Sometime in the late sixties, The Star Weekly published a story about a woman who had been given a few months to live. The magazine story focused on the fact that it was now 10 years and she was still alive and thriving! They wanted to know how she had done it and they wanted their Canadian readers to know about her choices.
I was a child then, and my Mother wanted me to know the story too. Of how this woman had sold and rode away from everything, with a horse and a saddle. I was fascinated with the newsmagazine’s large photo of her face. I had never seen so many wrinkles before and she wasn’t even old. Yet she had spent the last 10 years of her life sleeping on the ground with her horse.
I don’t remember the woman’s name only her face and big hat. If you know of her let me know. My question here is “Would it still work to do what she did? Sell everything and buy a horse and a saddle and plan on sleeping on the ground?” If you had a few months to live, what would you do different and what if it was the cure?
I too have lost family members to cancer. I know there are miracle survivors everyday we could all sing about.
Sometimes it’s a sad song when the miracle is to quickly leave the pain in the body.
I never forgot the story of this woman and the look of her face. So years later I wrote a song to celebrate her with. It’s called Saddled and Gone.
Here are the lyrics to the song I wrote about her story and further down this page the recording:
I would not be the creative person I am today without having a wonderful “team” of mentors. By this I mean the people who were inspiring to me over my lifetime. In other words, my teachers.
Born with a sensitive nature, I was very lucky. In some ways I won the lotto for being here on this earth now. Because of this it is my responsibility to be the “evidence” of how they mattered!
Here are the “faces” of the five women who played an important role in my life. Overtime I will mention them and if you follow my blog you will get to know them. I know they have something to teach the world. If it shows up in me…you know where it came from!
right now I am missing painting on location. There is still too much snow and last week the temperatures dipped to minus 27. So I am posting “Island In The Sun” in memory of a warm day and sunshine!
Paintings done on location come with lots of memories. In this case it was 2012 and a few months before my mother would pass away in a care home. I was exhausted and this trip to Howard and to paint was medicine for me.
I cared for my mother for 4 years after her stroke while she was in a facility. She was able to talk and to write and recall her life. However she had lost the use of the left side of her body. She needed so much help and assistance. I learned how to use the lift and filled in the many blanks left by our senior care system. We had a great time together and as one of my mentors she continued to teach me.
So like I said. Painting on location and the paintings that come out of these trips are memories of the road travelled at the time.
Right now I am looking at expanding on my current art theme which is “The Expression Of Life”. I am planning a series of quick conte sketch’s capturing the essence of the expression. Pictures like Apache. Wish me well and I hope to hear from you. Has it been a long winter in your neck of the woods?
Today, I thought I’d share the story of my last Cariboo horse. Being an Irish girl from a family of Irish names, it fits his name was Paddy. Bruce Kiskaddon would have liked him. In his words, he was the “old breed with a moustache on the lip.”
My first horse as a young girl came from royalty. When I married, I wasn’t allowed to buy anything higher than “meat price.” Now I don’t regret the horses I owned this way, just the abuse they had suffered before me. I know I gave them a better life for their remaining years. Paddy was one of them.
Paddy’s life started outright, but he had the wrong trainer. This man who “broke him” was a neighbour out our way who loved to do everything “the cowboy way”. His reasoning was, “You gotta make them buck and then get all the buck out of them.” This approach, as most enlightened trainers know, creates a bucking horse.
So “broken in” Paddy returned home to his owner, a casual hobby rider. Sensing his gentle colt was now a little uppity, he sent Paddy off to another trainer a little distance away.
This is where it gets a little complicated
The second trainer had a brother-in-law who was also a vet. When Paddy returned home from the second go-a-round, the word was, “he had the flue.” His swollen body and inability to move was vouched for by a local range rider. Yes, she too had seen him laying down at the trainers all swollen up with…the flue. Remember this for further on.
How I Met Paddy
I met Paddy when the Swiss owners of our ranch asked me to help find a horse for Albert. A friend told me her neighbour didn’t want his horse, and it had befriended her horse on the other side of the fence. Maybe Albert would want to take a look at him.
Albert liked him and asked what I thought. I was concerned about the enlarged “capped” knees he had on his front legs.
“Oh, yeah,” said Paddy’s owner, “he had the flue, and he can’t bend his front legs now.”
I cautioned Albert, but he thought everything would be okay.
Back at the ranch, Paddy didn’t like Albert. He didn’t like men and threw him when he was startled by an oil spot on the pavement. It was a hard landing for a Swiss gentleman who had never ridden before.
One day Albert phoned me, Paddy had backed into a barbwire fence and needed doctoring, and he had to go to Montana. Would I take him back to my place and take care of the cut.
So I did, and Paddy and I had a great three weeks together. He was the only horse I’ve ever had that would trim your flower beds and not walk through them.
However, the barbwire cut left a scar, but that was nothing…
When Albert returned, he told me he was going to ship Paddy for meat, so I bought him. One day I had the “brother-in-law” vet come and inspect Paddy. I wanted to know the real story.
. He said, “I’ve never seen the flue do that to a horse’s knees. That horse was put on the rocks. It’s the way he trains them.” . Paddy lived out his life with me.
. He laid down by putting his front legs out straight in front of him. He got up this way too. I rode him mostly at a walk, and then later Paddy, and I escorted my elderly (80 plus) neighbour “Jud” and his (30 plus) horse “Bud”. I took coffee in a thermos, and we’d ride up the hill to some tree and get off to drink and eat cookies and tell stories. Carrots for the horses. . It wasn’t a good feeling the few times Paddy tripped on the trail, so I rode him less and less, and he got fat. This made it harder for him to get up and down. He never had a chance to grow old. But he played with my husky/wolf cross, who liked to lead him, with the rope in her mouth, around the yard. AND he was loved by my orange cat Teddy. . Paddy got his feelings up a few times at Jud’s horses and one year reared up and got his front hoof caught on the top wire. I counted 26 barbs with blood and hair. Jud gave Paddy a stall in his barn, and I doctored him there. During this time Jud’s goat fell in love with him. . The night Paddy left, the stars seem magnified around the moon. . It made me think he wasn’t wasting any time getting over to the other side. I told my friend Wendy about Paddy and a poem I wrote for his earlier, barbwire backup, at the ranch with Albert. Her illustration of Paddy is here, along with my poetry. . I wrote Paddy’s story here so you could know the more of it… .
I love Howard Lake. It is off the grid and there are no lights around the lake.
I put some of my father’s ashes on the lake there and later as I was to get out of the boat I mysteriously fell in…
You should know, I have received visitors there. The likes of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and for my friends who often listen to the earth…I once heard it there. I am afraid to describe it as I have yet to talk to them about what they heard…
The fishing is great. Except the last fish I caught at Howard played dead and I’ve yet to figure out the significance of this. I let it go, at which point it came to life. Like I said, I Love Howard Lake!
Water Colour Paintings from Howard Lake
In the picture above “Oneness”, depending on your browser you may see an “orb”. I did not put it there. It showed up after drying on the back of the couch and while I was cooking supper in our motor home. I have seen orbs in photo’s. I did not expect to see one in a painting!
Do you have a favourite place to paint? Here’s to your adventure painting!
Wendy Liddle, use to live down the road from me in a little town called Clinton. While she lived there we got busy exchanging my cowboy gags for her drawings. Several magical moments came out of our working together. One was the way she sketched my cartoon on my horse Trigger. At the time it didn’t look like me. Years later when the Mill Girls (who also hailed from Clinton) asked me to join them – that’s exactly what I looked like! Wendy of course was long gone from town…
Wendy illustrated my poem, “Let Life” with a ballerina on a horse. How did she know? I never told her (or anyone) I had once been a ballerina…what seemed a lifetime ago and at the other end of the country!
Well here is the poem from my book “Well Hell” along with Wendy’s drawing for it.
Poem and Drawing
Lift your chin
Stir your heart
Dance your limbs.
Take its course…
In the 70’s I helped the “play therapists” in what was then the kids ward of the Vancouver General. Before the Children’s Hospital was built. I brought my guitar and voice and played to the kids of all ages in all conditions. It was heart touching and memorable. For the young teens I played what was on the radio!
Looking back at the Mother who grabbed me and wanted me to know that her baby hadn’t slept for days….but fell asleep while I was singing! I am reminded of another time on the ranch…when I created my nursery collage and songs and recorded them to play in a bedroom without me! It worked too! Maybe better because I wasn’t present to stimulate.
So I created a web site where people could go and play my recording if they needed a voice in the room for their little ones to fall asleep to.
You might surprise yourself at how many of these tunes and rhymes you already know!
Here are the Mother Goose Rhymes I recorded.
Did you notice how I changed the “Old Woman In A Shoe”?
Here are the nursery songs I recorded as a collage.
Katie sings Mother Goose has its own website. Hear the continuous loop of rhyme and song at this site and see if it helps to put your little one into happy sleep!