Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rienzi, Another Civil War Horse

He was the steed of General Philip Sheridan. Rienzi (later renamed Winchester) was a big gelding selected by then Col Sheridan and brought from Ohio as he began his service during the civil war. He was named Rienzi after the Mississippi town where Sheridan's troops had been encamped. He rode him over the next three years through 45 engagements including 19 pitched battles and two cavalry raids. The huge black charger taller then Sheridan, was shot many times in battle always recovering and the animal seemed indestructible. In October, 1864, the horse and his rider gained legendary status. Sheridan while spending the night in Winchester, Virginia was awakened by the sound of artillery fire from the direction of Cedar Creek, about 15 miles to the south where his troops were camped. Confederate Jubal A. Early had surprised the sleeping soldiers and overwhelmed them. Reinzi, with Sheridan aboard raced to the area finding his troops in full retreat. The general enticed his men to rally and follow him back to Cedar Creek and where Early's stunning victory earlier turned into a dismal defeat.
After the war Rienzi was put to pasture for a well deserved retirement. When he died in 1878, he was mounted and sent to the Museum of Military Service Institution of the United States on Governor's Island in New York. Later he was transferred to the Smithsonian Institute where he remains to this date.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Learn Something New Every Day

I have been listing some things on Ebay for a friend of mine and have been having a blast. Not only because these are some high ticket items, but also for the knowledge I have gained doing the necessary research.
Right now I have a Disney celluloid up for auction that proved to be pretty fascinating....
Copy and paste into your browser window:

We had the hardest time identifying this piece until someone kindly emailed me with the information. It came from a Disney short back in 1957-The Truth About Mother Goose. The cel was from Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary-and was the real story of Mary, Queen of Scots. Shame on me for not knowing my history very well-especially Scottish history, (my whole family on my mother's side is Scottish) but thanks to this extremely informative cartoon I got clued in-anytime I can combine a cartoon together with learning its a good thing!

This is only about 7 minutes long, so if you have some time to spare, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to possibly learn a thing or two.....

A Budding Author

My oldest daughter brought home her most recent penning which of course, I have to share. I just love being a part of her life and having the privilege of getting to see her grow into such a fine young woman. I can't believe she is mine-(I keep telling people I should never have been allowed to have children.) Its amazing she has turned out the way she has-no thanks to me ;0) I was never this together at 12 years old.

Every Second Counts
Blooming, Here,

Not Knowing Where To
Reach, SKY,

Every Second,




Friday, April 24, 2009

My Quote of the Day

"I always feel like I am on the verge of something really, really BIG! I keep feeling like God is going to reveal the meaning of life in some small gesture. I try my best to look very hard for it in a sign-in my children's eyes, my husband's reassuring arms, my horse's velvet muzzle, my dog's soft fur. Then I realize, He is showing me, right here, right now. He is trying to tell me its all in front of me if I will just choose to see it. So glorious it all can be! My mind just needs to clear from all the "clutter" to help me see it."

May you all experience a wonderful day and "see" all the little miracles happening right in front of you,

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Early in my life I came to the conclusion that my spirituality was something uniquely and privately my own, something I could find deep within a small, quiet place in the very center of my being. I find that place within me when I am on a horse." Dark Horse, Tami Hoag

Camilla's Candied Apples

This is a horse treat, believe it or not. My trainer already tells me I spoil my OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) Dancer too much; what would he say if I showed up with one of these? I think I might have to conduct a little experiment......

Now all I need to do is decide which one to get! From lollipops to tacos, this gal has some fun treats for that special pony in your life. The name of her place is "Petafour Bakery" -how cute is that! Visit her site:
I better not show this stuff to my horse crazy nine year old-she loves them so much she actually thinks she is a horse. I've caught her in our pantry on many occasions, eating uncooked Quaker Oats in a bowl. "What in God's Green Earth are you doing?" I ask. "Oh, I'm just having my snack," she nonchalantly replies. I've never seen a little girl try so hard to emulate these creatures as I have with my dear child.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Handsome Guy

Writing this Witness Tree Book is harder than I thought. I am starting to develop a whole new appreciation for the writing process. My mom has gone through this twice now and while I sympathized with her I don't think I really "got it" until now. There is so much I want to include in this book-the trees are the main focus, but there is so much surrounding them. I thought I would start with a grove of trees on West Confederate Avenue near the Pegram Battalion Marker.

