharing New Year’s Resolutions, past or present??

MERRY CHRISTMAS #6

December 23, 2017

Santa

Santa. This is the real Santa, the one at Macy’s in Kansas City, Mo.–not the skinny Santas (elves in disguise, of course) who stood on sidewalk corners and rang bells. Can’t fool me. Can you tell that Little Dandi is inspecting that beard and mustache, getting ready to test Santa by asking intimate details about his reindeer? Meanwhile, Maureen, my trusting sister, shakes Santa’s hand and gives him a smile. I was probably asking for a horse for Christmas. My big sister undoubtedly was beseeching Santa to help the poor and bring about world peace.

Merry Christmas, one and all!