Friday, October 26, 2012


Unexpected hard times befall us all, injuries, disasters and in these tough economic times, job loss. Folks are left with really tough decisions to make. With families to feed, doctor bills and mortgages, the expense of caring for a horse may just be too much when unforeseen trouble knocks on the door. Often in times like these friendships and partnerships built over years are forced to be ended for the want of a little help to get over a rough patch. It is a horrible thing to let go of a trusted friend, but it is even more horrible to not be able to properly care for them. Hearts break, tears flow, lives change, for the person and the horse. A few good folks in NH understood this and created Becky's Gift to lend a helping hand and keep friends together. And horses in their loving homes.

Becky's Gifts Equine Relief was founded in 2009 to provide short-term assistance to NH horses. In the past three years, feed, vet, and farrier service has been provided to more than 300 horses. This organization was created in memory of Becky Lang, a young woman with a love for horses and a concern for their welfare. Becky's Gift, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is 100% volunteer based and 100% of the monies raised flow right through going out to help the horses. Check them out at .

In times of financial strain it is too often the animals that suffer. How many stories have we all heard about horses' suffering, starving, sick or abandon? Becky's Gift's mission is to provide assistance during a horse owners time of need and prevent the needless suffering brought on from lack of grain, hay, and essential care such as worming, vaccinations, and farrier services.

Our fried Heather Tower, now a board member, told me about Becky's Gift. A few years ago she found herself in a situation and Becky' Gifts came to the rescue. Here is what Heather had to say. "Sometimes in life unforeseen things happen and your left standing there trying to pick up the pieces and have no clue how to hold it together. When it comes to owning a home and having horses and something big or a whole bunch of somethings happen you worry about feeding and caring for your horses and getting things covered and getting back on your feet. I was going through this 3 years ago and I was told of a group Becky's Gift. I had to bite my pride and I emailed them, I needed help with hay and farrier, I was blown away when in a few days Pam and her husband were standing in my driveway with grain and hay, wormers and the offer to have help with the farrier. I was so thankful all I could do is cry and thank them profusely. They helped so much I was able to get on my feet again. I was so thankful I then helped them when and where I could, I helped with fundraisers, driving hay ect to pay it forward to help others like the way I was helped.. After a year of helping I was once again floored by the hardworking board of directors when I was asked to join the board. What an honor to be asked I gladly accepted and have been helping in any way I can ever since. I like to be able to let people know I was in their shoes and I totally "get it". I love that Beckys gift is 100% volunteer based and 100% of money raised goes 100% back into horses whose owners are struggling"

I think Heather's words tell their story beautifully. Thank you Becky's Gift for being there to help!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How do I write a scene?

How do I write a scene? … A short time ago one of our facebook friends asked me that question. She was working on revisions of her first novel and she too often felt her scenes left her feeling uninvolved, detached from her own story. I had to think about that a bit.

It is important to remember that while you get the whole picture, your reader may not. You may see your protagonist lying under a tree on a hill far from anyone or anything, while sunlight streams through the red leaves to dance on the grass around her as she ponders her situation, and her next move. But if you write, "She considered her next move lying under her favorite tree," your reader will miss the feeling of isolation.

When I think about writing a scene I actually see it in my mind as a painting hanging on the wall. I study my mind's painting for the details that are important to the painting and look for surroundings, objects and color. I listen for sounds, and wonder about smells. If people are involved I examine them, how are they standing, sitting, moving? What are their faces and actions saying?

Some scenes start wide and draw the reader in to a tight focus, like that tree on a hill far from anyone or anything. "One lone tree stood in command of the wide open hillsides. She held her thumb in front of her eyes and made the tree disappear, then ran for the tree through the emptiness that seemed everywhere. The tree grew as she ran up one hill through the valley behind it, and up the next. On and on she ran. Her heart pounded. Her feet flew. Finally she collapsed in the brown grass under that once distant tree into a tiny world all her own under its sheltering bows."
Others start tight and thrust the reader to wide open spaces. What if we reverse the scene above? "She twisted to her side and gazed out over the rolling hills. Her eyes traveled up one hill and down the next. Shocked to realize she'd run that far, she gulped a breath. No matter the direction she saw nothing but emptiness, like the emptiness in her own heart. Jumping up she cupped hands to mouth and shouted …" Get the feeling of starting tight and going wide?

Emotions and scenery weaved together will add color to the reader's eyes that you may not need detail. In fact some details might slow the reader down. Of course there are times when it's good to slow the reader down. Picture our protagonist above pulling a blade of that brown grass and examining the veins in the long withered stem.

So those are some of the ways I think when I'm writing a scene. Is it a wide or narrow scene? Do we want to move the reader from one to the other? Then of course comes your revisions and editing, like I should have done here ... But in writing a scene the first draft is where it starts ...

Hope you enjoyed this … Have a beautiful day !!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Juncos are here!

The Juncos are here, and the white throated sparrows and red breasted nuthatches. Robbie and I have been on the road a lot the past few days and every now and then I thought I saw juncos on the roadside, sometimes mixed in with cardinals,chipping sparrows and bluebirds,  but had not seen any here at the feeders yet, so I wasn't sure, they were here yet.

I'd scarcely settled into my "coffee with Kessy chair" this morning when I saw a small bird land in the branches above the chicken scratch, then another. I suspected it would be juncos, and sure enough when it hopped down to dine on cracked corn, barley and wheat it was indeed a tiny "snow bird."  Along with it was a single white throated sparrow ... Two pilliated woodpeckers flew over calling "yak, yak, yak," and a small flock of cardinals swooped into the chicken scratch with such gusto it scattered the chickens!

