Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Culpeper's Rebel Welcome

If you close your eyes, you can still hear the canon fire and feel the ground shake underneath. Many abandoned homes still lie along the wayside, with only the overgrown foliage to hide the tears.

Unlike any other field trip I've been on, this one was truly special. The scarred battlefields of Culpeper will forever be ingrained in my memory. Pictured above is a reenactment confederate soldier, guarding the mass confederate grave in Fairview Cemetery.

I crossed Kelly's Ford comfortably in my air-conditioned vehicle and looked below at the water. I heard the struggling horses splash as they carried the union cavalrymen across. I heard the fierce southern cavaliers yell, "CHARGE!" as they gave them a rebel welcome. It was truly surreal.

Later that day, we visited Brandy Station and the Graffiti House. The walls are covered with the soldiers names and hand drawn pictures of their loved ones. The men used pieces of coal to create the images. Those images will forever haunt me. One upstairs corner room bears the inscription, today the Yankees caught hell. It sent chills of southern pride up my spine. I can only try to imagine what my family lived through during those hellish years of the war. The homes were ransacked, the fences torn down and livestock stolen.

Major Pelham was struck by a piece of shrapnel in the base of his skull. He later died that night at the Shackelford home. The house no longer stands, but I did get to stand on the site and take a picture of the historical marker. I can't wait to get my hands on the last two boxes of letters, documents and pictures from my sister's house. They belonged to my grandmother and hopefully they will reveal even more clues to my family's past. I've never been more thankful to be a Virginian and thankful to God for allowing me the opportunity to visit these places.

As for my book, my brain is going crazy with ideas! I can't write them down fast enough. This trip was exactly what I needed to piece together the puzzle. Traveling to Culpeper this past weekend was the best Memorial Day I've ever had.

...and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us... Acts 17:26,27

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My First Horse ... Magnum

Heather, a girl in my writers group, had a sad day today. She and her family had to say good-bye to their beloved dog, Buddy. She wrote a memoir about Buddy and what he meant to her and her family -- It made me cry! She challenged the rest of us to write about a special pet that made its mark on our lives. For me, it was my first horse Magnum.

I started begging for a horse when I was around 8 years old. I remember over-hearing my grandparents tell my mother that I was going through a phase, and that all little girls love horses. Whatever! If this love is 'just a phase' then I've been stuck in it for the past 27 years!

It started when I rode my second cousin's horse, Trigger, in La Grange TN. Trigger was the first horse I'd ever been around...and that's all it took; I was hooked. Purina Dog Chow used to have a contest every year. If you wrote about why you thought your dog was the best in America, then the winner was awarded $25,000 and a trip to New York City to ride in the Macys Thanksgiving Parade. I must have entered that contest every year for as long as it ran. I suppose I wrote about my intentions because I never won! How could they award the winner of a dog contest to a horse lover?

However, my dream came true on October 14th 1984. It was love at first sight; and I was a teenager in love with Tom Selleck so it made perfect sense to name my gelding Magnum. He was my best friend for 19 years. My parents sold my home place in 2003, and unfortunately Magnum stayed with the property. The new buyer just recently sold it again, but this time Magnum went with her to Branson Missouri. I was relieved that I would never have to mourn his death. He will live forever in my memory as a young healthy gelding. The following is my tribute to him:

You could read my thoughts -- that is what I will miss the most about you. I remember sneaking out to the barn in the middle of the night, and you would meet me at the fence.

Instinctively, you knew I needed to talk. You nickered softly as I climbed over the crooked wooden fence, and wrapped my arms around your giant neck. Long strands of your chestnut mane tickled my cheek. You didn't back away, turn your head or ask for anything. You stood strong for me, unwavering; always giving me unconditional love.

I used to cradle your head against me and kiss the corner of your eye. You rested your soft pink nose in the palm of my hand. While still wearing my pajamas, I would crawl on your back and we would wander out into the fields for a midnight graze. You munched on dew covered grass while I stared at the stars and listened to you chew.

Those are some of my most cherished memories of you. I will forever carry them close to my heart, and some day in heaven, we will ride the fields together again!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Lovin' the Weekend

We were supposed to travel up to Charlottesville this weekend for a family birthday celebration, but issues arose that prevented us getting together. I think it is just as well...I've been buried in writing manuscripts, running the children to soccer, swimming and school; and my latest task is putting together SWADA's program for the spring horse show. I had no idea that it would take me so long to complete, but it has been a learning experience and I'm always up for that.

My poem, THE VIRGINIAN, will be published next month in our local publication, Senior News. I'm excited about it, and thrilled that someone else gets to read it other than my family. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that they are willing to read my work, but I know they are biased! Not only that, but they are sick of it!

Next weekend we travel to Culpeper where I hope to conduct research on another writing project I've taken on. It will be fun exploring some genealogy and history along the way. My kids just hope that where ever we end up there will be a pool, and my husband just hopes we can find a great place to eat.

Well, enough work for today.... time for some R & R and family time. I love the weekend!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Anticipating Hazy Lazy Days of Summer

Someone once told me that this would be the most exhausting time in my life. I've come to find truth in that statement! I think the month of May is busier than the month of December. The children's school year is almost finished, and with this closure comes all of the programs, parties and sports banquets. Add on top of the chaos Mothers Day, graduations, birthdays and a wedding or two, and you've got a recipe for complete exhaustion.

I've had to get creative in finding time to write, and I'm sure that will only get more complicated once the children are out for the summer. For Mothers Day we bought a 3 foot pool at Walmart for summer fun. It takes up my entire back patio but will be a wonderful babysitter! We've enrolled the children in swim lessons, dance lessons, baseball camp, and science camp too. Our hazy lazy days of summer will not be so lazy, but at the very least they will be entertaining!