WE RODE HORSES…

WC Shack and Pumphouse                                                 SHACK and PUMP HOUSE

The telephone would have exploded had he not answered it. The Stepfather knew who it was. His mother. She never minced words. She demanded and commanded. The Old Man was getting old. No, he was already old. He was getting older. There was debt. The Stepfather had to come help or they’d lose the farm. Acres and acres of farm land. Lost. You have to move she said.

Demanded. Commanded.

This might have been the way it happened. I don’t know for sure. I was five. Maybe six. I don’t remember moving but I remember what we left: a pretty house with rooms that had doors; carpeting; a furnace and an air conditioner; sidewalks for endless hours of roller skating and bicycle riding and blocks and blocks of neighbourhood with lawns and gardens. And plumbing.

The shack had none of these. The Mother needed to sheep-dip all the walls before we moved in There were wood boards for floors that gave-way when you walked on them. The only door was on the bathroom. Bedrooms were separated by doorway curtains The Mother made. Hung with nails above the door. For privacy. I remember it not working well. For privacy. The sink water drained into an open ditch that ran along side the house. I don’t know where the toilet water went.

The Stepfather had the old broken tractor repaired, and bought another one. He retired, Joey, the Belgian plow horse The Grandfather used when cultivating and planting the fields. Hours and hours, acres and acres of walking and working. The Stepfather retired The Old Man, too. The Grandfather was now relegated to fixing broken crates and straightening nails. He fixed broken shovels, weeding hoes, sharpened all the field knives and cleaned up after Joey, and always ate lunch with the Mexican migrant workers who had worked for him for years and years. Sometimes twenty years. Like Joey.

What we gave up was replaced with acres and acres of dirt that The Sisters, The Brother and I played in. Hours and hours. Running from field to field. Exploring. We went barefoot. We were filthy, dusty-dirty a lot. We swam in the farm’s irrigation ditches on hot days. We ate vegetables The Grandfather and The Stepfather grew in the fields, and with Grandfather’s help we rode horses.

We rode on horses made of wooden sticks.

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36 thoughts on “WE RODE HORSES…

  1. i had peered backwards about a month ago to see if i was missing new posts.. then i saw the notice for one but when i looked, i couldn’t find it.. then = poof = your most recent post came in (loved it rain or shine) and then i saw the previous one (this one.) duh, where’s z been? chasing butterflies and zebras?

    this is a beautiful post, and we’re there with you running barefoot.. in real life, i too ran barefoot, but i was blessed to have real horses, and i rode them like a wild indian… i still loved the stick ones when the real ones weren’t available!

    you are so talented. as with the others, i’ve missed your posts and it’s great to see you back!

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  2. The words of your story match the starkness of the painting ~ both pieces of art that fuel emotions. A brilliant piece of story telling in two different mediums – beautiful post Raye.

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    1. Thank you, R. Such kind words. You must have an inkling what your complimentary words mean…mostly because you must have an inkling how much I admire your own artistic endeavors, both in creative photography and creative writing. Thank you so much. R.

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  3. The painting seems different that what I’m used to from you … no figs – not a collection of vibrant colors – more lines than curves. In the words, I sense a pain from within. Getting my plane ticket to bring the shoulder.

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    1. aFa, You remain the Prince of Kindness…among all the other fine, fine attributes that beam their way, not only to The City of Roses, but around the world. I don’t think that is an exaggeration…
      The painting is a new watercolour process that I am exploring. It is inspired by English watercolourists John Blockley, Michael Morgan, and my favourite Mary Fedden (who taught and inspired David Hockney). You are more than a wee bit perceptive. Yes, a bit of painful memories. My mother did not fare well in our shack home. My siblings and I young enough to be resilient and wild enough not to care. Grins.

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      1. The Prince of Kindness? Wow … quite the title – and it caused me to smile. I’ve been trying to emphasize the kindness throughout the world when tutoring ESL students. Meanwhile, cheers to the resilient youth.

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  4. Rough and tumbled, is how I grew up, this looked and felt like a life I once wore and definitely inherited through the eyes of my parents, grandparents and so on . It was comforting, not like pajamas more like ‘coveralls’. But that is just me. Good shtufffs, a solid GRUNT! with a little finish added to the end.

    ‘We rode on horses made of wooden sticks’, and we strapped on blades of steel and flew as if we had wings………..http://www.beyondplumcreek.com/shtufffs/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/frozen-pond.jpg

    Thank you for sharing this with us, it helps, this art of yours, to fix what is broken in this world. I believe that, really and truly. And am realist not a day dreamer.

    take care

    p.s……..when I read and or see something, many thoughts often fleet across and spin in my mind. This popped early on……….. http://www.beyondplumcreek.com/shtufffs/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/The-Pony-Man.mp3

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    1. Calvin, Your comment sat in the WP “spam” box on my site for weeks…until I noticed it. Moved it to where it belonged…here! What a lovely comment. And that….”strapped on blades of steel and flew as if we had wings.” Yes, yes and yes! I even have my skate key…..!! I like the way you fly!

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      1. ….maybe the nest wasn’t perfect back then for you, for others, for I; harsh even. But fledglings care not of a home of sticks and stone and mud as they do of the nurturing wings that cover and protect them. You cannot judge a painting by it’s colour all the time can you?

        I thought as much. The links I suspect. But I didn’t saying anything just left it to fate. And you give me wings back. See there is power faith.

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        1. Aloft power in your words, Calvin, meaning we can survive by rising above it all. Not too many of us are going to escape “wrinkle free” as we aerial acrobat through this adventurous journey. My view is [now] expansive, inclusive and bursting with colour just waiting to be embraced. My hope is for you as well.

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    1. It’s been a very busy summer for me. Now that the weather has turned I’m finding more time to concentrate and focus on my new “job”…getting better at watercolouring. Not famous. Not rich. Just half-way-to-middlin’ good. I’ll be happy with that!

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  5. Hi Raye, welcome back. your story is moving and creates such strong visual images. I love the painting that accompanies it. Did you know you moved this year. Good luck in your new home.

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    1. Like you Carol, moved from a downtown Portland condo into a house. Had to get my finger nails dirty again…gardening, fixing stuff, etc. and have a special place in my house for painting…a spot in the kitchen…east facing exposure. Perfect! Still struggling with watercolour but am determined to win….!

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  6. Thanks Raye. This is an all too human tale of taking care of our parents after they have taken care of us. I love the horses made of sticks. We could play with anything and it needed not be electronic, as nothing electronic can match the fantasy land we created in our heads while we played. Take care, amiga. Keith

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    1. Always nice of you and Mr. B to be in the room at the same time. Coffee and tea to be served as soon as the lemon-ginger scones come out of the oven. Our childhood: life seemed simpler then. Less distractions giving imaginations time to play and…explore. Or maybe it just seemed so…

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    1. It was a busy summer for me…first season in my new house. Planting roses, trees, building up and tearing out! Dirt underneath my fingernails. Priceless.
      Nice to see you again, too. All is well, I hope, and you have battened down all the hatches for winter. Get out those knitting needles and pastels….hint.
      If I can. You can.

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  7. Raye! You’re here, you’re really here! I have missed you so.
    No, no, I’m not complaining (I would never do that; love you too much!) – you had a summer to enjoy. Most of a fall too.
    I love that you did. I so love that you are here, today, with a most beautifully written piece (as ever) with a hauntingly lovely image (you needn’t have worried…)
    I know I’m repeating myself. You’ve a gift. Well, two actually. Words and paint.

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    1. You are such a Silly Goose! One of the many reasons in spite of our birthdays landing in different months and years…we are twins…except for that fish netting thing…Grinning from ear to ear. Thank you Missy D for the kind words and for all your gifts you share with many….
      me, too.

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      1. To think that the first time I made a comment on one of your posts, you spewed your coffee all over your keyboard and screen… love at first spit? choke? sputter?
        No matter. Love, immediately.
        Glad to get you to grin…

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    1. Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Have been working furiously making inventory, but just about caught up, now. Thanks for the kind thoughts.

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  8. Unbelievable pictures came along for the ride on this story. You may not have put watercolor to paper, but you painted a lovely picture, none the less. Well done.

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