Sunday, November 13, 2011


I woke up before the sun, the dreams following me into the dark of the new morning. It would be the same as yesterday, the same as tomorrow, craziness hovering just out of sight, its poison infecting those I love. The only solution was to descend to the level it lived on, beat it at its own game. But that would give it validation. Crazy would act crazy until it forced the sane to play its game. Suspended between night and day, I realized I could not play Evil and I was not God.

My eyes lifted toward the window. A hint of baby soft pink stained the mountains. Would I travel across them? Seek to make sense of the irrational? For a moment the color fooled me into hoping. A sigh washed across my thoughts, a prayer whispered its way toward the dawn. There was no answer, the same as yesterday, the same as tomorrow.

Light filled the sky and I stood up and stepped into my world.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Warrior Mountain

Up on our mountain property this afternoon, we sat in the silence and watched hawks soar below us. They rode the currents of the wind, a wing tip here, a dive there, playing with the day. I looked out over the piedmont, a vast ocean of green, watched the sun crown the mountains, the shadows blanket the valleys. This Earth of ours is a special world and on this day, I soared in my mind with the redtails consumed by the joy of being part of it all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rain on Me

It quit raining for a little while and feeling smart I went out to empty the horses water trough during the break in weather. I scrubbed it without getting myself wet and was very pleased that I'd avoided the water from that and the rain from above. Then, I set it upright and dropped the hose in. I stood back and crossed my arms, thinking this is going to be a good day. The hose agreed. It went on a wild snake dance celebrating the moment, and soaked me from head to foot before I could get it under control. Think I'll take a hot shower(since I'm already wet) and go back to bed, this being one of those kind of days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty, and Justice for All

On this, the tenth remembrance day of a tragedy that rocked us as individuals and our nation’s soul, I feel the sorrow, the fear, and the love triggered by the attacks. Most of all, I feel the love. My hand floats gently across the flag, folded in the triangle shape when given to my Mother upon my step-father’s death, the flag that draped the coffin of a man who served long before 9/11. I remember shaking it out of that triangular shape on September 11, 2001, climbing onto the rail of the front porch and securing it to the edge of the roof. I marveled at its size, it takes a lot to cover a coffin, and I realized it takes even more to kill the soul of a nation.

As it unfolded in the breeze, the sense of security it gave me against the attack upon our country was something I hadn’t expected, a gift passed on from an older generation of survivors. The day seemed endless. I watched the unfolding of events on TV. Reporters told of rescue workers never hesitating in New York, air travelers giving their lives in Pennsylvania, and our government rising from the rubble in Washington and still the flag flew. My gaze strayed from the scenes on the screen to the scene outside my window. Our flag was still there. It danced in the wind, lifting its stars and stripes toward the heavens, lifting my sorrow for our losses into an over-whelming sense of pride in the strength of our nation.

Today, ten years later, as my fingers stroke the stars of my step-father’s flag, the Star Spangled Banner plays in my head and the question at the end of our anthem lingers in my heart. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…

“Yes, it does,” I whisper as I unfurl the flag, “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Real Good Man

One of my son's high school swim coaches in Kansas, Greg House, died this week. He was 61. The outpouring of notes from young people who swam for him is amazing. The man inspired them all to be more than they thought they could be, to never give up and to believe that by working together anything was possible. There were more than 600 posts in a 24 hour period saying this over and over. I have no idea how many have posted now. One man, one teacher, by being there, setting standards, and believing in abilities these kids couldn't see in themselves, has given our country almost a thousand strong, honorable, giving young adults. Rest in Peace, Coach House, you've earned it and I thank you.

Friday, June 10, 2011


How may followers do you have, we'd ask each other online. The higher the number the more important we felt. It was a game. Then in 2007, my words went out around the world, and touched a few like thinkers. We began to talk, plan, dream of our ideal existence. The power of the internet was all we needed. It's like the new religion, someone joked. We believed in mega pixels.

