Thursday, December 18, 2014

Update on my novel, "Tom Named By Horse"

Howdy Friends!
"Tom Named By Horse" is coming soon, I promise. In January ... Sorry for the delay. Our dear friend Bobbie Jo Lieberman has finished her final edit and Troy Locker Palmer is working on the cover - I've already had my first look – Fantastic!! – So keep a watch here in the Coffee Clutch, and my Facebook page for more updates. Please enjoy this first excerpt after Bobbie Jo's final edits ... She is remarkable  ~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry.
 Chapter Seventeen
The next morning, before the sun broke over the horizon, Tom led the horses and mules to the stream. He sat on the bank near the spot where the evening before he watched the herd of horses in the distance. In the early morning shadows the prairie laid empty. Tom relaxed, enjoying the calm of the little grove of trees and wide stream. Tom Gray waded into the stream and lay down in the water. ‘‘Are you trying to tell me I should take a bath? I got pretty clean last night catching trout.’’
‘‘I like your way with horses Tom, they can trust you.’’ Soft Cloud's tender voice surprised him. Lost in his thoughts, he had not heard her sneak up on him. “And this place, here by the stream, the trees, it suits you doesn’t it?”
‘‘It 's a peaceful place, it feels right to be here. When we return to your village and I give Red Cloud the buffalo hunter’s scalp I am returning here. I will spend the winter here in this cabin, among these trees, and by this stream. There is game to hunt, fish to eat, and it’s only half a day’s ride to your village ... I would like us to be friends.’’
‘‘We will always be friends.’’ She stood on tiptoes and gave Tom a hug, then playfully turned and dashed to the front of the mud cabin. He ran after her. Catching her by the well, he scooped her up and sat her on the little wall by the well. ‘‘I like being with you.’’ He almost kissed her, but suddenly wondered if he knew how. Instead he helped her down and started to load the wagon.
They loaded everything they needed on one wagon and were about to harness the mules when Tom changed his mind. ‘‘I’d rather ride my horse. If you take Buck’s cavalry horse we can ride together, instead of bouncing along in the wagon.’’ He opened the rope corral with a request to the mules and horse being left behind to not wander too far.
 The cool morning breeze seemed just right for a lazy trip across the prairie. They rode quietly, leisurely through tall grass and the occasional patch of fall blooming prairie flowers. A perfect ride for two people becoming good friends, who both were pondering, in their own way, where the future might take them.
~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry 

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Grandma's Christmas Cactus"

Howdy Friends,
I spent my youth, which seems so long ago, but sometimes not so long ago, on a dairy farm in PA. When I was about 10 I was, "Farmed Out" that is to say placed on a farm to work for my room and board. There I learned much. It was there that, although I did not realize it at the time, I was first touched by the spirit of the horse. While the farm always had an old tractor much of the work was done with the heavy horses, Dan and Bill. It was huddled in their stall on one of my first nights on the farm that I felt that spirit. I can still remember that feeling of comfort, safety that came over me. The first time in my short life that I felt that way.
Grandma's Christmas Cactus -
Life was suddenly so different. I had spent the previous 3 years locked in a room, with the sole window painted black. Here on the farm there was a vast openness that took some getting used to. Here on the farm there was suddenly no more ugliness, no harsh words and worse. But there was no love there either. I was there to work. I found my work fun though, mostly. I never really enjoyed shoveling out the privy. If you're too young to know what that is, try the google thing. It was here on the farm that I first discovered birds, too. My first was a Killdeer in the cornfield as I hoed thistles from between the stalks.

The farm had no modern conveniences, well we did have electric in the milk house, I suppose the dairy insisted on that. But the house and the rest of the farm had no running water or electric. One of my chores had been to carry and heat water for wash day Monday. Another to keep the wood box full.

One day, a few months after I'd arrived at the farm, a car pulled into the driveway between the house and barn and I watched from the barnyard as a woman walked up to the house. Soon she came out to me. It was my Grandma. I didn't know then, but she was forbidden to come see me. But she did. 

She told me later that she'd parked way off on other days and walked to safe vantage points to watch me work ... Until the day came that she would watch from afar no more. Years later she told me she would sit outside the house where I'd been in that room and stare at the black window for hours.  From that first meeting on the farm Grandma became my only regular visitor. The folks didn't really like it, because when she visited it took me away from my work. But Grandma was very determined.

Robbie and I still have Grandma's Christmas Cactus. It blooms some years at Christmas, other years I guess it doesn't feel like it. Over the years it has sometimes struggled to stay with us, but like Grandma that little cactus is very determined. Grandma loved violets too, it was for her they had such a big role in my novel. 

By my guess Grandma's cactus is well over thirty years old, and this year it's sporting a fine display of red blooms. I paused this morning on my way out for coffee with Kessy and said howdy to Grandma.

That raggedy little plant still brings Grandma's happy visits to me.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"What's Your Favorite Time Of Day?"

Howdy Friends!

What's your Favorite time of day?  God so blessed Ravishin' Robbie and me, my days are full of favorites! And unless my routine gets upset, my days are … routine, but as I wrote a while back, routine is a good thing.
Our mornings begin when the roosters start crowing. My first favorite part of the day is when Robbie and I snuggle a while and look out the window, taking in the morning sky. Some days we'll see the trees swaying in the wind, or they'll be dusted with snow, or coated with ice, or covered with the red and white buds of new life. This morning's sky was a real treat, a big chunk of morning moon sliding past the window all shiny and bright.

