Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Directions

November has left me dazed and confused.

It started just like any other month, but after the first week it was as if someone had stuck me in a barrel and rolled in down the mountainside.

A trip to the doctor for what I thought was a minor problem turned out to be anything but. It led to CT scans, PET scans biopsies and an eventual diagnosis of Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (non-Hodgkin's).

Once I realized we were dealing with cancer I was terrified it was lung cancer so the eventual findings were a great relief. What I do have is treatable.

Just to add to the drama of the month I ended it by falling face first onto a side walk. I didn't break my nose but I do now have two black eyes as well as a smashed nose. The rest of me is pretty bunged up too.

Be interesting to see what December brings.

Ahh, I'll be posting some stuff on AC about this new adventure of mine.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Creativity vs Logic

According to my mentor creativity is not my problem when it comes to writing. However, I do need to do serious work on the logic of my stories.

This assessment has led me to a study of logic, which has led to philosophy and who knows where things will go from here. Venn's Diagrams have caught my attention for one thing.

Taking a creative idea and building a logical thread for it turns out to be a completely different task than merely thinking of a story in the first place. At the moment I'm deconstructing some well known fairy tales in order to understand why some work and others don't. This is leading to an understanding of why some of my story ideas work and others don't.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Writer-can't find a mentor?

Mentors are important. Finding one, especially a good one is difficult.
I've been getting my mentoring from Holly Lisle for many years now. I've never met her, never talked to her in person or on the phone, but she is a writer who pays it forward and has been helping me improve for many years now. She has over 30 books published and a huge body of work dedicated to helping other writers available on the net.

Mugging the Muse for Fun and Profit was the first book I ordered from Holly and helped a lot. It is still out there for anyone who wants to learn more about the nitty-gritty of publishing.

Holly's course How to Think Sideways is the latest thing I've gotten from her. And I have to say I was delighted when the very first page of the course cleared up a problem I've been having ever since I decided to get serious about becoming a published writer. Though I am a published writer now I still have a lot more to learn about the business and I think this course is going to be of great benefit to my aspirations.

For those of you interested in becoming a writer or improving your skills go to for a look at Think Sideways.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Forty-Five Years of Learning

This piece was inspired by a trip down memory lane after going with a friend when she took her horse to the vet Tuesday.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cats Then and Now

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend who had a suggestion for me. It is a variation of the “write what you know” theme, but she had a slightly different take on it.

I use stories to help people understand what I’m trying to teach them about their animal(s). According to her these stories are entertaining as well as instructive. She suggested that I write these stories down and use them as a basis for my next book.

I thought about this for several days and decided to at least give it a try. I spent some time trying to create an outline. The problem is I have so many stories I couldn’t decide where to begin or where to go. I had a choice; I could give up on the idea or I could do something different. I decided to go for different.

I sat down at my computer and wrote the first story that came into my head. Then I wrote the next one. As I wrote a story it would remind me of another one which, in turn, would remind me of still another story. I have no idea where this project will end up, but it is interesting enough that I am going to keep pursuing it.

Here is an offering of one of my stories.

I currently have six half grown kittens wrecking havoc on my house. It seems that this has been a common theme throughout my life from the first litter of kittens I remember from when I was three or four years old to when I raised Siamese to now.

The Siamese cats were all Doreen Tovey’s fault. I read her book Cats in the Belfry and fell in love with the idea of Siamese cats. This of course reminds me of why I got hooked on Dalmatians; which is yet another story (or three).

I prowled through the classified ads and found several ads with Siamese for sale. I saved my money until I had enough to buy a kitten.

I have to say now that according to the breed standards he had nearly every fault in the book. He was cross eyed, had a kink in his tail and was blocky in build. I named him Jing.

As promised in Cats in the Belfry and Cats in Cahoots he was demanding and loud. He talked constantly. I adored him. So much so, that I decided to get a girlfriend for him.

For those of you out there howling at my mistakes, do keep in mind I was only fourteen at the time. I found a lovely little blue-point that I named CiCi. I found a job working for a Siamese breeder and this led to me getting another Siamese queen, SoSlo.

SoSlo was everything a Siamese was supposed to be. She had safire blue eyes and slender elegant conformation. What she didn’t have were kittens. Or rather she had kittens, but would immediately eat them. I took her anyway.

