A Slow Motion Wreck Driving Morgen Toward Dreaded Cows

IMG_0104The first thing Kathryn Barry told me when Morgen and I arrived for training at Klaus’s was to gather a spares kit. She listed zip ties, carabiners, electric tape, hole punch, wrench, halter and lead, knife. I gathered my things, including a fancy dancy hole punch, heavy enough to make holes in biothane. I also thought of adding bolts for hooking the shafts to the carriage.

The day I invited my friend to ride along, we were trotting a good cadence, when a deer jumped out of the corn. He was lovely red, bounding across the road and soybeans into more corn. I brought Morgen to a stop, to let her look. And look she did. Beyond that the dreaded cows. She didn’t want to go forward. And was weaving across the road, back and forth, like I’ve seen her when she’s afraid to pass something.

IMG_0107But it wasn’t her. It was the bolt gone, the shaft pulled away. I got out and stood with her. My friend headed back up the road to find it. We were close to a farm and I figured they might have a bolt we could use to get back home, since my spares were sitting on the chair in the stove room. I walked Morgen to their driveway pulling the wagon by one shaft. By then it had broken completely off.

Yup, my common sense veered straight away. I should have unhitched. Yup I did not see that the bolt gone, because it is well hidden behind the birds eye maple dashboard. And yup I pushed Morgen too hard to walk up to the cows before I asked Gayla to lead her past them. How do you apologize to a horse, especially when they were right and honest and good? And I know darn well she has learned something that isn’t so good for my skill.

There is something to be said for positive reinforcement training, for its focus on what the horse is doing right and the thoughtfulness, giving horses the benefit of the doubt, focusing on reward. But there is also something to be said for being very clear about when the horse is right, with lavish praise, but when they refuse to listen, being clear about that too. The skilled trainers who have worked with her this way have brought Morgen and I to a place where we can have a conversation through driving. But I feel caught in a crevice, holding myself up by my arms outstretched, the rock scraping my sides.  I weave from side to side in my thinking about this, just like Morgen when the bolt broke loose, just like Morgen when she does not want to go forward and the cows are way off in the distance.

Finally, I unhitched. Mind you this mare was in a door yard, with dreaded calves a few yards away, and the farmer’s son grinding feed. I unlatched one shaft but Morgen walked around me. I saw that was a dangerous move, so I asked her to stand. She stood still, while I re-buckled the shafts and undid the harness in proper order. She stood still I tell you, even though she was wound pretty tight. Klaus said later that it’s pretty amazing she tolerated pulling the cart from side to side with one shaft. She is one amazing little horse.

IMG_0108We walked the long walk home, but it was still a beautiful day, the beauty of our humble, neighborhood farms, pleading with me to join the party despite my sore feet and disappointment in myself, at how I’d lost my common sense, at how I’d not been a fair trainer.

Morgen, the mare who bucked in hand, walked quietly beside me. (Klaus suggested we walk up to the cows in hand, that the bucking is no longer true.) When we passed the Peterson’s cows, I could feel her relax with me between them and her. I slipped her a carrot to show her: this, this is what I want.

There’s something about living in a neighborhood where people will help. I saw our neighbors’ teen sons out mowing their lawn and asked if they could help us load the carriage back on the truck at the dairy farm where we left it. It’s a job keeping it straight on the planks, and easier with more people guiding the wheels. The owner of the dairy farm, suggested a fabricator in town who had repaired his combine. He was taken aback by the weakness of the steel, but maybe it’s aluminum. I promised my husband’s homemade pie when I dropped the boys off.

IMG_0100Bruce stopped at a welder’s shop on his way home and we took the cart and shafts over there, when the fabricator didn’t answer the phone. The welder looked at it and said, yes he could fix it right then and there. He welded the barrel back onto the shaft and said the same thing, that the steel seemed awfully flimsy, as well as how small the bolts to hold the horse to the carriage. He reinforced it with a rod inside and suggested nylon threaded bolts.

