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