As I was researching locations, I came across a fact about one of those witness trees. It seems that a Confederate Brigadier General, William Dorsey Pender, was mortally wounded near this tree.

And so the "domino phenomenon" begins; I research one thing which leads to another, and another, and another! This could take a while. I am so fascinated with the personal stories behind the war.
Dorsey Pender at twenty-nine was the youngest and the fastest-rising major general in the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. He had just been placed at the head of "Powell" Hill's old Light Division, one of the two best divisions in the army. Along with Maj. Gen. John B. Hood, who commanded the only division which could match the Light Division, Pender was the man for whom Lee and others predicted a great future. Pender was thin and handsome, with dark hair and an olive complexion; he wore his beard neatly trimmed, short and pointed. With soft brown eyes and a kindly expression, he combined a sweet and gentle disposition with a strict sense of discipline. "Firm, very courteous," was how one officer described his manner. Men who did their duty found him good-natured. Though he was modest and spoke little, when he did speak his voice was low and cultivated, a languid Carolina drawl. He was sensitive about his receding hairline, referring to himself half-jokingly in a letter to his wife as "quite bald," especially after a superficial head wound at Second Manassas. Pender was rather short--another sensitive point--but was "well formed and graceful," according to his brother.

One exploit suggests he was powerfully built: Serving as a dragoon in the Northwest against the Indians, he was riding alone when he found himself face-to-face with an Indian chief at the Battle of Spokane Plains. With no time to draw his sword, he grabbed his attacker's arm as it was raised to strike him, then grabbed the man's neck. Thus holding the Indian powerless, he held on with both hands, then spurred his horse and galloped toward his dragoons. When he reached his men he threw the Indian down among them.

Pender's feelings about war were complicated--he wrote often that he was "sick of soldiering and especially the fighting part." Though his wife accused him of having a "cold, unfeeling nature," and he admitted to being an unusually earnest young man and one who did not much express emotion, Pender was simply one who expressed himself through heroic deeds. A doctor called Pender "a very superior little man though a strict disciplinarian . . . brave as a lion," who "seemed to love danger." One officer summed him up: "He was one of the coolest, most self-possessed and one of the most absolutely fearless men under fire I ever knew."

Wikipedia has this about Pender:
"On July 2, Pender was posted near the Lutheran Seminary. During the en echelon attack that started with James Longstreet's assault on the right, from the Round Tops through the Peach Orchard, Pender's division was to continue in the attack sequence near Cemetery Hill, to the left of Richard H. Anderson's attack on Cemetery Ridge. Pender was wounded in the thigh by a shell fragment fired from Cemetery Hill, and turned command over to James H. Lane. His division's momentum was broken by the change in command and no effective assault was completed. Pender was evacuated to Staunton, Virginia, where an artery in his leg ruptured on July 18. Surgeons amputated his leg in an attempt to save him, but he died a few hours later.
Pender is buried in Calvary Churchyard in Tarboro, North Carolina. He is memorialized in the name of Pender County, North Carolina, founded in 1875. He is the posthumous author of The General to his Lady: The Civil War letters of William Dorsey Pender to Fanny Pender, published in 1965. During World War II, the United States Navy commissioned a Liberty Ship the SS William D. Pender in honor of the fallen general."

Of course, I had to look into the book of his letters to his wife-it fascinates me whenever I can gain insight into someone's mind; especially that of a soldier in the Civil War. My mind has such a hard time grasping what these men must have faced.

In a letter to his wife, Fanny on March 16th, 1861 from Montgomery, Alablama he writes:
"I have no doubt I shall be as well off here as anywhere else, but darling-I cannot feel contented, quiet, or happy away from you. You have become necessary to make me feel all was right.I feel exactly as if some part of me was absent. You ought to be delighted at my occasionally leaving you for it shows me more plainly than anything that you are my wife indeed."

What an eloquent writer, not to mention this was a guy in his twenties who had taken on an incredible amount of responsibility.
Its amazing how being interested in some special trees has opened my eyes to so much more than I ever knew existed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another Great Cartoon from Cheryl Ward

You've just got to visit her site, it is well worth it...... She is a very talented lady and someone I would love to meet one day. The internet can be so wonderful on so many levels.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Webkinz and Orange Pineapple Icecream

This is how E passes her time while M has her tennis lessons. Do you think I believed her when she told me those pants were in fact, NOT pajamas, but just "light summer" pants? I decided to pick and choose my battles on that one and let her wear them over to the tennis courts. I didn't have the strength to deal with another "toe to toe" combat. She is 9 going on 19.....
We have had our share of trials and tribulations this weekend which were probably brought on by lack of sleep on both our parts. It started with a trip to Cool Breeze Diner in Bendersville; a local icecream shop up the road from us. Since it is the beginning of the season, they don't have all their usual 50 flavors of Hershey's icecream in. The girls were all set on Pumpkin but were informed that they did not have that flavor at the order window.

M picked her stand by, Cookie Dough, and E couldn't make up her mind. I suggested Cotton Candy. "Okay," she shrugged her shoulders. Two minutes later, she was fretting over the fact that I had made her decide too quickly, and she had really wanted Orange Pineapple. We were in the car, driving back home and she started sobbing hysterically. We were now stuck in Orange Pineapple mode. For the next two hours it was "I wish I had gotten Orange Pineapple," over and over again. I was ready to smash my head against a brick wall. At about the precise moment this thought crossed my mind, my dear sweet daughter decided she had spent enough time in her room and cried enough tears for the day and came up and gave me a big hug.

"I love you, mommy," she said cheerfully, with red, puffy, swollen eyes. "I'm okay now. We can go back to Cool Breeze and get the orange pineapple tomorrow."

Like I said before, you have to pick your battles.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Unicorn Girl and the Cosmic Journey, Chapter 3

There was a fox holding everyone's attention in the woods that skirt the pasture. (Its Easter Sunday, and a few degrees cooler than I like. The wind doesn't help matters, either.)
I try to make it out to see my sweet girl Dancer every day and am thankful that the kids want to always come along. My youngest lives and breathes horses; my oldest says she just wants to spend time together with me-horses aren't her thing; I feel so honored to have her here. She is growing up so fast-and turning into such a special young lady. Every day I am amazed at how mature she is when handling difficult situations. She is so wise, and so beautiful. I am very blessed. All thats missing from this picture are my dogs. Hey, if you count everyone, I have six kids-including my husband :0)

Quote for the Day

It' to assume that heaven is right here, right now, and let the stars fall where they may.

—Margaret Gunther

Friday, April 10, 2009

Celebrating Easter

Aren't these beautiful? The girls and I have been enlisted to make the eggs for Easter dinner at Nana's house. I can't wait to see how these turn out. Will post pics of our finished project so check back.....
Here are the instructions if you feel adventurous enough to try this too!

Robin's Egg Place Cards
Decorate your spring table with a speckled surprise. A tiny nest makes an ideal place card holder when filled with an egg that’s been dyed a soft shade of blue. For an authentic robin’s egg look, use a toothbrush to add delicate markings with brown craft paint.

For blue eggs, combine 1 drop of blue food coloring with 1 drop of green food coloring in glass of water. Feel free to play with different amounts of food coloring to adjust the color. Lower egg into water and set aside to dry.

To speckle eggs, we used one bottle of brown craft paint and a toothbrush. Dip brush into paint and lightly splatter and dab around the egg to achieve a random, lightly dotted pattern. Allow to dry.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Meaning of Vivanieres & the Roles of Women in the Civil War

In my constant efforts to research Gettysburg, I have uncovered more facts that I find pretty amazing. There are so many unsung heroes from that famous battle that deserve a closer look. Today I honor viviandieres and some of those other women who played important roles during that significant time.

Vivandières have an interesting role in the American Civil War. These brave women traveled with soldiers as mascots or nurses; there are even cases where they fought alongside their male counterparts. A vivandières could provide creature comforts to the soldiers. The term "Vivandière", is derived from a mixture of French and Latin, which literally means "hospitality giver." Many Vivandières carried a trademark cask, either round or oval, often filled with brandy.

A Vivandière uniform

Women Soldiers in Gettysburg

The above photographs are of Frances Clalin. Frances Clalin known by her married name of Frances Clayton, was a woman who disguised herself as a man named Jack Williams in order to fight for Union forces during the American Civil War. She served in the Missouri artillery and cavalry units for several months. Frances Clalin and her husband Elmer Clayton were both born and raised in the north.

Pickett's Charge

Two Confederate female casualties (one dead, one seriously wounded) were discovered after the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863. As confirmed in the Army Official Records of the war, the body of an unidentified female Confederate soldier was discovered by a burial detail near the stone wall at the angle on Cemetery Ridge. She had been a participant in Pickett's famous charge.

An author reporting on Pickett's charge at Gettysburg noted, "The fact that her body was found in such an advanced spot is testimony to her bravery. However, except for an unverified story that the woman had enlisted in a Virginia regiment with her husband and was killed carrying the colors during the charge, Hays' notation [in the Official Records] is the extent of acknowledgment she received for having given her life for her country."[xxvii]

Another female Confederate casualty at Gettysburg was reported after the battle by a wounded Union soldier from Michigan, while in hospital at Chester, Pennsylvania. He wrote a letter home saying that there was a female Confederate soldier in hospital with them who had been wounded severely and lost a leg at Gettysburg. He thought this was "romantic" and felt sympathy for her.

Why would women have disguised themselves to become soldiers? Most likely it was financially driven for most of them. It was a different world then. If your husband, father, brother or whoever was supporting you went off to war, there were no food stamps, no welfare, and women were not educated to support themselves. So they joined the Army to be paid and fed. Some joined for love because they decided to go with their husband or boyfriend. And we know some of them went just for the adventure of it.

How to Read Your Horse's Non-Verbal Communication

(Comic is Courtesy of Cheryl Ward-and her website

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teaching Your Horse to Paint

For all of you out there who want to teach your horses to paint, here's your chance!
(copy and past the address below into your browser)
Here's some inpiration to help you get started:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Helping the Horses

Adopting a horse is a big deal. Its not something you just wake up one day and decide to do. Especially when you have other obligations like, lets say, a family to support; and while my husband took his marriage vows seriously, I think sometimes he secretly wonders about that part in there that talks about "for better or worse"....because,there are times, I've got to say, where he is thinking that "worse" part shows up alot around here. Add to the mix two little girls who have ever changing needs and two pretty big dogs. My friend and I figured out that it costs about $6.00/day to keep a horse. And I think thats a pretty modest estimate. We were just talking hay and feed-we didn't factor in the farrier or vet or labor-or any of the things you actually do with a horse, like trail riding or showing. That's a whole new ball game-I guess I'm pretty lucky my husband loves me so much that he is willing to let me follow my 1100 pound dream....
I think he understands that inside some of us, there's this deep desire to connect with these beautiful animals. I can't explain it, its a certain feeling, and you might never understand what I am trying to describe. For some its about competing and winning ribbons and recognition. For me, its about learning how to communicate with my horse. I want to develop a special partnership with her; where she and I have a mutual understanding and respect for each other and she actually wants to be a part of what I have planned for us when we spend time together. When I'm with her, I feel centered and at peace with myself. She has really helped me to focus more on what is important-to slow down and live in the moment. I've been through some pretty tough times in my life, and she has really helped me to heal.
While I understand the whole concept of teaching a horse who is "boss," I still feel there other approaches where less intimidation is involved. After watching the following video, I now have a renewed inspiration and dedication to try harder when I'm with her.

