I don’t know why I love it. I grew up in the suburbs. My mother’s idea of camping was a 4-star hotel, and my dad bought a weber to grill, and used it ONCE in my lifetime.
But there was a creek across the street from us, and I’d buy hooks at the dime store. And one memorable day, I even caught a catfish on a safety pin and a hot dog.
It wasn’t until I was grown and on my own that I fished again.
My husband and I belonged to a motorcycle club, and there was a weekend at the Kern river near Bakersfield, California, every year. We stayed at a hotel on the river. My girlfriend Pam and I were sitting on the patio with the water rushing under us, when she asked me if I liked to fish. We went across the street to a gas station and rented fishing poles, and she even caught a 5 inch trout. Then she asked me what I thought about fly fishing.
Our husbands bought us fly rods, reels, and fly fishing lessons for Christmas, and that was the beginning of my addiction.
One of the trips we made every year was to Kennedy Meadows, a remote area, high in the mountains. A river runs through it (sorry, couldn’t resist) and another friend, Chris came fishing with Pam and I. We had a blast, and returned for several summers. The die was cast. The Kennedy Meadows Hookers were born.
The three of us have taken a fly fishing trip somewhere, almost every year since. Yellowstone, Mammoth, Ca, Oregon, we’ve been all over, and had a blast, every time. Fishing with them is great, but the nights are even better – like high school sleepovers with your best friends – only with WINE!
We’ve got tons of stories – like the year I broke my leg (just a hairline fracture) and I insisted I wasn’t missing Jacuzzi time, so they wheeled me down on a luggage cart (wine was involved, but it was medicinal)….to the year I REALLY broke my leg on the last day of the trip, and the Sherriff’s dept had to send a boat to rescue me.
To THIS year, when I caught the biggest trout of my life! Had to be 10 lbs, around 28″. After the photo op, I let her go.
We’ve aged over the years, and we aren’t intrepid hikers anymore, but we still go, every year (except last year, danged Covid!)
So how about you? Do you like fishing? Have you ever been?
This has been a busy month for me. My little sister got a hip replacement and I’ve been her nursemaid. She gets calls from folks telling her to heal up quick so they can have her teach riding lessons again, train their horses and that sort of thing. And of course her fellow horsemen (and women) have been calling and wishing her a speedy recovery. One such fellow stands out though.
I’ve been around horse people pretty much all my life because of my sister’s occupation. As many of you know, she’s a retired race horse jockey and teaches hunter/jumper horses now. An old friend of hers, Mr. Meling, has been in contact with her over the last few months and I finally got to meet him. As an author, this guy is a treasure trove of resource material! He holds riding clinics, he’s competed at the national level in jumping and in Grand Prix’s. He exercised horses at the race track for 19 years in his younger days. He’s roped at a semi-pro level, he breaks colts, he’s also been an outrider at the race track. Outriders are responsible for the safety of all racing participants, both equine and human during training and live racing. And, (yes, there’s more) he’s also a high end horse shoer with a focus on reconstructive shoeing. He’s been shoeing for 47 years.
This was the part I found interesting. People fly him into Texas, Kentucky and New York among other places just to shoe their horses. And yes, we’re talking Churchill Downs and Belmont race tracks. He shoes horses for those races. He said I could pick his brain and I plan to, but the whole horse-shoeing thing sort of amazes me.
One thing I didn’t think about when he told me what he does, is that he takes his own tools with him. Yikes! That’s one way to set off the metal detectors at the airport. Of course, he’s not about to carry any of that stuff onto a plane himself. Still that’s a lot of weight to have to haul around when you get to where you’re going. Mr. Meling said he has two 24x24x18 pelican cases that each weigh ninety pounds. He keeps sets of tools at some of the places where he shoes often, but when he does have to heft his own tools along, it’s a chore.
Horse shoeing is also not for sissies. He can shoe from one to as many as a couple dozen horses when people fly him in. When doing what are called gluons and reconstructive shoeing, he said he can do no more than eight pair in a day. The before and after photos of some of the horses he’s done are amazing.
Do you know someone with an interesting occupation? As writers, we can dabble in different genres and be very good in each. Mr. Meling works in different parts of the horse world and is very good in each. But what other occupations are out there that you or someone you know has branched into different areas of and made a life long career out of? For Mr. Meling, it’s horses. For my fellow fillies and me, it’s stories. I’ll giveaway one e-book of mine of choice to one lucky winner from the comments.
