Tag Archives: young adult fiction

HEROES: Military Working Dogs (MWDs)


Military Working Dogs

Starting with: The saga of STUBBY.

No slouch, Stubby was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and respected his superiors with a famous one-paw-over-the-eye salute.

Private Robert Convoy found the stray Bull Terrier Mix in 1917 at the training camp of the 102nd Infantry at Yale University. He and his buddies kept Stubby with them throughout their training. When their ship deployed to France, Stubby was smuggled aboard. He went through additional training before participating in seventeen war engagements in four WWI offensives. Once, he roused a sleeping sergeant to warn him of a gas attack, giving the soldiers time to don masks. Many lives were saved that night.

The fiesty little stray didn’t disappoint. He performed numerous other heroic deeds and  served as an icon of hope. Later, he was awarded the NCO rank of Sergeant. The most decorated dog from WWI became a post-war celebrity who hobnobbed with Presidents, Generals and Hollywood actors.

Dogs and the Military

Dogs aren’t new to the military. From ancient war camps to now, canines have played an important part. Since the Revolutionary War, dogs served the U.S. military as  companions, helpers, morale boosters and mascots.

In WWII, more than 10,000 MWDs were deployed to both Europe and the Pacific to act as sentries, scouts, and mine detectors.

The Vietnam War elevated MWD duties to serving with their handlers and units as co-fighters and expert danger sensors, as well as mine detectors.

Unfortunately, a great travesty of justice occurred after WWII and the Vietnam War. The military classified the MWDs as “disposable.” When our troops went home, the dogs were euthanized, or left behind to fend for themselves.

Not cool.

Hideous.

No way to treat a war hero.

NEMO was One of the Few Vietnam War Dogs to Make it Back to the U.S.

Nemo returns homeNemo and his handler, Airman Second Class Robert Thorneburg, were patrolling an old Vietnamese graveyard when they were attacked. Nemo and Thorneburg  killed two Vietcong before Thorneburg was shot twice in the shoulder. A bullet entered under Nemo’s right eye and exited through his mouth. The injury didn’t stop Nemo. He threw himself on four Vietcong guerrillas as they opened fire. Despite his injuries and being blinded in one eye, Nemo crawled back to his handler and draped himself over him, guarding him, until medical help came. The residing vet had to be called in to coax Nemo off Thorneburg. Both survived.

Back at the base, Nemo had a tracheotomy and skin grafts. He lost his right eye. He returned to the U.S. as a war hero, making personal appearances and spending his retirement at the dog training facility at Lackland AFB.

Changing hearts is a big job. It takes time. I believe Nemo was instrumental in starting to change the heart of the military about MWD classification.

Have Times Changed?

Here’s what one Animal Care Sergeant of the U.S. Army said: “I just wanted you to hear this from someone who’s right in the thick of everything with these MWDs about just how much these dogs are loved while they’re working. They really do get royal treatment that most people don’t have the opportunity to see . . . they really aren’t treated like property . . . ”

Today, MWDs are considered valuable assets in supporting the war on terror. They safeguard military bases and sniff out explosives. Approximately 2,000+ working dogs are trained and cared for at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas – the center for the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Program. The trained dog and handler teams are deployed worldwide.

The military, as well as private organizations, have also stepped up to the plate sponsoring adoption of brave dogs who served our country in the Armed Forces.

Five Courageous MWDs

Ninety acres of mine-contaminated land were declared safe for building a College of Agriculture in Iraq because of five selfless canines. It took the MWDs eight years to complete this task. Now, thanks to the help of many caring organizations, BLEK, MALYSH, MISO, NERO and ROCKY were put up for adoption by American families.

More Heroes

RAGS – a Cairn Terrier (France, WWI) ran a message through falling bombs though he was gassed and partially blinded (he survived!).

CHIPS – a German shepherd/husky/collie mix (France, Germany, Italy and North Africa; WWII) was the most decorated K9 who served in WWII.

KAISER  – a German shepherd who completed more than 30 combat patrols and became the first dog killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Lex – a hero for our times

During a rocket attack in Iraq in 2007, handler Corporal Dustin Lee was fatally injured. His MWD, Lex, sustained multiple shrapnel wounds but steadfastly remained with his team partner until other Marines arrived to provide medical attention.

The broken-hearted Lee family wanted to adopt their deceased son’s dog. While Lex was in intensive treatment for his wounds, they began appealing to the Marine Corps for the adoption. After months of prayers, letters and phone calls, the Lees won their battle to adopt Lex, who had returned to active duty.

For five years, Lex worked as a certified therapy dog with Paws 4 Hearts, visited wounded veterans in hospitals, went to veteran dedications and helped to bring awareness to the U.S. War Dogs Memorial. He, along with the Lees, worked tirelessly to change how people look at MWDs.

