Posts Tagged ‘writing’

WITH LOVE–IN WARTIME MARSEILLES

August 7, 2018

Marseille Stroll

This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom and dad, Lt. Nurse Helen Eberhart Daley, and Captain Dr. Frank R. Daley. If you’ve read WITH LOVE WHEREVER YOU ARE, maybe you remember their rare and romantic getaway in Marseilles, underneath the barn of a French Resistance farmer. Some days young Frank and Helen believed the war would end that very week, and other days they wrote that it felt like the war would never end.

I’m so thankful for the emails and letters I’ve received from sons and daughters of WW2 parents. We all honor our heroes in different ways and still feel a connection.

This month, the e-book of WITH LOVE is on sale everywhere for $2.99. I’m using the sale as an excuse to reminisce.

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LIFE WITHOUT HORSES

June 5, 2018

pasture

After I graduated from the University of Missouri, my first job was in Houston, TX, then Dallas. I traveled and rented an apartment shared with a roommate. There was no way I could have a horse. Later I lived overseas as a missionary behind the “Iron Curtain,” crammed into a house with 20 Poles in southern Poland, close to Czechoslovakia and traveling close to Russia. No chance for a horse there. Once back in the U.S., I worked in cities in Illinois, CA, MI, IA, OK, and OH, with no room for horses. During those horse-less days, I rode other people’s horses whenever I could, begging for rides, going on trail rides with horses that followed in a straight line.

When my husband and I finally settled in Ohio, and I began to write full time, the ache to once again own my own horse grew stronger and stronger. We live in the woods, but we don’t own pastureland, so how could we have a horse? I fully believe that God knew the answer all along. Our neighbors are Amish, of the most conservative order in America. Through circumstances we couldn’t have controlled, and tragedies we shared, we became good friends. When I asked them if we could keep a horse in their smallest pasture, which fed into a single stall in the barn, they said they’d need to talk to their bishop for permission, since mingling with the “English” isn’t encouraged. But the answer was yes! Now, all we had to do was find the right horse for the right (very low) price. (To be continued . . .)

CINDY SUE

May 22, 2018

whole Cindy Sue and MCindy Sue and Maureen (2)

Maureen found her perfect horse in Cindy Sue–tall, skinny, flaxen mane and tail, high-stepping American Saddlebred, 5-gaited (walk (prance), trot, canter, rack, and stepping pace). Cindy was a show horse, and Maureen did win some ribbons with her. That horse (and my sister) deserved ribbons–both beautiful.

But Cindy wasn’t easy to handle. She was high-strung and frequently nervous. Several times she jumped our fence. We built up another rung, but that didn’t stop her completely. Cindy behaved better in a show ring than she did on fun rides in the pasture or on dirt roads and trails. Rabbits, cars, and sudden movements frightened her, and she’d shy. Still, she was a pleasure to look at, one of the most beautiful horses I’ve ever seen.

But she was no Misty. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16.7)

MEANWHILE, MISTY & I . . .

May 19, 2018

Misty tank

Meanwhile, Misty and I enjoyed every day together. As you can see, she kindly shared her water tank with me in the summer. Misty and I also swam in the pond down at the pasture, but this water trough didn’t have craw-daddies, which made it my favorite cooling-off spot.

In I Kings 4.26, it says that Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses. As for me, I was perfectly content with one, my Misty. And this is how my characters seem to feel about their horses too: Ellie in Backyard Horses; Sarah Coop (“Scoop”) in Horsefeathers! Jen in A Horse Named Bob; Dakota in Starlight Animal Rescue; Winnie in Winnie the Horse Gentler; and Young Winnie in Winnie: The Early Years.

 

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.

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.

My Best Friend–SUGAR

April 6, 2018

Bareback on Sugar

Good ol’ Sugar was my best friend at this age. I told the Pinto everything. She listened to my dreams of becoming a horse trainer (like Winnie the Horse Gentler). She didn’t mind if I griped about a bad day at school or too much homework. She always made me feel like she’d been waiting for me to get home and ride her. Now that’s friendship. If you were a horse, would you want people to sit on your back and tell you where to go? If you were as big as a horse, would you even let a little person sit on you? I think not.

Top Five Lessons I learned from Sugar:  1) Sometimes, the best thing a friend can do is listen. 2) It’s a great gift to let people believe you’re really glad to see them . . . even if you’re not. 3) Love can be sacrificial–like carrying someone to a place she’d like to go. 4) Take the time to really get to know a friend. And be loyal. 5) When you fall off, get right back on. Bonus lesson: God created an amazing animal in the horse. Imagine coming up with a design for such a beautiful creature, one that’s soft, but strong, giving and kind, with a nicker and neigh, two of the best sounds on earth, and the best smell in the entire world! It will be awesome to see Sugar again in heaven.

HORSE-LOVING, READING, & WRITING

February 26, 2018

Cowgirl

Before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t my granddaughter, but a horse-loving reader (like my granddaughters). Her teacher asked students to dress up as their favorite character from a book, and I’m honored to say that this student chose Ellie from my BACKYARD HORSES series. In case you don’t know what a “backyard horse” is, it’s what we called horses that weren’t fancy, would never be show horses, and didn’t belong in a stable. We kept our horses in a pasture, but we also had a small pen and barn in our yard.

A horse book, a pink cowgirl hat, boots, and a stuffed horse–what could be better than that? Answer: All the similarities between this cowgirl, Helen, and my oldest granddaughter, the “star” of the BACKYARD HORSES series. Although we call her “Ellie,” our granddaughter’s real name is “Helen,” named after her great-grandmother, Helen Daley (co-star of WITH LOVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE). Both gals love horses, reading, and writing. It’s amazing how many letters and emails I get from guys and gals who love these three things: horses, reading, and writing. As it happens, I’ve always loved horses, reading, and writing too!