After several years, our group became a number to be reckoned with. Small changes were seen in the way the World Government dealt with problems we pointed out. Dreams grew. We became bold, posted pictures, plastered lists of our followers on each others blogs. Government tried to direct our actions. Freedom of speech was our right we blogged. We're bigger than the real world. We rule space.

Then it began.

On Monday, I noticed a few were missing from my list. This didn't alarm me. Words can become misunderstood. Some may have felt neglected. Internet glich I decided.

On Tuesday, twice as many were gone. My cyberworld, I realized was shrinking. Perhaps, I was becoming a bit to radical, living in the mind a bit too much. I sent out a kinder, gentler post on loving my fellow human.

Wednesday there was a power outage. I spent the time outside, tending the organic garden, and greasing the windmill.  Thoughts of my friends across the web, spun like gossamer threads through my mind. They were as real to me as the spider who hovered over my squash.We hadn't quite perfected living off the grid, couldn't really if we wanted to stay connected to like minded people, people who were more than mere bodies.

Back onlineThursday, I began to worry. Half my list, 6,000 were gone. I did a few calculations. Being one of the smallest members of the Idealist Movement, if this were happening to all, then more than 10,000,000 were no longer communicating.

Friday, I was all alone. My followers had vanished. It left me speechless, fingers frozen over the keyboard. Where were they?

Saturday, I sent out a message. Where are you? Do you still exist? Do I still exist?

On Sunday, my belief in the Blog World crumbled. I went off the grid, pulled out an ancient book, looking for a solution, someone to follow. My finger traced words. I moved to my laptop and began to type.

God, if you can hear me, please answer.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Promise of Rain

We were in the middle of a field searching for four leaf clovers at his insistence when the rain came. He wanted a child and this was his way of insuring its future? He wanted a sign. Well, this was a sign. Anger narrowed my eyes, darkened my vision like the graying sky. We should be sowing crops. What did this man have to offer? Why was I here? Our gazes met and I looked away.

Luck evaded us. Debts were high. Even the sun deserted us, yet, he never quit believing in something, in us. Why I wasn’t sure. Did I want to stay, right now or forever? I didn’t believe in taking chances. He was reckless, always dreaming and though we were soaked his callused fingers kept skimming the vegetation.

“Stupid,” I said.

He twisted from me and I saw for the first time the slump that often pained my shoulders, but never his. Defeat, resignation knotted his turned back. My hands clutched the ground as it dropped beneath me, though it didn’t really, it was only my heart. Was he giving up?

Thunder sounded, shocked me from my thoughts. He jumped to his feet. I reached out, grabbed a hand, pulled him down, felt the soft caress of lips wet with passion, and tasted the essence of the day. My hands undressed us. Mud coated the blush of bare limbs. He watched my every movement, let me decide where this was going.

"Stupid," I said, "Not to plant seed when rain's promised."

He plucked a clover from the meadow. It had four leaves. I held his gaze. The green matched the dreams in his eyes. He tucked it in my hair. Heat warmed the earth upon which we lay.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fair Game

Rot and skunk filled the air. A figure lay sprawled amongst the brambles. The scents repulsed and allured me. I edged nearer my nose sniff-sniffing.

A man. Flies crawled across his face and in and out of his open mouth. Fear made me gag and I tasted my breakfast in my throat. My head swam. Then, I howled.

My legs trembled. I was alone with a dead man, and I desperately wanted to be anywhere but here. I started away, then glanced back over my shoulder. I didn’t want to look, but something drew me back to the body. The man seemed smaller dead, and helpless. I blinked back tears.

Blood pooled around his head. His dark blonde hair was matted with leaves and dirt. Face scraped and dirty, the front of his clothes torn and streaked with mud, missing one shoe, he looked like he had run in a panic, until, he fell and hit his head. Like something chased him.

The bad odor filled the space around him. I tried to breathe through my mouth, but tasted the putrid air. I felt I knew what it was, but couldn’t place it.

