Tag Archives: YA

Bu++ Bites Build Gristle


It’s like this – the gander that was flapping my face, back and legs . . .

. . . while simultaneously biting blood blisters on my little three-year-old derriere didn’t know he was contributing to my future female assertiveness.

Being left alone in trees by older cousins while they went off to play games assuredly built my self-reliance.

How did I get all this country-flavored therapy?

By being reared in a farm atmosphere with a pack of heathens for cousins, that’s how.

Descending upon Grandma and Granddad’s farm every summer made my cousins and me wacky. Throwing our shoes and socks over our shoulders, we screeched with pure, wild summer madness.

My gristle got a good start during those summers.

I was the youngest, shortest, and most sensitive of the cousin pack *actually, they called me bawl-bag* which swelled in number from six to sixteen throughout the summer.

Our fun was simple in those days – we simply created it from basically nothing.

Running wild and barefoot, teasing Heir Gander (the baddest guy on the farm), and not minding our elders were outstanding activities.

Of course, not minding always resulted in a lesson on branch cutting (for switches) and a character-building session involving our gluteous maximi immediately thereafter.

Challenging Grandma’s Gander to a mad race across the barnyard was forbidden. And thrilling. Except for me. My legs wouldn’t get me very far before I was missing in action. A little wing whipping before being rescued by the cousins was worth all the grass-rolling hilarity that followed.

One day, Gander snapped.

Possessed by Hitler, Gander went for blood . . .

. . . and I was his victim.

Hair-raising screams brought a rescue unit of five or six wild-eyed adults.

After Heir Gander was slightly reconstructed by my hysterical mom, I experienced a grit-building event. My mom, with multiple pairs of cousin eyes staring, pulled down my shorts to inspect the gander bites. Snickering, then outright peals of laughter, echoed through the barnyard.

That’s when I cried. Hard.

My strength was building!

Other times, when my cousins grew tired of babysitting me, they left me in a tall tree and told me to hold tight and be sure and not fall.

Hanging on for dear life—I’m afraid of heights to this day—I squalled until they came back. When they did, I was the center of attention. Merrily swung onto a pair of shoulders, I was teased and promised games and stories. They even meant it.

I was all giggles when we returned to the farmhouse. Any notice of my red eyes or purple face was attributed to the heat and my allergic problems.

Experiences like these were difficult, but I’m glad I went through them and others later on. Why? Well, I have a theory:

A little grit in your craw makes life’s toughest tidbits easier to swallow.

I love to hear from you.

Just for fun . . .

I told you using unauthorized media would sour your stomach.

I told you using unauthorized media would sour your stomach.

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Lost and Angry Pound



–Image by John Lofgreen http://johnlofgreen.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-most-famous-paintings.

Draped over a rock still warm from the day’s scorcher,the lizard gazed thoughtfully at the ghost town silver-lined by a full Arizona moon. A saloon glowed softly among the deserted buildings. Tinkling piano music, mixed with the occasional clamor of loud voices and guffaws, drifted into the night sky.

The desert iguana slithered off his vantage point and moved soundlessly through thirsty weeds and baked red rocks.

Cautiously, he darted beneath the rotting boards of the old boardwalk running the length of Main Street. He paused to chart the slope of the saloon wall and catch his breath. His eyes rolled in a full circle to check for danger before he scampered up the rough-hewn timber. Upside-down and hidden by the shadow of the overhang, the desert sentinel gazed through the dull glass window into the amber haze of kerosene lamp light.

Something definitely had the customers riled up inside.

Buttery yellow and dirty-white shapes clustered against the inside walls. More shapes waddled side to side around the room. The choking odor of rancid grease hung in the air.

Yessir, the lizard allowed, Blubber Gulch Saloon was like no other this side of the Rio Grande. It was known in the West as a place where outlaw fatty globules and lost, lonely pounds could hang out with no diets breathing down their double necks.