Have you ever noticed how obituaries of yesteryear seem to always “say more” than many of the current ones do? (I don’t know—maybe it’s just me—I’m an obituary reader! Even those of people I don’t know.) I think one reason for this is, of course, now, everything is shortened and abbreviated to the point that sometimes the heartfelt meaning is lost. We have to make it “fit on the page” and not “run too long” in the fast pace of our modern world.
In 1921, William Allen White was the owner of the Emporia Gazette. So when his teenage daughter, Mary, died suddenly, he penned one of the best obituaries that probably ever has been written. Reading this final summation of her young life, I felt like I knew Mary without, of course, having ever met her. Her obituary became famous throughout the United States at the time it was published, 100 years ago this month.
Mary White obituary
by William Allen White
Emporia Gazette, May 17, 1921
The Associated Press reports carrying the news of Mary White’s death declared that it came as the result of a fall from a horse. How she would have hooted at that! She never fell from a horse in her life. Horses have fallen on her and with her—”I’m always trying to hold ’em in my lap,” she used to say. But she was proud of few things, and one of them was that she could ride anything that had four legs and hair. Her death resulted not from a fall but from a blow on the head which fractured her skull, and the blow came from the limb of an overhanging tree on the parking.
The last hour of her life was typical of its happiness. She came home from a day’s work at school, topped off by a hard grind with the copy on the High School Annual, and felt that a ride would refresh her. She climbed into her khakis, chattering to her mother about the work she was doing, and hurried to get her horse and be out on the dirt roads for the country air and the radiant green fields of spring. As she rode through the town on an easy gallop, she kept waving at passers-by. She knew everyone in town. For a decade the little figure in the long pigtail and the red hair ribbon has been familiar on the streets of Emporia, and she got in the way of speaking to those who nodded at her. She passed the Kerrs, walking the horse in front of the Normal Library, and waved at them; passed another friend a few hundred feet farther on, and waved at her.
The horse was walking, and as she turned into North Merchant Street she took off her cowboy hat, and the horse swung into a lope. She passed the Tripletts and waved her cowboy hat at them, still moving gayly north on Merchant Street. A Gazette carrier passed—a High School boy friend—and she waved at him, but with her bridle hand; the horse veered quickly, plunged into the parking where the low-hanging limb faced her and, while she still looked back waving, the blow came. But she did not fall from the horse; she slipped off, dazed a bit, staggered, and fell in a faint. She never quite recovered consciousness.
But she did not fall from the horse, neither was she riding fast. A year or so ago she used to go like the wind. But that habit was broken, and she used the horse to get into the open, to get fresh, hard exercise, and to work off a certain surplus energy that welled up in her and needed a physical outlet. The need has been in her heart for years. It was back of the impulse that kept the dauntless little brown-clad figure on the streets and country roads of the community and built into a strong, muscular body what had been a frail and sickly frame during the first years of her life. But the riding gave her more than a body. It released a gay and hardy soul. She was the happiest thing in the world. And she was happy because she was enlarging her horizon. She came to know all sorts and conditions of men; Charley O’Brien, the traffic cop, was one of her best friends. W. L. Holtz, the Latin teacher, was another. Tom O’Connor, farmer-politician, and the Rev. J. H. Rice, preacher and police judge, and Frank Beach, music master, were her special friends; and all the girls, black and white, above the track and below the track, in Pepville and Stringtown, were among her acquaintances. And she brought home riotous stories of her adventures. She loved to rollick; persiflage was her natural expression at home. Her humor was a continual bubble of joy. She seemed to think in hyperbole and metaphor. She was mischievous without malice, as full of faults as an old shoe. No angel was Mary White, but an easy girl to live with for she never nursed a grouch five minutes in her life.
With all her eagerness for the out-of-doors, she loved books. On her table when she left her room were a book by Conrad, one by Galsworthy, “Creative Chemistry” by E. E. Slosson, and a Kipling book. She read Mark Twain, Dickens, and Kipling before she was ten—all of their writings. Wells and Arnold Bennett particularly amused and diverted her. She was entered as a student in Wellesley for 1922; was assistant editor of the High School Annual this year, and in line for election to the editorship next year. She was a member of the executive committee of the High School Y.W.C.A.