His dead brown eyes stared at me like he was trying to tell me something. I stared hard at him willing him to talk. What a strange place for him to be, half-mile to the nearest road; and not a trail people usually rode on. I thought about the time when I last saw him alive. He’d tried to feed me. Catch me. Mumbled about a new home. I’d growled my irritation and he left; now I wished I’d at least smiled good-bye.

It was about an hour since I’d observed the hunt at the kennels. When I’d heard “Gone Away” on the huntsman’s horn signaling they were on the scent of their quarry. I listened to the silence. I looked at his still form. “What happened to you?” His dead eyes remained blank.

A hound opened, near. His voice was true and strong and the rest of the pack joined him. “Over here.” Hooves drummed the earth. The sound grew. “Help, help,” I yelped. The riders would know what to do.

My composure left, and so did I. I deserted Mike and clawed my way through the brush looking for the hunters. The hounds ran past me, then moved on and circled around Mike’s body baying loudly. The huntsman appeared. He didn’t see me. His eyes were focused on his hounds. He put his horn to his lips and sounded “Gone to Ground”, the tune played when hounds have trapped their quarry. Terrible tearing sounds filled the air.

I gasped. The man was what they were hunting. Someone had covered him with the scent of fox. That was the smell, the familiar smell, used to trick hounds into thinking they were chasing live game. The field of hunters arrived. I stood frozen, hidden in the thicket.

One of the masters raised his flask. “Here’s to good sport. The animal rights people’ll be happy to know we didn’t kill a fox.” He laughed. I stepped back; a stick cracked like a pistol under my foot. The group of riders turned toward me.

“Who’s that?” someone asked.

“A vixen,” one yelled and pointed my way. I looked desperately from one rider to the next. Hyenas watching their next meal.

Dunwood stared down at me, his eyes dark and hooded like a buzzard’s.

“What’s the name of this town foxy lady?” His voice came out a snarl. Spittle formed at the corners of his mouth. My red tail with white tip met my nose as I spun about. I ran.

“Fair Game, girlie. Fair Game,” Dunwood shouted.

I heard the pack move through the tall grass behind me. The huntsman blew “Gone Away” on his horn.

I led them toward the hidden ravine. Fair game, I breathed in, fair game, I breathed out, and watched them tumble over the edge.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Respect Your Elders

The younger man’s chest expanded as he uncoiled his spine, stretched tall. He took a pleased breath, felt in control, pointed to a scatter of blank paper lying on the desk. Time to set things in motion. It was growing dark.

“Write down what I told you before you forget.” He stroked his upper lip, waited.

Green scowled, shuffled the blank pages, tapped them into a neat stack, and laid it aside. With effort he pulled a four inch thick ledger toward himself. He patted the saddle brown leather cover. Gnarled arthritic fingers fumbled as he opened it.

“These old books talk to me.”

“Write the letter.” The younger man flexed, admired the thickness of his forearms. The muscles rippled beneath the tawny skin of his jacket as he made fists of his hands. He wouldn’t mind a little physical persuasion exercise. It would relieve the growing tension teasing his mind.

Green frowned, straightened, shook his head; his brows shoved a trench between his eyes.

“No, I’ll straighten things out. Point of honor. Need to give people a chance to right their wrongs.” He leaned back in his leather chair, swiveled, shoved the ledger onto a shelf. “That’s not why I called you here. We’ve known each other how long?” His hand cut the air in a sharp impatient stroke. “Never mind, not important. Been doing some research myself.”

The younger man tensed as Green picked up a folder. The old man drummed his fingers on its top.

Ba-du-rum, ba-da-rum, the sound hammered against the younger man’s brain. He gulped from his drink. Surely, the folder contents didn’t concern him. The old geezer didn’t have the tools or the brains to follow his trail. Blood pulsed up his neck, heated his face. He felt jumpy, slammed his fist against the desk.

“Watch out.” Green moved a porcelain horse. “You’re restless as a hound after a bitch. Come back when you’re under control.”

The old man was right, he admitted to himself. He needed to leave before he lost control, blew the whole deal.

