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.
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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 Kindle, the 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.