Friday, April 12, 2013

"Feature Friday – Sweetness- We'll Miss You"

Howdy Folks,

A dozen years ago she came bouncing up our lane, tail wagging, eyes shining and her heart looking for love. I was immediately smitten. My first words to her were, "Hello Sweetness!" I found out later that day she'd been hanging around a neighbor's house for a while, he had tried to find her owner, could not and did not want to keep her. Ravishin' Robbie was away for the day so I had time to settle her in, clean and shine her up,  then add my own pleading eyes to Sweetness' at just the right moment when Robbie came home. Of course Robbie melted and Sweetness joined our family. We did continue to try to find her owners thinking no one could abandon such a wonderful spirit, to no avail. Our Veterinarian thought Sweetness was about three at the time.

Sweetness took to Robbie right away and they became best friends in about 5 seconds. She was never far from Robbie and, unless trail riding with me, she could be found on Stripped Chair in the office with Robbie. For years she served as Robbie's sounding board.
Sweetness loved opening her Christmas presents
Sweetness was the most adventurous of all our dogs, ready to dive into any endeavor with her wagging tail and gleaming eyes, full of spirit and eagerness. She loved going away, and she went with us on our Competitive Trail Riding and other horsey adventures. She loved trail riding and logged thousands of miles trotting along, never straying. There were even a few times she kept us out of harm's way on the trail.

I remember a time when Robbie and I were riding alone in a new place, she on Mr. Dix and me on Diablo. We came upon an old car in the woods and Diablo was having no part of it. All at once Sweetness trotted around us and that scary old car, stopped and looked back at Diablo, danced a little while staring at Diablo and, catching me off guard, Diablo walked on right up to Sweetness. As soon as we all passed the car, Sweetness fell in behind Robbie and Mr. Dix. It was an amazing thing to experience. And she's done that exact thing on other occasions.

She and Tigger were best of friends too, romping about, laying in the sun together. Often they could be seen grooming each other. We would laugh when we saw them heading down the trail to explore together. A bit like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

Sweetness was a pretty good watch dog too, especially when it came to Robbie. Having our office in our home it was common to have sales people, customers and other folks drop in. If Sweetness was not sure about them, she never barked or growled, but would position herself firmly between Robbie and whomever she didn't quite trust.

She gave up trail riding a few years ago, not long after we moved to Virginia, but continued to be Robbie's devoted office pal and Tigger's best friend. And my Sweetness.

Yesterday Sweetness went to Heaven ... and for all the years of her love, trust and support we knew she should be this week's Feature Friday. Feature Friday is devoted to "People & Horses Helping Horses & People" and over the years Sweetness has helped many horses get comfortable with trail riding. She helped Robbie with that too, not to mention the hours of office help. She helped me too, to embrace sweetness. Everyone who met Sweetness always said, "She's so sweet." I know she's in heaven helping others now too. But we will miss her.
Sweetness loved joining us for Coffee Clutch with Kessy & the gang
Thank you for picking us when you were looking for a new home, Sweetness. ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Coming Home" Pt 3

Howdy Folks,       

Because we've had so many requests for more of "Coming Home" I thought it would be fun to post a few more pages. If you're just now joining our journey parts 1 and 2 were posted 4-9 and 4-10 … We pick up our story still in Chapter one, Billie has gone to meet Roy at Martha's diner. We will end in Chapter two, on page 10 ... They say you should hook your reader in the first 10 pages (or less) Let me know if Billie has you hooked.

 I hope you enjoy. 

                                                      Coming Home Pt 3

Billie looked at her watch. The second time in three minutes. Five after eleven. Roy's paperwork must have taken longer than he'd planned. She'd give him one more cup of coffee, and then drive to the Sheriff's office to discuss her employment with Sheriff Lovell. Actually she wasn't totally disappointed in Roy. Sitting alone in Martha's diner for half an hour gave her time to catch up on the local news first hand. Some of what she'd heard here, her mother had already told her, like what a shame it is that Barilla's Theater was closing. Now folks would need to drive forty miles one way to Dawson to see a movie. Dawson had a new theater though, eight theaters in one building. Folks here in Barilla, the Hondo county seat, thought that was a big theater. She smiled. In Nashville they had a Cineplex with twenty theaters under one roof. Still, Billie thought, the county seat should really have a theater. She made a little bet with herself that it wouldn't be very long until Barilla had a new theater. Maybe a mini-Cineplex like Dawson. After all, Barilla was starting to grow.