I said, “I didn’t react very well to this. I didn’t notice it was off. I should have had my friend go up to the farm and ask for a bolt instead of looking for it. I should have carried my spares. Tie wraps might have worked.”

“You don’t always think straight when things go wrong unless you’re highly trained like firefighters or police.” He said it kindly.

This day I had been touched by kindness–the kindness of my friend who didn’t hold this slow motion wreck against Morgen and I, who walked that three miles back to our farm in good spirits and came with me to help me load the carriage, and the kindness of our neighbor’s sons who came along to help, and the farmer who let us park in his yard, and this welder. He offered to make the repair for nothing, but Bruce told me to write a check that I upped by ten dollars.

IMG_0097It’s the kindness of my own husband, stopping by the welder’s shop in the first place that struck me the most, and his willingness to see the shaft repaired. This is just a new conversation between Morgen and I, a mere hobby. But I’ve said before that I brought horses into my life to help me do battle spiritually, and that’s what they’ve done, superbly well. They’ve helped me dig into my own soul, seeing it for what it is, and maybe even welding some broken places.  I carry myself with the confidence. Even hobbies take a community. And I can’t tell you how pleased I am that Bruce is enjoying this conversation because I tell you, the views from our carriage are stunning.

I’ve linked this to Kelli Woodford’s link up. Her blog this week is beautiful, about just plain being in this glorious world of ours.

Posted in Horses | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Driving Morgen Home


Friday, June 20:

Morgen honored me today, the last day before the world tips as close as she can get to the sun, and then starts swaying away, dropping us towards darkness and winter. I’d taken a week off from training and was worried that she’d go deep inside herself and be hard sided. I wondered if she would go so deep that she would not remember me.

But she came up to the paddock fence when I walked up and then called, when I disappeared around the corner. When she has her voice I know she is closer to the horse I will bring home, because at home she talks all the time, often calling from over the fence.

She has been mostly quiet. I don’t blame her because I feel the same way, settling into a calm, where I don’t need to say much. Neither one of us wants to step wrong, say or do the wrong thing. And she’s not close to any horses like she is to Tessie.

That Friday it was hard getting in the car and driving away from my house that is a mess. I have desks to clear from school, an annual report to write, and a fat inbox to answer before I can lean into promoting my novel.

Klaus said she was very nervous going out on the road. She was looking and tense and heavy in the bridle, not the same horse that was in the field. “I didn’t see that when I drove her last fall,” I said. My heart sank as I thought she’d need many more weeks of road driving before she came home. And the daily hour long drive was wearing me out.

He gave me the reins and we turned left onto the road. We headed towards the busy intersection of Business 20. I felt rusty, driving Morgen like a drunken sailor, turning her left, then right. Klaus has said she is harder to steer the slower she goes. She bowed around a mailbox but stopped and stood as we waited for cars to pass.

When we got to 20, Klaus lead her across the road. When he stopped, he patted her, told her what a good horse she is. She listened carefully, enjoying the praise. We  walked down and up a hill until we got to the bridge over bypass 20, the four lane I speed in on.

He lead her across the bridge over Rte 20, trucks and motorcycles roaring underneath. I’m not sure he did it for her benefit or mine as I have never liked bridges, all that air underneath and rumors of cracked concrete. I think of the mule I rode in the Grand Canyon, how the bottom was worse than the top as we hung out over the Colorado river, the cliff straight up, the water straight down, until we got to the bridge and the terrible feeling the mule might jump. Other riders talked about suicidal mules and I had to wonder if they were telling us something. Morgen, on the other hand, has good instincts, bowing away from deep ditches.

But with me she softened and relaxed. She did not slam hard against the bit. She drove like she drove in the field, listening, attentive. When I asked her to walk on, she stepped more lively. Oh my. She really does trust me. I really do make a difference to this horse. There is hope that maybe I can drive her without Klaus, on my own, because I’m her person, not his.

Klaus told me about a horse he sold that acted fine until several months down the road when he started bucking. The woman sent him back and Klaus sold him to another person. The same thing happened, the horse getting worse, even with other trainers. But when the horse came back to him, he behaved because he knew Klaus and trusted him. He praises the horses so generously, but if they step out of line, he sets the boundary. He says, It works best for horses to be black and white.