Soon Saturday and Zoe decide we've snuggled long enough, they'll bark, pace, sniff, snort and whine. So, up we go, feed 'em, start coffee and get going. It's about that time Kessy comes to the back porch and knickers softly. At first. Then of course she'll raise the volume. If I dally too long she's been known to raise her hoof and knock on the porch! Then it's off to the barn!

The chickens follow me cackling and fussing as I scatter their scratch and it's a train of chickens, Saturday, and our four cats, who must think it fun to weave and zag between my legs! Kessy dances along mindful of her foot placement as the cats rub her legs too.

Then, morning chores complete, and everyone fed, I settle in my chair next to Kessy for "Coffee Clutch." Lil' Bit and the other cats take turns leaping to my lap, Saturday curls up next to me. To the soothing sound of Kessy munching hay I'll birdwatch, plan my day, and simply enjoy ,love, nature and beauty. This is high on the list of fav-time.

Eventually it's back to the house, check emails and write an often "way too long note" to our WONDERFUL Facebook friends … Love you all for being friends! And enjoying our morning Coffee Clutches!

My next favorite time is doing the interviews with the precious folks who do so much to help others, for my "People & Horses Helping Horses & People Stories." Then writing the stories. Thank you Trail Blazer & Natural Horse Magazine for providing a venue to tell these stories and, "Helping Them Help."

I don't write every day. Some days I'll ride. Kessy's delightful shuffling gait transports me, wondering among God's beauty admiring wild flowers, birds and serenity. Yup another high on the list of fav-times!

Evenings. Love our evenings. I enjoy TV, (Especially Dancing With The Stars) even though we have antenna only, we do get plenty to watch. Reading in the evening perhaps working on my next novel, or story, anticipating the coming of the next day.  And just being in the loving glow of Ravishin' Robbie.

Well don't know if you can figure out my fav-time of the day, but I do thank God for all our blessings and making it so hard to choose. What's your favorite time of day?

Have a love filled blessed day! ~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Why "Gitty Up" ~ And Why I love Winnie The Pooh"

Howdy Friends,
From time to time I am asked about my love for Winnie The Pooh and my signature, "Gitty Up."

Winnie the Pooh and I became friends in those years when as a young boy I'd been locked in a room for 3 years, before they put me out on the farm and I found the spirit of the horse. 

Horrible things happened in that room, things that continue to haunt me today. But at some time in those room-years I somehow got a Winnie The Pooh book. I used to pretend that room, with its solitary window painted black, was the 100 Acre Wood. Like Pooh, Piglett, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Eyore and Christopher Robin, my adventures in the 100 Wood were imaginary, but Pooh was a terrific imaginary guide.

Pooh Bear has been a steady and loyal friend throughout life, always ready with a funny story or song, and advice. I credit him with my love of honey. And butterflies.

My email signature comes from Pooh Bear. Our daughter, the sweet and terrific Abbie, had a Winnie the Pooh desk calendar a few years ago and on July 17 of that year Pooh was dressed as a cowboy and the caption was, "Gitty Up Pooh Bear." She sent it to me with this note, "Thought you would like this."

That little picture and her note resides on the table under glass by my chair ever since. About that time I was just beginning to find my way around the keyboard, and emails. I noticed folks had clever and heartfelt sign offs at their siggys. So I latched on to "Gitty Up, Dutch Henry," and except for the most formal emails that's what I use.

I often wonder what folks think about that. But just as the spirit of the horse has in fact saved my life, so too did a tiny yellowish brown inquisitive, funny and heroic bear hold my hand in the darkest moments.

My hero

I think I'll shovel an extra spoon of honey on my oatmeal this morning.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Our Dreams, Connections and Memories of Horses Crossed the Rainbow Bridge"

Howdy Friends,
Our thoughts of our departed equine partners, I believe, are a connection to their spirits. Not merely memories, though memories are precious, but conduits by which we travel and visit with them again and again.
 How often have we slept comfortably and been visited by long ago physically gone friends in dreams so real we could feel them, smell them, hear them? Friends who in days past had carried us gleefully across fields, trails and on adventures. Friends who stood silently with us and joined us in celebrating our joys. Helped shoulder the burden of our disappointments, our sorrows. The spirit of the horse can be so tightly woven into ours that it is highly appropriate it would continue to lift us after leaving the physical realm. Continue to guide us, comfort us, lighten our hearts.

On a sunny day, busy with whatever task we'd undertaken, a sudden wisp of a thought brings a departed partner back with a nicker and a snort. Perhaps a head shake and stomping foot. An invisible muzzle touches our cheek.

While riding our present horse a thought of how to cue, move or sit dashes into our head and we think, "There you go old friend. Thanks for the help." They talk to us still, ever present helpful and connected.
Diablo and me, long ago ...
My old friend Diablo, while never less than a high spirited boy, has dropped in often to reassure, even guide my thoughts over the years. Funny how he mostly appears when I'm troubled. But then he always was at his best when I needed the most help. I believe it was his wisdom that helped me see, my spirit guides are horses. While Honey was only with me a short time, she too connects from time to time, in her quiet unassuming way. She was never less than a perfect gentlelady.
Honey and me ...
Often I get thoughts from/of horses I barely knew, perhaps worked with, but the images and thoughts are clear and sometimes deep. I believe when a connection has been made, the conversation continues forever. If we listen they will talk.

Friends if you have those sudden thoughts, peaceful dreams and ideas that seem to come from nowhere, embrace them. They are your friends visiting.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry