Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Gloomy days call for action

I will admit it:  I suffer form Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depressionwinter bluessummer depression or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter. (wikipedia.com)

I asked google how many gray, not necessarily rainy, days we'd had in North Mississippi in the last six weeks.  Google did not know. So today, the umpteenth gray day in a row, I fought back. I got up in my gloomy house, put dogs out in the drizzle. Got myself dressed, and went to town. With no real plan. I shopped at some of my favorite boutiques in town:  Cotton Treasures, Merle Normal, and Walmart, the ultimate boutique where I found some stretchy, cheap, boot cut riding jeans.  Yes, I have hopes that I will ride again.

But my new horse, who has given me more hope that you can imagine, was bogged in her small lot which had come to resemble the La Brea Tar Pits.  I moved her to a training facility so her feet would feel better while Howard and I, mainly Howard, worked on a bigger fenced area for her and another horse coming soon.(She has a special history and will be featured on a future blog.)

Following my shopping frenzy, I met one of my best friends for lunch at Applebees. This friend, one I've had since junior high, is good for my soul, so I needed her today. We got to know each other on the band bus in junior high on a trip to Georgia.  We were assigned the back seat next to the bathroom. Convenient for us, but a little ripe by the time we got home.  Back to today's story, it was Taco Tuesday, tacos with a different spin for $1.  We talked until the waitress was looking at us like she wished we would leave.

What could I do when I got home?  My culinary adventurous children had talked about cooking spaghetti squash. So I googled it, and here is my attempt at shrimp with spaghetti squash.

First photo, those things that look like loaves of bread are halved spaghetti squash.  After scraping out the seeds, you put them in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper for 40 minutes.  In the meantime you sauté shrimp or make a red sauce.

Second pic shows squash after it has baked.  You take a fork and shred the inside which magically turns to pasta-looking stuff.

Third photo shows the "spaghetti." It was amazing.  I drizzled a tiny bit of butter because I'm Southern and can't be completely healthy, salt and lemon pepper.

Last photo lets you see the "spaghetti" with shrimp, onions and peppers.

You realize my husband and I grew up in meat and potato, one green vegetable, bread and dessert households.  This was
a stretch.  But we actually liked it.  It looked like pasta, but was
a little crunchy and sweet.  It did not taste at all like a shredded yellow squash, thank goodness.

Now I'm in my bed, writing my blog and wondering what I'll do tomorrow and the next day.

Maybe I'll go look at my my horse and walk her around and be glad that she is out of the mud. A good dose of horse aroma always does me good.

Thank goodness my phone shows a sunshine on Friday and Saturday, just a little bit.  I'll take it. PS:  I don't suffer from SAD in the summer
unless it stays over 100 degrees for many days in a row or turns into an Amazon rain forrest.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The romance of Bayley

I love a particular line in one of my favorite movies, Murphy's Romance. Sally Field plays a young, horsewoman who is being courted by an older gentleman, Murphy Jones, played beautifully by James Garner.  When they finally decide that there may be more to their friendship than horses and nightly suppers, Murphy says, "I'm in love for the last time in my life."  Emma replies, "I'm in love for the first time in my life."   Long kiss................

Where was I going with this?  James Garner got me distracted. The same may hold true for me and my grandchildren tonight on a horse level.  I may have the last horse of my life.  They have their first.

My daddy, being the ultimate cowboy, in my mind anyway, would be sad that I hadn't shared his love of horses with them and my older grandsons.  They always ask about my life with horses.

Caroline:  "Nonni, what happened to your horses? Did they DIE?"

Bella: "Why can't you get another horse?"

Bayley at the top of Spy Glass Hill at Enid on her first trail outing.

Thirteen years ago my youngest daughter/rider went to Ole Miss. I returned to college as well.  We sold our last show horse. I hoarded tack that my daddy had left me until most of it turned green and rotted.  I always said I might weaken and get another horse if the right little bay mare came along.

Well, she did. A friend let us know that she would like to find a home for her little bay mare. She hadn't been ridden in EIGHT years. She is absolutely beautiful, but very fat.

Last Friday I took Bella out to my friend's house and made some silly excuse to be there. When we drove up, Bella said, "Look Nonni, she has a horse."

