Monday, February 28, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Bull

I walked out to the barn in the early light and saddled Cisco.
It was a beautiful morning and I decided to ride to town.
Ever since the first time Steve and I did it, 
I've made it an every now and then occurence.
It stirs things up around the square,
gives folks something to talk about,
plus it's great for the horse I am working with.
It's the kind of thing my old man liked,
he laughed when I told him about the time Steve and I rode to the bank.
But I didn't make it to the square today...
When Cisco and I turned out of the driveway I saw him.
He looked bigger than ever,
as black as night.
He was chewing some bright green summer grass, 
staring at us.
Instead of heading to the left which is the direction of town,
we headed right, toward the entrance to the field where he lives.
I wanted to thank the bull.
If he hadn't broke into our field that cold winter morning,
my beautiful Anne might no longer be with me.
"God works in mysterious ways Cisco"..
The bull didn't seem bothered at all that we were coming toward him.
We walked slowly, not wanting to threaten him.
He kept grazing and watched us without any sign of anxiety.
We got about 10 feet from the black giant and stopped.
"You remember us big boy?"
Cisco lowered his head and got a mouthful of sweet grass..
I sat there on Cisco in the quiet,
as thankful as a man could possibly be.

The End

The Horses

Hey folks, I am going to continue writing this story. I appreciate all the kind words and wonderful comments from so many of you as I have been developing it. It has become a real passion and I am seeing many places I need to go  with characters old and some new you have yet to be introduced to. I will let you know when it is finished.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The treatment was intense.
She lost some of her hair and eventually shaved it.
They started with steroid medications to fight inflammation and swelling.
Then chemo..
Then surgery.
They did not find cancer anywhere else in her body.
Jesse went to every session of chemo and learned what to do to help her deal with it.
Chemotherapy was the hardest part of the journey.
They flew to Houston for the surgery.
The Mayo clinic.
Erik was beaming when he got the news from the surgeon who performed the operation.
"Jesse, they got it all and there is no sign of it spreading, she is cancer free!"
Jesse felt like he'd just won the lottery.
"Prayer is a powerful thing bro, while you doctors did your thing, 
I asked, and had a bunch of folks in heaven asking the Lord to do His thing."
The recovery took some time.
She had to go through rehab to tune up some of her motor skills.
The part of the brain where the tumor was removed controls hand eye coordination,
two months after the surgery she was doing well.
Her hair grew back thicker, 
it was fuller and darker than before.
Jesse told her everyday how beautiful she was with short hair..
"Girl, you even looked good bald"
Isabelle was home for summer break and helped out while Anne was in rehab.
Seth was with a friend out in New Mexico Team Roping.
He called every day to check in. 
Anne finally told him she was fine and he didn't have to call every day.
Jesse started five new colts in the spring...
Summer was here..
The coldest winter in memory was behind them...
Jesse and Anne sat on the front porch swing drinking iced tea.
Russ lay on his back with his feet in the air on Anne's lap.
She stroked his belly and looked out at the setting sun.
"You know Jess, we have some incredible friends."
Steve and Barbara had made sure the animals were looked after.
Joe and Mary brought meals over during the hardest days.
Joe the neighbor more than once left a dressed out ready to grille chicken in the garage freezer.
"Yea, we sure do Shuug."

The Horses

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Horse Manure

This life holds a lot of surprises for us humans.
Some better than others.
Anne is sleeping,
she seems to be handling this pretty good,
way better than me..
Russ is curled up next to her,
I swear that dog knows something is up.
He won't leave her side.
She really is the strongest person I know.
Her strength comes from her trust,
from her kind heart.
Her tender heart always amazes me, teaches me, inspires me..
She slays me, always has...
I wish my old man was alive.
I'd love to talk to him right now..
I'm not sure why,
I just would.
The horses like this weather.
It hasn't been this warm in a while.
It's close to 50 at 4:00 in the morning.
I can't sleep.
Erik asked me if I wanted some sleeping pills,
I guess I should have taken them,
but I don't like taking pills.
Guess I'll clean the stalls..
turn the horses out for a while..
it does a mind good to shovel horse manure..


The Horses

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thank God that bull..

Erik finally looked up from the test results..
"It's a tumor but we've caught it early."
He told them what the next few weeks would hold.
"Thank God that bull knocked her down or we might not have found out for a while."
He asked Jesse if Anne had been having headaches or dizziness.
"If she had she hasn't mentioned it."
Erik said that was a good sign,
that the tumor was not putting any pressure on the brain yet.
"It is about the size of an acorn right now, 
we couldn't ask for a better prognosis as far as getting rid of it."
He put his hand on Jesse's shoulder and told him Anne would be fine.
"She should be ready to go in a little bit, 
they are almost finished with her blood work."
He told Jesse to have her there at 7:30 in the morning to begin chemo..
They went back out to the waiting room,
Erik had other patients to see.
He told them again not to worry, that this was going to turn out well.
Seth saw in his father's eyes that he was having a hard time.
"Dad, Erik knows what he is talking about, he wouldn't tell us something he didn't believe."
Jesse agreed.
After waiting only a few minutes Anne came through the door.

The Horses

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Jesse and Seth waited in Erik's office.
"What do they think it is dad?"
"They saw something on the X-ray from last week,
Erik just wanted to make sure it was nothing."
Seth looked worried.
"Hey, mom is going to be fine. She is the toughest one in this family."
Seth agreed.
Erik walked in and they stood..
He had a brown folder,
it was open, and he was intently reading the pages before him..

The Horses

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I am scared.
I wish it was me,
not Anne.
The MRI took a long time.
I hate the sound it makes..
sounds like somebody hitting a metal pipe with a hammer..
while you are laying inside the metal pipe..
I hate hospitals..
the smell is not natural..
nothing like it anywhere else.
I have been praying the Rosary all day..
mostly the Sorrowful mysteries,
and I have been offering up this anxiety for Anne and other sick folk in this place..
it's a Catholic thing..
anxiety, pain and suffering isn't wasted..
I can always learn something about life that God hadn't taught me yet,
sometimes it's the only thing that gets our attention.
just like with the horses and teaching them,
you come across obstacles in the forest,
you make use of it..
nothing is wasted.
At least this is what I keep telling myself..
it's what I keep trying to focus on.
Seth just got here,
I told Isabelle not to come till Friday,
not to miss classes..
I told her this is just testing,
we really don't know anything yet.
It could be nothing..
But Lord I'm scared.


The Horses

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Beacon

Beacon Restaurant - Oxford MS

Dr. Richardson called.
"Hey Jesse, can you meet me for breakfast at the Beacon,
say around 8:00?"
The Beacon is a true Oxford landmark.
It was started in 1960 by Flem Mize.
It is the place to eat breakfast in this small town.
They don't take credit cards, just cash, and if they know you, a check.
Jesse sat talking to Ms. Charlene, the owner.
Tony, her son who now runs the place, brought him a coffee.
"How is Seth liking Ole Miss football?"
"He is hanging in there. He said the speed is the hardest thing to get used to."
"Yea, you always here that, how much faster college is, and then how much faster the NFL is."
Erik walked in and waved to one of his patients sitting alone at a table.
"How are you this morning Mr. Hastings?"
Jesse and Erik sat down in one of the red booths near the coffee machine toward the back.
"I am loving this weather today, supposed to get up to 50."
Erik took a deep breath and looked Jesse in the eye.
"My nurse discovered something on one of the X-rays we took of Anne when she was in for the concussion."
Jesse felt a wave of fear roll over him, like the first cold wind of winter.
"I never even saw the X-ray until late yesterday, the girl running the machine had accidentally forgot to put it in the file.
The only reason we noticed was my nurse thought to count the slides and found one more than listed."
Jesse didn't even hear Erik's explanation..
"Is it a tumor?"
Erik said he wasn't sure but would have to run more test. But whatever it was, it wasn't supposed to be there.
"I wanted to talk to you about it first cause I know she will be way calmer than you will. 
We both know she takes everything in stride, whereas you start fearing the worse.
I have cleared everything for the morning so we can find out what is going on."
Jesse grimaced a little and thanked Erik for taking the time to do this.
"I will ride out to the ranch and tell her.
 We will meet you at the hospital at 9:30.

The Horses

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Big Hearted

I woke up to the sound of a crow.
Sounded like he was right outside the window.
I tried to remember the dream,
but i couldn't.
I dressed in the dark and walked out to the barn.
This winter will not let go.
It is still colder than it is supposed to be in Mississippi.
I turned on the lights in the barn and the round-pen out behind the barn.
Cisco looked at me with sleepy eyes
as if to say,
 'What time is it?'
I saddled him and walked him to the pen.
I worked him on the ground just to warm him up a little,
I lunged him a few times to the right then the left..
He came to life and his friskiness started to show.
He crow-hopped a little, pretending to buck..
he backed his ears and kicked up his back hooves a couple of times.
When I climbed into the saddle he was as calm as a mill pond.
I can't begin to tell you how much I learn from horses.
They are animals of prey,
always one step away from flight,
and for an animal of this size, with this speed, elegance, strength, and beauty,
they are also incredibly fragile.
4 skinny legs, and if one is lame the whole animal is lame.
It doesn't take much to hurt them,
but then again,
they are as tough and as big hearted as any animal God made,
the fact that they will trust us humans,
and give us all they have,
holds a lot of wisdom for us humans,
if we would simply recognize it.


The Horses
Oxford MS.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Step Step Slide (Edit)

Jesse had stopped and picked up a Medoc to go with the chicken.
The neighbors raise chickens and every now and then they like to barter.
Joe wanted some of the prime beef he knew Jesse had in the deep freeze in his garage.
Jesse took it over as Joe had just finished plucking and cleaning the chicken.
Anne cooked it on the grill, bathing it in fresh garlic, sea salt, and ground black pepper.
She brushed on Olive Oil throughout.
Jesse built a fire in the fireplace and put on an old Lyle Lovett record called Pontiac.
An actual vinyl LP.
The Magnavox record player has been in the family for 45 years.
It is a piece of furniture, truly an antique.
He walked over and stood behind Anne and took her in his arms..
"I am cooking darl!" 
She finally gave in and they slow danced around the den,
step step, slide, step step slide, easy twirl, step step slide...
as Lyle and Emmy Lou sang, 
"Walk the through the bottomland without no shoes".

The Horses

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Give it a shot..

If you have never sat a horse,
never loped through a field of high summer grass,
never topped a hill and seen a herd of cattle grazing in a green valley,
never woke up early and walked out to the barn in the darkness,
never heard a low nicker as you turned the lights on in the stalls,
never smelled the earthy scent of a horse filled barn,
never had a horse walk over to you and lower his head in submission,
showing you a trust you don't deserve...
never rode a trail from sun up to sun down,
never galloped full speed to turn a running herd of cattle..
I would encourage you to give it a shot.


The Horses

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Steve pulled up with 8 Steers in the trailer.
The day had started out sunny,
but by 2:00 it was cloudy and the temperature dropping.
After Mass the McGuane's had eaten at Volta.
Seth had the Gyro and Isabelle liked the Gyro salad.
Jesse had a hamburger with sweet potato fries,
Anne had a salad.
Steve waved to Jesse who was on the tractor raking the dirt in the arena.
Seth was saddling the horses.
'Hey Seth, how's football treatin' ya?"
Steve walked up and shook his hand.
"It's rough! They don't have much mercy on freshman.
But I'm hanging with it. It's a lot faster than I imagined, 
but you told me it would be.
It ain't high school that's for sure."
Seth was a starting linebacker at Lafayette High School for 3 years.
He was in the top 5 recruits for Mississippi.
Jesse walked in the barn and shook hands with Steve.
"I got it pretty even and soft, if it don't rain we ought be fine."
Steve backed the trailer up to the catch pen next to the arena.
He opened the trailer and the steers ambled off.
Seth was sitting atop Cisco working his rope.
Jesse climbed up on Texas.
Steve worked the chute and within a few minutes they were roping.
After the eight steer had been roped Jesse stepped off and Steve got on.
Jesse worked the chute and marveled at how fast Steve was with the head shot.
Steve was one of the best headers he had ever seen.
"How come you never took it more serious Steve? 
Heck, you could have been in the money just about anywhere you wanted to go."
Steve just smiled and said he would rather spend his time working the horse than traveling all over the country.
He had trained and sold many roping horses over the years.
They often went for top dollar. He was highly sought for his ability with training a roping horse.
Jesse lifted the gate and within a couple of seconds Steve had the steer caught,
He dallied and pulled the head around in perfect rhythm for Seth to throw his rope and catch the back feet.
It was a thing of beauty.. sheer poetry.

The Horses