“Bartender! Give me another!” shouted a clotted, ill-shaped Pound at the bar. He lifted a shaky mug toward the serene Pound behind the bar.

“You betcha, Blob,” said the bartender, quickly filling Blob’s mug full of syrupy lubricate. Blob downed the liquid in one gulp, burped an oily belch, then spat on the floor.

“Yeah, I dropped off ol’ Jodi and laid on her floor shaking like curdled cream. That is, until I got mah wits back together.”

Blob’s wheeze sounded like a sack full of cats. He turned to the crowd gathering around him and continued. “When I got back to sensibility, I rolled over to a corner and waited. Couldn’t even sit up at first.”

Once again, Blob extended his mug toward the accommodating bartender.

“It ain’t no fair. That Jodi never appreciated me. Nah, not one bit. Fact is, she out and out hated me!”

A collective gasp rose from the onlookers. Blob’s eyes narrowed to slits as he leaned toward them.

“Don’t feel sorry for old Blob, gents. I’ll bide mah time and hang low for a spell. You just mark my words. Before that ornery Jodi can cram her legs into those new…” He looked around with fiery cinder eyes “… SKINNY…jeans, I’ll be right back where I came from, right in the middle of her left thigh!”

Commotion broke out among the Pounds.

“Now listen here, Blob. This is a respectable place. Don’t come in here using bad language! You cuss that ‘skinny’ word again, and I’m gonna have to throw you out,” the bartender warned.

Blog growled and dipped his fingers in a jar of grease sitting on the bar. After noisily sucking them clean, he pointed at the ceiling.

“I’ll be back, Miz Hotsy-Totsy Jodi Lea Stewart, and I’m bringing a bunch of mah renegade friends with me. You ain’t seen the last of me and my kind!”

With that, Blob fell backward in a greasy stupor. His cohorts strained as they pulled him toward the wall, leaving a broad streak of fat on the floor.

No one noticed the lizard shaking his head over the smudgy glass window. Slowly he made his descent and disappeared into the darkness. He walked until the light peeked over the horizon, his tail leaving curvy “S” marks in the silent sand.

Did you ever think about where all those pounds go when we drop them? Maybe a little ghost town in the Arizona desert? If you’re like me, my pounds don’t have to wait very long before “coming home.”

Just for fun . . .

Myrtle, if I catch you cheating with unauthorized media again, I'll have to tell the marshall.

Myrtle, if I catch you cheating with unauthorized media again, I’ll have to tell the marshall.

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Aunt Dora’s Light Bread


 My Aunt Dora’s Light Bread Rocks!

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 pkg. yeast
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 Tbls. sugar
  • 4-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbls. Crisco, melted
  • 12 cups flour

Dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar in 1-cup water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes. Scald milk. Add 5 Tablespoons sugar and the salt. Cool to lukewarm.

Add yeast mixture, remaining water and the flour. Beat well. Add melted shortening and enough of remaining flour to make easily handled dough. Knead until smooth and elastic.

Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down. Let dough rise again. Divide and make into two loaves. Let loaves rise until double in size.

Bake at 425-degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375-degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans onto a rack. Brush tops with butter.

Scalding milk: Old-fashioned but worthy in some cases

Pour milk into a saucepan. Heat until it becomes lightly frothy with tiny bubbles forming around the edges. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. If you use a thermometer, heat to about 180 degrees.

A Smaller Version of Aunt Dora’s Light Bread:

  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • ½ pkg. yeast
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1-1/4 Tbls. sugar
  • 1-1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/4 Tbls. Crisco, melted
  • 3 cups flour

Follow the same instructions as for the larger recipe using the reduced amounts of ingredients. Let rise. Punch down. Let rise. Punch down. Make into one small loaf or squeeze dough through index finger and thumb to form rolls. Let rise. Bake. Serve.

