Horse Sense

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Since I have no real experience or great knowledge about these magnificent animals, I wonder why I keep putting horses in my stories. I’m definitely not an expert on the subject. I grew up watching them on TV so I always felt they were part of my life. I’m not talking about the My Little Pony era.  I go back a little farther than that for my childhood. I’m talking real, live horses like Trigger, Roy Roger’s horse, and the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver, of the “Hi, Ho, Silver” fame. And let’s not forget Zorro riding his white horse in the opening credits of his show and pulling the animal up and onto its back legs as he gives a wave. Those were real horses and men depended on them.

Roy Rogers and Trigger                             lr_silv8

One more show on my list also deserves a shout out…Bonanza.4horses

It was on for over a decade. Pa Cartwright and his three boys would ride up on their horses during the show’s introduction, stop and smile for the camera. The horses took them everywhere–into town, out on the range and chasing bad guys. My favorite Cartwright was Little Joe and I loved his horse, too. Cochise was a beautiful paint horse that had wonderful patterns of white on it. I wanted one just like it.

So how could any little girl during that era not love horses? I was one of many who did, I’m sure. Then it happened. My sister and I begged to go horseback riding during a vacation at a resort where there were stables. I was probably eleven or twelve at the time. All the riders were in a pen, dismounting at the end of the journey and my horse decided to pin me with its hindquarters against the fence. If you’ve stopped laughing and are wondering what part exactly are the hindquarters, I looked it up. It’s the top part of the horse above the back leg. I don’t remember how long it took to be rescued but it felt like hours. Needless to say, I was traumatized, never to ride or go near a horse again.

So why use them in my stories? I’ll tell you a little secret. I still love them. They are beautiful and majestic and I long to ride one the correct, proper way. I can feel the wind in my hair as I proficiently gallop along in my imagination. And right before my dismount, I have the horse rear high in the air and I give a quick salute, just like Zorro, and say, “Hi, Ho, Silver!” Oh, wait, that’s the Lone Ranger…but you get the picture.

Walt Disney Treasures Zorro

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Coffee or Tea?

FE06OWTEAWhenever you go out for breakfast at a restaurant, the first thing they ask is if you want coffee. No one ever asks, “Tea?” Nope, it’s always coffee. What about us tea drinkers? We always have to say, “I’ll have tea, please.” Then you have to specify hot or cold, sweet or unsweetened because it’s served so many ways.

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Funny, I should be a coffee drinker because I grew up surrounded by it. My mother always started up the coffee pot after family dinners so everyone could have coffee with their dessert. It was considered a sin if there wasn’t any to go along with the cake or pie that was served.

I love the smell of coffee. It’s a welcoming smell as if it’s saying come in and stay awhile. I’ll admit to drinking a caramel or mocha latte but true coffee drinkers would say that’s not the real thing. My son likes dark roasted coffees, the stronger and darker the better.

I can’t remember how or when I was introduced to tea. Maybe I had iced tea when I was younger but all I know is I prefer it over coffee. There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea on a cold morning. One of my favorites is English Breakfast and as a flavored tea, nothing can beat Peach Apricot.

My favorite tearoom closed recently and it left a large gap in my life. My sister and I had a standing reservation there. Every Friday we’d head to our cozy table to eat lunch, drink tea and solve world problems. Well, not really solve those problems but in a tearoom anything is possible!

tea cups

 

Trying to find a replacement tearoom has been difficult. There are a few but none like that one. I still go to other tearooms because I’d miss the mismatched tea cups on each table and pouring the steaming tea into one of them. A tearoom takes you away from the real world for awhile and I can’t give that up.

When I write, I like to have a cup of tea nearby. It helps the thought process. I can lean back, take my cup in hand and think.

So given my choice in the great debate of coffee or tea, I’ll always have my answer ready. I’ll have tea, please.

The Feel of a Good Book

Library-Books With the invention of the Kindle and Nook, there are so many ways to read a book these days. A lot of people say they like the feel of the book in their hand. I admit I was one of them.

As a young girl, I remember how it felt to pick a book out at the library, carefully taking my time. I’d place the stack on the check-out counter with a feeling of accomplishment. The librarian would slowly turn the book over, open the back cover and remove the card. She’d stamp the card and then the book with the due date. Things were pretty simple back then.

A book plays an important part in my novel, too. Without it, Katie would never be able to live her two lives. She reads right before she goes to bed, places it on her nightstand and off she goes!

When I was teaching third grade, I had a gifted student with a wide range of interests. During library period, the librarian rushed up to me with a very thick book in hand. That third grader wanted to read Moby Dick. She was all flustered and said the book was too hard for an eight year old and he’d never read it. I sat, smiling and nodding, while she made a list of reasons why he shouldn’t check it out. She finished with a flourish, “You’re the teacher. I need your approval for him to check out this book.”

I paused and said, “Let him check it out.” Little did she know, I swelled with pride that a student of that age wanted to tackle Moby Dick.

Her stunned expression said it all. “I think you should tell him he can’t check it out.”

Surprised, I didn’t want to argue. “Why?” I had to ask.

“He’ll never read it.”

Now those were fighting words. How did she know he wouldn’t read it? In my mind, if he tackled the first chapter and gave up, it was a win-win. There weren’t too many places in school where children get a choice and I felt the library was one of them. I always let the kids pick what they wanted.

You’re probably wondering who won the Battle of Moby Dick. Me, although that doesn’t happen very often in my life. But when I set my mind to something, watch out…especially if it involves kids.

I don’t remember how far the student got in the book, but he did read it. In years to come when I’d run into his mom, she’d always bring up the subject of Moby Dick. She’d tell me how thrilled her son was to bring the book home and that I let him. Even she was hesitant and doubted he would read it but he proved her wrong. She said he always remembered he was allowed to get the book. Those are the memories that stay with us.

Before my first book was published my husband said I should get a Kindle. I fought it for awhile but realized he was right. My book would be available on Kindle besides print. It’s the way of the world these days and I realized we can’t freeze time. I enjoy my Kindle, found my library has an ebook website and you download your book without leaving home. It’s easy to read in the sun, too. I upgraded recently to the Kindle Fire and passed the old one on to my husband.

Still there’s something about walking in that library and checking out a book. Seeing the cover in person, flipping the pages, using a bookmark takes me back to the time when I was young and carried my stack of books home. I know some will vote for progress and say “get with the program”. Others will say give me the good, old-fashioned book. I still lean toward the book in hand. Imagine how it would have looked if my student ran home to tell his mom he was allowed to download a book. I much prefer picturing Moby Dick hoisted over his head and him shouting as he ran in the door, “Look what I’m going to read!”