Monday, March 27, 2017

I am always struck by the beauty of this poem.  I don't know about the midnight ride in the meadow, but the rest rings true for me. I'm almost there.

When I Am An Old Horsewoman

I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to ALL
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.
-Author Patty Barnhart
* * *

Sunday, February 12, 2017


If you are not a fan of horses, specifically Appaloosas, in North Mississippi, you might want to skip this blog.  I introduced you to Bayley last fall, my first horse in 14 years.  Well, I have done it again, gotten another horse. My friend told me she had a pretty solid-colored Appaloosa mare named Hayley.

At 12 she hadn't been ridden. One day at her house I sat on the tailgate of a truck as the farrier trimmed this beautiful big girl.  I watched her hard.  We made a deal, and last week she went to a new trainer in the area.  Let me tell you why I had to have this mare. Why at almost 62 I am planning to ride a horse that hasn't been ridden? We have history.

In 1963 my daddy, Hayley Dandridge, went to New Mexico to bring back a string of brood mares to go with his Appaloosa stallion, High Spots Pride. Many of these mares were grade mares or quarter-type.  In those days you could register an Appaloosa colt if one of the parents showed Appaloosa characteristics: white around the eye, striped hooves, and mottling on the belly or nose area.

He drove in late one night with this load of mares in a stock trailer with a goat in a crate tied to the fender of the trailer.

The most promising of these mares was Miss Pie Fuller, a bay with a lot of white in her face. She was already in foal Chief Waggoner when she came to Tate County.

Miss Pie Fuller was the centerpiece of Dandridge's
breeding program.

Chief Waggoner

The result of that breeding was Red Angel, a sorrel mare with snowflakes on her hips. Broken as a two-year old, Angel was a favorite. I rode her at Saddle Club shows in Western Pleasure, and my 4-H Leader Jimmy McLain rode her in speed events.  (Showing was not as disciplined then as it is now, and that's an understatement.)

Red Angel as a two-year old
She was bred to Joker's Thunder, a strongly-marked Appaloosa and produced a solid chestnut
Dale Hancock and Bill going after a steer.
mare that we named Joker's Stormie.

Back to Saddle Club shows, Daddy let me show Stormie in pleasure. To this day, I still say she was the most natural moving horse I ever rode.  When people cornered Daddy at the side of the arena ready to make a deal, he would wait till the price was right, and then say, "Oh you know she's an Appaloosa, not a Quarter Horse."  This made him laugh when the offers were suddenly withdrawn. He didn't want to sell her anyway.

Stormie was bred to Colida Bill Hancock, an Appaloosa World Champion cutting horse, owned at the time by Dale Hancock. He was later owned and ridden by local large animal veterinarian and friend, Dr. Jim Taylor.
Stormie as a three-year old

Co Couer d'Alene as a yearling

Co Couer d'Alene doing her job as a
super brood mare.

Finally the breeding worked and we got Co Cour d'Alene, a loud-colored black and white filly who turned almost leopard in her later years. I had starting riding her half sister Fleur e'Alene, when she died of fertilizer poisoning.  About the time Couer d'Alene was ready to be broken, Daddy was devastated to learn that she had tested positive to Coggins.  Testing for that disease was new to our area. He lost several horses to that disease. But Co Couer d'Alene showed no signs of the disease despite testing positive. Local health inspectors allowed him to keep her as long as she was quarantined and not nose to nose with another horse. Coggins is a mosquito-born disease. She had to be far away that a mosquito could not bite her and then infect another horse. 

And that was her life for many years. She had more than 10 colts, and none showed signs of the disease.  After Daddy quit using her, he allowed her to go to other breeders if they strictly followed the health regulation.

One of those breedings was to a horse named Big Shannon.  That breeding produced Colida's Mr. Hayley, bred by Mike and Linda Putt, and named for my Daddy's line of breeding.  Mr. Hayley was the sire of my newly-found mare!

Her breeding on the Colida side goes back to Appaloosa Royalty including PrinceShannon, Princes Jim, Prince Plaudit and Plaudit, himself. (Below)

I have horse papers in our files that go back to 1961 on these horses, I knew them by name, knew their coloring, their temperament, their pedigree. To say I was thrilled to find Miss Hayley in my friend's barn is an understatement. Some kids are drilled by their parents on flash cards in math. I got drilled on Appaloosa pedigrees which explains my lack of math skills.

So I hope my Appaloosa friends will appreciate this blog. The rest of you will have to wait for a book review.  Or maybe some on-the-trail pics.  Here is Hayley's Plain Jane, never ridden and now a 12 year old, in her second saddling.  New trainer Michelle Kuester is getting on board.  Lots of ground work and good manners came from her owners Mack and Cathy Hayes.

Thanks to Pie Fuller, there are countless nice horses scattered over this area.  Some have gone on, and some are out there on the trail.

Hayley and Michelle Kuester

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Home alone spurs fits of painting

This photo from Miss Lillian's website was my inspiration piece.
Anytime I have a few days to myself, I paint something. It's just a tradition with me. Howard never knows when he gets home what color he will find.