Gone are the hummingbirds, although we still maintain a single hummingbird feeder as the latest a migratory hummer ever drifted by was Nov 15, so we figure we'd best keep a refueling station at the ready, just in case. Gone too are the phoebes, although I thought I'd heard one two days ago at coffee time.

Ravishin' Robbie was the first to spy the red breasted nuthatch at the black oil sunflower feeder yesterday morning. Then, before we hit the road, I went to fill it and didn't that tiny blue, black and russet bird land on the feeder as I held it in my hand! For a second we were inches apart, eyeball to eyeball … What a treat! I called Annabelle to share with her all the bird activity. She loves to hear all about it ... Says it gets her out of the nursing home room.

I'm reminded of last winter when I'd be calling the chickens as I scattered their scratch how the juncos would gather in the trees waiting to dive in and dine before the chickens waddled in. Today there was only one junco, I wonder how many days before the whole flock checks in?

Have a beautiful day!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our First Frost

Last night's shimmering black sky, sparkling stars and glowing moon warned of a chilly fall morning coming, and it seems that foretelling was indeed correct. A quick glance at the thermometer this morning verified the frosty temp to be thirty six. It's long been my habit to check the temp as one of my first duties each morning and report to Ravishin' Robbie, who this morning called out, "Burrr" and pulled the blanket over her head. I dug out my insulated coveralls and gloves.

Thermos filled with piping hot Folgers, and all bundled up I headed to the barn for "Coffee With Kessy" and the critters.

As is his habit, Saturday greeted me on the back porch bouncing, tail wagging and begging for hugs. The spider webs on the lawn looked like so many tiny tents covered in a fine lacy ice. Scarlet leaves lightly dusted with white frosting smiled down on us from the tall maple by the barn. Kessy's breath streamed from her nostrils in friendly dragon fashion as she urged me to hurry with her breakfast and hay. The chickens, who are normally scattered far and wide, huddled just outside the barn waiting for me to get their scratch corn, some even waited at the feeding station. I reckon they needed some fuel to warm up.

Sure in a month or so thirty six will feel plenty warm, but this morning it felt mighty cool. I settled into my chair, poured a steaming cup from the thermos, and as I do each morning at this time, looked skyward, between the big oak's branches, and thanked God for a beautiful morning. I do that each day, hot cold, rainy or drought, because, frankly, each morning is beautiful. Especially from the vantage point of the barn.

Most of the chickens wandered into the barn, some scratched around near Kessy looking for hay seeds, while others huddled under the picnic table. The roosters sat on the ledge and commenced the Crow Boy's Choir. Tigger curled in a tight ball in my lap, and Saturday dug a nest in the straw in Kessy's corner. I remember last winter too, he'd abandon his post next to my chair for his nest in the straw on chilly mornings. Miss Kitty never left the house this morning. Frosty breath drifted up from the hay as Kessy munched and chomped.

By the time Coffee Clutch ended a half our later it had warmed all the way up to forty degrees. The chickens had scattered mostly out of sight on their search and devour mission. Tigger still curled tight on my lap. Saturday had burrowed deeper into his nest. Kessy continued to munch hay.

Have a perfect day, stay warm & God Bless!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Come On, Let's Litter!

Last year the commonwealth of Virginia spent over 11 million dollars picking up trash along the roadways. Now that's important because in this time of great stimulus spending to create jobs, picking up trash is always, "shovel ready." So folks tossing out empty burger bags, soda cans, water bottles, beer cans, liquor bottles too, are just doing their part to "stimulate" the economy. And that's a good thing, right?

Ravishin' Robbie and I do the "Adopt The Road" thing here in VA, along the dirt road we live on, and 4 times a year we pick up along a 2 mile stretch from our house to the stop sign. Now you must understand this little dirt road has a traffic count of less than 40 cars a day, most days under 20, so the folks that travel this road must be highly aware of the need to, "stimulate, " because by golly we never get less than 8 or 9 bags of trash and half a dozen tires. Mostly though it's beer cans and wine and liquor bottles. I'd say beer cans and bottles run about 10 to one with anything else.

And that could be a good thing because all of us know how a shiny reflecting beer can on the shoulder of a dark road can serve as a great reflector to keep you out of the ditch. So that drinking and driving thing might have some helpful side benefits like road marking ... The fact that it's estimated that every 30-minutes, someone in the United States is killed in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident, and about every minute one person is injured in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident is just an inconvenient statistic ... because those shiny beer cans make reliable road guides on a dark night, and the folks who toss them out are simply doing their part to make our roads safe.

What about the ecology of it all? How about all those tires pitched into the woods instead of being disposed of properly? Free at our county landfill. Without the thoughtless actions of some folks, where would all those precious mosquitoes breed? Those discarded tires and dear mindless souls are only doing their part to help nature.

And what about the landfills? Remember not too long ago everyone was clambering about the landfills all getting full. The panic that filled so many news broadcasts about too much trash and no way to get rid of it ... Did so many caring motorists decide to do their part to ease the pressure on the landfills by making use of the hany hundreds of thousands of miles of roadside as trash receptacles? ... You know, toss a burger bag here, a beer bottle there, it can really add up to millions of tons not going to the overburdened landfills ... Yes that must be it, litterbugs are really just ecology minded stewards of the earth. Got it!

Yes, I write this tongue in cheek, but friends there really is not too much funny about the total lack of respect for our beautiful world that allows for the increase in trash tossed out motorists windows. And, I will confess to being a lifelong teetotaler, but it is appalling to me that so many folks think nothing of drinking while driving. While at VDOT the other day to get supplies to do our road thing our local administrator told me, just 5 years ago the cost was 7 million a year to pick up trash, and that does not include all the thousands of volunteer hours. He also confirmed the terrifying volume along all roads of beer and other alcoholic containers in the roadside trash. That's just sad.