Within the last two years she had begun to be moved by an ambition to draw. She began as most children do by scribbling in her school books, funny pictures. She bought cartoon magazines and took a course—rather casually, naturally, for she was, after all, a child with no strong purposes—and this year she tasted the first fruits of success by having her pictures accepted by the High School Annual. But the thrill of delight she got when Mr. Ecord, of the Normal Annual, asked her to do the cartooning for that book this spring, was too beautiful for words. She fell to her work with all her enthusiastic heart. Her drawings were accepted, and her pride–always repressed by a lively sense of the ridiculous figure she was cutting–was a really gorgeous thing to see. No successful artist every drank a deeper draft of satisfaction than she took from the little fame her work was getting among her schoolfellows. In her glory, she almost forgot her horse—but never her car.
For she used the car as a jitney bus. It was her social life. She never had a “party” in all her nearly seventeen years—wouldn’t have one; but she never drove a block in her life that she didn’t begin to fill the car with pick-ups! Everybody rode with Mary White—white and black, old and young, rich and poor, men and women. She like nothing better than to fill the car with long- legged High School boys and an occasional girl, and parade the town. She never had a “date,” nor went to a dance, except once with her brother Bill, and the “boy proposition” didn’t interest her—yet. But young people—great spring-breaking, varnish-cracking, fender-bending, door-sagging carloads of “kids”—gave her great pleasure. Her zests were keen. But the most fun she ever had in her life was acting as chairman of the committee that got up the big turkey dinner for the poor folks at the county home; scores of pies, gallons of slaw, jam, cakes, preserves, oranges, and a wilderness of turkey were loaded into the car and taken to the county home. And, being of a practical turn of mind, she risked her own Christmas dinner to see that the poor folks actually got it all. Not that she was a cynic; she just disliked to tempt folks. While there, she found a blind colored uncle, very old, who could do nothing but make rag rugs, and she rustled up from her school friends rags enough to keep him busy for a season. The last engagement she tried to make was to take the guests at the county home out for a car ride. And the last endeavor of her life was to try to get a rest room for colored girls in the High School. She found one girl reading in the toilet, because there was no better place for a colored girl to loaf, and it inflamed her sense of injustice and she became a nagging harpy to those who she thought could remedy the evil. The poor she always had with her and was glad of it. She hungered and thirsted for righteousness; and was the most impious creature in the world. She joined the church without consulting her parents, not particularly for her soul’s good. She never had a thrill of piety in her life, and would have hooted at a “testimony.” But even as a little child, she felt the church was an agency for helping people to more of life’s abundance, and she wanted to help. She never wanted help for herself. Clothes meant little to her. It was a fight to get a new rig on her; but eventually a harder fight to get it off. She never wore a jewel and had no ring but her High School class ring and never asked for anything but a wrist watch. She refused to have her hair up, though she was nearly seventeen. “Mother,” she protested,” you don’t know how much I get by with, in my braided pigtails, that I could not with my hair up.” Above every other passion of her life was her passion not to grow up, to be a child. The tomboy in her, which was big, seemed loath to be put away forever in skirts. She was a Peter Pan who refused to grow up.
Her funeral yesterday at the Congregational Church was as she would have wished it; no singing, no flowers except the big bunch of red roses from her brother Bill’s Harvard classmen—heavens, how proud that would have made her!—and the red roses from the Gazette forces, in vases, at her head and feet. A short prayer: Paul’s beautiful essay on “Love” from the Thirteenth Chapter of First Corinthians; some remarks about her democratic spirit by her friend, John H. J. Rice, pastor and police judge, which she would have deprecated if she could; a prayer sent down for her by her friend Carl Nau; and, opening the service, the slow, poignant movement from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which she loved; and closing the service a cutting from the joyously melancholy first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetic Symphony, which she liked to hear, in certain moods, on the phonograph, then the Lord’s Prayer by her friends in High School.
That was all.
For her pallbearers only her friends were chosen: her Latin teacher, W. L. Holtz; her High School principal, Rice Brown; her doctor, Frank Foncannon; her friend, W. W. Finney; her pal at the Gazette office, Walter Hughes; and her brother Bill. It would have made her smile to know that her friend, Charley O’Brien, the traffic cop had been transferred from Sixth and Commercial to the corner near the church to direct her friends who came to bid her good-by.
A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous, energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn.”
Mary’s father, journalist and newspaperman William Allen White, Feb. 10, 1868-Jan. 31, 1944
Don’t you feel like you know Mary through her father’s words? Have you ever read an obituary that touched you deeply? One that made you laugh? This one, especially that last lovely paragraph, brings tears every time I read it.