One year I decided to paint our upstairs hallway and stairwell. It is about 20 feet from the top of the hall upstairs to the bottom floor.  I looked at my options.  The upstairs hall was not the problem; the stairwell was. When I got as far as the extension roller would go, I had to make a plan.  I would have to paint as I went up the stairs.  To keep from getting paint in my hair, I put a pair of clean undies on my head.

About halfway up the stairs, something occurred to me.  He was going to be gone for two more days.  When if I fell down the steps and killed myself  or knocked myself out and whoever found me had to see me with a pair of panties on my head.  It was a bad visual.  But I escaped injury.  That was ten years ago before chronic back pain was my constant companion. I am not so adventurous now.  I stick to iron gates and small pieces of furniture. And that's what I did last week.

Here is my inspiration piece. (above, right) I thought it was beautiful.  It is distressed and painted with Miss Lillian's No Wax Chock Paint, sold by my friend, camping buddy and project adviser Lisa Cox.  She has the paint in her booth at Miller Station.

I'm hesitant to paint furniture.  I spent several of my first housekeeping years refinishing furniture that came from my Grandmother Dandridge's attic.  If I hadn't claimed some of those pieces, they would have perished in the fire that burned the house to the ground in 1981.  Pieces that are really fine, old treasures will not be painted by me.

Here is my original piece, which I bought at Katie's Antiques in Independence. Always happy to promote my friends who have unique businesses in the area.  Shop Local! (top, left)

My piece is a library desk/table.  I could tell it had already been refinished, so I didn't feel too guilty about re-refinishing it. This table was a nice little antique, but it had not been very expensive or was it a family treasure.

Day One by myself, I sanded the surface lightly before painting it with Miss Lillian's Just Duckie. I added Cashmere metallic paint.

Day Two, second coat of Duckie and Cashmere. My bedroom is a mess while all this is going on and one of the silky terriers found a new use for drop cloths, if you know what I mean.  Yuck.

Day Three, added Miss Lillian's glaze in Burnt Umber.  The inspiration piece used similar but different colors of the same product.  The sides of the table have cane panels, and I left them their original color but highlighted them with Umber. By now, Howard is home and I'm not through. He is good about the bedroom being a mess.

I decide that I used too much Umber, called Lisa, and she advised me to add more Duckie.  I'm almost out at this point. I had to add water to the jar and shake it to have just enough.

Day Four, I'm sick of this table and the bedroom mess. The dogs are tired of being banished to their kennels. The additional Duckie dries and I'm heading for home stretch.

Day Five, I touch up the metallic paint and any blue spots that are yelling at me. I break out of the Miss Lillian products and seal the whole thing with Polycrylic Sheer Satin sealer.

Yeah!  I'm finished.  It's not quite as good as the inspiration piece, but I like it.  I see some imperfections but they don't bother me enough to do something about it.

The mirror is part of a bedroom suit that I use upstairs.  It was handed down to me by my Great Aunt Ruth Cole who lived with us after she retired from Northwest as Dietician for the Cafeteria.

Next time I'm alone, I'm just going to read a book.

Finished project!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Neely-Dorsey recognized as Mississippi Literary Ambassador

Congratulations to Patricia Neely-Dorsey who has been honored by Senate Concurrent Resolution 569, recognizing her as a Mississippi author and poet, as Literary Ambassador for the State.

It is so nice to hear good things about our Mississippi.  We knew these things all along, but through positive thinking from people like Patricia, maybe the rest of the country will share our thoughts.

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is a 1982 graduate of Tupelo High School in Tupelo, Miss., and she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University. She is the author of two books of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories and Musings. She calls both books a “celebration of the south and things southern.” Neely-Dorsey currently lives in Tupelo with her husband and son. 

Patricia Neely-Dorsey is asking that her poem Meet my Mississippi can be considered as the state poem.  "This poem can be used as a teaching tool for all ages and as a way to highlight some of the very best Mississippi has to offer," she says. "It contains references to our rich literary history as well as references to our musical and cultural history."

Meet My Mississippi

Faulkner's Sanctuary
Eudora's home state
Elvis' birthplace
The bulk of the Trace;
Sprawling beaches
Along the Gulf Coast shore
One blues man's crossroads
And inspiration for more;
A ride down the mighty river
On the American Queen
And some of the most
Beautiful countryside
That you've ever seen
She's music and melodies
And the mockingbird's songs,
By valor and arms
And faith ever strong:
She's magnolias blooming
Around Jackson's capitol dome
And the sweet scent of honeysuckle
That forever says "home"
She's My Mississippi
She's "The Hospitality State"
"Go Mississippi"
You're a true State of Grace
             Patricia Neely-Dorsey 2013

Thank you Patricia for allowing me to use the words of her poem Ancestors in my first novel The Carving Place, which I hope will be published this year. 

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. (

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 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.


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

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.” 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.

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.