“Sure thing boss.” The perspiring glass he held hit the desk with a bang. Liquor sloshed out, spilled upon the polished mahogany surface. An insolent nod, a sneering curl to his lip followed the bang. He felt a slight ease in the tension that gripped him like hands around his throat; he coiled his arm around his briefcase, pulled it to his side. The invisible hands loosened even more. A few more days, then he’d strike.

Green, he noticed, narrowed his eyes, lowered his chin, and scowled. He shouldn’t have slammed the glass down, but had been unable to control the impulse. He realized it was a mistake, and mistakes could be dangerous. He backed away, pivoted on his heel. Control. It was becoming his mantra. He thought of what he would soon do. His muscles relaxed, his breathing slowed, his mood improved. Time to leave. He’d be back soon enough, finish the job he’d started.

He pushed through the door, back in control, no old man or two-bit artist could stop him now. The sound of ice rattling in a glass followed him as he left the room. He thought of the old man wiping up the mess he’d left behind and allowed a cruel twist of amusement to play across his lips. Thunder rolled as he walked; he glanced up, the sky was like a dark shroud overhead, as if it was painted black.

His chest expanded, exploded as the lightning struck. The last thing he heard was an old man’s crackling laugh.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Morning Walkout

Foxhounds pushed against me with their lean bodies, hard muscles quivering. Anticipation made them high, eager. I tapped sides with my whip to move them away, breathed in the wet earth-like smell of their coats and the energy vibrating in the air. Youngsters were coupled to seniors with collars linked by brass clips and leather. The huntsman, other whipper-in and I moved to the kennel door, hounds hot breath at our heels. We walked out into the fresh air of May, made the pack wait, settle and focus. A note from the huntsman's brass horn produced a cacophony of voices and we were off.

The trail through the woods tunneled in green foliage offered scents to keen noses.

"Pack to him" I said as a few hounds began to stray. They trotted back into formation. We moved at a brisk pace, covered over two miles down dirt and gravel roads, snaking amongst old forest and young briers. At the pond, we took a break, a special reward for good behavior. The hounds held their place until the huntsman signaled with a soft chirp, then they exploded into the water. Paws against clay, a thousand bird wings beating. The unified splash, a wave crashing to shore.

A horn toot and all left the pond, packed up and followed their leader for the final trek back to the kennel. At the door, the huntsman stood aside. The hounds filed into the main room tongues lulling out one side of their mouths, lips stretched in grins. Content with their outing, happy to be home.

Run by run, the huntsman's eyes bade them to enter. Each hound knew when it was his turn. The last door shut and the room grew quiet. Before I left, I leaned against the wall, muscles quivering, gaze moving from hound to hound, eager to communicate to the pack how much I enjoyed our morning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too much of a good thing? Never.

I'm way behind. Squandered part of my day sitting on a porch in a rocker talking hunting. I was late getting around to riding. Just finished hackng my thoroughbred in the woods, praying the wind gusts wouldn't blow any limbs down on us. Rustic was unconcerned, ambling along like some old quarterhorse. He was a lucky find. If I could whittle him down about four inches he'd be perfect. Seventeen hands is simply beyond my capabilities for mounting from the ground. He's had to learn to stand next to all kinds of weird things so I can climb aboard. :) Anyone know how to teach one to kneel? Anyone want to come over and fix dinner so I can rest? :) Hope all had a day like mine, overflowing with good things.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cost of Loving a Horse

I spent the morning in the barn watching my horses get new shoes. Custom made, shiny silver rims for their feet that would enhance their way of going, make them more comfortable and cause someone watching them move say, "Nice."

Then I looked down at my mud covered, steel toed work boots and saw my friend Jill's bright new clogs instead. She'd posted pictures of them on Facebook and her excitement over her new acquisitions leapt off the page. What is wrong with me, I thought. I should be writing a check for my own movement enhancing, feel good apparel, not spending all my money on these beasts. Image, my thirty-two year old Thoroughbred snorted. He only got a trim, not a set of shoes.

I glanced at him. Perhaps, I could use his share of the horse budget to buy myself some Jill-like happiness?

Then, I really looked at Image. His hips show his age, his coat, too. His time here is finite. And, I knew my thoughts of clogs making me happier than being in the barn with this old horse were no more than daydreams.

The reality is, if new shoes might keep Image around longer, I'd happily go barefoot.

Image, Bob and Kernan

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Other side of Horse Ownership

Summer Games-One of my horses

I went riding in the rain this morning, trotted across the soft ground in rhythm with the falling moisture. Once in the woods, I lifted my face upwards, glimpsed flashes of a lavender sky through a shifting cover of pale green. Cleansed by fresh air and pristine water, I breathed deeply of the promise of spring and turned toward home. My hand ran through my thoroughbred's mane. He relaxed, stretched long and low. I followed his example and let go of the things I worry about. 

Horses add a wonderful dimension to my life. Sometimes, I forget that when cleaning their stalls.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Horse Play

"I want to have fun," I say.
Sun's out, weather's warm. These darn chores can wait. I grab the nearest horse, my new thoroughbred, out of the field, scrape off yesterday's mud and throw on my saddle. Rustic shimmies left and right as I tighten the girth signalling his desire to rejoin his buddies.
"If you don't have to work, I shouldn't have to."
"Yeah, yeah," I say, then cock my head. Have I just been talking to a horse?
He turns his head my direction and blows. I wipe the fine droplets of exhalations off my brow and decide I really should spend more time with humans. He agrees with a vigorous nod.
In the tackroom, I select the fat, rubber bit. It will fill up his mouth and garble his speech, just in case Rustic thinks he wants to continue his smart mouthed ways. I chuckle at my own penchant for giving horses human characteristics, finish tacking up and climb aboard.
Today, Rustic wants to go on a trail we've never taken. I let him have his way, simply happy to be out. He picks up a trot, extends it. I'm tossed high in the air on each shoulder thrust, drop back in the saddle on each down beat. The trail bends and we enter a shady, pine-bough tunnel.  I ask for a walk. The needles strewed under our feet can be slick.
Rustic kicks it up a couple of gears. Skips the canter and launches into his racehorse gallop. He makes a few sounds, but I can't understand. Wind whips branches, and I haul back on the reins. Rustic rumbles. I duck left and begin to regret the fat, rubber bit.
In the flash of an "Oh #*##" we're completely lost. At least, I am. Rustic seems to have a plan. I grow tired, give up on trying to stop him.
"Okay, you win. Take me home," I say.
He begins to slow.
At the next intersection, Rustic takes a left, then another. His neck stretches, he ambles into a walk. I remain silent. Even though I know he can't understand my words, telling him he's useless sack of bones doesn't seem like the wise thing to do at the moment. Only he knows where we are.
Three hours later, he ambles onto a familiar trail, one that leads to the barn. I give a relieved sigh. He's mumbled all the way, throwing in a whinny now and then.
Back in the stable, I take his saddle and bridle off, grudgingly wash sweat from his coat.
"What was that all about?" I ask as I turn him back out with his buddies. He looks over his shoulder. "Don't you go blowing on me, again." I put one arm up in front of my face just in case.
 "If, you hadn't stuck that big bit in my mouth, you'd have understood. Now I'm not gonna tell ya." He kicks up his heels and streaks across the field.
"Okay, don't," I say, not caring if I appear crazy, knowing I'm simply adding words to his actions in my mind.
As I walk away, I hear hoofbeats coming my way. I turn. Rustic nuzzles my shoulder.
"I was just horsin' around," he says. "You said you wanted to play."
I laugh and blow kisses in his face.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Value of A Smile

Artist's Image

Because of life recently getting in the way of living as usual I've found myself examining each day a bit more. Asking, what did I do that made me smile? What did I do to brighten someone else's morning or afternoon or moment?

Today, it's easy to answer the first question. I'm looking out my window at my three horses munching their way across the field, headed for the steep hill. I know when they get there a race will start to see who can get to the front pasture first. Heels will kick in the air, necks will arch, bodies will twist in joy. It's quite a sight and always makes me smile.

Image, my 32 year old TB will come in last, but not for lack of trying and he will have a blast playing the young stud, if for just a brief moment. He always reminds me, no matter our lameness, age, or condition there are bright spots if you keep on keepin' on.

What have I done for another? I scolded my husband for not eating enough protein. That may not sound like something to brighten his day, but he knows it shows I care. It brought a smile to his face. Sometimes, no often, simply doing something that shows a person matters to you is all it takes. His smile does that for me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Very Short Stories

My Wish

Happy Birthday! My wish, another year. They don’t come true if you tell. I say it anyway. I'd rather die than you not know.

Leaky Valves

Newly divorced. Wanted – one undamaged heart.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year's Day Foxhunt Report

For those who hunt the below will make sense, for those who don't, think of it as a peek into what I do when not writing. It may read a bit awkwardly as some names have been removed to protect privacy.

Foggy, in the mid-forties at 10 am, 35 couple, English, American and Crossbred. While these are definitely MFH & huntsman, (name removed)'s hounds, he has allowed me to hunt them some in 2010. He also honored me with the privilege of hunting them on the first day of 2011. He whipped in and offered advice when needed. MFH, (name removed) lead the first flight, (name removed) the second. About 15 members in the field. We've had snow and bad footing for a week and I think many stayed home waiting for better conditions. They missed a good one.

We hunted from the White Oak fixture. Hacked across John Watson Rd and cast along the creek. Hounds fanned out and searched diligently through the heavy underbrush, but didn't strike until we arrived at MFH Roger Smith's new meadow which lies along the creek with heavy woods surrounding it. There the pack found in the Brier patch and roared to life for a bit, but couldn't hold it. I picked them up and we moved on to the soybean field as the above huntsman had said that would be the logical next move. It was so neat seeing the hounds floating across the land like ghosts in the mist. No game had been there recently and we moved slowly on, simply enjoying the sight, toward the vineyard. We traveled through a bit of forest and then out again along the creek trail. The hounds move above us on the hillside.

The pack struck gold in the pines below the vineyard, and were so loud I think one could have heard them a mile away. We galloped across the bottom and up one side of the pine woods. The hounds made two giant loops up to the top of the vineyard (great view for miles from the top) and back down to the creek and then the coyote feeling pressed, changed course and streaked back cross-country toward the way we'd come, across John Watson, through Roger's bottom fields (across the river from his barn), and toward the White Oak meet. The whole pack was on the line. (name removed), honorary whipper-in was on that side and stayed with them.

From there they traversed the river at a place we can't cross on horseback, and continued on. I assume, when they crossed the river, they lost the coyote and found the fox line. Our horses were puffing by now, having traveled to the top of the vineyard, down to the creek, back up and then the long ride down the road, through the bottoms on the other side and around to the meadows where the trailers were parked.

From this point, the field and I had to go back to a river crossing and around, which takes about 20 minutes on horseback, and missed the next part of the chase, though the hounds could be heard in the distance. MFH, (name removed), released the members of the field who felt they'd had enough fun for the day as we were so close to the trailers. Many took advantage of that, but a few hardy souls continued on with me.

(name removed), huntsman from Camargo was visiting and he zipped around in his truck to Ken Miller road by the low water bridge. There he spied a gray fox with hounds in pursuit. The gray was viewed 3 times. It was nice that the car followers and car whips, MJ and Jerry were there.

The rain began in earnest then, and we waved good-bye to our furry friend, gathered the pack, and called it a day. My thanks to well-trained hounds, whipper-ins who did a super job, (names removed). Also, thanks to wonderful MFH's for the thoughtful care and sharing of their land, and (name removed) for making my first day of 2011 something I'll cherish. This reads very short, but you can fill in the blanks. It was over two hours of hound music. Hard to beat that.

Happy Hunting in this New Year to all!

Deborah Bundy, Honorary whipper-in, Green Creek Hounds in North Carolina