Comment: These are the amounts I reduced the recipe so Ralph (husband) and I could make a pan of rolls for one meal back in 1946 – Aunt Dora Woods (married to Woods kid: Ralph)

Comment: This is an old recipe, so I have learned lots of shortcuts in the way I add the ingredients and mix it. Such as, I use Carnation instant dry milk, so mix the right amount in lukewarm water and no more scalding, etc. Try your luck and use your own method of mixing – Aunt Dora Woods (married to Woods kid: Ralph)

Comment: Trust me, this is some of the most delicious bread you’ll ever put a slab of butter on – Jodi Lea Stewart

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Day the Public Library Stole My Feet


Thanks to John Wayne, most of us remember the Alamo.

British Museum Reading Room, London, Great Britain

And because of Bodeen’s lovely screenplay adaptation of I remember Mama, lots of us, well, remember Mama.

But get this.

I remember *gasp!* before the Internet.

Let me tell you a story . . .

Once upon a distressing day, in a faraway time we called the ‘80s,

I went solo to the downtown public library for a day of hard-core research.

Before Google. Before Yahoo. Before  *diabolical laugh* cell phones!

Picture it!

Jodi is . . . 

. . . driving downtown to *please use Piers Morgan’s voice for the next five words* the Grand Poo-Bah Public Library.

Okay, put Piers’ voice away now.

Ahem. As I was saying,

Jodi is . . . 

1) driving around and around a monstrosity of a downtown public library on one-way streets getting quite desperate for a parking spot AND A POTTY.

2) snortling (which is a cross between a chortle and a snort) and slapping the steering wheel when she finds a just-vacated parking spot in front of the library and won’t have to park eight blocks away in the seedy parking lot run by a guy named Lefty.

3) ignoring angry faces of two drivers who arrived at sacred parking spot two seconds later than she did. Hard to ignore ugly hand gesture of one angry driver.

4) attempting to fit her Chevy Suburban “tank” into a parking space the size of a kitchen sink. Result: Failure.

Now Jodi is . . . 

1) stomping away from Lefty’s parking lot muttering about her lousy parallel-parking skills and the eight-block walk to the library.

2) loading up her shoulders, arms, wrists, and back with STUFF as if she’s a Grand Canyon pack mule.

3) walking and huffing and glowing (because women don’t sweat) all the way to the library on numbed-out, but very cute, high-heeled feet.

4) climbing the steps into *grab that Piers voice again* the Grand Poo-Bah Public Library.

Put Piersie’s voice away. He’s done.

Inside hallowed library halls, we’ll discard the third-person narration and switch to first-person narration. 

As usual, I was hungry to pounce on every fragment of information inside that lofty, pseudo-Roman-Greek-pillared structure of learning and its tens of thousands of yellowed tomes.

I still needed to use the potty. I unloaded all MY STUFF inside the tiny toilet enclosure, reloaded it to walk to the sink, unloaded it to wash my hands, and reloaded it one more time to walk out the door.

Whew.

I emerged at last from the ladies’ room into a Pantheon of Brilliance. Deeping inhaling the library fumes circling my nose gave me a natural endorphin high. Or was it all the dust mites floating in the air from page-turning currents?

Not sure. Nevertheless, just absorbing that cathedral of knowledge invigorated me.

Achy feet? What achy feet? I was in literature heaven, baby!

I dug my bag of bricks out of the two-inch groove in my shoulder and unloaded it on the blond wood of a nearby library table. Of course, I actually unloaded a bag of ancillary books, notebooks, paper, 3×5 cards, pens and a turquoise nylon lunch sack with a sandwich and a juice box, but it felt like bricks.

Obsolete card catalog files at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University

Zealously grabbing pens and a stack of notecards, I headed to the catalogued card drawers, giddy with research ecstasy. Two or three steps later, rationale reared its ugly head.

What about MY STUFF?

I looked over my shoulder at my STUFF sitting innocently but tall on the library table. I caught movement from the corners of my eyes. Were furtive characters slithering around the perimeter walls eyeballing my heap of treasure? It certainly seemed so.

I mean, we are talking DOWNTOWN.