Morgen honored me by relaxing, by showing her trust. Sure she looked at things but she wasn’t heavy in the bridle. She wasn’t afraid because I am the person she trusts. It wasn’t Klaus that reassured her, but me. He said he couldn’t think of a saner horse for me. “You made two good decisions. The first to buy her. The second not to sell her.”

June 23

I was running late, shell shocked by the arrival of my novel, my actual novel, on my doorstep, my mind numb. The book had been sent out to anyone who pre-ordered it. It felt like people arriving for dinner and my kitchen was a mess, toilets unflushed, cat box redolent. People said to be happy, but I felt unsettled, deeply unsettled and frozen. It’s a big difference, my book gone from a sheaf of paper in a notebook, to a lines of words between two covers, and beautiful itself.

We were driving Morgen around the field and I asked Morgen to drop from a trot to a walk and she stopped but I didn’t even see it, I was so far away. Klaus said something. He said it again, “Did you hear me? Did you ask her to stop?” My mind was so far gone I barely understood what he was saying. We drove around the field a time or two more and quit for the day.

But the thing is, Morgen took care of me, gave me a good drive, even though I wasn’t much there. I was told last fall that she was dangerous, that she’d take advantage when my mind blanked, and to be honest, I saw that myself, when I trained her, if my mind left, she’d tug on my sleeve, pull me back. I was asked over and over, Do you trust her?

July 2

The clouds congealed into a rain storm so soft, the valleys blurred. Then the rain faded. We drove left towards the Pecatonica River. Morgen picked up her trot, to avoid mosquitoes that clustered on her cheek and hind legs. The air was cool and she moved out, leaning into the harness, especially when we drove in the grass. Her butt bounced up and down, up and down, a lovely cadence.

“She must be getting fitter, that she wants to trot this much,” Klaus said. “You’ve come up in my estimation,” he said to her. I’d told him she was a lot of horse at home. But in training, she’s quiet to the point of lazy. (I think because she’s out all the time, when I bring her in at night, and because she was missing her place. I think horses are rooted to their ground, more than we think. They are creatures of specific pastures, barns, companions. I saw this when Tessie ran up nickering when I brought her home. And Morgen called back to her. She had missed her friend.)

“It’s good I she’s been lazy to build my confidence, for when she is more forward.” (This mare trots or canters from one end of the paddock to another at home.) Because the weather was cooler, her walk was more forward, and she stayed along the right side of the road without me pulling her there. Klaus reminded me to loosen my reins, especially on the right. “If  you keep a tight rein, then their mouth gets harder and you have to increase your strength or make the bit more severe.” I leaned back against the seat and put my hands on my lap, took a very light feel of her mouth. I laughed when she jumped over some mud.

We joked about her going into the trot zone (why they calld her dangerous last fall) because neither one of us saw it. We saw her listening to my voice, even turning without contact when I said left or right.

July 4


When I left, Klaus said not to hitch Morgen if we had a wreck, to call him first. Well, all right. He said to drive her at least two times a week.

We hitched her July 4 morning, my first time driving her without Klaus behind me, lending his confidence to us both, the day glorious with blue sky and clouds that did not congeal into rain.

Ever since we moved here seven years ago, I’ve wanted to drive a horse around the five mile loop, but the dream died. Trainers before this were too harsh and if that’s what it took to drive a horse, I didn’t want it. I sold my  harness and my stock trailer, and gave up the dream, even though I had a vision of driving Morgen out the driveway at sunset, while I lay still, and claustrophobic in an MRI tube. I could hear the carriage creaking, hear her footsteps, see the sun throwing gold light.

Besides there are tough things for my horses–cattle, mules, donkeys, railroad tracks, traffic. I didn’t dare show them to either mare while leading them, afraid I’d be dragged or Morgen’s bucking in hand would nail me.

Somehow this dream found me. I could tell you the details–being at wit’s end with positive reinforcement training, seeing how Morgen was worse off (in some ways) than when I started it two years earlier and calling Bob Long, asking for help, and finding a young trainer, Jake, who built confidence in Morgen and began to show me what a sane, sound mind she does have. And then coming to Klaus Biesenthal where I could take lessons every day because he’s right, it’s my confidence that needed building not hers. I think that’s what Klaus affirmed the most, that I have good instincts and reflexes to know what to do. I’ve learned that I have to trust myself,  to do right by Morgen and if I trust myself, she will draw on my confidence, will move past what frightens her and settle back down.

Since everyone was going to be at the parade I figured we’d have a quiet drive. We pulled out of the driveway and walked on a loose rein down the road. And Morgen met her challenges well. She looked at the neighbors’ cattle, but not much more, crossed the tracks just fine, and didn’t skitter to the side when Jumbo’s mules trotted to the fence.  She got strong in the trot when some dogs barked behind a fence, but I held her, braking the carriage, let the reins out when we were past. She flinched when a guy shot his twenty-two, but that’s all. She got strong when the neighbors’ donkey brayed, but calmed down. (By Jumbo’s farm and Dale’s farm the road becomes a gauntlet for Morgen, but she walks through it, looking, strong in the bridle, but listening.  Most of the time I drove her with my hands in my lap, my back against the seat, the contact light.)

“Well, what do you think?” I asked Bruce.

“It’s enjoyable.”

I sighed with happiness because this is a way he can enjoy the horses; this is something fun we can do together. And it was glorious, the trees bordering the fields, the clouds and sky radiant.

Do you trust her? Yes, I do. Does she trust you? Seems so, yes.


Today I’m linked up at Kelli Woodford’s place.


Posted in Horses | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Notes on my lumpectomy

The full moon straddling two days, June 12 and Friday the 13, offered enough mystery to spook me as I headed to surgery, well procedure. But oh it was beautiful last night rising over the tree, the clouds buffering it, in pastel grays and purples. I wanted a picture, to look but knew the camera would only show a dot.

Continue reading

Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Notes on Morgen’s Driving Training

IMG_0050Klaus said that you get what you expect. If you expect nothing to go wrong, it won’t. He so fully believes in the horse and the human, we start to believe it’ll be all right too. He calls Morgen docile. He has said that I did two things right. One was to buy her. The second was to decide not to sell her.  And sell her, well I almost did a year ago.

H142786She and Tessie were fighting to injury. Every time I tried to work with her she hassled me.  Several trainers, a vet, my riding buddies, all confirmed I should sell. Think of the horse. Don’t put any more money into her. Just cut your losses.

But Bruce saw my tears and said, You are not selling her. You can’t bear it. A friend of a friend said don’t you dare sell that horse. She is very bonded to you. She loves you. You don’t get that every day. The old saying, this horse could hurt me, melted because I realized she had not. Our relationship changed. I saw, I saw, I saw that while she seemed unpredictable to me, I’d been unpredictable to her.

We started driving training last fall and picked it up again this spring over in Freeport, with Klaus Biesenthal, who believes in making friends with your horse.  And I am amazed at how she likes this work, how she will throw herself into the harness going up a hill. She has started to swing her hips instead of dogging it. But then again Klaus said I could continue my positive reinforcement work because it’s how I will work with her at home. I have shown him how she will back into the shafts. She has settled enough so her sides have lightened, she has started neighing again, there is bounce in her walk.

Yesterday a kid let lovely German Shepherds loose in our field. They swooped up to us. Though Morgen looked, she kept walking, kept her head. The other day Klaus threw a rock in the weeds and Morgen jumped so hard she lifted the front end of the carriage off the ground. She startled in place and settled back to an ear flopping walk. Klaus says I am a cool customer. But what I like about driving is that she doesn’t smell the fear on my breath. What I like is that I don’t feel her fear shooting up through my body. I can speak peace to her. I can breathe. I can think what to do.

IMG_0001This mare listens so well, she is moving off my voice into a trot and into a whoa. She will turn right and she will turn left when I speak the words. We are good friends, I tell you. If positive reinforcement training did nothing else, it made us friends. It gave us a conversation while she grew up.

Klaus is pleased with my reflexes, but those come with practice from riding Tessie, from flinching when the wind catches a branch. They come from watching the smallest sign of a startle.

We’re teaching Morgen to follow her nose and I’m learning half halts on the outside rein and holding her to the inside rein so she walks straight. I give slack when she walks straight. It’s not often I am this good at something, without hard, tear filled work. I can feel myself relax as I lean back against the seat.

IMG_0059He says she is the perfect horse for me, a horse he would trust with his life. And so I will trust mine to her and hers to me.  I think about the old words that offer ointment for blindness, and how I have begged to see straight. Thank God I waited until my fear cleared and Morgen settled.

She is a whole different horse than last year–calm, happy. I’m told I’ve done something right. Both of us are drawing confidence from Klaus, liking this work, listening to the creak of the carriage like God’s footsteps on wood.


Posted in Horses | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fragments about Planting and Harvest and What Comes in Between



I watch the earth boil and break

bright green pushing up

row upon row,

an army risen to stand at attention

until its cut.

Wheat shoots and soybeans

push up clods of dirt,

as much miracle as corpses

shoving back dirt

to haunt the sunlight.

Babies roll over boulders

open tombs where I sit, weep,

wait for the farmer

to tell me what it means.



But then there’s this: IMG_0022The wind shifted and blew chemical into our yard. I felt like I’d been swung out on a ride flipping me up then down, queasy, angry. It burned my face. I could taste it. I watched him spray all the way up to the tree I look to, every morning and evening when I walk out to do chores. The smell hung in our yard the next morning. The clover on the edge of our field wilted. People say it’s great to live out in the country. Well, these days not so much.

I asked about the danger at a party of neighbors. An older woman said, “Everybody does it.” And I clamped my mouth shut and crossed my arms. I don’t want to make trouble. The folks who work the land around here are neighbors (and there is more love, more community here, than you’d think that word represents.)

On the other hand, don’t these women care that it’s estrogenic?  That it can make breast cancer? That it kills the biome? People post their memes on Facebook about bio-engineered food and the evils of Monsanto. I don’t know about that. I’ve heard there is poor science in some. But I do know, how sick I feel when this stuff is laid down. I do know my brain doesn’t work well, when I’m here. Neither does Bruce’s. It’s supposed to be safe. It’s not supposed to make you ill. But I wonder how many diabetic farmers there are. How many wives and daughters have breasts gone sour. When, I wonder, when, will the ground say, “No, no more?”

I stopped over at the other neighbor’s place, since our house sits in the middle of corn and soybeans and we’re due for another dose from his side. He was working on his spray buggy, water dripping down to the gravel driveway. I asked if he could give us a call when he sprays. This is worse than the manure that can be so strong it will ruin a load of laundry hung out to dry. (The EPA will hear my call about the slurry, but I’m not so sure about the chemical. I have not called. These are my neighbors.)

“I’m careful,” he said.

“I know. But I want to put the animals inside, close up our house.” I did not say I’m due for a lumpectomy, that the docs say is pre-cancer, and the docs pat themselves on the back, saying this is why we do mammograms–to catch this early. And I have to stop myself from saying I’ve got cancer because they say it’s not, and I am not so sure.

When the surgeon’s office called for presurgery instructions, they asked me what drugs I’m on. Well, this and that, but really not much more than vitamins. But I should have added glycophosate. Doctors shrug when I ask if there’s an effect. “We don’t know.” But studies are showing there is a link to the breast cancer susceptible to hormones. Maybe I’ll call back and add this to the list. One of my Facebook friends, a neighbor a few roads over, asked me the other day, how I was doing. I said, “Fine. Morgen’s in training. I finished copy editing the book.”

“No I mean your health. I’m praying for you.”

And I breathed in silence, for the care coming my way that I didn’t even know was there.

