Two Horse Poems

Training the Rider: Advice For Less-Experienced Horses In dressage you should insist on correctness of the aids: precise motion of knees, seat, heels, hands. A schoolmaster horse of course may simply refuse to do anything unless the rider gets the aid right but for less-experienced horses I advise the “I’m confused” method of training, which is to do exactly what you wanted to do anyway and pretend it’s what you thought you were being asked for. mg 2009   The Novice Rider At Her First Horsemanship Clinic “Ride your eyes,” he says, which I ponder over and finally take to [...]

August 18th, 2014|1 Comment


One time from a blind watching sandhill cranes we spotted something not a bird saunter out from dark covert of blackberry canes, coyote all lean-legged and cocksure, then two more, stretching, yawning, shaking rain from their yellow eyes, their yellow-brown fur before setting off at an easy jog across the wheat stubble, wading plumes of fog. We watched them skirt the marsh, so negligent, ignoring the cranes and the goldeneye— stopping to smell old scat, examine bent stems of yarrow, crouch to satisfy an itch. Watching hard, we missed the moment their hunt began, the artful dodge, the sigh of [...]

August 13th, 2014|2 Comments

On Becoming a Writer

I'm frequently asked if I've always wanted to be a writer, and the answer is that I've always liked to write but no one ever told me I could grow up to be a writer. In the time and place I grew up (1950s rural Oregon, blue-collar family), smart girls — girls who wanted to go to college — were encouraged and expected to grow up to be teachers or nurses while they waited to marry and have children, after which time they were expected to be housewives and mothers. Which is what I did, to a point. I taught [...]

June 25th, 2014|3 Comments


When my husband Ed was dying of cancer, our dog Buddy was 13 years old. These three events occurred during the last month of Ed’s life: 1. Ed was napping on a pulled-out futon in a room at the back of the house, with Buddy lying on the rug beside him. When our primary hospice nurse, Marcella, arrived, I was washing dishes in the kitchen—I told her to go on back to see Ed. Buddy knew Marcella—she had been coming to our house once or twice a week for two months. But when she stepped into the room he rose [...]

June 14th, 2014|1 Comment


I’ve always been a reader prone to brief but intense passions.  For a while, like most girls, I had a thing for horse and dog books.  When I was in high school I read every book I could lay hands on about Abraham Lincoln, and then became similarly obsessed with Teddy Roosevelt.  I went through a swashbuckler phase—Ivanhoe, The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel—and at some point I burned through the Golden Age of science fiction.  In more recent years I’ve read all twenty of Patrick O’Brian’s novels about the British Navy in the Napoleanic Wars.  But from the time [...]

June 14th, 2014|0 Comments