He did it a year ago, January 1st, 2020. A year that will live in infamy.
We have BIG PLANS.
Travel. See the kids. Oh, who knows what all.
And then Covid
And he sat and he sat all that long, long cold year.
Looking at cattle that weren’t his, oh dear.
Okay enough Dr. Seuss.
He’s a Nebraska cattleman and that seems to be more than skin deep.
Like (I suspect) most people, there were parts of his job he loved. And parts he hated. I think if he could have skipped the parts he hated (getting up to check on pregnant cows at 2 am in February when it’s 18 below outside comes to mind) he’d’ve kept at it for much longer.
But you have to take the bad with the good. And the good was something we both loved….let me mention here that I was NEVER along on those 2 am checks. Oh, and 9 pm, sometimes midnight, then the 2 am visit. And often 5 am.
I slept through all of that.
But oh we did love those pretty baby calves.
We mostly had black angus and those shining, furry black babies, so lively, so alert and interested, but shy, are just the prettiest little things.
We’d ride out in our Kubota, no horses for us for a long, long time…check the cows. My Cowboy would risk his life to tag (note the white ear tag on the baby and the red tag on the Mama…cows get tagged in eastern Nebraska and branded in western Nebraska…though this cow on the left had a freeze brand.
It’s what it sound like. Instead of a red hot branding iron, they use liquid nitrogen and our vet knew how to do it, though we didn’t do it to our cows. Sometimes we bought replacement cows though and they’d come branded.
He’d get between the mama and baby. Mama often trying to kill him like he was a wolf attacking her calf, rather than the man who brought her food all year long. We respected her protective instincts at the same time we thought it a sign of a very small brain.
Sometimes the cows we’d buy were already pregnant and we’d get a little color in the herd. And this cow, with the white face, isn’t an angus, she’s a Simmental with what they call a BLAZE. Though that’s not what I’d call it. More like big white blotches. But no one consulted me when they named this type of cow a Simmi-blaze, so we’re stuck with it.
Anyway, I’m sidetracked.
We’ve lived through two springs now without any 2 am baby checks.
And also two springs without calves.
My Cowboy is really good with retirement.
He said the other day that he doesn’t have time to do everything he needs to do everyday.
He snapped that it wasn’t funny.
I quit laughing but inside I was thinking it WAS kinda funny. He was really worried about what he’d do in retirement, because he is NOT a guy who does well sitting around.
Sort of an energizer bunny type.
But he’s doubled the size of our garden. He’s planted six? Seven? Fruit trees. Mows the lawn. Does all the cooking. Cleans the house. Washes the laundry. Oh, yeah, he does EVERYTHING.
And he golfs.
I have to admit, I never saw that coming.
He golfs like…five days a week. He is now one of THOSE GUYS who mutter and complain when it rains because he can’t go golf. Add in, he has never done much golfing, so it’s not like he has this rusty game from his youth he’s trying to resurrect.
Anyway, again, sort of sidetracked.
He missed the great parts of the cows. So do I. Like this pair to the left, also a Simmi-Blaze pair. They reflect each other. The mama’s blaze bends to the right, the baby’s to the left. I just LOVE THIS PICTURE!
But life without cows…is kind of sad. We drive down the road past herds of cows with their babies. And he really notices. He started early this spring saying, “No calves yet in that herd.”
Then we get to the same herd a week later. “Look there is one right against the fence. (note…these are STRANGERS cows).
Now these herds are just teeming with babies and they are so cute. We miss them.
Except at 2 am.
Leave a comment to win a free audio-book version of Braced for Love. Tell me if you do NOT want the audio book. I got a couple of free … codes? Coupons? Whatever, for audio books and I’m allowed to share them.
And tell me what you think you’d miss if you retired. And what you wouldn’t miss. Or if you are retired, what do you miss and not miss.
I know as a writer who has…it’s freaky to say…not minded being locked down all that much!!! There isn’t much I dislike about being an author. I suppose maybe someday I could quit…but I’m not sure. I have this vision of myself….105 years old, slumping dead over my keyboard, halfway through writing a book.
After his father’s death, Kevin Hunt inherits a ranch in Wyoming-the only catch is it also belongs to a half brother he never knew existed. But danger follows Kevin, and he suspects his half brother is behind it. The only one willing to stand between them is Winona Hawkins.
Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he’s inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin’s supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life.
