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Friday, July 11, 2008

Fun with Tech

Oohh, I just learned how to post pix! I need to forward the bucking picture for the "Name" post, but in the meantime I will experiment with photos and captions.

I just posted the best picture we have of Dobby, the most adorable horse ever on the "Dobby, What Next" post. I'll need to discover how to edit/zoom in on posted pix. We need to get better pictures of all our horses.

Below is a picture of my Husband's Morgan, Mica, with his buddy, Rebel (a cute POA, now 5) in the upper arena at the R-Wild Horse Ranch, Platina, CA. Spring '08.






And here is Dobby, again in all his adorable glory, back at the "Fat Farm" in Hayfork, May '08.

There must be a more artistic way to do this...nothing like posting my 'drafts' on line for all the world to laugh at. In other words, I'm open for suggestions!

OREGON OR BUST, PART 1

Oregon or Bust, Part 1

Shopping for a horse is not only difficult, hard work, it is dangerous. I have now been bucked off my second quarter horse. I understand all horses can and may buck, but a well muscled quarter has more impulsion in that round hind end than other horses. They have it and know how to use it. I love quarter horses, most horses I have ridden in my limited life have been quarter horses or crosses. Quarter horses, exclusively, have successfully bucked me off.

Again, I do not claim to be any great rider, what I don’t know and can’t do will fill volumes. I do know many tame, well broke horses give a meager buck. Their heads go down, hind feet come a few inches off the ground giving action to their discontent. For my part, I calmly guide with hands and legs, give verbal cues, like “Whoa!” “Ho!” or “Easy.” We circle, one-rein, side pass. Eventually coming to an understanding that life is simpler if we do what I want. I’m not talking Road to the Horse, or Mustang Makeover, I’m talking well broke trail horses here.

What does this have to do with Oregon or Bust??? I’m getting there!

Remember my Dream Horse is grey, and based on my epiphany in April, gaited. So why was I looking at Ajax?

Loving research and having the world at my finger tips via the net, I have discovered gaited horse universe. So many breeds, so much variety in gaits and movement. With the added impetus of a good friend, Dani Sartori, I am directed to Brazilian Mangalarga Marchadoras as well.

Besides the extraordinary and exotica of the Marchadoras, I also discover a little known breed of McCurdy Plantation Horses from Alabama. These are a sub-breed of Tennessee Walking Horses. Almost exclusively grey, delightful, elegant and seldom seen outside Alabama---but there is a farm in Canby Oregon. J_Bar Farm, owned by June and Barry Snook. My daughter’s name is June, so I already love these people! Check out the website and these magnificent horses. June and Barry hand raise these horses with love, care and ‘natural horsemanship.’ The horses are used in hunting dog trials as well as endurance and are sound, stable, sane and safe. Did I mention sweet and oh so beautiful?

We correspond by email for weeks. They have a stunning 6 yr old gelding, McCurdy’s Blue (my favorite color) that sounds perfect! Wait, I’m too cynical to believe anything can be perfect. He sounds very promising.

I also form a relationship with Susan Neuman of Cascade Marchadoras in Bend Oregon. She and her husband, Holm, raise Brazilian Mangalarga Marchadoras. Holm is a champion in mounted archery and travels the world to participate. They have two grey geldings available. We also correspond for weeks while I try and find/make the time to shoot to Oregon; and for the weather in Oregon to break for riding.

You would think in the great state of California I could find a gorgeous, grey gaited horse. Is that really too much to ask? I did speak with several knowledgeable, helpful people, but none could produce with the elusive dapple grey of my dreams. I have heard nothing from my local gaited horse guru, Terry Zygalinski of Gaitedplesurehorse.com in Watsonville (Royal Oaks) California. I gave him my wish list back in April, it is Memorial Day! (It’s all About Me! I Want It, and I want it Now! Does it take more than 6 wks to span the globe for my Dream Horse??? It’s not like there are important issues to deal with: Starving children, a war or global warming—lest I seem too shallow)

I digress.

Horse hunting consumes my family. Not only do I scour Craigslist each and every day, plus Dream Horse, Equine Hits, BAEN, and a myriad of other ‘horse for sale’ websites, but my beloved husband and devoted daughter also invest copious hours of precious time scanning and forwarding ads to me.