After an heroic life superbly lived, including winning an honorary Purple Heart, twelve-year-old Lex passed away March 25, 2012. Rachel Lee says the battle is not over yet. She continues her fight for federal support for families who adopt animals that served in the military.

RIP, dear Lex.

 

Military Working Dogs Monument, San Antonio, Texas

Military Working Dogs Monument, San Antonio, Texas

Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas, is the home of the Military Working Dog Teams Monument.

A quote from their official page: “There is no way we can put a number on all those American Servicemen’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that are here today because America gave her sons and daughters a dog to serve with during times of war. And the dogs had names like CHIPS (WWI) , YORK  (Korean War), NEMO (Vietnam War), COOPER (Iraq War), HUNTER (Afghanistan War) and the list of names goes into the tens of thousands . . . ”

From Wikipedia:

The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. It was founded by John C. Burnam, published author and Vietnam Veteran Infantryman and German Shepherd Scout Dog Handler (1966-1968). The monument was designed by the John Burnam Monument Foundation. It represents all wars since WWII and all five U.S. Armed Services (Army, Marines, Navy Air Force, and Coast Guard). The monument grounds encompass a 3,000 square feet granite plaza, granite pedestals, granite history wall, and granite benches. The granite pedestals have large bronze statues of dogs and handlers.”

What about you? Would you and your family be a good fit for a retired Military Working Dog, a national hero on four legs?

The “Not Forgotten Fountain” is part of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, in San Antonio. By: Paula Slater

The “Not Forgotten Fountain” is part of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, in San Antonio. By: Paula Slater

Think about it.

It’s not a light decision.

A Dog’s View

Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam, a novel by Cynthia Kadohata, is one-dog’s first-hand account (yes, it’s told from Cracker’s perspective) of serving in the military in Vietnam. I listened to the audio book on a road trip, and it was riveting. Take it on your next trip. You and everyone in the car will be mesmerized! Here’s a link to more books and videos about military war dogs: http://olive-drab.com/od_wardogs.php

One more thing: A Dedication to Joshua

This blog about Military Working Dogs is lovingly dedicated to Joshua Ben Stewart Selah, my beloved companion for fourteen years, who went to heaven on March 28, 2012. May he rest in peace until we are together again. I love you, my sweet boy – Jodi Lea Stewart

Joshua

 

 

 

 

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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.

Train Ride of Shame


The place was London – spooky, thrilling, pompous, historic, charming, expensive, wonderful London with its razzle-dazzle intertwine of ancient and pop-cultural life.

Hubby and I walked trillions of miles through downpours, sprinkles and blazing sun to see the Royal Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Square, remains of the infamous 19th-century prison Charles Dickens described in Great Expectations and, naturally, the original Hard Rock Café.

We were sooty, damp and delirious with wanderlust when we arrived back at the London train station to return to Rochester, our nesting place for the two weeks Mark was on a business assignment.

Wrestling through thick crowds inside the train, we couldn’t believe our luck when we spotted two empty seats facing one another inside a nice enclosure. We went inside, chatting happily as we nestled noisily among the seated passengers and arranged our numerous shopping bags.

A tomb-like silence soon settled inside our senses.

Taking a better look at our seatmates, we realized that all four men were wearing expensive three-piece suits, perfectly unscuffed shoes, buffed nails, and meticulously groomed hair. They were the English versions of the perfectly turned out GQ gentlemen.

Each man had an open newspaper in front of his face and appeared deeply engrossed in it.

No other signs of life were manifest in the “GQ gentlemen.”

Good grief! Mark and I conveyed to one another with saucer eyes, we’re in a PRIVATE gentleman’s car, and the men were too polite to tell us!

Our jeans and street-trollop appearance suddenly became unbearable. We’d been in rain and dirty city streets all day. Might we even be smelly?

I couldn’t bear it! I squirmed. With a man on each side of me, I was a giant toad trapped inside a tiny teacup. Everything I did seemed animated. Loud. Preposterous.

Mark and I were now agonizing and insufferably common;

wretched street characters from a Dickens novel;

a couple of low-lifes.

In desperation, I glanced at Mark sitting between the two men opposite me. Did he comfort me, quell my fears with a simple shoulder shrug or a nod of the head?

No.

Not at all.

My dear husband committed THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.

He rolled his eyes in an animated arc and puffed out his cheeks. His expression screamed at me, Sheesh! What a bunch of stuffed shirts!

He knew better than to commit this act of treason.

All my life, which he is fully aware of, I have battled a private affliction of the most humiliating kind; that is, in terribly absurd situations, I am struck with fits of uncontrollable hilarity that cannot be checked.

My PROBLEM took over.

An outrageous guffaw escaped my mouth. Vulgar snorts  emitted from my nose and throat. Soon, heaven forbid, the unthinkable happened. I started to wheeze at the end of my laughs. For me, that’s a common side effect of a fierce laugh attack. I continued to stifle loud shrieks, followed by those exasperating wheezes. Meanwhile, all around us . . .

no eyes moved from the newspapers—no faces reflected any emotion.