She thought about the statistics she'd studied in the package Sheriff Lovell had mailed her. One thousand new residents since the '00 census. A new courthouse, new high school, and a newly repaved four lane interstate with a daily traffic count of almost two thousand cars. Crime was up too. Last year the murder rate in Hondo County had doubled. Two murders. Of course it had only been a single crime. But there had been two victims. Billie had agreed it made sense for two counties to combine their sheriff's departments. Glad though, she could come in after all the inter-county wrangling was finished. Even if she would be the lone Detective covering eight hundred square miles. Eight hundred square miles, two courthouses, twenty-five thousand people – and five murders.

Billie checked her watch again. Eight minutes late. If Roy was going to be her partner he'd need a refresher on punctuality. Of course she hadn't given him her cell number so she couldn't fault him for not calling to give her a heads up that he'd be running late. From her booth by the big front window she had a grand view of town. She leaned to look down Main Street which was exactly seven blocks long and sported one traffic signal located in the intersection between the new courthouse and the only other edifice of any remarkable stature on Main Street, the Staked Plains Museum. Which had only two years ago moved into the old courthouse. The street was wide with plenty of parking; she noted the most favored mode of transportation in Barilla seemed to be pickups at least ten years old. She checked her Vette. Yea, that'll stand out.

The Sheriff's car slid to a rough stop behind her Vette. She jumped up as he leaped out and moved too quickly toward the sidewalk. She hadn't seen Sheriff Lovell in two years but he hadn't changed one iota. Except for the way he looked overanxious as he trotted around her car.

They met on the curb.

Sheriff Lovell offered his hand. They shook. Billie quizzed him with her eyes. "Figured that to be your car. Listen, we've got to go. Get in, ride with me."

"Where are we going? I'm ah – not…. I mean….Interview in the car?"

"Yea, something like that. Let's go, Detective Weston. Right now."

                                                                   Chapter Two

"I want your trained eye on this. There's going to be a lot of people at the scene." Sheriff Lovell shook his head as he drove the county's car at a dangerous speed. "A woman driving by called the State Police before she called us. They're already on the scene, messing it up."

"What scene? Sheriff, we haven’t talked. I'm not a deputy yet. I haven't been sworn in."

Without slowing, or shifting his eyes from the road Sheriff Lovell reached beside him, grabbed a paper bag and, not too gently, shoved it into Billie's lap.

She looked at him. Looked in the bag. A gold badge in a leather case, and a black hand gun in a leather holster.

"Raise your right hand."

She did.

"Do you swear to enforce and uphold the laws of Hondo and Dawson Counties? I forget the rest of it."

"I do."

"Good. You can put your hand down." He swerved recklessly around a grain truck and a wreck of a pickup with a slightly worse off camper on the back. "Like I said, there's going to be a lot of people at the scene. Ignore them. Do your job. Use the all the training the FBI gave you." He looked at her. "And listen Billie. You talk to me. Only me. There's something home-grown about this. The State Police'll try to mess it up. You keep it home-grown." He looked at her again. "I want answers."

"Sheriff, are you going to tell me what this is all about?"

He slammed on the brakes and slid off the road into the sand. Dust swallowed the car. The grain truck and pickup camper drove by. He looked at her. She could see he was tearing.

"Roy was ambushed." Sheriff Lovell dropped his head in his hands. "He's dead."

Billie gasped. She stared at the man next to her, holding his head, crying like any ordinary father would cry over the death of his son. She waited. A few minutes wouldn't make any difference now. Except for the damage State Police Troopers could do to a crime scene. She'd grown used to that over the past five years. State cops, local cops always stumbling around the crime scene, moving things, touching things. Just being in the way. The thought occurred to her – now she was the local cop. For almost three minutes already. Sworn in, in a speeding Sheriff's Suburban. By a well respected Sheriff on the way to the scene of his own son's murder.