I didn’t keep her in a cage and I fed her Purina Cat Chow free choice. In the cage she’d been a nervous cat inclined to attack any time the door was opened, which was why she’d been declawed. She could still bite though and I still have the scars where she nailed me.

Free to roam a large house though with other cats for company proved to be just what she needed. She calmed down and stopped attacking people. Dogs were another story. She didn’t have claws, but she had a slap that would make their ears ring.

She had a litter of kittens at the same time CiCi did and I quickly learned that any time they had kittens I needed to mark who belonged to whom, because the two queens would put both litters in the same nest.

Jing by this time was a big burly tom. Not what was wanted in a Siamese, but handsome nonetheless. When the kittens where about ten days old CiCi and SoSlo decided they needed a break from motherhood.

The two queens carted the kittens to the basket where Jing was stretched out in sultan-like splendor. Then they left. At first Jing was alarmed and jumped every time one of the little white worms wiggled near. Eventually though he started to take care of them. Rather than looking like a sultan anymore he looked more like a harassed father with his ten kittens surrounding him.

This remained the pattern until I decided to quit raising Siamese cats and had them all spayed and neutered.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trek With BLM horse

I received a tweet about a woman walking across America with her BLM horse. I will follow this journey with interest.
She calls her horse a Mustang, but just because a horse is feral doesn't mean it is a Mustang. Many of the BLM horses are mixtures of various breeds turned out or escaped over the years. In Nevada there are even some horses with Lipizzan blood in them because, many years ago, a Lipizzan stallion escaped and spent quite a while out there with the wild ones.
Back in the days when the US goverment bought huge numbers of horses Thoroughbred stallions were turned loose to "impove" the stock. Draft horses were turned loose during and after the deperession and added their blood to the mix.
Mustangs, as in desendents of the horses that came over with the Conquistedors, are not all that common.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home Again

Once we knew Chels was fine we started back. We stopped to see the grandchildren. Our daughter-in-law took us through the school showing us all the wonderful exhibts that were ready for the school's open house on Thursday.
The art work and science projects are absolutely amazing. There is such an amazing aray of talent among those children. I do have to brag that Brent and Brooke had some wonderful art work on display.
We went to lunch afterwards and then headed on home. Animals were well cared for thanks to our friend Betty.
Another friend, Mary Ann, helped us on the way by keeping us posted on the weather which was dicey.
Now, back to the normal, or almost normal. I've turned the horses into the yard and harvested the first spring greens from my garden. Onions, green beans and tomatoes are doing very well and I'm looking forward to their production soon.
The dogs are going nuts because Buddy likes to tease them by grazing just outside their fence. The cats are all stationed at various windows watching the many birds, who now have young just outside those windows. 
Things seem to be back to normal. Or at least as normal as they ever get around here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Heart Stopping

No matter how old or accomplished kids are they have the ability to stop a parent's heart with one phone call.
Our call came Easter Sunday evening; "I just vomited up a lot of blood, Mom. Please come."
While asking questions and making suggestions; "Don't try to drive yourself to the hospital. Get a friend too." and How long has this been going on?" "HOW LONG?" we rushed around throwing clothes into the suitcase and throwning food at the animals.
After getting off the phone with dear daughter, there were frantic calls to friends to please come take care of the animals. We set a personal record by being on the road in less than an hour from the first ring of that call.
All during the looooonnnnnngggggg six hour drive to Oklahoma City Chels' friends kept us posted as to what was happening. I even gave up my long standing resistence to texting and began using it.
We reached the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to find her in ICU. NOT because she was that badly off we were quickly reasured, but because they didn't have room for her anywhere else. When you consider this hospital spreads out over four good-sized city blocks you know that they must have had a heck of a weekend.
She is now out of hospital and doing well. Our friends rallied magnificently and we will soon be taking a much shorter six hour trip back home.
One of the great blessings of life are those friends who are willing to drop everything in their own busy lives to help when something goes awry in oru lives and I am truly greatful for the blessings of our friends.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cat Haven

Anyone who has read any of my books, articles and blogs know I am all about animals. I am especially fond of horses and cats, goats and dogs are next on my list. And then there are goldfish and Beta's.

I found something I think is great. A ranch for cats.

Cats are actually very at risk animals. People, dogs, coyotes, large owls, hawks all regard them as targets and dinner.

Cats rank right up there with rabbits when it comes to being prey. And anyone who thinks rabbits are less able than cats to protect themselves has never been kicked in the diaphram by a full grown New Zeland or Californian rabbit. They also bite and scratch.

One man has created a haven for unwanted cats. He calls it Caboodle Ranch. I checked it out and immediately donated some money. The cats looked great and were obviously being care for. It looks like a wonderful place for them to be.

There is a wonderful video at http://caboodleranch.com/ .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New and Old Stuff

I am starting a series of How-To manuals called Secrets of a Lazy Trainer.
Secrets of a Lazy Trainer # 1 is now available.

I found this article and think it is something worth reviewing this time of year. A lot of horses going to trail rides, shows, rodeos and to be bred will be getting their tails wrapped. It is always good to occasionally review even a well known subject.

How to Apply a Horse Tail Bandage

The correct application of a tail bandage is vital. It is important as:

  • protection for your horse's tail and/or plaiting when traveling;

  • to lay the hairs flatly and smoothly

  • as part of the grooming process; or

  • for covering a mare.
Here is how to correctly use a tail bandage.


  1. Roll the bandage correctly. Before beginning to apply the bandage, first ensure that it's correctly rolled.

    • Begin by rolling the bandage onto the tapes or Velcro fastening, so that the straps are inside.

    • Then continue to roll it up firmly and straight.

  2. Start the laying process. With a wet water brush, dampen the tail down. This will help the hair to lay properly when the bandage is applied. But do not over dampen the tail or the bandage will constrict and cut off circulation!

  3. Apply the bandage. With the bandage now correctly rolled, place the beginning of the bandage, just above your horse's dock, which means his tail bone. Angle it at roughly 45 degrees.

    • Remember to keep the actual roll on top.

    • Flip your horse's tail, over your shoulder, if necessary. And firmly roll around the tail just once.

    • Carefully fold back the diagonal flap over the bandage that you've just rolled.

    • Proceed to wind down the dock in even and firm turns, to about three quarters of the way down the tail bone. It is vital that you make sure that there are no creases. And that the pressure is even, to avoid pressure points and irritation.

    • Having rolled the bandage to three quarters of the way down, now wind the roll back up, until you come to the end of the bandage.

  4. Secure the bandage. Keeping the fastening tapes flat, secure them by winding them around the bandage a couple of times.

    • Be sure to leave enough length to tie a bow, which needs to be tied slightly to the side of the tail.

    • Tuck the bow ends in and fold the above section of bandage over the bow, to avoid it being rubbed undone. Give your bandage a final check for any creases.

    • Gently bend the tail back into shape. The bandage is now correctly applied.

  5. Remove the tail bandage correctly. To correctly remove the bandage, fold the section of bandage back that is over the bow. Untie the tape fastenings.

    • With one hand above the other, gently pull the bandage down. Pull it off in one go.



  • Never ever forget to remove it! Otherwise your horse will rub it off and damage its tail!

  • Always be careful around a horse. No matter how much you trust it.

  • If you leave a horse tail bandage on for too long or too tightly, it can potentially cause your horse to lose circulation in his tail.

  • Don't remove the bandage in one go as described above if you have bandaged over a plaited tail. The bandage must be unwind. Trying to remove it in one go will ruin the plait and may cause discomfort to the horse.

Things You'll Need

  • A tail bandage with Velcro or tape fastenings

  • A water brush

  • A bucket of water

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Apply a Horse Tail Bandage. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Be Creative - wikiHow

It takes a lot of hard work to be a Lazy Trainer. 

In order to reach a goal of being able to do something the quickest and easiest way you have to devote a lot of time and effort to the process in the beginning. It is not unlike writing a computer program that will eventually save millions of man hours. In the beginning it takes a lot of hard work, creative thinking, and effort to save all those hours. 

When I switched from training animals to writing about it I was prepared for the effort of learning a new way to be lazy.

My real dream in the beginning was to be able to write really good fiction. Needing income to support the horses still in my stable meant I needed more immediate income, so I set myself the goal of learning to write non-fiction and selling it. A much easier task than doing so with fiction.

Now that I've figured out some good Lazy Trainer ways of generating income with non-fiction I am determined to learn how to write those good stories I wanted to tell in the first place.

To which end I find it very interesting that when I have a real need for something all sorts of things happen to direct and fuel my efforts. This particular article seems to be one of those things that pertains to my goal of following Victoria Lynn Schmidt's Book in a Month program through until I've have a book that's been prowling around in my head DONE!

Be Creative - wikiHow

How to Be Creative

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Can creativity be taught? That’s a question without a simple yes or no answer. Creativity may not be able to be taught directly, but what what you can get better at is frequently aligning the circumstances of life which foster the greatest chances for
true creative expression. Creativity is not like a lightning strike, but more like something which manifests itself inside those who learn to foster it and create the right conditions for it to prosper.


  1. Ruthlessly limit your selection of tools to only the most vital. The more limited your set of tools is, the more creative the output will be. Having a limited set of vital tools forces creativity and really challenges you to use what you have to produce the desired results. As a byproduct, you’ll get incredibly good with that small set of tools and refine your use of them to a point you can literally do anything you like with them. You’ll be far sharper than someone who merely dabbles with a larger set of tools. Learn How to Be Resourceful.
  2. Don’t listen to feedback, keep following your own path. The problem with asking for feedback is invariably the feedback will be given infused with that person’s preconceived notions of what the outcome should be. Others will unconsciously push you in a direction that they see as best. This is done with good intentions, however it actually hurts your internal creativity. Now this is different than sharing your work - by all means share, but listening to feedback is not a good decision if you want to truly find your own path of creative self-expression. Once you're finished with your creative work, whatever it may be, then you can listen to feedback. Just don't let criticism (even the constructive type) stifle your creativity during the creative process.
    • Keep in mind that people will generally display resistance to your idea, because good ideas change the existing dynamic, and people, for the most part, like things the way they are. When you present something that challenges the status quo, many people (friends, relatives, co-workers) will feel threatened.[1]
  3. Having a routine is actually not a bad thing. Routines are positive if they reinforce a healthy, creative consciousness and negative if they destroy that. While breaking your routine once in a while to force new ways of thinking is good, what if growing/learning/experiencing new things was built into your routine as a given? The people who get stuck in a monotonous existence and speak negatively about routine have simply not developed a routine that puts them on a path of internal growth. The key is to discover creative rituals that put you in a more creative mindset.
    • Many writers not only have a minimum number of words they must write each day, but they also have almost superstitious requirements for the circumstances under which they write. The 18th century German writer Friedrich Schiller, for example, kept rotten apples at his desk and soaked his feet in a tub of ice water while he wrote![2]
    • Set aside a block of time each day to foster your creativity. Kick the session off with a creative exercise or ritual that triggers a flexible state of mind. Whether it's meditating, freewriting, listening to a particular song, or rubbing your lucky rock--do whatever gets you "in the zone" and set a daily goal (e.g. one sketch per day, 1000 words a day, an invention or song a day).
  4. Let go of perfectionism. Your natural output uninhibited by concern for creating something correct or incorrect will always produce creative results. There are limitless paths to achieve creative success; there are so many shades of gray. Imperfection is human, and sometimes the most creative artists leave mistakes unfixed on purpose. Nature itself is beautifully imperfect. Many try to be so perfect that they scrub away what made their work special in the first place. In a world saturated by overproduced, unnaturally perfect, and clean - the unpolished is the most creative and in many cases most inspirational.
    • Work on the "bad" ideas – even if you are only coming up with what you feel are "bad" ideas, you are still being creative, so develop them, and it could turn into a great solution!
  5. Ignore trends. If you want to be truly creative, you absolutely must ignore trends. Block them out - pay zero attention to them. Trends are the polar opposite of creativity. In many forms of art (especially music) the masses of artists are following whatever the hot trends set forth are. Then there is the other, smaller group of artists that are pursuing their own path and not really paying attention to external trends in their form of art of choice. There is certainly more money, fame and instant notoriety for following trends, but most of what is popular is hardly creative. If you want to make something truly unique, trends are irrelevant. Looking inside yourself is where you will discover a greater wealth of creativity than available in any hot trend. Here are some more suggestions for insulating yourself from trends:
    • Don’t watch TV, don’t listen to the radio, and remove the vapid elements of popular culture from your life. These things aren’t bad for you in moderation, but they are great at normalizing your thoughts with the rest of society, and do not foster true internal creativity. Realize everything that you experience, every piece of content you consume plays a role in shaping your personality, even if at a subconscious level. It is all influence one way or another. You are in many ways a product of your experiences and stimulus. In one sentence, your creative output can be thought of simply as a personal interpretation of external stimulus. The best part about this is you get to control the input.
    • Don’t try and fit into a genre. Actively trying to fit your art or work into a genre is severely limiting and a detriment to its quality, if creativity is desired. Don’t try and write for a genre, don’t try to follow trends within a genre, in fact don’t even consider genre when working. Labeling it in a genre is a necessary evil for people to be able to find your work, and you will probably have to do this - but it shouldn’t be something that crosses your mind when trying to work. Genres, styles and methods don’t matter for creativity and originality.
    • Spend a lot of time alone. You don't have to be anti-social, but many people find their creativity really starts to open up when they are removed from others and able to have quiet focus for their creative work.
  6. Ignore the past. Want to be really creative or original? Ignore or forget the past, ignore what the world has created up until this point. Sometimes considering the past will make you place a sort of unconscious time stamp on a style. That’s the antithesis of creativity and originality. Create things from within yourself that don’t draw inspiration from what has come previously or even consider it, and you’ll be on a path to creative output. In a creative state of mind, time doesn't exist - a few hours can feel like seconds, a moment can seem to last for hours, and you're completely immersed in the present.[3] Learn How to Live in the Moment.

Creative Exercises

  • Think for a half hour a day exclusively on one subject. At first, this might be very hard to do. You can start off by thinking about a single subject for five minutes a day, then increase the period daily until you reach a half hour. At first it is wise to practice this when alone, but eventually you should be able to do it even in the midst of distractions, such as when traveling to and from work.[4]
  • Write a letter or speak for 15 minutes without using the words I, me, my and mine. Make it smooth and keep it interesting, so that someone reading or listening would never notice anything odd about it. This forces you to turn your mind outward, and give up the preoccupations and obsessions of your own life.[4]
  • Have someone doodle a line for you, then challenge yourself to make a variety of cartoons based on that one line. Don't resort to drawing faces, though - those are usually too easy![5]
  • Take a familiar outline and challenge yourself to come up with drawings that could fit within that outline.
  • Combine ideas. Choose two random objects, and describe each one in detail. What does it look like? What is it used for? How is it made? Then substitute one object with the other objects description. How can I make object A feel like object B? Or do what object B does?[6]
  • Keep a journal, describing everything you do and feel with metaphors. Each day, challenge yourself to come up with new metaphors. (After all, how many different ways can you symbolize brushing your teeth?) See How to Write a Metaphor.
  • Write a list of basic questions, such as 'What is your name?', 'Where are you from?', What did you do last Thursday?' Try to come up with at least 10 questions. The more you ask, the better! Whatever question comes to mind, write it down, even if it seems foolish. Answer the questions with song lyrics. (Try not to use the same song too often.)
  • Play word association games. It helps to have someone willing to play along, but if no one will, you can do this alone. If you're doing it solo, write down your beginning word and spend 10 minutes or so just saying the next word that comes to mind. Compare the beginning word to the final word. They should be pretty diverse. This loosens up your mind to allow free association of ideas.
  • See how long you can talk (and make sense!) without using a common word, like 'and','but', 'the' or 'that'.



  • Spend time around creative people. The most reliably creative people are children. Their imaginations aren't boxed in, and "mind merging" with them can remind you of what it's like to think outside the box.
  • Whenever you're challenged to create something, ask yourself: What's the most outrageous, preposterous, and nonsensical thing I can come up with?

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

  1. http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/000932.html
  2. http://lateralaction.com/articles/creative-rituals/
  3. http://www.wishfulthinking.co.uk/2006/04/24/creative-flow/
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dorothea Brande, Wake Up and Live!, first published in 1936 (public domain)
  5. http://creativecurio.com/2008/09/exercises-to-cultivate-your-creativity/
  6. http://www.creativethinkingwith.com/Combine-Ideas.html

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Be Creative. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where is the time going?

Time got away from me. I've been writing and somehow didn't remember to write here in my blog.
At least the population in the attic seems to have declined with a constant trap and release program. However, the household critter population increased by one little mommy cat, six kittens and a daddy that's inclined to keep an eye on them. I think there must be a LOT of Siamese in these cats.
There is a cold front due in soon which is a good time to worm the horses. The wormers are good but really cold weather will do a number on any that might resist the lethal effects of the wormer.