Valuable, irretrievable riding days are lost forever as March passed to April, and April bowed to May. (I do get some quality gardening done! Okay, and laundry and grocery shopping. The house is a mess and my blogs and books are woefully behind, tho)

Previous experience with a too distant dream horse in southern California propels my sojourn to the Pacific Northwest. There are at least three gaited, grey geldings up there waiting for me. I love the people involved. These horses sound perfect. If I don’t go, I’ll always wonder what I missed.

With a Last Minute Deal from Travelocity booked (air AND rental car for under $300!), I’m off Friday June 6 thru Tuesday, June 10.


All this research, all these wonderful contacts and the enrichment in my horse knowledge are already playing out in my mind, to be added to my books. Eloise would be so proud of me for bringing more insight to my books. Dahlquin horses would have been bred and reared with the same focus on quality and longevity as the Snooks and Neumans apply. Respect, love, gentle but firm leadership would have been used to bring forth the true and brightest nature of the noble equines, past or present. Eloise has her Garth, will I find mine?


To Be Continued…Oregon or Bust, Part 2

Let the Name Be a Guide

Let the Name Be a Guide

A Rose By Any Other Name…

A horse by any name might be a clue…

I have lamented about the difficulties of horse hunting, the discomfort of trading in sentient beings as if they were a commodity. Let me also say that horse hunting is a risky business. I round pen and do the ground work with a strange horse. Do we communicate? Achieve join up? Is this horse looking for a leader or a herd? The owner rides first. I watch someone ride the horse, while I study the cues, the technique and also observe the horse’s movement and form. My butt doesn’t touch the saddle until I’m sure the horse is a willing partner.

Even then there are hints, foreshadowings along the way, and the savvy shopper is wise to heed the warnings. An early prospect of mine was a 4 year old quarter horse gelding named Renegade. Cute, friendly, horsanality (as the Parelli’s say) plus. I got bucked off. Hmmm….I thought, Renegade. Reminds me of a friend’s horse, Rocket (bucked her off ); or another friend’s horse, Rebel, bucks. I detect a trend with those “R” names. Now when I see a horse for sale listed as Rogue, Ronan, or Ricochet I move on. But not just those “R” names, any name indicating a ride I don’t wish to take, Tornado, Whirlwind, Bull, Firecracker. I’m looking for Pastry, Sugar Buns, Lambikins.

When Rope-A-Doc, aka Ajax came along I felt real comfortable with that. A lovely, grey 7 yr old qtr horse. We round penned him first, I was second in the saddle. Well, I think it qualified as a ride, not even a full lap around the arena when he decided my nickel was up. Ha ha, “up”, funny I should use that word.

He gave a test buck, my daughter, June, the photographer, captured the fateful moment on my face, @#$%^&*() (I have the picture and I will attempt to get it posted here) and then he put his full, round quarter horse rump into it and gave me a rodeo ride. No time to grab the horn, hang on, pray. I went straight up, saw the view, knew I was way too high for this to end happily…

My lead butt came down like a stone balloon, but a barrel broke my fall and I slid off the edge and slipped to the ground. Pain, pain, pain. I did manage to stand and give a hearty “Whoa!” But getting back in the proverbial saddle was out of the question. I could barely walk to the truck.

“Next,” I said as we drove away.

After contacting the chiropractor and takikng a naproxen, the jokes began. First, my husband, Russ said, “I should have listened to the chickens. They were warning me. Buck, buck, buck. Buck off!” Then, “His name wasn’t Ajax, it was Eject!” For the forty-five minute drive back to the R-Wild Horse Ranch, my new name became Big Air Beggs, Hindenbeggs, Aerobella.

That horse put a world of hurt on my right leg. It took six days for a bruise to manifest, but when it did…I took the family title. That sucker was the size of Russ’s hand, black, blue and angry. Hardcore.

I wouldn’t ride again for about three weeks. In Oregon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Update!

Well, my third attempt to update!

As if a trip to Oregon wasn't interruption enough, then sickness, purchase and sale agreement, taxes, fires, horse rescue and techno difficulties! Was that an attention grabber?

My search for my 'Dream Horse' took me to Oregon. First to the J_Bar Farm of June and Barry Snook and their elegant and stunning McCurdy Plantation Horses. After two delightful days in Canby, Oregon (thinking that I'd found my Dream Horse) I went down to Bend, Oregon to stay with Susan and Holm Neuman of Cascade Marchadoras. This trip will receive full blog treatment.