He wasn't ready, but after a few minutes Billie knew it was time to go. "Sheriff, want me to drive?"

He wiped his face, snorted. "No. I'll get us there." He grabbed her knee and squeezed it. "You figure this out Billie. Don't let anybody get in your way." He wiped his face again, forced an almost invisible smile, "He was all excited about your date."

She nodded. Sheriff Lovell put the Suburban in drive and punched the gas. By the time the wheels were on pavement they were doing ninety again. In the seconds it took for Billie to remember Roy's eager face from earlier that morning they were swerving around the grain truck and pickup camper again.

Gitty Up~ Dutch Henry

To continue you can read Pt 4 here --

To start at the beginning here are the links to Pt 1 & Pt 2

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Coming Home-Pt-2"

Howdy Folks,

      Yesterday I posted the first few pages of Chapter One of "Coming Home" and over night I had requests for more, so just for fun I thought I'd let you have a peek at a few more pages, it picks up where yesterdays story left off. I hope you enjoy.-----

      Coming Home-Pt-2

The slow drive down the long lane gave her time to think about Dad, Mom, and coming home. It would be odd now, with Dad retired. He would be the one to sit across the supper table and listen to her stories about criminals and crime solving. She laughed, "crime in Hondo County." Wouldn't be much compared to Nashville. But Nashville hadn't proved to be what she'd expected either. Neither had marriage.

Billie let her Vette idol an extra second between the new barn and old equipment shed, enjoying the low rhythmic rumbling of three-hundred-fifty horses vibrating off the walls. She loved her horses, man-made, and God-made.

"Billie! I thought sure I had another day to get her all shined up for you! But by golly I'll take you ahead of schedule any time." Ty Weston hurried to her car leading a beautiful buckskin mare. And admiring his daughter's new Corvette. "Still like fast cars I see. That's good."

"Guess I always will. But I do come by it honest." Billie pointed to the dark brown tarp covering what she knew to be her father's vintage 1963 Corvette stingray in the equipment shed.  "Dad you look great!" She ran at him, wrapped her arms around his neck and hung on, nearly knocking him to the ground. She backed up, "and it's great to be home!" She snatched the lead rope from her father and hugged her horse's neck. "I've missed you too, Honey!"

Ty gave her a moment to love on her horse, while he inspected her Corvette. "They sure do make 'em big nowadays don't they?"

She smiled at him over Honey's neck. "And fast. And expensive."

"Ah well, everything's expensive nowadays. Got plenty of gadgets too I see. Just how did we find our way around Texas before GPS?"

Billie pushed her face into Honey's mane to hide her laugh, remembering his weekly letters during the time he'd been contemplating retirement. Those letters had a common theme, the world was moving too fast for an old crime solver like him. No time to contemplate when a cell phone could be hung around your neck and ring every twenty seconds interrupting your train of thought. Radios were bad enough, but at least a man could walk away from the car and think, he'd written. She remembered he never did accept the cell phone the department tried to give him. Told her he sat it on a fence post and shot it on his last day. Billie had inherited his dislike for most modern technology, she preferred her pen and notebook to smartphones and iPads. 

"Let's put Honey away and get up to the house, your mother has been rearranging your room twice a day since your things arrived Monday."

"Good idea, I drove all night and could sure use some of Mom's coffee. And her welcome home hug." Billie led the way almost skipping as she dragged her father along to dirt path that served as the rear walkway to the house. She grinned at the neat stack of red bricks that had been waiting for over five years to be laid in place. "I suppose you'll have time now to lay Mom's sidewalk." He eyes twinkled as she teased.

They sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee, dipping her mother's home made sugar cookies and catching up. Billie did more listening than talking. She looked around the room. What a marvelous old house. Funny how a person doesn't notice things, like how cozy the kitchen you grew up in feels, until you've grown up, moved away, and come back. Mom looks older than Dad now. How can two years make such a difference? She'd only missed one Christmas, the last one. But that was when all her own problems were going on hot and heavy. She'd thought about coming home then. Could've used her mom's comfort and dad's advice, but she was neck deep in divorce, and a high profile kidnapping. Neither had worked out the way she'd have liked. Well, maybe the divorce. Should have probably taken her dad's advice before the wedding. The Vette was a nice consolation prize though. She almost pitied Jack. FBI Special Agents don't earn that much. But he'd offered. She'd accepted. Besides her '04 Vette had a hundred-twenty thousand miles on it. She chuckled softly. Considerably more miles than she had on Jack.

"Sheriff Lovell hinted he'd make you a Detective right away." Billie's mother said, her voice had the same prideful tone it always had whenever she talked about her only child.

"Apparently he's got the okay from his higher-ups. I'll take it. Pays a little better than Deputy, and I can wear my own clothes." She smiled when she looked at her boots. Billie Weston hadn't changed her style of dress to suite anybody but herself, ever. Anne Taylor jacket, Cruel Girl jeans, and lately, Ariat boots. Sometimes a good looking pair of Justin's worked too.

Ty shrugged. "We didn't have Detectives in Hondo County Sheriff's Department when I ran things. We all did our own investigating then. Sure we teamed up when we had to, but I wasn't sure we ever needed a full blown Detective." He tossed Billie a proud smile. "I guess you'll show 'em how it's done." He paused. "We're dang sure proud of you Billie." He raised his coffee cup in a toast.

"We certainly are! … What are your plans for today? Any chance of a mother daughter day?"

"Well, Roy already knows I'm home. He caught me at the end of the lane and asked me to Martha's for diner."

Ty nodded. "Wednesday, spaghetti."

"Since I'm not dating, and if I were, I wouldn't be overly excited about spaghetti, but I did tell Roy I'd meet him at Martha's for an early lunch. At eleven. That'll give me plenty of time to catch up on local news and gossip, you know, things that might help me when I interview with Sheriff Lovell." She reached for her mother's hand, "How about a mother daughter morning?"

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry 

You can read "Coming Home" Pt 3 here --

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Coming Home" - Pt 1-

Howdy Folks,

This is the opening of a novel I had kicked around. Just am not sure how I feel about writing a Crime Drama. I do like Billie though ... I hope you enjoy, Billie's return.
Coming Home
Chapter One

Her life would never be the same, and she was okay with that. She pulled off the hard road but did not drive through the gate, even though it sat open. It always sat open. A mile down the lane she could see the house and barn, she could even see horses in the corral. Twisting her wrist to glance at her watch she mumbled, “seven-thirty, they’d be finished breakfast and Dad would be headed back out by now.”

A single note blurb from a siren made her glance at the rear-view mirror to see flashing blue lights atop the Sheriff’s car. The car stopped behind hers, but kept the lights flashing. She watched him walk toward her, so much for a quiet return.

He taped on the window, “Everything alright Miss?”

She pushed the button and lowered the window. “Right as rain, Roy.”

Roy stepped back and leaned to look inside the car. “Billie? Billie Weston, is it really you?” He yanked the door open and squatted down. “By God, Billie Weston. Step out here! Let a fella have a look at you.”

Billie took his hand stepped out and looked him square in the eye, “You’re running highway patrol early this morning aren’t you?”

“Not really, I was on my way to Pecos County to pick up a fella they arrested last night. By God Billie, you look great. You didn’t get married yet did you?”

She let her eyes travel up and down Roy’s frame. A few years had done him alright in the maturing category. Still had that bright red hair and his green eyes, but now he had some muscles on those long arms, and a rather attractive red moustache. She liked the muscles better though. “Not yet. Did you?”

He shook his head. “Nope, sure didn’t, the only girl I ever wanted went east. Broke my heart into a thousand pieces.”

She gave him an easy smile, then nodded toward the house. “Seen Mom and Dad lately?”

“Sure, when they come into town. You know to the feed store or once in a while they’ll hit the diner. They’ll sure be tickled to death to see you.”

“They know I’m coming. I’m just a day early.”