IMG_0052So let me end with another poem. (The jar of wheat shows up in The River Caught Sunlight.  These two poems are from an unpublished poetry collection, I called The Grieving Dreams, that was the second draft of River and the last time I played with poems before I turned to sentences, because I like them more than lines.)




The first summer Mr. Miller planted winter wheat,

he brought us a jar with a red rose on the lid

full of seeds smooth as fannies. He handed them

to my mother to show her what he would be planting.


She said yes seeds were good as kittens to teach

her children about life. The first day I took

Social Studies, we read about store-bought bread.

I told the teacher I knew about the wheat part.

“Just read the page,” she said.


Before harvest, we drove to church and stopped

past our lawn. In a fog, spiders wove webs

like Queen Anne’s lace as far back as the woods.

I would have begged my parents to stop and watch

until the sun if I’d known the webs would break.

Posted in Reflections on the ground, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Wind Blew So Hard (A Poet’s View on a Biopsy)



The wind blew so hard it sucked my breath and rattled my heart. I pushed hard to walk around the corner of the barn. It was like carrying two buckets of water every time I walked outside. When I finished chores, I watched a turkey buzzard drop off the barn roof and lift high, sketching the currents by how the wind carried her, overhead, over the trees. She was reaching for the oaks. She hovered overhead a long time. An omen? The Holy Spirit using brown feathers to show how she blows where she will, like Jesus said?

Or just a predator fighting the wind, aiming for a new place to settle. The sun stared back, faded behind the all day clouds. We’ve had some hard news here on this farm.

Bruce had picked some daffodils, stuck them in a plastic cup, and set them on the counter. When I came inside, I changed the cup out for a glass vase I remembered while dusting . IMG_0010

Before sleep, I took the dogs out and blessed the closeness of the night, the stillness. The air no longer beat us up. Fog blurred the neighbors’ farm and the moon was a bare shadow of light.


Did you know a woman’s breast looks like a sun rise over earth, what astronauts see when you look at a digital x ray? I wondered about halos and auras and if the machine was showing mine. I sometimes see that silver on wet clover when the sun is behind me. The radiologist said, “Look there. We need to take those out, tiny bits of calcium.” I said, “We’re soaked in Round Up where we live. All our pines have died.”

“I’ll see you next week,” he said.

I wonder if the earth hurts like a woman does, when we make her lie still and drive our wells into her, drawing up water, oil, gas, things we live by, and some we treasure like diamonds. We bruise her I think.

Doc said he got a good sample, of the tiny shells, those calcifications that danced in a circle, close to my chest.

Even though I had to drop my breast through a hole that looked like the seat in the outhouse, the whole thing was an exercise in kindness. I lay facing this marvelous picture of a Japanese garden during autumn. I wanted to look and breathe, while he drove the core, seeking those fossils, but the nurse tried to talk to me about my job and blocked my view. I’d gone deep into myself.

Tessie Crossing Water

Tessie Crossing Water

They asked if I was all right. Well, no, I am sad. This hurts. My war horse, might be crippled, the mare I brought home to ride into spiritual battle, has lost a little sense in her hind legs. I think about the horses buried with their warriors and see the ancients’ sense. Is she going? Am I? So my eyes seeped when Doc came into my line of sight, saying he had to make sure he’d caught the shells, he’d be right back. Yes, he’d gotten a good sample, nearly all of them. “I have to place a sliver of titanium to mark where I’ve been.”  His eyes were kind. “Are you all right?”


The nurse said, “It’s not cancer, but you need surgery because the cells are changing and will become cancer. They need to come out.”

I blinked in the bright white light of the conference room. I thought of my cells auditioning for the lead role of horsing up my life, but we nixed their chances.

“This is why we do mammograms. It’ll take about a month to get the surgery done. It’s not an emergency. We’ll look at the cells even closer.”

“Thank everyone for their kindness.” I mumble something. about the beautiful picture.

IMG_0445I am relieved. I’ve brushed up against tumors a few other times, one in my colon, another in my uterus, some lesions in my brain. I’ve numbered my days, and though it’s supposed to teach wisdom, I’m not sure it’s done much more than depress me. My mother died when she was sixty. How do I live past that number? I’m line bred on cancer and heart trouble and dementia. I wonder if these cells are going awry, what others might? The nurse said this will do it, and I’ll be done. But I wonder if my increasing addiction to Diet Coke, or the Round Up our neighbors spray every year, or sugar have set my body off. I wonder if I need to buckle down and practice thanks, or let the wad of grief unravel into a proper tears instead of chocolate and Diet Coke. Mostly I wonder how long the surgery will hold me back from my summer, riding Tessie, driving Morgen.


I talked to the vet today about Tessie’s illness. She has tested mildly positive for Lyme and he wants to treat her with doxycycline for thirty days. She also has markers for EPM, a protozoa that wrecks horses neurologically. He named her numbers: SAG 1 is 16, SAG 5 is 32 and Sag 6 is 64. Anything over 4 shows her reaction to the protozoa. Her C Reactive Protein is 18. “Something is causing inflammation<” he said. “EPM can be a subclinical disease that horses can have for years. I know one that has had it for fourteen.” It’s not just horses wobbling off their hindquarters. I asked him to check because I’ve noticed her stumbling when I ride and her trot doesn’t feel right. Bruce said it didn’t look right. When the vet set her hind leg down, it stayed crossed behind the other. She was wonky when he pulled her tail. I am left with much hope.

Linking with the Unforced Rhythms Community.




Posted in Horses, Reflections on the ground | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

To Honor the Blood Moon

Here are two poems I wrote, that I thought I’d share to honor the Blood Moon last night. My brother died the summer there were signs in the sky–Auroras you could draw down close by singing, because they rippled over the midwest an eclipsed moon, and a sun that burned up the fields.


The moon yelped so loud I woke.
“Don’t lose yourself in shadow,”
I cried but the moon was so loud
my dog howled an ancient voice,
the neighbor’s coon bayed,
toms caterwauled, mules brayed,
horses whinneyed and stomped
hearing it whine, answering back,
but they could not keep the shadow
from draping it, cutting its cry.

Continue reading

Posted in Reflections on the ground | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Forget You’re Beautiful


I choose a particular stall in the woman’s rest room at Holmes Student Center, where I take those few private minutes to relieve myself. When students stand me up or we finish early, I walk away from the table, get my blood moving.


It is a weary task, a good task to sit down with student papers and show them how they can make them better. Lately I’ve checked off sentences that don’t work so well and ask students to find out why and to fix it. Is the run on a complete thought? I’m finding this works.

One woman whose thoughts were not clear, who ran sentences together like so many bumper cars, whose verbs didn’t alway agree, is working hard. Her voice is coming through her sentences. Her last paper, her last paper, well she made it sing with her voice, her authority and her sentences began and ended where they needed to.

Continue reading

Posted in Horses, Spirituality, Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

So the Land Can Be Calm

IMG_0303The other night, when I walked the dogs it was so dark and so still, I could almost touch the air. Wind, trucks on the main road, jets over head, usually clutter the night with noise. We stopped to listen, but it wasn’t coyotes we heard howling, but my neighbor grieving her dog. It was so still, I wonder if the night itself hushed to remember the neighbors’ dog, an old farm guy they kept chained by their machine shed during the day, kept in a stall at night. He’d slipped on ice. Our neighbors could not take him to the vet because he bites and their vet would not come to him for the same reason. They said he lived to be twelve, old for a German Shepherd.

Continue reading

Posted in Horses, Reflections on the ground | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Snow melt and blessing

IMG_0512I was talking on the phone with Hal Fickett about what to do next  with social media. I hired him a few weeks ago to keep me focused because my book being published along with teaching my students and working with my horses and being a wife and chores, well it gets pretty overwhelming, so much so, I scurry to Facebook because it’s easier to read than to do the next thing. I have admired his work with Frank Schaeffer on several levels. (He’s made some gorgeous websites for him.) He’s doing a good job keeping me focused and helping me tune this site.


Continue reading

Posted in Reflections on the ground, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment