A Birthday Tale


Several weeks ago, the tail of my favorite horse, Miracle, disappeared.  When she died from colic after giving birth several years ago, one young lady at the vets took hairs from her tail, made a braid, and gave it to me.  Since then, it had hung in the hallway next to Dad’s spurs and a photo of the family farm above Dad’s parade saddle. Suddenly, it disappeared.  Where could it have gone?  No one had recently been to the house except Martina, my Italian exchange student, and me.  My daughter and grandson had stopped by, but no one else.  Nothing else had disappeared.  It was a mystery like the time I found a handful of dry dog food under the saddle.  I never solved that one and had given up on solving this one.  I had even considered looking for something else to hang in its place.

On my birthday yesterday, the principal walked to my room with a bouquet of flowers and a package.  The bouquet was from my grandson.  I opened the package. Much to my astonishment, there was Miracle’s tail, the top of the braid carefully and colorfully wrapped, a thin copper wire winding through it, and and then wrapped around the bottom.  My daughter had managed to take it without my seeing her do so, took it home, and had wrapped it so it would not come apart.  When I originally told her about it, she and my grandson commented how strange it was and made note of the dog food incident as if some mystery lurked in that particular place in my house.

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My grandson had picked out each individual flower.  He obviously knows my favorite color is orange.

Then to top off the day my son also sent flowers.  It dropped 50 degrees from yesterday afternoon to late last night, the wind shrieks, clouds loom dark and ominous.  It is a good day for bright flowers.

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My Mother–Barbie Doll


Barbara Lewis Duke, pretty petite, blue-eyed and blond, my mother, one fearless, controlling woman.  Long after Mother’s death, Dad said, “Barbara was afraid of absolutely no one and nothing.”  They married late:  34 and 38.  He adored her unconditionally.  She filled my life with horses, music, love, cornfields, hay rides,      books, ambition.  Whatever she felt she had missed, I was going to possess:  piano lessons, a college education.  Her father, who died long before I was born, loved                 fancy, fast horses.  So did she.  During my preschool, croupy years, she quieted my hysterical night coughing with stories of run aways horses pulling her in a wagon.      With less than one hundred pounds and lots of determination, she stopped them,               a tiny Barbie Doll flying across the Missouri River Bottom, strong, willful, free.

Note:  this poem is in my book “On the Rim of Wonder” and was also recently published in “Inside and Out”, a collection of writings by women.  It is available on Amazon and published by the Story Circle Network.

Addendum:  My mother loved horses and flowers.  When I look at the flowers around my house I think of my mother.  And, yes, I have horses.  The following photos are dedicated to my mother’s memory.

 

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My mother’s mother and father.

 

Barbie Doll


This poem praises my mother.  It is page 17 of my memoir in poems, “On the Rim of Wonder”.  It seems appropriate to republish it here for Mother’s Day.

 

Barbara Lewis Duke, pretty, petite, blue-eyed, and blond, my mother,

one fearless, controlling woman.  Long after Mom’s death, Dad said,

“Barbara was afraid of absolutely no one and nothing.”  They married

late:  34 and 38.  He adored her unconditionally.  She filled my life

with horses, music, love, cornfields, hay rides, books, ambition.  Whatever

she felt she had missed, I was going to possess:  books, piano lessons, a

college education.  Her father, who died long before I was born, loved fancy,

fast horses.  So did she.  During my preschool, croupy years, she quieted my

hysterical night coughing with stories of run away horses pulling her

in a wagon.  With less than 100 pounds and lots of determination, she

stopped them, a tiny Barbie Doll flying across the Missouri River Bottom,

strong, willful, free.

April 18 – Star


I wrote this poem several years ago. It was republished today on One Woman’s Day by the Story Circle Network.

One Woman's Day

by Juliana Lightle

The phone rings.

“Star’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.

He’s hanging from the gate by one hoof.

Blood is all over Rosie’s face.

It’s dreadful.”

A tear choked voice.

“You can’t bring D’mitri home.”

D’mitri’s nine.  Star belongs to him.

Shock, tears, disbelief.

Last night Star ran, bucked, reared,

chased around, playing.

How?

The pen’s all pipe, no sharp edges,

nothing harmful, consistently inspected.

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D’mitri goes home with me.  He says,

“Nana, I have to see him;

I have to know what happened.”

Slowly, in dread, we walk behind the barn.

Star’s hanging by one hoof in the three inch

space between the gate and fence,

ankle broken.

The blood covered fence, gate, and ground

stare at me.

It’s hot, his body’s stiff.

He must be moved.

Coyotes will come in the night,

drawn by the smell of blood, of death.

The neighbor brings his big red tractor;

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A Lonely Horse


Three months ago, Cool, a horse I raised, died suddenly from acute colic.  Cool was a friendly, inquisitive character.  He investigated everything, knew when you forgot to shut a gate totally, knew how to open things, never missed anything that was occurring.  Fun and funny and well loved.

 

Cool, the other orphaned horse I raised.

 

So well loved in fact that the photo on the back of On the Rim of Wonder is of me holding his bridle while my friend’s exchange student from Austria, Klara Kamper rides him.  Apparently, I am not the only one who misses him.  Rosie, my other horse, decided this past week that she needed to be as close to the house as possible so she could see me through the window.  For the last several days, when I awaken, there she is complete with her nose prints on the window.

 

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This morning I decided this had to stop for several reasons, one of which is that she is trampling all the flowers and grasses I have tried to grow in this caliche area.  It is also not easy to get her to leave.  I have to hike around the house and drive her reluctant self out along the edge of the canyon.  A fence around a propane tank covers part of the width between the house and canyon–the area through which she walks.  About fifteen feet in front of it a large old log sat mostly for decorative purposes.  It occurred to me that I could possibly move this back between the fence and house.  It is so heavy that to do so I had to pick up one end and move it six inches then go to the other end and do the same.  By doing this repeatedly, I did manage to move it.  However, a small gap on either side still existed.  Since horses can jump, she could jump the foot or so over it if determined.  I found another dead piece of juniper to put across the top and two old log pieces to put at either end.  Now I can only wait and see if this deters her.

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When I return from my trip to Africa, I think I must find another horse to keep her company.  In the meantime, she must endure sadly.  Here are some photos of both of them when Cool was still alive and well.

 

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While writing this, I heard neighing and checked to see.  Poor, sad Rosie stood at the other end of the obstacles I set up.  It was as if she were calling to me to please, please, please let her get back by the house.  I ignored her pleas.  Eventually she gave up and walked away.  Now I am just hoping that she does not find the little walkway by the garage that goes to the front door, which I frequently leave open for the summer breeze.  She would just walk into the house.

 

Rosie

Rescue Horses and Book Signing–the Real Deal


Started the day with coffee, make-up, inside plant watering and then off to see the rescue horses at Dove Creek Ranch near Canyon, Texas.  I spent about two hours there talking to the owner, the ranch manager, and others.  The following horse is Jazzy.  They gave a demonstration in the round pen and this was her fourth ride ever.  For a young horse she was really, really calm.

 

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Their technique includes a lot of ground work and desensitization to motions and sounds.

 

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He put the saddle on and off repeatedly before riding her.  Then I went outside to a large corral to look at this flashy paint.  She is so beautiful but might not be adoptable.

 

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Although they once had her mother and siblings who have already been adopted, her behavior is very inconsistent.  They told me that one day she does fine, but the next day she may not remember anything from the day before, or act a bit crazy like running into things.  The more we discussed this behavior and possible causes, the more it made me think of a horse I once knew who had eaten loco weed.  Loco weed is toxic and affects a horse so that it suddenly behaves basically crazy and unpredictable.  Made me sad; she is so beautiful.  I saw another paint filly, but she belongs to the ranch manager.  Yes, she is nice, but not the looker the above one is.

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Then I ran home for a couple of hours, checked to see where Rosie had disappeared–she was off grazing, and headed to my book signing.  It went well.  I was especially thrilled to see a few people I had not seen in a long time.  One, Kira Satterfield, used to teach with me years ago.  She said it had been seven.  My grandson passed out fliers, Hastings made coffee for the guests, and my daughter helped.

 

 

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