I told her I didn't think my friend would mind if we looked at her. We went up to the fence, and I rattled a little feed, and Bayley came right up.  After walking her around and checking out her ground manners, I asked Bella if she wanted to get on.

"No saddle?" she said.

"No saddle," I said. "I just have a feeling it will be okay."  What was I thinking?

I hoisted the kid up and told her to grab a handful of mane and off we went walking in slow circles. She smiled from ear to ear.

"Do you like her?"


"Do you want to get her?"

"Nonni??!!"  "Can we?"  We did.

Bayley is in my side pasture tonight. She hasn't settled in good yet, but she will.  My poor husband is shifting through all this good junk and his wood working tools so I can get her in the best stall in the barn.  We are about half way there. Maybe tomorrow night.....

My other granddaughter is so excited that she is coming early tomorrow on a school holiday.  My oldest child, my son, her daddy is coming to help fence or whatever is necessary. They are all just giddy.  You'd think I brought Secretariat to Barr.   They can't wait.

Free horses require a lot of work. There is 13 years of good junk in all four stalls, the hay storage area and the tack room of my barn. This barn used to hold four horses, or three horses and a pony.....it was full, with clean shavings, blankets on horses, lights on them to keep them warm in winter.  It smelled wonderful.

Tonight I'm tired and my back hurts, but that's okay. Sometimes things in life are just so good they are worth a little pain. I can open my back door and see little Bayley sniffing the night air, her ears are perked up as she listens to different night sounds. Cash the Dog in Black is in exile because he wouldn't quit barking at her.

Tomorrow we will saddle up, see what she can do, get her feet trimmed, maybe work on her mane a little, and let Caroline brush her good all over. We will just take our time with her.  No hurry.  Check back in six months and I'll let you know how she's doing and how much weight she has lost.  She is going to be stunning!

I needed this last horse.  I think maybe she needed us too.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kentucky not just horse country

My friend Terry and I just completed an eight-day tour of horse country near Lexington, KY.  We did make a few side trips that didn't involve horses, so I thought I'd take you down the lane on our quest to find barn quilts. 

The barns in Kentucky are mostly two story structures painted black, not white as those we are accustomed to seeing. Some of these may have started out as tobacco barns.  

The dark paint helped to raise the heat inside the barns for the cut tobacco. This particular day we were near Versailles and Stamping Ground. 

You can purchase ready-made quilt blocks from local sign companies in the area. These are made of metal and will last longer.

I prefer the hand-painted blocks. I hope to put one on my barn someday soon.

 Hope you enjoy them.  Other side trips and thoroughbreds are coming soon. 
Here are two views of the same barn which had five quilt blocks.

This is the logo for Old Friends Equine, a retirement home for Thoroughbreds. This is an Ohio Star block with the horseshoe added in the center.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Off the Wagon

I am Nancy Patterson.  I am an addict. I have fallen off the wagon and under it.

I am a quilt maker, fabric hoarder, room Indian giver, space stealer, and the list goes on and on. This summer I haven't sewn much or bought any material.  My goal for the fall was to make a scrap quilt without buying one scrap of material.  I guess I just can't fight the need to purchase beautiful fabric.

I did very well, thank you, about half way into the quilt.  It just needed a little something extra...just a scrap.  I contacted my friend, whom I hope to meet in person one day, Carol Law Conklin of rural New York, to see if she had a batik panel.  Of course she did.  I am a repeat customer.

When all the kids left home, I made this upstairs bedroom a haven for my grand-daughters, Caroline and Bella.  I made the quilt on the bed in greens and pinks.  Of course, you can't see it because it is covered up.  Mississippi painter Nancy Waggoner painted this whimsical piece which matched the quilt perfectly.
The little Aladdin-like figurine/planter near the lamp is one of the few items to survive the fire that took my grandparent's home to the ground.  It always sat by their plain black phone, which rang with different tones, since it was a party line.  There's history in this room.

I was further honored that my friend Lureline Weatherly, who works for Disney and drew such famous characters as the Little Mermaid, sent me a drawing of two mermaids, one blonde for Bella and one red-haired for Caroline.  As you can see, along the border of the frame, I have attached notes from quilters, cards from designers and more.  What a shame.

This lovely cedar chest at the foot of the bed was there to catch their suitcases when they came to stay.  I inherited this piece from my Aunt Ruth Cole, and it contains numerous treasures, if you can get it open. You can also see pillow forms on the floor.  I promised to cover those for Olivia months ago. Two down, a bunch to go. Not in the mood.

And here you see my sewing machine, one of two Pfaff's, and some the other tools of the trade. The second one is under the table in a case, and I use it for traveling so I don't bounce the big one around in the car.

Here is my lovely built-in bookcase.  It was decorated with toys and memorabilia from my childhood. On the top shelf you can still see my herd of Bryer and other antique horses standing guard over the chaos below.  It used to hold photos of the kids, my collection of miniature Disney characters, a vintage tea set and my china dolls.  I thought they would be thrilled.  They preferred the other upstairs bedroom because it has satellite and this one does not.  They only dump their clothes here when they come to visit. So I don't feel quite as guilty about stealing their room.

Here is their bed, also left by Aunt Ruth.  You can see the scraps at the top and the beautiful Conklin panel below.  Holstein cows graze in the pasture in a magical autumn scene.

This panel has every color I could find in my scraps. If I have just a few minutes notice that the girls are coming, I can scoop all this up and hide the sharp objects—scissors, pins in the cushion, pins in the carpet to step on, razor sharp cutting blades, and many more.  They have just enough room to edge sideways and dump their suitcases and enough room to get in the bed at night.

Bella even made her own quilt last summer, so maybe all this mess is worth it.  It made a memory.

For more information on the beautiful works of Carol Law Conklin, check her out on Facebook or visit her Etsy shop amityfarmbatik. Carol's subjects often feature horses, cows, landscapes and can be found on trivets, scarves, canvases or fabric.

After I get these scraps cleared out, I'm going to keep this room neater and do a better job of organization, and not buy more fabric....

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Which Way

I just returned from another wonderful trip to Chickasaw State Park near Henderson, Tenn., thanks to friends who are good enough to put up with me for five days.  Here are a few highlights.

Poplar grove on third day ride.

Cathy Hays and Frida Astor work on a Southwestern puzzle at the end of day two.  Wild times in Chickasaw! (right)

Mary Hurley and her Splash on day one.  Splash is a
Pintaloosa, a Pinto-Appaloosa cross. (below)

Mack and Cathy Hayes on Mia and Moonshine have been coming to Chickasaw for many years.  He was our trail guide. Here is a heated discussion as to whether we are on Turkey or
Turkey Extended Trail. (below, right)

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nancy on Leo-Pard and Frida Astor on Doc in the breathtaking pine thicket on day one. 

Switch-A-Roo.  Mary on Leo and Nancy on Splash at the end of day two.

Day four I stayed in camp by myself to catch up
on some reading and rest my aching bones.  If
you want a Diet Coke bad enough, you will
visit the worm refrigerator.

When there is confusion on the trail, you alway ask Yogi.  "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!"  —Yogi Berra

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Three Dog Night's Chuck Negron has message for music industry

This morning at church, our acting music director asked the question (in front of dozens of youth there for a weekend retreat), "How many of you remember Three Dog Night?"  If you are down here at the front, I'm sure you don't," he said.  "They had a song call ONE, 'One is the loneliest number that you'll ever know..."

I punched Howard, and whispered, "Wow the choir is going to sing ONE or maybe JOY TO THE WORLD, Jeremiah had a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine, or TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS or MAMA, TOLD ME NOT TO COME."  But I really couldn't see how those wonderful old tunes would fit in the church service.

He went on to point that Jesus was the One way to salvation, the one savior.

But I couldn't help but think of my own Three Dog Night experiences.  I was bad and not listening to most of the rest of the service.

When I was a young teenager, 15-17, my group of friends and I loved Three Dog Night.  We followed them from concert to concert, in stops including Memphis (many times), Shreveport, Jackson and Greenville.  If we could't drive that far we could buy a ticket on the small Southwestern Airline, the one with the smiley faces, for about $50.  Off we went.

My absolute favorite of the three was the beautiful, perfectly mustachioed Chuck Negon.  He could hit those high notes like no other, and with his long hair and fringe, he was IT. Or so I thought.

When we were in Shreveport to see them, one of my friends and I got up to go to the restroom and walk around.  We spotted one of their roadies and spoke to him by name.  He gave us two back stage passes and go sit on those drum cases right off stage.  My heart was pounding, but I was also a little scared.  I might have been 16 at the time.  So off we went to the stage.  It was magical. I could see the sweat when he flung his long hair and the fringe swayed with the music.

I was having the time of my life until I spotted our other friends sitting in the audience.  They must have wondered where we were, and when they saw us one in particular looked like she might throw up.

Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Corey Wells, who died last year. Photos by houstonpress.com

After the concert the roadie looked at us and asked us to come back to the hotel with them.  While this was cool and all, my radar said no.  Big Mistake! I looked at my friend, and we disappeared. We saw the same roadie at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis the next year and he didn't remember us or gives another backstage pass.  Good decision.

The band grew apart as most bands do.  Chuck's gigantic heroin habit, mostly to blame.  After going to rehab countless times, he finally hit bottom.  In his biography "Three Dog Nightmare" he recounts his addictions, failed relationships, trips to rehab and the journey back.

In 2013 Chuck released the third edition of his best-selling autobiography, Three Dog Nightmare, which chronicles his personal life and death struggle with addiction and the miracle that saved his life on September 17, 1991. Chuck has been clean and sober now for nearly 24 years.  Chuck spent over two years writing his book Three Dog Nightmare and recorded the accompanying soundtrack CD entitled “The Long Road Back.” chucknegron.com from Three Dog Nightmare 

“I would have nothing without the people who cared for me and helped me find my way,” Negron says. Chuck remains active with several of the organizations whose aim is to keep drugs out of the music industry. Chuck also spends time helping the addicted. Cri-Help in North Hollywood, California has been most important to Chuck’s ongoing recovery. “I’ve been singing, performing and recording for over 50 years. I’ve always been grateful for my voice and my life as a musician. I look at it as a gift from God. It has afforded me the opportunity to touch so many people in such a beautiful way. Music has brought me joy, inner peace and comfort that I thrive on. I feel very blessed to be in the game again.” Three Dog Nightmare
Chuck Negron still tours as "Chuck Negron, formerly with Three Dog Night." The band tours under their original name.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Great summer read found in Circling the Sun

I love to just stumble upon a great book, not one whose author I have already read and like, not one that is on the top ten list, not one that just sounds good, but one that just finds me.

I am an Out of Africa fan.  I was mesmerized by the 1985 account of Karen Blixen (Karen Dinesen, Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke), who wrote under the pen name of Isak Dinesen, and her love affair with aristocratic big-game hunter Denys Finch-Hatton.

If you were a fan of the movie, you remember that their affair came to an end when Karen began putting pressure on Denys for more commitment in their relationship. What we don't know that he was ready to begin a relationship with Beryl Markham, and she is worthy of a book on her adventurous life.  In Out of Africa, Markham's character is named Felicity.

The daughter of famous British horse trainer Charles Clutterbuck, Beryl moved with her parents to Kenya.  Her mother did not like the African way of life, and soon returned to England taking Beryl's brother with her and leaving her in Kenya with her father.

Barely an adult, she became the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya.  Besides her fame in the horse world, she became a master aviator and was the first person to fly the Atlantic east to west in a solo non-stop flight.

Courtest USAtoday.com
Beryl was a stunning woman, blonde, almost six feet tall.  She wore slacks and trademark silk shirts. She was married three times, and her list of lovers was impressive—including her friend Karen's husband Bror von Blixen-Finecke.  Her affair in 1929 with Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was allegedly cut short by the Windsors. And there are many others.

But back to Finch-Hatton.  When her friend Karen's relationship with him began to fail, Markham began her affair with him which lasted about a year until his fatal flight.

On a personal note, I don't see the appeal of old Denys.  Besides leading aristocrats on safari, he is not noted as having achieved much of anything, except being the lover of interesting women, according to one report.  He was no Robert Redford in my book.

Denys Finch-Hatton

Well I can't tell you much more about this work of wonderful historical fiction. McLain makes the dialogue sound like old Hollywood, wonderfully British except for Blixen. Markham, herself, wrote an account of those days in her memoir, West with the Night.

This book is a thrill from beginning to end.  McLain is also the author of The Paris Wife, another historical fiction account of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage to Hadley Richardson.

I can't wait to check out more of McLain's works.

Robert Redford and Meryl Streep as Finch-Hatton and Karen Blixen in the 1985 movie Out of Africa.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On the Bookshelf

Beginning next month, I may add a sidebar that will feature books I'm currently reading. I'd love to get input from you on what you are reading.  Summertime means beach reading, late-night reading, well, anytime is good for reading in my book. (pun intended)

I did something lately that I rarely do. I re-read a book.  Not long after Jodi Picoult's book "Leaving Time," came out in 2014, I added it to my Kindle library.

I found it to be the most compelling read of recent years. I've never really quit thinking about the storyline.  Picoult's works are known to carry an underlying social theme. This book was true to form.

It had all elements necessary for me to be a great book........romance, adventure, animals, and pure human drama.

If you didn't read it, do it now.  Let it settle in. Then you will know why you need to re-read this work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cantrell's new work highly anticipated

I was looking forward to the book launch for "The Feathered Bone" by Oxford writer Julie Perkins Cantrell. The event is set for tonight at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books in Oxford.

I'm not going since I am still fighting the cough that will not die.  This third book for Cantrell has gotten positive reviews. You may remember my recommendations of her first novel, "Into the Free" followed by "When Mountains Move."

This newest work promises to be riveting, although hard to read at times.  By hard to read, I mean facing some harsh social facts...sex trafficking for a young girl.

When I wrote Julie to regret that I would not be there, she said, "I hope (being sick) gives you tons of reading time.....somewhere warm and cozy."

We'll that's where I'll be tonight.  The book magically appeared on my Kindle.  I have on an old shirt, my husband's Napoleon Dynamite sleep pants and fuzzy purple socks.  Makes being sick worth it.

Best wishes, Julie. You make us proud.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Good day to be stuck in the attic

Today was my day to clean out my pantry and attic.  I just know that normal middle class people do not have that much junk.  I worked on the attic off and on all day.  Down to that final box, the one overflowing with legal pads, papers, notebooks—all my class work  from 2003-05 when I returned to The University of Mississippi DeSoto to finish my degree—finally at 50.

After my boss and mentor Dr. Ann Whitten passed away in 2003, I got a call from her son Chip, urging me to go back to school.  Not too much later I got a call from Dr. Bonnie Buntin, then Dean at The University of Mississippi-DeSoto Center telling me the same thing.

Somebody must be telling me something I should listen to.  After getting permission from my administrators, I started back to school at age 48.  Most of my work to that point was in Broadcasting, but it was not enough for a major.  Driving back and forth to Oxford was not an option.  So my advisers suggested Liberal Arts with emphases in English, history and sociology....right up my alley.

You know that scene in Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase gets locked in the attic and instead of panicking, he puts on an old hat, gloves and a fur coat and remembers his Christmas pasts and happy moments from his children?  Well, it was that kind of moment. 

I remember telling my sociology instructor that I had once ridden horses, but that chapter was closed in my life.  Term paper, Criminology—Corruption in the Equine Industry; Juvenile Delinquency—State 4-H programs help deter crime in first-time offenders; Cultural Anthropology— Paper on Subcultures, Cowboy Poetry Gathering Culture in Elko, Nevada.  I even interviewed one of the Cowboy Poets and they are not much like the Mississippi cowboys, let me tell you.

So maybe horses are still in my blood.

I did an Anthropology of Blues Culture paper Sharde Thomas, who was about 13 at the time.  Sharde lives not far from me, and is carrying on her grandfather Othar Turner's tradition of fife playing.  Since that time she has gone on to play across the country and in Germany.  Here she is with the Great Slow Hand himself, Eric Clapton.  WOW!

I loved my lit classes, Film as Lit, Literary Criticism; and other Sociology classes and English classes.

I don't know how I worked all day, drove to DeSoto Center and sat from three to six hours, four nights a week, and intersessions, and summer school.  But it paid off and I finished my career at Northwest right where I wanted to be until the heart said time to go.

So many to thank for that adventure. Dr. Buntin, Dr. Gary Lee Spears, our president who allowed me to do this; Mark Franks; sweet Jim Mercer for getting me through math, which is probably why I didn't finish in the first place; Kevin McCarthy, Liz Burns and so many more.  Especially my team who cut me some slack.

Coming down from the attic now. I saved a few special papers.