I couldn’t look at Mark. If I did, he made another face. I threw on my sunglasses. They immediately steamed up from the combination of damp air and my elevated body temperature. I grabbed my newly purchased Dickens paperback from my shopping bag and pretended to read, silently begging God to knock me out.

I’d like to say that I gained control on that train ride, but that wouldn’t be true. I calmed down to just the occasional giggle, though, which I managed to turn into a little dignified cough. It was comforting to know that I at least looked less stupid with my nose buried in a Charles Dickens novel.

Mark and I tumbled from the private booth and off the train as soon as rails and wheels allowed. Taking in gulps of air, I was relieved, and mad.

“Why Mark? Why did you do that to me?”

His eyes danced with orneriness. He shrugged. “Well, you know, next time, turn your book right side up. It’s a lot more effective.”

I died of mortification standing right there at the train station.

Indeed, looking back, I pray that anonymous group of Englishmen will think of me sometimes with benign humor as they puff their Cohiba Behike cigars or patiently turn at the tailor’s shop while being measured for their Gucci suits.

Perhaps one of the four gentlemen is a Shakespeare devotee who will charitably attach these words to his sanguinary memory of me:

I had rather a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad.

 

Do I dare show my face in London again? I still feel embarrassed about it, but I cherish this experience as one of the funniest of my life. It was so completely ridiculous!

Have you ever been hit with a very inappropriate laugh attack? What did you do to come out of it or to save face? Or did you?

I value your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

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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 Hand

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.

Lolita Tsosie’s Navajo Frybread


fry breadFrybread Recipes are not difficult. Give it a try!

Amounts depend on how much bread you want to make – usually 5 cups of flour for a batch.

To each cup of Blue Bird flour, add:

  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Warm water to make a stiff dough, or
  • ¼ cup powdered milk and warm water to make a stiff dough
  • Hot grease: shortening or lard

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Always put a little more baking powder than salt so it can rise better in the hot grease.

Add warm water a little at a time so the dough will come out all nice and round. If you add too much water, it gets sticky.

Blue Bird Flour . . . the preferred frybread flour for Navajos and other smart folks.

Blue Bird Flour . . . the preferred frybread flour for Navajos and other smart folks.

When you’re finished making the dough, let it sit for 30 60 minutes.

Heat your skillet with lard or shortening. It has to be plenty melted, and fill the skillet halfway.

Make little round balls about the size of a pool (billiards) ball. Flatten out a dough ball to about ¼” – not too thin, or the heated grease will make it too crisp. You’ll know when the grease is hot enough because the dough browns on one side. Turn it and brown the other side.

Repeat until you have made the amount you wanted.

Drain on paper towels or newspaper.

Enjoy eating “history!”

P. S.  Lolita said she learned her recipes from her grandparents.

 

 

 

 

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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.

An old Cowboy’s Recipe for FryBread


 

{7993B11B-BB01-4633-8564-A60E191575E3}-Windmill, Mesa Redondo RanchIn the 1960s, an old cowboy gave this recipe to my mom when we lived on the Mesa Redondo Ranch, Concho, Arizona.

To each cup of flour, add:

  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Enough milk or water to make a stiff dough, or
  • ¼ cup powdered milk and warm water to make stiff dough.

Knead dough until smooth, not sticky, or just make balls about 3” diameter and pull the ball into a 6” circle with fingers. Slash one side from the center out with a sharp knife in five places. Drop into hot grease. Brown on both sides and drain on newspaper or paper towels.

 

 

 

 

 

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 Silence of the Trees


Sometime in autumn…

I’m outside for reasons other than enjoying nature, my mind dripping with copious thoughts of numerous and diverse things, hurrying along, when suddenly, IT surrounds me like a cloak.

You might say . . . IT arrests me.

I stop. Look around. Listen.

IT—the Silence of the Trees—imprisons my spirit. For that brief interlude of time, I feel . . . rather than think, becoming an instant soul traveler to a place where deadlines and distractions and worries don’t matter.

A magical hush emanates from the foliage…

. . . descending upon me as I close my eyes.

The trees fold me into their branches to share their silent shouts of victory while they magically transform their careless, summer-gypsy branches into beautifully solemn sentinels of winter.

I hear their blood – their sap – seeping into their cores – standing guard against the approaching cold. The lonesome wail of the outer layers sacrificing their wet wood, letting it dry and harden and pretend to die, fills me with wonder.

Leaves wither and laugh on their way to the ground.

All that. I feel. When the Silence of the Trees halts me. On an autumn day.

Have you ever felt the Silence of the Trees? Do seasonal changes make you wax eloquently, feel inspired, or get excited? Maybe all of the above?  I value your thoughts.

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“Look, kid, I know it’s my fault. Careless media borrowing gets me every time!”

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.

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.

 

 

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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.

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!

 

 

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.