Oregon has cornered the market on beautiful, grey gaited horses!

And, was a dream horse found? Does that magnificent beast exist or is it a mythical creature, a unicorn?

Read on.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Required Reading

What could be better for an author than to read, read, read? This is how I justify my long hiatus from a page a day of my own books…by reading and writing essays about other masterpieces.

My son is enrolled in English 1A and being the good mom that I am, I wanted to read the required reading list so he and I could have meaningful and provocative discussions about these extraordinary selections. And have we EVER! Truly it is every parents dream come true—especially parents who write—to have insightful, intellectual dialogues with a teenager about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inspired by Dai Siiji’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. Exploring further, I suggested he read The White-Haired Girl, by Jaia Sun-Childers for a memoir perspective on China’s Cultural Revolution.

For extra credit he read A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Kahled Hosseini, the sadness he felt made me want to cry. Every day we wake up in California, USA is such a gift of fate.

Fight Club was a great read as well. The black humor…the plane food…the consumerism as religion. Yikes. And the juxtaposition of China and Afghanistan, yikes again. Gift indeed.

Imagine Tyler Durden on Phoenix Mountain; what would that have been, Book Club? From the boys, to the Seamstress, to the city and beyond? In fact, were there really two young men? Hmmm, perhaps the unnamed narrator was indeed just Luo. And didn’t Luo even hit the narrator…

The last book in the curriculum is A Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, another classic I had not read. Although written 20 years ago, the parallel to our involvement with Iraq, Afghanistan and our own home grown militant Mormon’s in Texas makes one wonder if we have thrown caution to the wind. Banner of Heaven in New England, anything is possible.

Steven hasn’t finished A Handmaid’s Tale yet, so a stimulating discourse is yet to come. Oh, but it will, along with the previous literary jewels to fuel our spirits.

Gail McCallum put together an engaging and highly commendable course of study: Great books, complementary themes and contemporary issues to seize the attention of students old and new.

As a writer, studying these gems, I see again and again the tight, economical use of the words. Only the most accurate will do; embracing the intellect of the reader, propelling the story to its climax, the pay-off for the vested reader, culminating in a sound resolution and the sad, yet final, ‘The End’.

Self-determination is recurrent theme in my own books. Like Luo and the Narrator, in Balzac…, Eloise longs for the formal education denied her. She does not wish to be defined by her possessions as Tyler Durden fears his generation is, but rather by her acts. Most certainly, like Offred and the other Handmaids, Eloise refuses to be a broodmare for the nobility. Facing poverty, disinheritance or imprisonment, Eloise never gives up the belief that she, that women, deserve a voice, too long denied, in the human chorus.

I may never see my books as college curriculum. A bestsellers list is more to my liking. Having a philosophical heart to heart talk with my second born over the virtues of some of the great books of our time…priceless. (Tyler Durden is rolling over in his virtual grave)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

DREAM HORSE

DREAM HORSE

More specifically, my dream horse. The horse I have dreamed about for, oh, at least thirty years or so. The refined version of childhood legend and writer’s fantasy…in flesh and hide…the dapple grey equine companion, Lady Eloise’s Garth.

Except I’m not Eloise, I lack the requisite equestrian credentials to even consider purchasing a true courser. A lively palfrey with an indulgent heart is in keeping with my skill and recreational goals.

And why oh why couldn’t I covet the most basic and noble of equine representatives, the stalwart, hard working, every-man horse, the PBH. They are everywhere in numbers uncounted, the best darned horses anybody ever had. These PBH’s do it all, take home the prizes and play with the kids, performance or pleasure they top the charts. Man’O’War and Seabiscuit, Ginger from Black Beauty. In fact it is an exercise in arrogance that I even label them PBH’s. Truly there is nothing mundane or common about them, for no living, sentient being should ever be categorized, nay discriminated against for the color of their hide. Yet here I am doing it. Holding out for the Dream Horse in living dapple grey Technicolor (ha, that isn’t even color, it is black and white mixed together like Dorothy in Kansas).

There are many ways to classify the PBH. Glorious, colorful descriptions all meant to better distinguish one PBH from other PBHs. Chestnut, sorrel, liver. Now a bay, there is an exotic step up, and a bay with black knees and white feet is beyond PBH. Even dun, dunskin or liver chestnut make for decorative adjectives, for what in the end is indeed a plain brown horse.