But danger seems to track Kevin along the way, and he wonders if his half brother, Wyatt, is behind the attacks. Finally arriving at the ranch, everyone is at each other’s throats and the only one willing to stand in between is Winona Hawkins, a nearby schoolmarm.
Despite being a long-time friend to Wyatt, Winona can’t help but be drawn to the earnest, kind Kevin–and that puts her in the cross hairs of somebody’s dangerous plot. Will they all be able to put aside their differences long enough to keep anyone from getting truly hurt?
Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.
Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future.
Wyatt Hunt is temporarily bedridden and completely miserable. Somehow Molly Garner’s limited skills have made her the most qualified in their circle to care for Wyatt. But by the time he’s healed, she’s fed up with him and the whole ungrateful family. For even worse than his grumpiness were the few unguarded moments when he pulled at her heartstrings, and she has long determined to never marry.
Molly gets a job as the housekeeper at Oliver Hawkins’s ranch. But really she’s with the Pinkertons, spying to find out if Hawkins has abused women and if he’s guilty of murder.
Wyatt refuses to let her risk it alone, convincing Hawkins that he’s abandoning his own ranch, angered by his two brothers’ coming to claim a big chunk of it.
But when another Pinkerton agent gets shot, they realize Hawkins isn’t the only danger. The Hunt brothers will have to band together to face all the troubles of life and love that suddenly surround them.
When I realized my post fell on Cinco de Mayo, I wondered how the day became such a big United States celebration. Okay, I hear those who remember I live in Texas saying, “You’re just asking this now?” Yes, I should’ve researched this sooner having lived in Texas over 35 years, but as my father said, I was born two weeks late and have been late ever since!
The first thing I discovered, that celebrating Cinco de Mayo is primarily a US festivity, surprised me. I also mistakenly thought some that the day commemorated Mexico’s independence from Spain. (This occurred on September 16, 1821.) What Cinco de Mayo originally celebrated was 1862 Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. On that day, Mexican peasants with South Texas and Rio Grande Valley vaqueros led by Goliad, Texas, born General Ignacio Zaragosa defended forts in Puebla. Though poorly trained, short on ammunition, weapons, and artillery, they defeated the French.
In 1864, Mexican American associations in California organized an event to memorialize the battle. To these people, the win was a symbol of Mexican pride and hope for freedom over tyranny. Soon after, communities in South Texas started commemorating the day. Newspapers from the 1880s and 1890s contained stories on Cinco de Mayo celebrations in San Antonio, Laredo, and El Paso. In the 1960s Goliad created the General Zaragoza State Historic Site in Goliad State Park. In 1973 the town held Fiesta Zaragoza which included music, ballet folklórico performances, and a barbecue cookoff. (After all, this was Texas!) In 1980 Puebla gifted Goliad with a statue for their historic site, and in 1990, the Texas Senate declared Goliad the “official place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.”
As to how Cinco de Mayo has become the huge event it is today in the US? Part of the reason could be because as some claim winning the Battle of Puebla, slowed Napoleon III’s taking of Mexico and installing Maximilian I, and prevented the French’s involvement in the US Civil War on the Confederate’s side. But most agree the celebration’s huge popularity is due to marketing folks realizing the day’s potential.
Tonight if you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and toast General Zaragoza and the bravery of those Texans that fought with him against the French but aren’t big on crowds, here’s my dear hubby’s margarita recipe.
Into a shaker with ice, place the following:
1 shot Tequila
1/2 shot orange liqueur such as Triple Sec
1/2 shot Fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 shot Simple Syrup (Make by bringing equal parts of sugar and water to a boil and cooling.)
Shake well. Strain into a glass filled with ice and rimmed with salt (optional).
Note: You can make a margarita mix to store in the fridge by mixing equal parts of fresh lime juice and simple syrup.
As an extra bonus, here’s my hubby’s great fajita recipe to go with the margaritas. The meat is also super in quesadillas.
1 lb skirt steak
1 pkg tortillas
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp coriander
1 Tbl chili powder
Sprinkle meat with tenderizer. Combine dry ingredients to make the rub. Apply the rub to the meat, let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle meat with fresh lime juice. Refridgerate 30-60 minutes covered. Grill on high heat for 6-8 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice against the grain.
To be entered in today’s giveaway of a margarita car air freshener, car coasters (they also fit in my couch’s cup holders), and a copy of The Rancher and the Vet leave a comment about your favorite Mexican dish, dessert, or cocktail. My favorite is a tie between sopapillas and flan!