Tuesday, April 28, 2015


And as lovely as it was to have time away to write (I finished the first draft!) it was even more lovely to get back home again. 

Bear and Kyra Corgis followed me every step all day on Monday, as soon as the donkeys heard my voice they took up braying and calling to me, Keil Bay was a bit distant (as he usually is when I first return) but a belated birthday celebration soon lured him back to his regular self. He is now 26 and the pony is 15! 

Pixie Pie (kit-meow) ran up and down trees she was so excited. 

Once I get back home again I wonder how I ever managed to be away. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

more hunt room, word count report

I'm at 70k today and it's only 10:35 a.m.!

And I found out that the woman renting the stables on the grounds here is someone I know, so I'm looking forward to a barn tour before I leave.

I wandered down to the hunt room this morning and thought I'd post another couple of photos:

This is the same hunt my daughter has ridden with over the past few years. I have stood and watched riders and hounds leave the fixtures and except for the newer style helmets, the scene could have been any year since 1914. The 100-year anniversary of the Moore County Hunt Club last year was quite an accomplishment. 

I'm here until Monday and then I will be home again, just in time for the sun to come back out and hopefully I can get right back to riding the Big Bay. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

when I need my horse fix...

while here at Weymouth, I walk down to the hunt room and soak up the energy. The Boyds were huge foxhunting folk and here you see hunt coats and trophies and all things equine.

We had rain and high winds yesterday into the evening and today is much cooler and very bright and sunny. I'm thinking the Big Bay and his herd are at home enjoying this weather and I wish I were there to ride!

But I'm writing like crazy and that's what this time is for.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

writing time

I arrived Friday at Weymouth for 10 days during which I plan to finish the novel I started at the beginning of March - the first, rough draft of it, anyway. 

It's spring in full force here with dogwoods blooming and azaleas too, and the big old house is just as magical as it always is. The stables have been empty the past two visits but there are horses here again and all afternoon into the early evening the sounds of whinnies came up through the open veranda door. It feels like home.

This is a photo of the huge photo montage that is in the "hunt room" - the Boyds, who originally built and lived in Weymouth, were huge foxhunting people, and the hunt room is a tribute to that part of their lives here. Even as recently as February of this year, the Moore County Hounds set forth from Weymouth grounds on one of their hunts. It's a wonderful tradtition and why it's so nice to hear the whinnies again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

taking the long way home

This past weekend my daughter and I returned from a visit to UNC-Asheville and in Statesville I left I-40 to take Highway 64 the rest of the way home. 

I-40 is faster and in North Carolina fairly beautiful a lot of the way, but I always feel the tension in my neck and shoulders, like I'm on a speedway with a bunch of other fast-moving metal boxes on wheels, going nowhere. There is no sense of journey on the interstate for me.

64 took us through many small towns: Statesville, Mocksville, Lexington, Asheboro, Ramseur, and Siler City. Officially Highway 64 runs from the TN border all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and maybe one day I'll drive its entire 604 miles, but on Saturday I enjoyed a much shorter section.

There are stretches along the part we took that are for me some of the most beautiful parts of the country I have ever seen. Along one stretch there is nothing for miles and miles but rolling land, grassy fields and forests, not a house or even a barn in sight, no cars, no fences. The road curves through this seemingly empty land like a ribbon, and it felt as if I should be not in a car but maybe simply on foot or on horseback. 

Some sections seem like the proverbial country road, with houses on either side, and this time of year there were clouds of dogwood trees in full bloom, redbuds at their peak, banks of phlox so thick it seemed someone had come through and painted swaths of purple and fuchsia across the countryside.

I saw mailboxes that triggered questions: who might have gotten letters that morning? How many feet had walked out to those mailboxes over the past 25 years? What kinds of news had they gotten?

A woman walked through a paddock with a grooming pail to do what many of us are doing this week: helping our horses shed their winter coats. That her horse was also a big bay made me smile.

There was a long fence that had a different colored birdhouse on each post, a billboard that offered "cash paid on spot" for WWII memorabilia (American and German) with a phone number. Twenty or so miles further there was a big army surplus store and I had to wonder if the person looking for memorabilia knew about that surplus store or perhaps owned it.

I saw dogs and cats and horses and cows and chicken coops and birds of many species.

It was a Saturday afternoon and a lot of people were out mowing lawns. With the car windows down the smell of newly-mown spring grass was like a tonic.

It still seems remarkable to me that on I-40 I was one of many cars and on Highway 64, for much of the way home, I was the only vehicle on the road. It took longer. The speed limit on I-40 is 70 mph and on 64 it ranges from 35 mph as you pass through the small towns up to 45 and 55 along the country stretches. I prefer the slower pace, the absence of traffic, and the journey.

That is the main difference for me. The longer way home feels more like a journey, with stories and people and real life going on along the way. 

It also reminds me that in North Carolina there are still many many acres of rural countryside and farmland, not big farming, but small family farms. There is some development, patches of new houses with little manicured yards and signs marking the names of the subdivisions, most of which seem to be named after the natural features of the countryside that were destroyed to build those very houses.

But for the most part, there is land and hills and trees and people stretched out from one another, and that makes me breathe easier, like a long-held yoga pose or good old-fashioned stretch.

For me the best way to come back home after time away is to take the back roads, the long way, the scenic route. And yes, as Robert Frost said, the road less traveled. It does make all the difference.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


I've been hearing a lot about a product called Chaffhaye. It's basically fermented alfalfa in a plastic bag and is said to have good probiotics. Our feed store has started carrying it and I just bought a bag and am feeding a measured amount to the herd each day. They seem to love it.

Generally after deworming day I use a prebiotic like Ration Plus to encourage probiotic bacteria to thrive in the equines' digestive tracts.

I'm using this instead this go round and will see how it goes.

Anyone use Chaffhaye for probiotic reasons?

I'm considering using it instead of the alfalfa pellets I use for Keil Bay. Seems like the actual forage would be better than processed pellets.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

spring fever

I think Keil Bay is celebrating his birthday a few weeks early - he escaped out the barnyard gate today, running out as my husband drove the car through after unloading some feed. I guess at 26 he is establishing that he still needs monitoring when spring grass is more lush outside the gate than in.

Thankfully he's not really a horse that will take off running so was easily brought back in.

The three smaller herd members were down in front having a working supper.

Cody was up in the barn munching on hay. He had a cranio-sacral session yesterday and seems to be continuing to process the changes. He is not fond of massage therapy, puts up with chiropractic adjustment, but this he really seemed to enjoy. I'll be interested to see how things go this next week or two with him.

As crazy as our weather has been this year, you know it isn't as simple as spring fever and on we go. Tonight we're getting down into the 30s and as I type the cold front is moving in. Maybe it will get cold enough to knock out one sure sign of spring: the ear gnat monsters. But I am not complaining! I'm happy to see green again and welcome a good spell of spring fever as we move on into this season.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Andrea Barrett on feeling at home in the world

I'm thinking a lot about writing today, and the process, and happened across this passage in a Paris Review interview with Andrea Barrett. 

Sure. I’ve never known a writer who didn’t feel ill at ease in the world. Have you? We all feel unhoused in some sense. That’s part of why we write. We feel we don’t fit in, that this world is not our world, that though we may move in it, we’re not of it. Different experiences in our lives may enforce or ameliorate that, but I think if they ameliorate it totally, we stop writing. You don’t need to write a novel if you feel at home in the world. We write about the world because it doesn’t make sense to us. Through writing, maybe we can penetrate it, elucidate it, somehow make it comprehensible. If I had ever found the place where I was perfectly at home, who knows what I would have done? Maybe I would have been a biologist after all. No great loss if that had been the case, but it didn’t work out that way.

I think she nails it. 

Yesterday I was dealing with the Housing Office at my son's university, a man in a white truck who was probably casing our neighborhood, the Army Corps of Engineers asking for a public hearing about coal ash dumping and its impact on the environment, and a group that has formed to take on a big development nightmare encroaching close by. 

All of which center around the notion of home.

None of which made sense to me. 

Today I start the writing part of a new novel. Not a moment too soon.