What choice did I have? I reloaded my STUFF and took it to the nearest Dewey Decimal lounge.

This was before computerized book cataloging. The few dark-age relics vintage screens in the library had wrap-around lines of people waiting to learn how to operate them.

The lucky few currently in front of the terminals were flanked by two or three library assistants pulling their hair out patiently explaining the mechanisms to minds not yet accustomed to absorbing cyber information.

Really similar to explaining nebulae to your great-great granny.

I know. I know. It’s far too much for some of you to imagine this kind of antiquity without envisioning dinosaurs grazing out on the library lawn. Just because I’m a little jealous of you right now, I’m not going to tell you if dinosaurs were out there or not.

Back to my story.

After bloodying my cuticles STANDING and searching through the overstuffed card drawers and pulling out fuzzy-edged cards with Dewey’s special number codes and compiling a list, I reloaded my STUFF and limped – more like a step-drag-step – to the first aisle of books on my list.

That’s when the fun really started because I . . . 

 

1) dropped my STUFF on the floor between my feet.

2) hunkered over it protectively since aforementioned duplicitous characters ventured ever closer to my personal space.

3) perused book after book.

4) wrote furiously on note cards with one eye on my STUFF.

5) scooted STUFF further down the same aisle.

It became a pattern.

  • Drop STUFF.
  • Scan immediate area.
  • Select books.
  • Stand, bend, squat.
  • Write notes.
  • Put books back into place.
  • Gather pens and cards.
  • Reload STUFF.
  • Next aisle.

Write with both eyes on the disheveled man with trousers rolled up to his knee on one leg. Try not to stare at man’s hairy, pasty leg or listless socks banding his ankles.

He shot me a bet-you-don’t-have-LifeLock stare.

Hold it!

LifeLock wasn’t invented yet!

Okay. I remember now.

It was a bet-I can-run-faster-than-you glare. I scowled at him with and hovered closer to my STUFF, especially my purse.

This went on for about three hours.

Task completed

Factoids painfully gathered, I stumbled out the magnificent double doors of the downtown public library, down the steps and back to my Suburban dragging my derrière and, of course, my STUFF.

After the eight-block walk, I threw all that crap STUFF into the back seat. Sitting under the wheel, my key in the ignition, I rummaged through my purse for the precious index cards full of research gold.

I dug and dug. I jumped out and flung open the passenger door. I tore through my tote bag, books, notebooks and turquoise lunch sack.

No cards.

Miserable as a hound dog in a corset, I had to face the facts. I’d left my cards on a bookshelf back at the library. Had to put them down, you see, to reload all my STUFF.

I stood there grasping the side of the Suburban, teetering on my fifteen four-inch heels and arguing with myself. Should I trek the eight blocks back to the library on the off chance that my cards were still sitting there undisturbed, and not being crinkled *softened* that very moment to use as roll-yer-own cigarette paper?

Nah!

I drove home blathering something like wub wub-wubbie woo. In retrospect, I believe that meant the public library had stolen a lot from me that day – my back muscles, my research cards and , most especially, my feet.

My feet weren’t feet any more, but numbed out blocks of wood suffering from a blister epidemic.

That’s my sad story.

Lesson learned – when I go to the library these days, *which, incredulously, I still love to do* I take a human STUFF watcher along.

AND I NEVER, NO NEVER, wear high heels to the big downtown public library!

What about you? Do you remember the prehistoric days before the Internet? Did you ever get into a mess like this one with no one to help you out of it? If you’re a writer or researcher, what percentage of your research do you do inside an actual library?

Done with Dewey by Tali Balas Kaplan at the ACLS  Blog (Assoc. for Library Service to Children).

USC Doheny Library card catalog room. Four walls lined with small drawers, all empty. Replaced by the Internet terminals at left

 

Arrow

 

Just for fun . . .

 

Stop with the unauthorized media, Tony, and one day, you'll be a big shot like me.