He shook her hand, tipped his hat, “I gotta get on, been great to see you again Billie.”

She cocked her head, “Oh you’ll be seeing me, Roy. I’m home to stay this time.”

“No kiddin’?”

“Yep. I heard Chief Lovell is looking for another Deputy. I’m interviewing as soon as I see Mom and Dad.”

Roy stumbled back a half step. “No kiddin’?”

“Sure am. Of course I’m not just another Deputy. I come with a pedigree.”

“And experience.”

“And experience.” Billie tossed a wink, then slid into the drivers seat of her fire-engine red, one month old Corvette.

Roy moved to her window, bent low and leaned on the door, "Be alright to have a Weston in the department again. We all miss your dad. Sheriff Lovell tried real hard to keep him from retiring last year."

Gently, Billie used the tips of her fingers to brush Roy's arm from her door and smiled. "New car. Well Roy, if the Sheriff will have me I'll do my best to live up to my father's reputation. Of course you'll remember, I do things a little different than Dad."

Backing away Roy nodded. "We do remember." He dropped to one knee. "You… ah, wanna go for dinner tonight? Wednesday night, all you can eat spaghetti at Martha's."

"Roy, I haven't even been home yet." She let him have her flirtiest head tilt and eye roll. "Of course, if you're still so easily compromised, I could meet you at Martha's for an early lunch. After I visit with the folks a bit."


"I've been gone awhile, and I'm sure there are a few things that might be helpful to have in my back pocket before I meet with Sheriff Lovell. After all, I am a Weston and my Dad always said, "Preparation is the key to success."

"Really? I never heard him say that."

"Well, he could have. Martha's? Eleven sharp?"

Looking at his watch Roy nodded. "Yea, eleven. I can do that, but I gotta run. Get to Salado County, grab that prisoner and hustle on back here to do all the paperwork. Yea I'll see you at Martha's… Been a while since I've been ... compromised."

Billie revved the Vette and winked, "Get used to it. I think I'm gonna be your partner.

She watched him in the side mirror as she drove away, nice and slow so as not to raise any dust that would want to settle on her car. She always liked Roy, but not quite the same way he'd always liked her. From tenth grade on, he'd had a crush on her. Good old Roy, he'll probably be on the radio before he's out of sight telling Sheriff Lovell that Billie Weston is back and he has a date with her. That's alright, she'd let him have his coup.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

You can read Pt 2  of "Coming Home" here - 

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Happy Monday! It's a Bluebird Day!"

Howdy Folks,

HAPPY MONDAY everybody! The Spring symphony of bird song floated on crisp air this morning as I sat with Kessy, Saturday and Miss Kitty enjoying our Coffee Clutch. Kessy's eyes sparkled as she gazed out into the bright morning sun, hay dangling from her mouth. We had enjoyed a lovely, and lively, ride yesterday and I wondered if she was remembering it. I was. Our good friend Chris and her mule Molly had gone with us, and the two girls seemed pretty full of themselves. Ah Spring.

This morning's operatic performance was surely the best so far this Spring. Phoebes called and flitted about, dashing to the dirt to retrieve nest building material for there new nest in Kessy's barn. Mr. Cardinal sat high in a tree and sang loud. Mr. Bluebird too, sang and sang. Mourning Doves joined in, their cooing wafting lightly as backup singers. Several Chipping Sparrows chattered as they scratched the chicken feed, and Mr. Chickadee added his high notes just in time for the chorus. A lone Robin trilled.

The Bluebirds have a complete nest in the front yard and we are keeping watch for the first egg. Ravishin' Robbie is cooking our first batch of Hummingbird nectar of the Spring. We'll be hanging the first feeder today ... They will be here any day now. We've missed our glistening flying jewels. To check when they will be in your area go to . And you can report your first sighting there too, just for fun.

On our rides Kessy and I have already seen plenty of Bluetts, Spring Beauties, Myrtle and even Bloodroot flowers … Can our road trip to Blue Ridge Parkway to look for wildflowers be far away? I'm ready!

Ravishin' Robbie, Kessy, the critters  and I send you wishes for a Happy Monday and God Bless!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry