HEROES: Military Working Dogs (MWDs)

STUBBY was no slouch. He 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 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 Brave 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 are to be adopted by American families.

To Name a Few…

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.

A Chance to Get Involved

Negotiations are underway to make Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, 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…”

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

Click here to participate in honoring  the sacrifices of our devoted, incredible canines and their handlers by making the Working Dog teams National Monument a reality.

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

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 – Jodi Lea Stewart

 

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When Joshua went to doggie heaven last week, I was amazed by the kind and sympathetic flood of condolences from people I’ve never met in person, but feel close to on Facebook and Twitter. One thought was paramount – people love animals! And their hearts go out to everyone who loses a four-legged friend. Hope shall always survive where that kind of love abides.

A visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation, so I’d love to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $11.66. For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel!

The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. Tp sign up to receive notices of new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news  leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon … I miss you already!

7 thoughts on “HEROES: Military Working Dogs (MWDs)

  1. This was beautiful, moving, and I need a Kleenex! I was maintaining until the dedication to Joshua and the line, “Hope shall always survive where that kind of love abides.” Now I can’t see for the tears and cantwotypanymre

  2. My only complaint about this beautiful, unforgettable, and thoroughly moving post, is that it really does need a Kleenex alert at very opening, otherwise things can really get sloppy.

    What a gift you’ve given to pooches everywhere by bringing awareness of the plight of there awesome four legged Heroes into the light, Jodi. Joshua would be so very proud of his mom :-D

    (Wishing you an abundance of peace and comfort over your losses.)

    • I hope he is proud of me, Barbara. I wanted a post that was worthy of him, so I thought of paying tribute to these incredible heroes. Aren’t they something? I’m having a really hard time not wanting to adopt, but I don’t know if German shepherds mix with Standard poodles. Not the same kind of dog. I had a German shepherd years ago, and guess what his name was? Joshua! I named my late dog after the Joshua I had to give up many, many moons ago. Thank you for visiting, hon!

  3. Where was I last week–I didn’t read that you’d lost your Joshua. I saw a picture of him but I guess I didn’t read what it was about. My deepest condolences.

    A very dear dog that I lost two years ago is still fresh in my mind even though I have since rescued two other dogs. With some dogs we have a special bond that goes beyond mere pet/owner relationship. That’s why I am so glad you did this post. Dogs are not called man’s best friend for nothing. They deserve the respect and honor when they serve as the dogs you’ve mentioned have served. They deserve to be recognized. It is a mar on our military that in the past they’ve been discarded like trash. I’m so glad to see that things are changing. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  4. I agree with Barbara – a kleenex warning would have been helpful. :)

    Beautiful, touching post, Jodi. My cats are complete members of my family and are treated as such. I have had to say good bye to a few over the years, each one more heartbreaking than the last. They touch our lives in such deep, profound ways, don’t they?

    Thanks for posting on the dogs in the military – I had no idea that they were getting euthanized! How awful! I would definitely consider adopting one – if my cats allowed it. ;)

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Movies and the Lucky 7

I’m traveling a different path with this blog as I discuss movies and the Lucky 7 (which I’ll explain later). How do they relate? They don’t!

Bear with me, and we’ll have a little fun.

The movie experience

A fellow writer in our Facebook writing group recently posted a blog about how going to the movies was a cruddy experience and that no movies are worth seeing anyway.

I respectfully disagree.

Every Friday night, my hubby and I put on our sweats or jeans and tennis shoes, put our dogs in charge of the house (yes, we let them use weapons!) and head for the movies. I have to admit that my husband and I are both workaholics in our chosen fields, so this Friday night ritual is more than entertainment – it’s a rite of passage into the weekend.

Sitting in the plush, comfortable seats of our favorite theatre with a big bag of delicious popcorn and our cold drinks, we allow our minds to relax and refresh as we totally engage in another world for that brief stretch of time.

I’m the emotional, sensitive type, so I go through the whole gamut of emotions as I munch and crunch my once-a-week popcorn splurge.  I laugh, cry, expect, worry, hope. I sit on the edge of my seat to aid the good guy in his pursuit of justice. I inwardly cheer when a parent understands, a love is reunited, a boy defeats a bad villain, a girl finds her long-lost mother, a country is saved, an evil plan is thwarted.

Sometimes, I lean over and whisper the next line to my hubby. He whispers, “How did you know that?” I whisper back, “I’m a writer.”

It feels wonderful to guess exactly what the screenwriters will “say” next. Try it sometime – you’ll like it!

When hubby and I are not pleased with the ending of a film, we spend many happy moments on the way home discussing how it could have been written differently to give x, y, or z results. That’s better than medicine for a writer’s soul, let me tell you!

I admit that not all movies are worth seeing.  

We’re very selective about the content and intent of what we feed our brains. Additionally, we cringe at some of the trash movies we see adults taking their young children, pre-teens and teens to watch. I feel sorry for those young minds and spirits having to absorb garbage that isn’t productive or positive. End of subject.

People at the Movies

My fellow writer I mentioned earlier said babies cry and people leave their cell phones on and it’s just a generally awful experience in the movie theatre itself. Again, I disagree.

It has been years since I’ve heard a cell phone ring or a baby cry during a movie. Once, a baby started fussing, and the mom immediately took the baby out of the auditorium. End of problem. One time, I forgot to turn my phone off and it rang! I almost died of mortification, but people turned to me and smiled. They understood. No big deal. Hey, we’re out to have fun, not get our rears tied in a knot.

Popcorn

If the popcorn is lousy, I’m not going back. A theatre chain that rhymes with “shave” used to be our favorite, until they started serving popcorn that tasted like cereal. Put it in a bowl, add milk and sugar and you could have breakfast with that dry, tasteless stuff.

To make matters worse, they cut out providing *free* Kernel Season’s Popcorn Seasoning (White Cheddar is to die for), or even making it available to buy in the itty bitty shakers. Big mistake. With so many choices available, why would a business go backward in providing the best for their customers? Mind-boggling.

You knew it was coming:  For whatever reasons…Jodi Lea Stewart’s humble list of favorite movies for 2011.

  • The Iron Lady (what can I say? It’s Meryl Streep in a fascinating role)
  • Water for Elephants (almost as good as the book – rare, indeed)
  • Moneyball (Brad’s best)
  • Soul Surfer (most inspirational)
  • Sherlock Holmes 2 (lots of sleight-of-hand fun)
  • Hugo Cabret (amazingly imaginative)
  • Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts? I’m there)
  • The Ides of March (makes you wish we could have government without politicians)
  • Captain America (standing up for mom, apple pie, and the American way!)
  • Real Steel (you’ll cheer at the end)
  • The Help (fab, except for the pie thing…should have just added ex-lax)
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth is just so…so…well, anyway)
  • Tower Heist (stupid, corny and makes you laugh)
  • Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas – enough said.)
  • Limitless (if you read my blog about Squeeze, this guy got into it and added steroids!)
  • The Lincoln Lawyer (more Matthew McConaughey movies, please)

What is Lucky 7?

Lucky 7 is a little tornado that blew into our WANA112 writing group recently.

Here are the rules of the game:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors, and let them know.

If you don’t yet have 77 pages of your current work in progress completed, just choose the first seven sentences.

I’m tagging my authors first. Only one author is in our writing group, but that adds a nice bit of seasoning – sort of how Kernel season’s White Cheddar seasoning livens up popcorn, you know?

Nikki McCormack, Kristen Lamb, J.r. Sanders, Chris Eboch, Carol Buchanan, Sue Cauhape, Dutch Henry

Here are the nine (shh!) seven sentences from my current Work in Progress: Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM

A shaky sigh rose from my stomach and leaked out as a sob.

“Stop bawling!” Talastic ordered, frowning at me like I had two heads. Her scowl dissolved into quivers. “I don’t want to live, Silki…I just…”

She closed her eyes. Teardrops pushed past her eyelashes and raced down her dirty cheeks. Her whole body shook as she shrieked and pounded the ground with her fists. I stared at the sky so Talastic and her sorrow could be alone.

Would her outburst cleanse her soul of its torment?

So there you have it – my blog featuring two very different subjects that purposely don’t tie into each other. I had oodles of fun, and I hope you did, too.

 

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Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I know you’ll have lots to say after reading  our seven tagged authors’ Lucky 7 lines, so fire away!

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $11.21!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon … I miss you already!

 

25 thoughts on “Movies and the Lucky 7

  1. What a fun post! I love the book Water for Elephants but I don’t know if I could watch the bit where they hurt the elephant. Is that bit glossed over?

    I love your excerpt Jodi, and thanks for telling us about your book. I’ve put it straight on the TBR list.

    • Well, thank you, Catherine. I’m honored to have made your TBR list!

      Yes, the part about hurting the elephant is hard to take, but they don’t dwell on it. They can’t – too many animal lovers these days, right? And, as you know, justice is served in the end, albeit, a bit differently than in the book. I prefer the book, but the movie sure isn’t bad.

    • So glad you liked my Canyon of Doom lines, Mike. I’m excited when I get to share Silki with my friends. Makes me all warm and cozy, and I’ll bet you know exactly what I mean! Oh, and thanks for the compliment on the cover. Lots of thought went into it…and we’re happy with how it turned out. Come back often, okay? I’ll leave the light on…

  2. You had me laughing from the “How do they relate. They don’t.” Because when Silki hits the big screen and Wes Studi becomes the father of your baby, er … protagonist – look how nicely it all relates :D

    Enjoyed your Lucky 7 lines and now I’m wondering what’s tormenting Talastic’s soul? If Silki was a TV series, that was the season-ending episode … to be continued in early 2013. WAAAAAA! *pounding ground with fists*

    • You had me smiling from your first line, Elaine! And laughing. And feeling proud that you are looking forward to Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: Canyon of Doom in early 2013. I’ll see if I can hurry things up, okay? Your visits mean a lot to me, girl. Thank you.

  3. I loved your lucky 7 lines, and I couldn’t agree with you more about movies. (and popcorn!) I love movies . I don’t get to go to them as often as I’d like… *sigh* great post, Jodi!

    • Just show me the person I need to speak to about your low-time-for-movies syndrome, and I’ll give them a piece of my mind, Laird! You need those movies. They need you. Popcorn is popping and spilling out over the lid. Cold drinks are bubbling in the cup. Candy is calling from the counter…now put on those sneakers and get out of that house! :D

  4. Clever how you combined movies and writing…
    I haven’t seen all on your movie list, but I loved Lincoln Lawyer, Water for Elephants and The Help. DH and I have our Friday movie date night too. Even it it’s a Neflix oldie. Those theatre trips can get expensive with the popcorn, tickets and coke. LOL
    Your sentences have me wondering what’s tormenting poor Talastic. I’m going to add CANYON OF DOOM to my watch-for list.
    Great Post, Jodi

    • Weren’t those great movies, Judy? I’m ready for more just like them. And like War Horse, Red Tails and Act of Valor and …

      I’m burning up my keyboard to finish Canyon of Doom! Thanks for visiting!

  5. Great and fun post, Jodi … Thanks for including me … You had me chucklin’. …

    Okay, here is my lines … Hope ya like ‘em :)

    She sat with her knees pulled to her chin, hugging her legs watching Hero leisurely pick at his hay. For ten years he had been her partner. Exactly nine years longer than she’d been married. She clucked. His head popped up. She clucked again. He came to her. She reached up, grasped his forelock and gently pulled his head down so she could hug his neck. She buried her face in Hero’s mane. Then the real tears started.

  6. Thanks for counting me in, Jodi. Here are my 7 lines:

    He was an immigrant, born in the Breage parish of west Cornwall in 1844. As a young man Humphrey R. Symons had come to Gold Hill, Nevada. Spitting distance from Virginia City and smack in the heart of the Comstock Lode, Gold Hill was described as “the personification of a wild young rip-roaring frontier mining camp.” “Cornish Jacks” settling in the States gravitated to mining regions. With skills forged in the copper and tin mines of their home country, they found ready work in the mines and stamp mills. Brutal, hazardous work, its main product was ore and its byproduct was widows and orphans. For a time, Symons worked the rich gold and silver mines, but he ended up on what likely seemed a safer career path; he became a police officer in Gold Hill.

    • Hi, J.R! Two of your lines really rocked my boat: 1) Brutal, hazardous work, its main product was ore, and its byproduct was widows and orphans. 2) For a time, Symons worked the rich gold and silver mines, but he ended up on what likely seemed a safer career path; he became a police officer in Gold Hill.

      Good stuff! Thank you for sharing, and I truly hope you come back more often. I’ll put the beans on the burner, so y’all come!

  7. Loved your 7 lines, Jodi! Fabulous writing! I also enjoyed your write up about movies and going to the theater. When I get the chance to go, I so love being completely absorbed in the story and scenery. So different from watching it at home. Great post!

    • Isn’t it amazing how different it is to watch a movie at the theatre vs watching one at home? I think, for me, it’s because I can’t tune out the little jobs and errands I could be doing instead of watching the movie. Definitely need to work on that! You always make me smile, Tami, so don’t be a stranger, okay?

  8. I love going to the movies and escaping reality. Sitting in a dark room, popcorn or hotnuts in hand and staring up at the big screen never gets old. I must go rent The Ides of March, missed it in cinema.

    • I know, Emma. Movies and popcorn are such stress relievers! For that few hours, no worries. Let me know if you enjoy the Ides of March, and thanks for stopping by!

  9. HI, Jody. Thanks for the list of movies. Looks like a good list. I have only seen a few of them. I also just spent a wonderful week in Arizona, so I’m trying to read more fiction and nonfiction set in that area. I just ordered your Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves. I’ll read it, then pass it on to my 12-year-old granddaughter who will be moving to Arizona in late May. (Looks like I’ll get more trips to your area!)

    • Oh, Janice, a whole week in Arizona can be quite an adventure! Where did you go? It’s so perfect there this time of year. Thank you for ordering Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves! If you like novels set in the Navajo Nation, I’m betting you’ve read the Tony Hillerman mystery series, right? I’ve read all them about three times. They are very popular with the Navajo people. You keep me up to date on which of those movies you liked when you see them, okay? Thanks for visiting!

  10. Okay, here are my lines from my book, Paradise Ridge:

    As Cody tucked his trade bag under the rack, he turned to Leandro. “You work hard, boy, and earn your way, you’ll have all that too. I guarantee it.”
    The man’s hopes for Leandro’s future rang hollow. So far, he only had his skills to show for his worth and he had never felt any of the ranch’s leftovers to be his due. The occasional nods of approval he got from the two buckaroos, though, showed him his skills were growing straight and true. That alone should make him proud.

    • Hi, Sue! It’s a pleasure to have you on my blog! Thanks so much for participating in our Lucky 7 and for sharing your novel’s lines with us. You have me wondering what Cody’s skills are…and just who those buckaroos think they are just giving him little nods when he definitely deserves a high five! Great lines…they have whetted my reading appetite, for sure! Come back soon!

  11. I’m a fan of hitting the movie theater, too, Jodi. I’m a bit of a theater snob so we usually don’t pick a movie as much as we pick one of three or four theaters and see what’s playing there. My favorite local chain always has one of the workers standing outside the door with a tray of chocolate treats to thank us for coming.

    • What? Chocolate treats? Is that the Millionaire Theatre chain? Lol! My favorite chain has workers standing outside the door telling us they’re glad we came and to have a good rest of the evening. I love that. Now, if they add the chocolates, I might just have to revise my will.

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Sassy Sassafras

My granddad Elmer learned a lot from the Five Civilized Tribes…medicine, ceremonial dancing and how to survive.

After his mother died 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 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 86 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 of 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? Tell us about it. We’d love to hear about it!

 

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Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $11.21!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon … I miss you already!

12 thoughts on “Sassy Sassafras

  1. Great post, Jodi! I can’t imagine what it would have been like growing up with 11 siblings, or giving birth to them. Two siblings is enough for me! ;) My family stuck to traditional medicines you find in the drugstore. The only thing strange in our household was some of the phrases and foods.

  2. Thanks for sharing all the tidbits about the family. I was only 9 when we lost Grandpa & really don’t know all that much about him. We just didn’t get to see everyone very often, so learning their stories is cathartic for me. Bring ‘em on! :-)

  3. Every year I go through heavy physical changes from spring to summer. I’m getting me some of that sassafras tea! I’ll let you know how it works. Great post. Thanks for the advice.

  4. Love this post,Jodi! Thank you for sharing such a memorable story. (And I’m pretty sure I have a mad crush on Elmer :-D )

    There is so much lost wisdom from generations past and it’s such a wonderful gift to check-in with the wise ways of ancestors who clearly had a good idea of what does a body good! I’ve had sassafras tea, but it was long long ago, and I question if it was even the real deal. This is absolutely something I want to savor for myself.

    My mother is the oldest of 11 children and has a slew of wonderful old remedies from back in the day.I just wish I’d paid more attention when pots of odd things were brewing on the stove, and wild growing things were gathered and prepared in ways I’ve long forgotten.

    • My goodness, Barbara. We have a few things in common, don’t we? Your mom’s perspective from being the eldest of eleven children has to be fascinating. I’ll bet she worked her little fingers to the bone!

      Maybe some of the other siblings can remember the old remedies and help you to catalog them? It would be a shame to lose those precious memories.

      And you have a crush on “Elmer” all you want. My grandma, Ollie Pearl, God rest her soul, could have used a breather…believe me!! :D

  5. Love this post! There is such wisdom in the generations past and using nature to remedy their bodies and keep them in balance.

    I use natural remedies as much as I can – growing them in the garden when I can and getting them from Mountain Rose Herbs when I can’t. I have heard of sassafras tea but haven’t tried it. I think I will now!

    • Kim, you are already way down the road in using natural remedies. I like a mixture of modern science and old natural medicines, don’t you? I hope you share your opinion when you try sassafras tea. It’s quite different from any other tea, and I used to love it. Bet you will, too!

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Professor Dolphin Knew Best

Island

A journalism and corporate writing background conditioned me into thinking I was ready to swim out to the Island of Non-Fiction and string up a nice hammock between two palms.

I’d drop a lobster trap off the rocky side of the island, carefully keep my matches dry and write thought-provoking, interesting non-fiction forevermore.

I would pen magazine articles, essays, editorials.

I’d turn out how-to’s, recipe books, child-rearing booklets and sundry other juicy projects. *Don’t you just love the sound of sundry?*

Dip into family genealogy.

Try my hand at middle-grade articles about camping or friendship. Or, about believing in yourself.

Case closed.

Alas! You might say I experienced a curve “wave.”

While splashing my way to the Island of Non-Fiction about seven years ago, a peculiar, mystical creature emerged from my turquoise tropical dream like a tenured professor wearing a dolphin suit and a tutorial expression.

I attempted to swim around him to get to my island, but the aquatic grampus was too swift and blocked my every move.

Sensing he would not speak to me until I stopped flailing, I quietly dog paddled and waited. He seemed pleased.

“Jodi, you won’t be going to the Island of Non-Fiction,” Professor Dolphin said, fixing me with a solemn mien.

“What! You have to be joking! I love shells and pretty sunsets over the waves.”

“That’s the problem,” he said. “From now on, fiction is the new non-fiction for you.”

“But I don’t know anything about writing fiction,” I whined.

“Exactly,” the slick grey mammal smiled.

“Happy plotting, Jodi. May all your dreams be themes. May your characters ever be fleshy and your mid-book chapters sodden with thrills.”

I remember swallowing a lot of brine when he said that.

With a wink, Professor Dolphin dove head first into the majestic azure and white waves … towing my safe and comfortable Island of Non-Fiction behind him.

I stared until he and the island became as tiny as fly specs. Then I turned and swam out to sea.

 

Are you doing something you never dreamed you would do? Did you once think you would never live in a place you live now? Have you made any bold claims about your life that you had to “eat” later on?

Tell us about it! We’re dying to hear!

 

Arrow

 

 

Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon … I miss you already!

8 thoughts on “Professor Dolphin Knew Best

  1. You always make me smile when I read your blog. I love Professor Dolphin and that his remark made you swallow a lot of brine. Good luck with your novel. I’m planning on going on Amazon now and downloading to my Kindle. I have a backlog but when I get to read it, I will let you know my thoughts (if you want me to)!

    • I’m grateful for that brine, Sara. It’s purifying. Of course I want your feedback after reading my Silki novel! It’s amazingly hard to get feedback (and Amazon reviews!) I know what you mean about a reading backlog. My stack is growing…and some of it is electronic. If we ever catch up, we might blow a gasket, huh? Thanks for coming by.

  2. Your posts are always such fun, Jodi, and yet infinitely wise — must be a southwest thing :-D

    I’ve learned to keep all my bold claims in my own head to keep from having to eat them later, and while I have no hesitation about dreaming BIG, I try to remember to leave the door open, for when something better comes along and wants to come in.

    “May all your dreams be themes. May your characters ever be fleshy and your mid-book chapters sodden with thrills.” Now, that’s what I call a magnificent parting wish.

    • Well, talk about pump me up so much my head may not fit through the door! Thank you for those wonderful comments, Barbara. I love what you said about leaving the door open for something better to come in. If we don’t do that, we might miss our true calling…you know, the IT, the X-FACTOR of our writing lives. Come back soon!

  3. I like your character Professor Dolphin. I couldn’t help thinking your book would be a good candidate for Scholastic publishing–goes to all the schools. Have you ever tried to go that route?

    • Cora, I have to agree with you. The Silki series was written and designed for entertainment as well as cultural immersion into the Navajo way of life. The glossary at the end shares much of the terminology and language of the Diné (Navajo word for The People). I was excited to the extreme recently when my publicist said I was getting a review next month in School Library Journal! That’s a great first step in getting this series into schools and libraries. Thank you so much for your insightful comments and for taking time to visit!

  4. Very interesting article: historical, practical, and medicinal. My roots are also in Oklahoma. It is amazing what our ancestor achieved from so few resources. I have taken yucca root for arthritis since a doctor in 1988 told me I needed both knees replaced. They’re still original and still working. Yucca was an Indian remedy. Count me in as your newest fan.

    • Well, I couldn’t do any better than to have a fan like you, Tammy. Thank you!

      Yucca root for arthritis…now why aren’t they loudly touting that? I always wonder why science and natural medicine can’t have a powwow. I’ll bet the naturalists would be more willing to do that than the medical doctors, don’t you? You come back soon, hon. I’ll be waiting!

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Why Wes Studi is the Father of my Baby, er…I Mean, Protagonist

Just how did my current Young Adult mystery/adventure series wind up in the Navajo Nation?

Actors Irene Bedard and Wes Studi (aka Frank Begay). It’s okay by me if Irene wants to play the part of Auntie Zim in the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series—she’s perfect for it!

I’ll tell you. One day, when I was about knee high to a katydid, my mom moved us to Arizona.

I went from picking blackberries with my cousins to jumping flat-footed into a tall cow-feed bin as I witnessed my first cattle-branding event.

I was traumatized…

even though the ranchers told me the calves were laughing. Yeah, they told me those things they threw in the fire and ate later on were oysters, too. They were. Mountain oysters.

Our Arizona high-country ranch was located between the Navajo Rez and the White Mountain Apache Tribe Rez. My schoolmates were Native American, Hispanic and just a few Anglos, like five or six of them. In case you don’t know, Anglos are Caucasians.

It was, at the very least, an incredible experience; and it marked me for life. I forever gallop the winds of my imagination in the high country – in my mind, and in my novels.

Now you know why I started my novel-writing career smack dab in the Navajo Nation, don’t you?

My protagonist for the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series, is a young Navajo with a steroid imagination, a penchant for adventure and an addiction to scarves. Her professor mother, immersed in academia, isn’t around a lot. Her dad is.

Meet Frank Begay – “Silki’s dad.”

Silversmith. Musician. Husband. Father. Son. Uncle. Son-in-law. Wise counselor. Diné.

Think about that; this man has a lot on his shoulders.

Now peek up there at Wes Studi.

See the twinkling eyes? The shy, strong smile. The map of wisdom engraving his face?

No doubt about it…when Hollywood knocks on my door, Wes plays Frank!

I already know your arguments.

Wes Studi is Cherokee, not Navajo. It’s a movie part…not real life!  M-O-V-I-E. Entertainment. Playacting. Sheesh. I hope that settles that one. *dusts off hands*

Wes Studi is a little older than Frank Begay.  You’re worried about that? Just look at that timeless face. I say Wes Studi can play characters in their mid-thirties to their sixties and beyond.  It’s not the age; it’s the actor – and brother, can he act! Think Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, Avatar.

Wes Studi, actor

Anyhoo, next time any of you happens to run into Wes, like in Hollywood or Colorado or some other cool place, tell  him “toodle-oo” for me, and that he has first crack at the part of Frank in the Silki movies – just as soon as Hollywood goes gaga over my Silki novels – of course.

Minor detail.

Readers, do certain actors seem perfect for the characters in the books you read?

Writers, who do you think should play the major parts in your novel(s) when Hollywood beats on your door?

Tell us about it.

We’re dying to know!

 

Arrow

 

 

Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon … I miss you already!

16 thoughts on “Why Wes Studi is the Father of my Baby, er…I Mean, Protagonist

  1. Great blogsite, Jodi. I’m reading Silki now and can’t wait to see what happens next. It’s very very well written, with great characters and an excellent storyline, so far. I can see the movie now!
    Dale

  2. I love it! Wes certainly has the ageless look, and I agree as to his props as an actor.

    Have you ever been over to StoryCasting.com? It for “the movie in your mind,” where you can assemble your dream cast for your books and others.

  3. He does have sparkly eyes! Next time I run into him, I’ll mention that you have him in mind. :) When I was young, my brother used to discuss the story of our family and who would play each part. At the time, I was being played by Lori Loughlin. My brother ended up being a sit-com writer in Hollywood. Loved this post.

  4. I vote for Wes, too! He sounds perfect for your book-turned-movie. Like Sara, I’ve been using Pinterest to help me further visualize my characters, though storycasting.com sounds like a great one to use, too.

    • I adore picking out the right actors to play the roles in my books. I mean, I really think Irene Bedard is perfect for Auntie Zim (see first photo caption)! Auntie Zim is the youngest of the six Begay girls in “Silki’s world.” They (powers that be) say we should get to know our characters when we create a fictional world. What better way to do that than put actual faces on them as we get acquainted? Thanks for the comments, Tami!

  5. Always read your blog. My hubby & I actually met Irene by accident. We were in Keokuk, IA, hubby’s birth place. Irene and her hubby were there for Eagle Days & we got to talk with her. Should have known then about Silki. I would have suggested the role to her. :-)

    • I think she is so cute! Oh, I do wish you had known about the Silki series when you met her…she really is perfect for Auntie Zim! Thank you for sharing, Jan.

  6. He was my muse for the Kiowa warrior, Two Hatchet, in my book Unbridled. No, I didn’t care he was Cherokee nor that he was an Okie like me. His presence on the screen allows him to many things. He is ageless. Real talent is like that.

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The Land of Ish

Land of Ish

Personally, I don’t see how we can survive these days without the Land of Ish.

I mean, think about it. You’re due in a meeting at work at a certain time, say nine o’clock. You did everything you should have done to be there on time – got up early, out the door on time, filled your gas tank the night before.

What you didn’t do is inherit a magic wand to control all the elements of life. Things like a sick child. The traffic flow. The weather.

You arrive at your meeting at 9:20. The boss looks at her watch when you enter. You give her a thumbs up and she nods. Why? Because you arrived at 9-ish!

Another scenario: It was all fun and games to talk about your age for the first thirty or so years of your life. Now, pushing forty (or fifty or *horrors* sixty), you wonder if the promotion you’re panting after will go to someone younger.

Maybe it’s something more artsy you’re craving … like a part in a play, a chance to sing or give a speech. Will the powers that be choose you over your younger counterparts? You certainly don’t look or feel your age. In fact, you’re downright ridiculously youthful. Is it your fault the world lusts after youth and beauty? Of course not!

When it comes time to spill the beans about your age (providing no one knows already), will you 1) tell the truth right out, and the results be hanged, or 2) bestow upon the inquirer a glorious smile and a shrug and say, oh, 30-ish, or 40-ish, or … well, you get the picture.

It’s not a lie.

It’s the Land of Ish at your service!

Ish serves us in other ways, too. Check this out ...

Don’t bother to go to that restaurant. It’s too cheapish.

My blind date was freakish.

I can’t join a group of such childish people.

My husband’s boyish smile gives me stomach flutters.

She wasn’t at all standoffish.

He got the job because he seemed the least amateurish.

Your kid was feverish this morning, too?

My new car is kind of bluish.

Whew! The Land of Ish is a busy place!

Ish is a descriptive suffix that makes comrades of strangers, knits friends tighter and gives all of us something to nod our heads about in agreement.

I’m not suggesting the Land of Ish run for president or anything, but it might make a good senator! After all, it’s not priggish, squeamish or mulish.

It’s simply stylish!

Hooray for the Land of Ish!

 

 

Arrow

 

Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon … I miss you already!

23 thoughts on “The Land of Ish

  1. What a great post! I was laughing and nodding my head the entire time. And your book sounds great – I DO love the Southwest and quirky characters that make you laugh out loud, so I am on my way to check it out now!

    • April, you crack me up! You are transparent in all the right places.I think you’ll really like Silki (my protagonist). She’s a little dust devil, for sure. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Bahahaha … Not only do I love this post, but realize that if I ever attempt to take the “ish” out of my own lingo, I’ll actually be speechless! I’m a big “ish-er.” It’s so often the perfect fit, and allows me to keep things flexible when necessary (aka, A LOT!).

    • Barbara, I’d never arrive at any destination if not for “ish!” Just ask the good folks at my beauty salon, doctors’ offices, dentist, etc. But heck, I think ish takes some of the bitter out of life’s pressure pills. So glad to know a fellow “ish-er.” Ish right back here soon, okay?

  3. Great post! My mother had to have been a charter member of the land of ish! Unfortunately, I inherited her ish-ability, much to the frustration of my husband. Just downloaded your book – it sounds delightful and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    • “Ish-ability”… I like that! I’m excited that you’re reading my novel. I know you’ll love Silki; she’s a little pistol.

    • Yes, Danzier. It’s right across the island from El Pais del MaÑana. How did you know? :D Come back often!

  4. LOVED this post! Today hasn’t been a good one and this was just the laugh I needed. Thanks for reminding me to treat myself to a little ish every now and then.

  5. Pingback: Hiking the Blogosphere: From A Life Among Thorns to The Land of Ish « Elaine Smothers

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Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!

 

Visible Sound

The racket was driving me mad. Or, madder, I should say.

With every new Hootsuite, StumbleUpon, Branch Out, Pinterest, Triberr or LinkedIn tidbit shared by the multi-quadrillions, the sound increased. I covered my ears.

I yanked my hair until the roots (which needed a little color, I might add) ached.

My throat growls were more wild than civilized.

The noise reverberated in my wetware *brain* constantly.

What was it?

Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!

Swoosh. The sound of a heavy rock hurling through the air.

Kerplunk. A rock falling dead to the ground.

Ping! A rock clipping the side, top or bottom of a target.

Ahghhh! Unhappy groan of a defeated rock thrower.

Ad infinitum.

What in the world am I talking about?

Indulge me.

Pretend you have a stack of rocks. The rocks represent:

DUTY,  EFFORT, TOIL.

Several yards in front of you are a row of targets. The targets are:

  • Writing bazillions of words. Making them brilliant, diverse, accurate, breathtakingly grand.
  • Flitting effortlessly through the columns of Twitter (Triberr, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Tweetle-Dee-Dum) and the pages of Facebook like the flawless social-media mavens we are.
  • Blogging like there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow. And another blog to write. If we write it, will readers even bother to come?
  • Publicity, platform building, conferences, improving our craft, writing groups.
  • Everything else in life!!

STRUGGLES! FRUSTRATION! WAILS! That was the racket I heard from my fellow bloggers, writers, and social-media pursuers. And in my own mind…

Mad scientist
Fear that perhaps not all the blood, sweat and tears in the world would be enough to get us where we needed/wanted to be in our writing worlds.

Fear morphed into resentmentresentment into the sting of realizing the days of blissful writing by the sea or in a quaint mountain cabin with no worries about platform, social media, Google Analytics, Dashboards, etc. etc. etc. were gone forevermore.

“I must do something!”

I cried out, scaring my three Standard poodles and two rescue cats. And maybe my houseplants.

“I will invent an elixir to free the masses from this endless target-missing guilt!”

My eyeballs did socket circles as I conceived a name for the elixir.

SQUEEZE – the perfect name.

Why? Because my elixir would literally squeeze thirty-six hours effort from a mere twelve-hour exertion!

“Do not follow me!” I hoarsely commanded my pet entourage, retreating to my lab. I vowed never to emerge until SQUEEZE was ready to market.

I tore off my clothes and dressed in sackcloth. I sat in ashes and scratched my boils.

Wait. Sorry. That was Job, the Patriarch from the Bible. I get us mixed up sometimes.

Actually, I happened to glance out the window. Birds jabbed their beaks into my winter lawn. A crisp blue sky with pillow clouds winked at me.

Inside, my kitchen twinkled like an old friend. My houseplants seemed two shades greener than usual.

 

Epiphany! 

I am in charge of ME!

Who said I had to turn out 2,000 words by evening? It was my own Sunday afternoon goal. I set it. I could break it, couldn’t I?

If I wanted to take weekends (or a day or an hour or two weeks) off and be a regular human being, I could!

I shook my fist in the direction of my home office…

Do you hear me, blogs yet unwritten?

Do you hear me, Work in Progress?

Do you hear me, computer, you greedy gateway to the social media universe?

I am the one in charge of my schedule…NOT YOU!

I think I must have passed out about then. When I came to, I was making potato soup, jalapeño cornbread and coconut pound cake. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with family (who sort of remembered who I was). We ate, talked and watched one of the very long Lord of the Rings movies. The best part – no guilt!

Takeaway

Soaring Eagle

It’s hard to hit a target with a lopsided rock. Balance your life, and you’ll hit the important targets straight on.

How do you keep balance in your life? Please share. We’d love to hear about it!

Arrow

 
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

31 thoughts on “Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!

  1. SEND THE ELIXER recipe. Fun, fun, painfully accurate post about how I feel at the moment.

    Add. Hmmm. What else was it I had to do today. Oh. Right! We have our house on the market. HIDE ALL extraneous papers so I can spend the next three months looking for them.

  2. Fab post Jodi. This is something I’m just learning. By the end of advent I want to feel peace a calm and more balance. I’ve decided it is very liberating to choose random days or half days when you can be normal without the guilt. I think the first step is losing the guilt of not getting to every single blog you always go to all the time. Hopefully we’re in this for the long haul, so what’s the panic?

    • Love your idea of random days or half days off, Catherine. That’s the trick..learning to breathe and take in the day (or half day) without feeling pressure and guilt. Bet you find the peace and calm you are seeking!

  3. What a great blog. It is dead on. My wife and I were discussing this very subject not 5 minutes ago. I’m thinking I need a weeks vacation from all social media to bring my nerves back to ground. Right now they are zipping around somewhere near Pluto… or maybe they have left the solar system completely.

    Thanks for a timely and fun read.

    • Oh, Richard, I so know what you are going through. I think you and your wife are right on. A vacation from social media might be the next ingredient for me to add to SQUEEZE. It can’t hurt. I think hubby and I are right behind you! Today, I was supposed to be writing on my WIP. Yet, I had to answer my FB notes, contact my web person and clear out my biz email which led to this, that, this, that, and here it is noon. Sigh.I’m thinking of gentle turquoise waves and white sand covered in shells. What time shall we all depart? ;D Thanks for visiting!

  4. What a wonderful post! I wish I had some answers, but I don’t. Balance is so hard to find, and I think it’s finally exhausted me today. I am out of it and want nothing more than to, well, sleep. LOL I need to star this post and come back and read it when I’m more, well, NOT out of it! But I love it just the same!

    • Thanks, April. Listen, you are on the right track in so many ways. Just hang in there. I’m excited about your date night with your husband tonight (ala Facebook posts). Bet that puts a lot of balance back in the mix! Have fun! ;D

  5. Great post, Jodi! I have the guilt-game down to an art form. I need to take my lopsided rock labeled ‘guilt’ and let it swoosh, kerplunk, and ping off a few choice targets. Thanks for the laugh! I can always count on you for a good one.

  6. You certainly don’t lack VOICE. See, you are miles ahead of some of us in that department so it all balances out in the end. I laughed heartily at this post. You are fuuuunny, girl.

    I went through a day like above about two weeks ago and finally had to say enough already. I can only do so much, I HAVE A LIFE, somewhere under the piles on my computer–oh, no that was my WIP under there–I meant outside my office, and I need to be there sometimes. Thanks for the laugh. Keep working on the Triberr though, will save you lots of time. Have you seen the tutorial?

  7. Have to admit I haven’t watched the tutorial. But Laird is working feverishly INSIDE the Triberr system to get me there. If it doesn’t work, we’re going to Hawaii together and get snookered on coconut drinks! You know I mean it, don’t you? ;D Thanks for writing, Cora. Come back often!

  8. Over the past six weeks I’ve felt chained to the computer/iPhone screen… Even when watching TV, I’ve been in Triberr reading/approving blogs (sorry to mention the T word here, but hopefully you’ll be with us soon!). I’m starting to resent the gruelling schedule I set myself.

    I’m going to phase back on blogging – I can’t really sustain 3 a week, unless I happen to be inspired by something. I might be able to manage two and stay sane. Let’s see! But I have to prioritise my WIP, which is languishing forgotten somewhere. Because if I don’t get that done, then what’s the point of pushing myself to have a ‘platform’?

    I want to blog when I feel inspired, when I have something to say. All this scheduling and feeling obliged to blog is doing my head in. I need to find the middle road.

    Great post! I’m in a similar place to you :-)

    • Are we twins separated at birth? I feel your pain, girl. The schedule we are keeping IS grueling, and it’s crucial to find those moments (hours/half days/days) in which we are just ourselves again. I hear you about the blogging…if we squeeeeeze the fruit of inspiration too hard, it may dry up. One biggie blog and one fun blog a week seem to be my max, at least right now. Please take some time for yourself before that resentment you mentioned turns into something worse. RX for Ellen: one or more days REST and RELAXATION (R&R). Mad Scientist’s orders!

  9. Love this, Jodi! Your writing and pictures are just hysterical. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to remember we’re self-employed–and we need to give ourselves breaks from the internal slavedriver sometimes :)

    • What came to me in the process of answering these wonderful comments is that if we weren’t all so high-powered, drill-heavy Type-A’s, we wouldn’t be having this angst! Our more laid-back friends and relatives think we’re bonkers to drive ourselves like we do. But I know that we can’t help it! I’m not going to say to hack that internal slave driver into a hundred pieces, oh no…but do subdue her often, Alina. You deserve it!

  10. That whole balance thing is so tricky. Just when you think you’ve got it…bang, something else comes your way. LOL. I guess we just have have to keep readjusting. If we’ve got a list of top priorities, it’s much easier to let the unnecessary stuff slide.

    • Sonia, you are so right. It’s a little like balancing an egg white on an ice cream stick, you know? Laughing about it helps! :D Thanks for visiting. Come back often!

  11. Bulls Eye – right on the nail – etc. This is a brilliant post. There must be something in the air, because my son and I sat and watched all three Lord of the Rings movies in his last days before starting uni, and right now I’m making plum butter – I finally bothered to go and pick them off the tree, along with the apples, lemons, nashis and some pears. so life is good, even when there is no computer in sight. Loved this post, did I say that?

  12. “It’s hard to hit a target with a lopsided rock.”
    Can I quote you, Jodi?
    I have been scarce in the cyberworld of late. Trying to find rocks. lopsided or not . . . and trying to find some of that balance.

    • Sure you can quote me, Susanne. I’d be honored if any of my sayings helped others. Don’t give up…those rocks you’re looking for are just around the next bend in the river! Thanks so much for stopping by.

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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.

And being left alone in trees by older cousins while they went 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 just created our own.

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 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, filled the morning air.

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, joked 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.

Did you have any childhood experiences that “toughened” you up for later? We’re dying to hear about them!

(See Original Article)

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Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

4 thoughts on “Bu++ Bites Build Gristle

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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 laughter drifted into the night sky.

The desert iguana slithered off his vantage point and moved silently 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!”

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Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

9 thoughts on “The Lost and Angry Pound

  1. I LOVE IT!!! Never thought about where those pounds go, but I can now understand where they might have went!! lol Arizona, huh? So how about where the inches go??

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Ants as Miners

Ants carrying a stick

If you grew up without television, you’d probably think watching fat red ants bringing goodies home to their anthills was loads of fun,too.

I know I did. Luckily, we had tons of anthills to scope out on our Arizona ranch.

If I stood or squatted on a rock beside the mounds, the ants pretty much thought of me as scenery. That was okay with me. Some types of ant attention can be painful, you know.

For hours, I watched ants carry bits and pieces of sticks, weeds, rocks, dead insects (especially beetles and wasps) and flicks of flint back to their mounds without a word of complaint.

I never actually witnessed them placing their treasures on the outside of their pebbly homes. Invariably, they took their gleaned material straight into the mysterious opening leading to the central parts of their colony. I was sure all good ants made sure they obtained Queenie’s orders before doing any exterior decorating.

Unless they were rebels.

I don’t think I saw any of those, but I thought I saw one wearing a tee-nightsy little leather jacket once. Or did I imagine that?

My favorite anthill pickings were tiny hollow beads made of bone, little bits of ancient pottery and fragments of flint and obsidian. Less often, I found miniature arrowheads fashioned centuries ago for hunting small animals and birds.

What I never found was an Arizona pyrope garnet—an anthill garnet.

Cartoon antReportedly, most of the anthill garnets (silicates) are mined by ants from beneath the earth in the Navajo Nation. The gems are not only rare, but also known to be some of the brightest reds of the entire garnet family.

Arizona pyrope garnets were fashioned into bullets by the Navajos in the 1800s.

Navajos believed the dark red color helped produce fatal wounds. Or so I’ve heard. I haven’t asked any of my Navajo friends if that’s true or not, so I mention it here only as a point of interest.

One myth I’m happy to squash is about the two and three-carat size “anthill garnets” touted on infomercials and ads. Though sources vary widely about how much weight an ant can carry (from ten to fifty times their own weight…and I lean toward the latter), it’s doubtful an ant can carry much more than a garnet about the size of an English pea.

Thoreau said…

Over the centuries, ants have been used as examples of diligence and sacrifice. Most famous people had at least one or two things to say about them.

For example, Thoreau said it wasn’t enough to be busy like the ants. He said we should also know what we are busy about.

GarnetsI agree. And Thoreau’s end-of-sentence preposition is okay, too.

Likewise, I think Thoreau would agree that ants mining little jewels out of the earth is both resourceful AND beyond cool.

And no, I don’t believe they use pickaxes.

Treasures from the earth seem extra special. Have you ever found a treasure gathered by an ant or another kind of insect?

Just because you may want to know…a few facts about Garnets

  • Garnets are called carbuncles in the Bible.
  • Garnets have been found in Egypt, dated around 3100 B.C.
  • Garnets were found In Samaria, dated about 2300 B.C.
  • Garnets come in every color.
  • January’s birthstone is a garnet.
  • A brief look at the industrial use of garnets:*
  • Garnets are a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. To compare, diamonds are about a 10.
  • Since garnets are 1) generally inexpensive, 2) rate high on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, and 3) are easy on equipment, they are preferred for use in cutting metal, plastic and stone with water-jet cutters.
  • A water jet uses garnets in granular sand 50-, 80- to 120-grit sandpaper manufactured in Coeur d Alene, Idaho.
  • Two hundred hours of use is garnered from one mixing tube of garnet sand grit, vs. only thirty minutes from an aluminum oxide mixture.

*Many thanks to Michael Castaῆeda, water-jet professional, for this information.

Arrow

 
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

12 thoughts on “Ants as Miners

  1. What an interesting read! I spent many childhood hours ant-watching … so many Santa brought an Ant Farm that Christmas. My family said I’d outgrow my fascination with all creatures great and small, but apparently it’s terminal. We have TV now, but I still find the ants more entertaining.

  2. Wow — I did not know all that about garnets, my birthstone, or that ants dug stuff up. I never paid much attention to bugs growing up — never liked most of them. I think my head was always buried in a book. But it makes perfect sense if you think about it. Creatures that dig underground must do something with the dirt, and if what’s in the dirt isn’t valuable to them, then it’s sitting around someplace on top waiting to be found with the cast off dirt. Interesting!

    • Knowing how busy you are, I doubly appreciate your reading my blog, Laird. It was a fun one to write and reaches deep into my childhood. Thanks!

  3. Wow, that is a lot of facts about garnets! I just bookmarked it for reference next time someone asks what my birthstone is.
    Red is one of my favorite colors, especially in the deep shade of garnet, so I always loved my birthstone–but I’ve never heard many fun facts about it! :-)

    • Now you can tell others that you have the coolest birthstone ever…it’s even loved in the industrial world! My mom’s birthday is also in January. For many years, her wedding set was white gold with garnets. Very beautiful. When she changed her set, she had the garnets made into a ring for me. Probably don’t need to tell you that I love it!

  4. First, this is insanely cool. I mean, who knew?

    I’m not kidding when I say that although I didn’t know any of these impressive Ant facts before reading your post, however I have always been a huge Ant Fan! I am so in awe of Ant skills, work ethic, ingenuity, strength (aka, when they’re hauling around stuff 4x their size!) … the list goes on. Have you ever seen an Ant that wasn’t doing something? Nope — no hanging out in the sun,taking naps … no ma’am! The little dudes are always on the move. Absolutely love em!

  5. Garnets are my birthstone, I do like them now, but I used to prefer sapphires. Love your ant picture, they are fascinating creatures. I might re-post this on my blog some time if you don’t mind. :)

  6. Very interesting. As a child, I did watch ants, but never saw them bring up any garnets. I probably wouldn’t have know what they were if they did.

    Talking about insects and such, when I moved to California in my early teens, we rented a house. I remember washing my hair and going outside to sit and dry it in the sun and found hundreds of black widow spiders all over the backside of the house. I was only briefly scared until I sat and watched them work in their webs; hurrying to a fly caught in the web and then rolling it’s spider silk quickly around it and storing it for future dinner. I know it sounds ewwww! but it really was more fascinating than scary.

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