Stop with the unauthorized media, Tony, and one day, you’ll be a big shot like me.

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Mules Don’t Drool


 

Surefooted, dilligent mules make the trip into the Grand Canyon possible.

Surefooted, diligent mules make the trip into the Grand Canyon possible.

Do Mules Rule?

Of Course! They were “the bomb” before tractors were invented. Especially for farmers who couldn’t afford farm equipment. Imagine trying to transform acres of rocky, tree-infested soil into bountiful crops without mules and their relatives.

Mules STILL RULE for many farmers of today. Especially with the Amish who, shunning contemporary machinery, depend on thousands of mules for plowing their fields.

Mules are the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Inheriting the endurance of their donkey fathers, they are generally considered stronger than horses. They are faithful, hard-working animals asking only for food and water for survival.

John Wice, mule expert and rescuer, says mules are easy keepers. “They tend to be more sure- footed than horses, aren’t picky eaters, and are often good watch dogs over their own territory. They have a definite dislike for coyotes – they’ll run them off,” he says.

Wikipedia says mules are the animals of choice in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where at least sixteen commercial mule pack stations continue to operate.

When the going gets tough (steep, narrow trails),

precarious (carrying tourists in and out of the Grand Canyon),

or danged near impossible (accessing/supplying mountain base camps). . .

people need mules!

Are Mules Merely Beasts of Burden?

This may surprise you, but equine trainer and competitor Audrey Goldsmith and her eight-year-old mule, Porter, enter English Dressage Classics all the time. As Porter racks up the ribbons, he and Goldsmith are changing opinions about mules everywhere they compete.

Goldsmith claims mules are extremely trainable and are as eager to please their owners as dogs. “They’re like rideable border collies,” she says. Further, they keep their heads better when they’re scared. Instead of running until they drop or their owner gets control, a mule will run a short distance and stop. He senses the danger is over, and he quits freaking out.

Sadly, mules are forbidden to compete in most hunter and jumper competitions. Chalk it up to old-fashioned paradigms and the fact that a few flighty horses really are terrified of mules.

Why do mules scare certain horses? Maybe it’s their longer ears flopping about like unattached carrots as they trot or run. Or perhaps some of the horses sense their owners’ sanctimonious attitude toward these so-called “lesser” equines.

The U.S. Dressage Federation is an exception to the rule. They allow mules to compete right along with the horses in Dressage.

Same rules. Same penalties. Same rewards. You know…fair and equal treatment.

But wait, there’s more…

Mules Barrel Racing

Besides gulping down Philly cheese steaks, hamburgers, onion blossoms, kettle corn or hot apple fritters at the annual Mule Mania event in Dayton, Washington, every July, you can watch mules in cattle events, barrel racing, English dressage, obstacle drives and even a Fast Ass Express Relay Race!

Washington isn’t the only state in love with these hybrids. California, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Tennessee and many other states have their own Mule Days celebrations.

Mule Days started in 1840 in Columbia, Tennessee. In fact, Columbia claims to be “The Mule Capital” of the world. Their mule celebration is a four-day event attracting more than 200,000 people.

(l-r) Vivian Myrick, Red Myrick

My late step-dad, Red Myrick, a distinguished equestrian, trained two miniature mules for bird- hunting trips. Those little sure-footed cuties walked behind him and my mom in the field as quiet and humble as could be. When my parents stopped, the mules stopped, too. When they started walking, their mules did too.

Red sure liked his mules, except for the time he had a couple white ones hitched to a small work cart and they took off running. One took the right side of an oak tree, and the other chose the left side. Using the control of a fighter pilot on a war mission, Mom suppressed her laughter until she was sure 1) Red was alive and didn’t need paramedics, and 2) she was safely locked away in her own bathroom. Then she let the snickers rip.

To this day, she can’t tell that story without hee-hawing!

I’ll be sharing more mule facts and stories in future blogs. It’s my small way of extolling the virtues of these fine, worthy animals.