I should write a story about a PBH, a heroic, romantic PBH to compete with Hidalgo, and the Black Stallion. A PBH to replace Trigger and Silver in the publics’ conscience. The original Flicka was a PBH, only to be replaced with a black horse the likes of TV’s Fury. Did Hoss ride a PHB in the antiquated Bonanza? I rest my case.

Our first horses came as a pair: black Morgan gelding and flea bitten Arab mare, take it or leave it. We took it! We still have the Morgan. My second horse happened to black, but Dobby chose me as well. With a premature semi retirement for Dobby looming, I created a very specific list for my next, and perhaps last horse (if health and time are very good to us). Grey is on that list, but is not the first criteria.

Of course, two of my favorite R-Wild Horse Ranch horses are indeed PBHs and I would LOVE to own either of those grand equines. Actually, Quincy, in his twenties is older than I want, although still going strong. Scooter (I called him Wishy) is a magnificent chestnut mustang gelding with the look and bearing of his conquistador ancestors. His body and feet may hint at draft, but his head and neck say Spanish. The quadro-lube glide of his gaits murmur Cadillac.

I will continue searching for another trail buddy, arena colleague and round pen partner. A horse I can bond with, an equine looking for a herd leader. Soundness heads the list, with a big, eager walk on the trail. Temperament and work ethic a tandem second place; a horse that wants to get it right, and wants to be with me. We ride some pretty extreme trails and like to picnic with our horses. We play horse soccer and I want to do some jumping—not hunter/jumper, eventing stuff—barrels, low obstacles, fallen logs. I love grooming my horse and ‘spa’ time is a high priority. I don’t compete, don’t need a pedigree or high grade performance horse. Arab, Morgan, Quarter, Mustang, gaited or not, just a plain, good horse, is all I ask, who just happens to be dapple gray.

That said, may I never become so colorblind that I overlook my equine soul mate, if he happens to wear a plain brown wrapper.

DOBBY, WHAT NEXT?


DOBBY, WHAT NEXT?

There is always a risk buying living things. Some more altruistic beings believe it is immoral to buy or trade in sentient creatures—they may be right. My husband and I do buy or adopt-for-a-fee animals and strive to provide a quality, healthy home with dignity and love. A forever home is our goal, and in thirty-three years we have only re-homed three companion animals, all birds. Our beloved, Phydough is a canine senior citizen, waddling deafly through her days with ever increasing incontinence and cloudy eyes. She is happy to see us and even happier to be fed. Although her tail seems forever stuck at half staff, she wags it with subtle, underwhelming enthusiasm. She is ‘pack’.

Last summer I wrote with vigor and concern about my ‘new’ horse and ‘herd’ member. A little black, Arab gelding stole my heart with his adorable face and joy to have his own person once again. He was older than I wanted at 17-18. As a rescue, he came with little background. I named him Black Diamond; he was a girl’s best friend. Within a month, I realized his real name was Dobby, the resourceful and devoted house elf from Harry Potter. And so it was, and we enjoyed our time together on the trail, in the arena and especially at the ‘spa’ where I could lavish Dobby with all the grooming and foo foo we could tolerate. He was the most adorable horse. Adorable.

Hmmm… He has an incomplete Arab brand. I know he was born in a year ending in a “1”, 1981 or 1991, making him 16 or 26. In November he had his teeth floated and the vet said he was 23. Hmmm…

Winter was harsh this year. Platina got about 13-14 days of snow. This is nothing compared to the Midwest or Northeast, but for Platina—perhaps a record. None of the Ranch horses have blankets and most have no inside privileges. They live like ‘real horses’ growing wooly mammoth winter coats. Dobby has a coat like a rabbit pelt, thick and soft as down. It wasn’t enough. Along with his paddock mate, Mica Morgan, the hooligan food hoarder, Dobby was unable to get enough nutrition. Even with daily supplemental grain in a pen by himself, it wasn’t enough. Dobby withered to a bag of bones, a pathetic stick character of a horse, a threstal. He was stiff, almost sullen when asked to ride. Ever sweet and affectionate at liberty, he was not thriving.

Four months after proclaiming Dobby to be 23, the same vet said I had a 30 year old horse with significant arthritis in both front legs, the lameness extended down to the tips of his hard, black hooves. Dobby was--as I had worried--in chronic pain and starving. How does a horse go from 23 to 30 in four months??? How did a horse go from 17-18, to 23 to 30 in eight months? As most experienced horse people already know, after 15 yrs teeth become less accurate. There is a LARGE fudge factor. Other elements: nutrition, care, living conditions, become more significant. Most obviously, Dobby is a hard, hard keeper, an elder statesman deserving a relaxed and warm dining experience with no competition. I can picture him in a quilted silk smoking jacket by a fire lit hearth, a glass of vintage brandy glowing amber. On an end table a cut crystal bowl of rich, fortified alfalfa cubes. He is reading a book on the care and feeding of humans.

Happily, Dobby is back where we got him, at the “Fat Farm” in Hayfork under the direct care of the woman who rescued him once before. She still believes he in his teens, and no where near 30. In just two weeks of daily weight building vitamin and mineral supplements he is already perking up and running to the gate for his senior banquet. Once the weight is back on, we will try arthritis pain management—not to mask any injuries or infirmities, but to keep him comfortable. Then we will assess his future. I believe semi-retirement is lurking.

The best news is whether Dobby returns to active duty (with a hard keeper regimen and new roommate), limited service (flat work or short trails) or total retirement; he has a place to convalesce with full benefits at a reasonable price, hopefully for the rest of his life. What horse needs a gold watch? They know what time it is. Time for peace, eating, dignity and love.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vacation blog

Vacation Blog

Like any professional journalist, I have provided advance work in anticipation of my spring vacation. Not only three weeks advance posts, but this fourth entry to explain the profusion.

And oh, oh, oh, are the clichés and slang building up to…to…to…a molten core, forged on the crucible of Vulcan, purged by the mighty bellows of Hades to erupt upon the pages, brilliantly hot, scalding with fresh nuance.

That was close, “Critical mass” was on my finger tips, seeking release, but along with my other resolutions to further my writing career and firm up the ‘ol buttocks, I am abstaining from common clichés and other rote comparisons in continued honor of Janet Finch and other great literary geniuses. But, dang, clichés are hovering, waiting for any opportunity to sneak from the shadows, escape the rigors of captivity to once again lay upon the screen, black tuxedo with white tie, like the keys of a piano.

I weaken, like an addict stumbling on the stoop of a twelve step program. Seeking familiar voices, a favorite song no longer on the charts, fallen to ridicule and parody. Still the melody haunts. The addictive words chanted over and over again, pounding inside the skull with the persistence of a pitiless metronome. Give in to the easy answers, the vulgar, mindless phrases that bind us one to another, in familial lubrication of sound and sight. Create a secret, hidden blog, the addict thinks, indulge in all the forbidden lexicons, the short cuts to understanding, the labor saving devices of communication. Who will notice? There are no empty bottles to dispose of, no illicit contacts or pay off to be made. Type, type, type, slip, slip, slip, back to the mundane, the ordinary, worn furnishing, past their prime, still comfortable, but not worthy of the spot light or keener exploration.

This was a good exercise. Writing is like calling a sponsor when the pull of addiction is too strong. Help me be strong. Don’t let me slide back, keep me moving forward with conviction.

I digressed from my original thought, yet captured the essence through an entirely different path. So it is with writing, whether telling stories in fiction or distilling my own roiling thoughts and volatile emotions, the physical act of writing brings clarity, substance, and insight. (Wait, can I compare this to diamonds? The four C’s. I have the seed for another pearl of a blog).

I love to write!

More Horse Names

As I promised, more horse (or other companion animal names for that matter) names, because I like it, and because writing is therapeutic and allows the thought process to progress. Earlier I expressed the overwhelming storm of ideas pouring down, a gale force whipping me from one project to another. The pollen has settled and I patiently, selectively nurture each fragile petal to unfold and bloom, not to be scattered by the March breezes. I am a vigilant gardener of ideas and stories, guarding my beds from the invasive snails mauling and shredding, pools of stagnation and infestation or weeds like pop-ups, which spread with the speed of the DSL and cable internet.

The List, minus the Mustangs

Horse names

Wishy -- my first word, for ‘horsey.’ There is a horse at the Ranch with that knick name, because he was the first horse there I really, really wanted to own. It is still one of my first choices.


Gray Horses:

Garth – gelding, Eloise’s beloved stallion, Dahlquin

Glinda – mare, Wicked, Broadway

Celeste/Celesto/Celestia

Black Horses:

Sirius Black – gelding. Also Literary theme

Elphaba – mare, Wicked, Broadway theme

Mares:

Aldonza – Man of La Mancha, Broadway theme

Dulcinea - ditto

Glinda – Wicked, Broadway

Elphaba – Wicked, Broadway

Eliza Doolittle – My Fair Lady, Broadway

Eloise – Dahqluin herione

Arianna -- Dahlquin

Arabella -- Dahlquin

Nova – Dahlquin, means new (not no go)

Jane Austen – literary theme

Gabaldon – one of my favorite authors, Literary theme

Auel -- ditto

Kingsolver -- ditto

JK -- ditto

Rowling -- ditto

Gryffindor – Literary theme

Phillia – Funny Thing Forum, Broadway

Geldings:

Garth --Dahlquin

Artax – Roland’s horse, Dahlquin

Quixote – Broadway/Literary

Pseodollus – spelling?? Funny Thing forum/Broadway

Weasley -- Literary

Dickens -- ditto

Mr. Darcy – ditto (thanx Dani!)

Clavell -- ditto

McMurtry-Mac -- literary

Dune -- ditto

Roland -- Dahlquin

Val -- ditto

Hubert -- ditto

Lando -- ditto

Reginald -- ditto

Gryffindor -- literary

Ravensclaw -- ditto

Hufflepuff -- ditto

Slytherin -- ditto

Lonesome Dove -- ditto

Literary:

These are either favorite authors, or characters or book titles

Gabaldon

Auel

Dickens

Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy

Dune

Lonesome Dove

Whinny

Racer

Clavell

Tai Pan

Shogun

Mr. Perfect

Hazel

Fiver

Kingsolver

JK

Rowling

Harry Potter (duh)

Hermione

Sirius Black

Dobby (taken, my horse’s name)

Kreature (Mica’s nick name)

Winkie

Thestral – the winged horse things from Hogwart’s

Hedwig

Nimbus 2000

Firebolt

Quidditch

Seeker

Gems

Diamond

Jewel

Gem

Flint

Topaz (brown or gold)

Jade

Citrine (brown or palomino)

Ruby (roan or red)

Opal

Obsidian (black)

Emerald

Sapphire

Jasper (brown or red)

Carat

General all Round

Zippity Do Dah

Solstice (especially for palomino or light sorrel)

Solstyce (see above)

Equinox

Moondance (especially for black/white tobiano)

Christmas – every horse is a Christmas present!

Rhapsody

Melody

Cheval

Caballo

Buell -- motorcycle

Katoom – aka KTM

Kawaski – June’s mispronounciation

Power

Promise

Myriah

Romance

Casanova

Don Juan

Several of the Mustang names fit here as well:

Teacher

LOL

Treasure

Some may think I have too much time on my hands, listing and categorizing all these names. I see it as part of the process, being creative, playing with words, being a writer.

What's In A Name?

What’s in A Name?

A horse by any other name would smell as sweet. Montague and Capulet are great equine names. She was the best of mares, she was the worst of mares, she was a mare of wisdom, and a mare of foolishness. Lucy Manette might make a suitable name for someone’s horse. Ask a jellicle, names were vital, visceral to the cats of T. S. Elliot.

I love names, naming things. A creative process, fun and whimsical. Insightful and important. Naming a child is both glorious and intimidating. It is a lifetime commitment wrought with consequences and repercussions if done unsuccessfully. That is another blog entirely.

Companion animals, once known as pets, are a joy to name. I spend (waste?) hours thinking of monikers for an abundance of animals I will never have. Window shopping or internet shopping, filling my cart only to delete it before the final checkout.

Generally, I shun the obvious, childish over-used, clichéd names. No Spots, Brownies or Kings for me…unless, of course, it is exceptionally inventive. We have a dog, a pound hound, and her name is Phydough. When we tell people, they are always astounded to know someone actually, truly named a dog Fido. It is the ultimate generic dog name. We have a friend who had a dog named Phydeaux. Somewhere there could be a Phy Doe, in a witness protection plan, perhaps.

One of my latest obsessions has been the Mustang Makeover, a contest put on by the BLM to raise awareness of mustang and burro adoption. 30-100 trainers are chosen to train a wild mustang, fresh off the range, in 100 days, culminating with an exhibition and auction of the horses. Pretty neat! (another blog topic)

So, even before we have applied to participate, let alone be selected, I am already thinking of names for my wild steed. And while I was at it, I just had to make a list of many horse names I would consider. It will be an ongoing endeavor, because I’m a nut case. Remember a blog I did about writers block and too many ideas…?

What are these wild and crazy names I am so eager to share? Gathee ‘round.

Since the Western States mustangs are gathered from Nevada, a few names acknowledge the Silver State: Elko, Winnemucca (actually used last year!), Silver State (duh). Reno and Vegas are too obvious for me, although I do like Ranger, go figure. Let’s move on to desert theme names: Prairie Dog, especially for a buckskin or brown horse, Prairie Fairy for a petite mare or a draft cross giant; Conejo or Coyote. ‘Tang (minus the ‘mus’) is good; Fairal, Pherral, or Farrelly are fun (as in feral); Treasure, because horses are just that. How about G-Man, because these animals are Government Issue. Gensis or Eden because it is a new beginning. LOL, as in Labor of Love as well as Laugh out Loud is appropriate, and along those sentimental thoughts, I like Teacher, because horses educate us. Centadias, my Latin is poor, but it should mean 100 Days—that is the assignment. Because Russ and I already have horses named for gems/minerals (Mica and Black Diamond, aka Dobby), the geologic theme names are: Topaz, Citrine, Opal, Garnet, Gem, Flint, Obsidian, Jasper and Carat. Perhaps less generic than Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald.

I’d sure love to hear other ideas and the meanings, because it is a pleasure to ruminate on. Obviously I need help with Latin. For additional names and the themes, look for more blogs. I’m on a roll.

A horse is a horse, is a horse, is a horse, but the names we bequeath should be significant in some way; memorable, appropriate, meaningful, thought-provoking, perhaps humorous and fun. It is an opportunity to share something of ourselves and how we relate the lives around us.

Writers Block

This post should have preceded the former...oh well.


Writers block

Back in December and January I had my first glimmer of writers block. And it was not what I thought it would be at all. Somehow I always envisioned writers block (WB) to be the inability to think of anything to write. A loss for words. No creativity. A blank canvas.

Ha, WB comes in many forms, and can be quite insidious if dwelled upon. Thank goodness for antidepressants, counseling and family and friends.

My affliction came in the form of intimidation, insecurity, a veil of doubt that I was unworthy and foolish to consider myself an author of some consequence. Lack of words, failing creativity, no. Not even fear of rejection. That is easy, I say please, they say no thanks…next. But the stifling, choking dread of rejecting myself. And since “It’s All About Me” that is paralyzing. Self-rejection. (Imagine your hand saying “No, thanks, I’m turning in early. Ask Lefty.”)

In my continuing endeavors to grow and expand my skill and knowledge of the historical novel market, I have spent some time on the Amazon historical forum I discovered at the bottom of World Without End, Ken Follett’s October 9 release. Bet there are more forums about literary, contemporary, mysteries, etc. I could be doing further research for Rainmocker and Cabs for Christ…but that would take even more time from writing them!

Given the 30 or so active people on this forum and the diversity of tastes in the genre, it has shaken me up a bit, reminding me with the undeniable clarity of a 2 x 4 between the eyes that getting published is as ephemeral as the smoke from the proverbial pipe dream, not to mention the obligation of satisfying a strong and loyal fan base of avid readers. Not only Is It All About Me, but I Want it all! I want to write what I love, have others love it as much as I do, and have the best sellers to fund more writing. Please and thank you.

Whining and venting aside, Roland and Eloise beckon, there are wolf cubs to feed, a bear scratching his massive behind on a tree and an anxious steward longing to sleep in his own bed come nightfall. The horses are nickering, welcoming me with armloads of hay…oh the rich life of a fiction writer. Eloise will be rubbing her back, weary from a days hard ride, the endless questions posed by her charges, complaints and rain. Is her mother well? The harvests have been good, and so the burgeoning populace. How will they all eat? Will the stores last? The friendly nickering and soft breath of the horses warm her heart, lifting her spirit as only communion with God’s most noble creature can. “Aye, you great looby,” she sighs, seeing to their feeding, one more step, another chore complete.

Focus, Focus, Focus

Focus, focus, focus.

I have discovered another form of writer’s block. Too many ideas. An abundance of projects all beckoning, luring me from “Dahlquin” and “Rainmocker.” Two weeks before the spring equinox, warm sun sparkles across the bay, gleaming through my dirty windows. Sunglasses are required to behold the dazzling white blooms on the plum trees, an avalanche precariously perched on thin branches in optimism and pure defiance of the whims of nature. Anything can happen in March. And indeed rain is predicted for this coming weekend.

So many commitments, I have promised myself to get back into shape and have returned to swim aerobics three times a week…so far so good! A page a day is my new credo, thanks to Cathy and the Tuesday Afternoon Red Pencil Society (emails not included); and I have relished this assignment, moving forward with “Rainmocker” in the least painful way.

And--I have challenged myself to keep a weekly blog, with the discipline and obligation of an employed journalist. Thoughts, ideas and creative juices flow through me with the unguided force of winter rains washing down hillsides, uprooting the flora and fertile soil, rushing to fill the previously dry arroyos, devoid of bloom or blade, then depositing them haphazardly causing more flooding, more erosion. I try to keep my head above this torrent. Grab a branch, jot down the idea before another wave of energy, born of imagination and dreams takes me down another yet vacant gulch, thirsting in this bountiful season.

Focus, I command. Follow through. With so many ideas and plans twinkling and sparkling, stars within my grasp; only if I concentrate. I am a chocoholic in Belgium, on a budget, with a deadline. Focus: write the outline, start a list, “Save as”. Motivation I have. Like a child at an Easter Egg hunt, sturdy basket clutched tightly in my eager hand, I run back and forth, my eyes seeing more than my fingers can manipulate. Faster, faster, before the eggs are gone, before they disappear into another basket. Gone. Focus, consider the contents of the basket and savor the treasure I have.

This weeks blog complete, I will contemplate the unfinished works, the “B” Word, Horse Names and the Next Big Project, with all its details and unknowns, the Mustang Makeover (check it out on-line). A short story idea, “Gold” and all the details and business of publication. Did I mention I have a family?

And yes, what would Eloise do? Remember her, my spunky Irish protagonist? After complaining vigorously of the injustice of having to work on such a beautiful day, she would glumly set herself to task, and ultimately get the job done—then saddle up!

We will be on Spring Break the 14-24 of March. Enjoying our time at the R-Wild Horse Ranch in Platina, California. www.R-Wild Horse Ranch, there are several web sites.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Janet Finch as inspiration

Along with all the changes, plans and resolutions that have come in with 2008, I have been pleasantly encouraged to set a weekly deadline for my blog. Accepting this challenge I will treat it as an assignment with punctual entries. Along with a page a day, regular swim aerobics or other adequate exercise, and renewed vigor for community service (not the judicially imposed kind, thank you very much).

Inspired by Janet Finch’s “White Oleander” I am seeking prosaic ways to describe things without standard clichés (so very handy and time saving in contemporary writing).

With the wisdom of half a century, I am guiding myself through yet another of life’s hormonal shifts; tectonic plates pulling away from each other, ripping deep, jagged chasms only to clash with equal pressure, colliding and forcing one plate to explode up while the other is ground down, buried, lost. Our cycles crest and fall, perhaps lap gently, eventually dwindling down to a trickle before vanishing in the arroyo of great maturity.

Trusting myself, I squint into the dark corners, either to embrace the natural beauty of the cobwebs, or dust away the old and neglected to feel the lightness that liberation brings. There was healing, comfort and rejuvenation in the sheltered recesses, the thick, warm blanket, familiar and worn, like seeds or bulbs waiting below the surface, storing their life force. The time is right because I say it is. I believe in myself.

Back to the real world, I’m sweating bricks. That was hard work, and Janet Finch has nothing to fear from me. More importantly, did anyone get it? What was I saying—in the proverbial nutshell? (answers provided below) I will continue to be inspired, and to exercise the muse. In my historical fiction books, I try to avoid clichés because of the contemporary imagery and slang implications. It will be an interesting challenge writing my legal drama, of light literary caliber, as I enjoy the feel and authenticity in my protagonist’s voice. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps, I will discover my true voice.

Answers:

First paragraph: teen angst to PMS to menopause…

Second paragraph: I needed a kick in the *** to get off my sorry ***

Class dismissed.