I’m coming. Better run!

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 confidence factor.

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 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 twenty+ throughout the summer. Why so many? Because my mom was one of eleven kids. That makes for a lot of cousins, lol!

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

Running wild and barefoot, teasing Heir Gander (the baddest dude 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 maximus 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 himself, Gander went for blood, and I was his victim.

Hair-raising screams brought a rescue unit of five or six bug-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 gristle *grit* 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 to 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, let alone digest.

You know I love to hear from you!

Just for fun . . .

What am I writing? Why, not to borrow unauthorized media, of course!

“Hey, Marilyn, did you read Jodi Lea Stewart’s newest novel, The Accidental Road?”

“Jane, Honey, I was her consultant. After all, she’s practically writing about me.”


Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas to an “Okie” mom and a Texan dad. Her younger years were spent in Texas and Oklahoma; hence, she knows all about biscuits and gravy, blackberry picking, chiggers, and snipe hunting. At the age of eight, she moved to a large cattle ranch in the White Mountains of Arizona. Later, she left her studies at 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 three 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 500 corporate newsletter. She currently resides in Arizona with her husband, her delightful 90+year-old mother, a crazy Standard poodle named Jazz, two rescue cats, and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants.


Historical Fiction



A teen and her mother escaping an abusive situation tumble into the epicenter of crime peddlers invading Arizona and Nevada in the 1950s. Stranded hundreds of miles from their planned destination of Las Vegas, they land in a dusty town full of ghosts and tales, treachery and corruption. Avoiding disaster is tricky, especially as it leads Kat into a fevered quest for things as simple as home and trust. Danger lurks everywhere, leading her to wonder if she and her mother really did take The Accidental Road of life, or if it’s the exact right road to all they ever hoped for.




Trouble sneaks in one Oklahoma afternoon in 1934 like an oily twister. A beloved neighbor is murdered, and a single piece of evidence sends the sheriff to arrest a black man Biddy, a sharecropper’s daughter, knows is innocent. Hauntingly terrifying sounds seeping from the woods lead Biddy into even deeper mysteries and despair and finally into the shocking truths of that fateful summer.

“Beyond the humor and entertaining antics of the main character, Biddy Woodson, BLACKBERRY ROAD has depth and meaning as it explores stirring universal themes that we expect in great literature” ~ D.B. Jackson, acclaimed Historical and Western author

BLACKBERRY ROAD is engaging, entertaining, and a book that is sure to linger with you . . . the trip is well worth the time ~ Cyrus Webb, Host of ConversationsLIVE, president of Conversations Radio Network, tv show host, author, and publicist



A beautiful display of culture . . . I thoroughly enjoyed Silki, The Girl of Many Scarves. As a Middle School Spanish teacher, I am always excited to find culturally and linguistically relevant literature for our youth. You will fall in love with the characters, and appreciate how authentically the Navajo language and traditions are conveyed. This trilogy is a must read! ~ Tara Moore


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