I think they deserve it.

I love to hear from you.

Just for fun . . .

Miss Kitty, we found unauthorized media in your saloon!

Miss Kitty, we found unauthorized media in your saloon!

 

 

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Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Ma Dubie’s Hot Bean Dumplings


This is my grandmother’s *Ollie Pear Woods* recipe from the old days when survival meant using EVERYTHING.

  • left-over pinto beans made real juicy with extra water
  • lots of red or green peppers {Grandma Woods grew her own}
  • biscuit dough rolled out very thin and cut in 1”x 4” strips (homemade dough only…oh, all right, use Pillsbury©, you silly thing!)

Bring beans and juice to a rolling boil. Cook as many as you want or need. Drop dumplings in bean juice. Heat through (doesn’t take long) and serve immediately.

Comment: My granddad called my grandma “Dubie.”
Comments from one of the eleven Woods’ kids:
This recipe came from Mother Woods, 1921, living in Frog Spring Hollow in Jay Hills. Sure tasty. Don’t get it too hot (spicy), or you’ll drink lots of water — Woods kid Dean.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Sassy Sassafras Tea


 

  • Sassafras Root
  • Water (at least 1 quart)
  • Cream and sugar (optional)

Dig up several roots from a sassafras tree (or order online). Rinse thoroughly until clean. Depending on the size of the root(s), place in a large pot or teakettle. Boil to desired strength.

The tea will be a pale-pinkish-brown. The pinker the tea, the stronger it is. Add sugar and/or cream if desired. Drink hot or cold.

Keep in a pot on the back of the stove. You can refill the pot with water and boil it again for more tea.

Comment:  Chewing on a piece of raw root cleans your teeth and freshens your breath – Everett Woods (Woods kid #1, 1910-1996)

Comment:  Drink this tea every spring to “thin your blood” – Elmer Woods (Granddad aka Pa Dubie) 

Just for fun . . .

James, you know your vertigo always flares up when you borrow unauthorized media.

James, you know your vertigo always flares up when you borrow unauthorized media.

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Sassy Sassafras, the Root Beer Tree


My grandfather, Thomas Elmer Woods, learned a lot from the Five Civilized Tribes: medicine, ceremonial dancing, and how to survive.

After his mother died soon after giving birth to him and his twin sister, his sister was sent to live with relatives in the Pacific Northwest. Elmer headed to Indian Territory, Oklahoma, in a covered wagon with his mother’s brother and his wife. He was two weeks old, and the year was 1884.

Native American Ways

Indian Territory consisted of the lands of the Five Civilized Tribes: Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks (Muscogees), and Seminoles, along with twenty-two other tribes.

Elmer got along well with his Native American neighbors. They trusted him enough to let him dance with them whenever he wanted. They taught him their secrets of survival, like how to use roots, leaves, bark and plants to make medicines.

He used that knowledge for his family, and for others, his whole life. The longevity his eleven children enjoyed speaks for the wisdom of those natural preventives.

Case in point – my mother. She’s 88 years young and still bakes the best pies you ever tasted, does her own grocery shopping, drives thousands of miles by herself and can still cut a rug when she really wants to.

She’s Elmer’s eighth child, and one of the tonics she grew up on was sassafras tea.

Thinning (purifying) the blood

Elmer insisted that his family members drink sassafras tea liberally every spring to thin their blood after the long, harsh Oklahoma and Missouri winters.

Sassafras trees, with their irregular lobed leaves and aromatic bark, grew wild and plentiful in the woods. Elmer gathered roots every spring. After thoroughly cleaning a root, or hunks ofSassafrass Roots root, he placed it in a pot of water to boil. Soon, the water turned a beautiful clear pink. When the family was fortunate enough to buy sugar, they added it to the spicy tea, along with fresh cow cream.

It didn’t take much persuasion for eleven little country kids to want to start thinning their blood and ridding themselves of their sluggish winter bodies!

As a very young child, I remember seeing a pan on my grandma’s stove with a big tree root poking out of the top. That was fascinating! The tea tasted wonderful, and I wanted lots and lots.

Later on, when I was a teenager and more snooty sophisticated, I doubted my granddad’s theory about sassafras tea thinning the blood.

How ridiculous, I thought.

Pure folklore.

Dumb.

Then I grew enough brain cells to check it out for myself.

I found out that sassafras tea is recognized as a natural anticoagulant.

Anticoagulant = blood thinner. Fancy that.

Ever notice how much smarter grownups got after our teen years?

In early America, sassafras and tobacco were the main exports from the colonies to England. Sassafras was revered for its medicinal qualities, as well as for the beauty of its wood.

Alas, sassafras tree byproducts, including sassafras tea, are controversial these days, which is why it isn’t the main ingredient in root beer anymore.

The dried and ground sassafras leaves are still used to make filé powder for certain types of gumbo.

And lots of people just go right on using the mysterious tree’s bark, leaves, and roots.

A good argument in favor of doing that might be my granddad. He lived into his eighties with no medicines other than the natural ones he learned from The Five Civilized Tribes. He hand-delivered all of his eleven children, survived total economic depression with nothing but his two hands to make a living and played a mean banjo and fiddle with no lessons.

Maybe there really is something to “thinning the blood” with sassafras tea every spring. You think?

Have you ever tasted sassafras tea? Did you know it was the main flavoring in root beer at one time, or that some people thought of the sassafras tree as the root beer tree? Did your family use any old-timey “medicines” that didn’t come from a pharmacy?

I love to hear from you.

Just for fun . . .

Borrowing unauthorized media is driving me to the edge.

Borrowing unauthorized media is driving me to the edge.

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Skillet Cookery: Mexican Spoon Bread


 

  • 1 16 oz. can cream-style corn
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup melted shortening
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbls. chili powder
  • 1 cup cornmeal, yellow or white
  • 1 4-oz. can Green Chilies, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8” to 9” iron skillet (mine is square)

Use cheese strips or dollops on top if desired

Heat oven to 400 degrees. If skillet is not seasoned well, use non-stick spray on bottom and insides. Set aside. Combine first eight ingredients. Mix well. Pour half the batter into the skillet and top with green chilies. Add half the shredded cheese. Pour on remaining batter. Sprinkle with rest of cheese. Bake approximately 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer skillet to a rack. Cut and serve warm with beans and/or salsa, or eat it by itself. Wrap up leftover bread in foil when cool. Delicious leftover by itself or with accompaniments.

Comment: Very rich – butter sparingly.
Comment: Mexican Spoon Bread with homemade pinto beans and bean juice on the top is delish! – Jodi Lea Stewart
Comment: Photography by Elizabeth Cerza.

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole


  • 2 large chicken breasts w/skin and bone
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbls. olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 can chopped green chilies
  • 1 sm. bottle of pimentos
  • ½ cup chopped black olives, optional
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
  • ½ lb. + 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, optional

Boil chicken breasts in a heavy pot with water, bay leaves, salt and pepper until done. Cool slightly. Cut and pull the meat into very small pieces, carefully removing all bones. Reserve 1 cup of the chicken broth. Sauté onion in oil. Don’t overcook. Add chicken broth, both cans of soup, green chilies, pimentos, black olives, Velveeta cubes and black pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Butter a medium casserole dish. Line the bottom and sides with corn tortillas. Layer chicken pieces, shredded cheddar and cheese sauce. Add more tortillas and continue layering until all ingredients, except one cup of shredded cheddar cheese, are used. Finish with sauce. Cover top with remaining cheddar. Bake at 350-degrees until bubbly.

Comment:  My mother, Vivian Woods-Myrick has been making this casserole for almost as long as the Israelites wandered in the desert. Everyone thinks it’s yummy!

Comment:  Vivian suggests using a shallow glass pan for the casserole to distribute the heat better.

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.