When I first got my horse I was hoping she would be this warm,fuzzy, big puppy dog. What I got was a this gorgeous creature who had been through so much in her short seven years. I got to thinking I am probably expecting too much of her, too soon. She often comes across as aloof, but who can blame her-she came off the track in 2007in New York, she had been racing for five years since she was two; I guess she didn't make the grade-(wasn't fast enough) and ended up going to Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program in NY for a short time. She was then shipped down to a well respected rescue here in PA called Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue. She got the special privilege of becoming a DC Park Police officer in training through this rescue, all the police horses are dontated. But somewhere along the line their trainer determined that her small build was not well suited for some of those big police-officer types and they opted to put her up for adoption. I also heard through the grapevine that she didn't like being in traffic. Poor thing-I know we moved up here to get away from that!
Its just going to take time to build up trust, and like they say, nothing good comes easy. Sometimes the tiniest bit of progress means more to me than the biggest victories. I am thrilled when she comes up to greet me in the field. I am working on making sure she knows I am her person. You can tell when I'm working her that she would much rather be doing something else. Preferably eating grass, eating hay, eating carrots, eating grain-eating, eating, eating! (And rolling and frolicking in the field-so much more fun than working in the round pen!) I am trying to give her some space and let her enjoy discovering what its like to be a real horse-she's really just a big kid-a half ton kid with the mind of a two year old child.

Of course my adventures with "Unicorn Girl" (as I have fondly nicknamed her from making fancy hairdos out of her mane when rolling in the fields) wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Jo Diebel, founder of Angel Acres Horse Haven. Jo has a sterling reputation for rescuing and re-training off the track thoroughbreds in new careers-from the show ring to the trails, her horses are all very close to her heart and each has his or her own special story.

And right now is a very exciting time for Jo. She has made the top 10 in a $1 million shelter makeover contest sponsored by
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Press Release & Angel Acres
Glenville, PA -- Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue has made it to the “Top 20” in a $1 million shelter makeover contest sponsored by, a web site for animal and pet lovers.

“The contest has made more people aware that American horses are ending up on dinner plates in European and Asian restaurants and that homeless horses are suffering terrible treatment and a horrifying death,” says Jo Deibel, founder of Angel Acres. “We just finished a new video to help educate more people so they take action to help stop this practice.”

Says Deibel, “We’ve had media outlets all over the world from New Zealand to Japan cover this so whatever happens with the contest, Zootoo is helping to stop horse slaughter. We’re grateful to’s founder, Richard Thompson, for helping to shine a light on the issue of horse abandonment and horse slaughter,” says Deibel. “With the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes fast approaching it’s a great time for people to discuss this further.”

The Zootoo team traveled to all Top 20 shelters in March including Angel Acres, to assess needs, community support and best practices. The next step will be at the April 7th Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Animal Care Expo in Las Vegas when the Zootoo team will name the top 10 shelters for public voting April 13-19.

“Then, if we’re selected, it’s all up to America to vote for Angel Acres from these top 10 and decide who will win the million dollar makeover,” says Deibel. “Angel Acres has a unique spot, just two horse rescue shelters made it to the Top 20; good Lord willing, we make it all the way. I know if the horses could vote they most certainly would…their lives depend on it.”

Visit today to see how you can make a difference-here's your chance to support a very worthy cause-register and vote for Angel Acres as the shelter you want to win the makeover. Think of just how many more horses that could benefit from this wonderful rescue. They all have a story to tell you if you just take the time to be quiet and listen.

We know you can do it, Angel Acres!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring is Here

We have the most gorgeous forsythia bushes. We always get compliments from everyone in the Spring on how beautiful they are. In our house we just spent the last week fighting the flu, and when we emerged from the haze of it all, I was surprised with a beautiful burst of yellow which surprised me in my back yard. I liken it to an old friend you haven't seen in a while. You don't realize how much you were missing them until they are standing there in front of you-just as wonderful as the last time you saw them.
Its been a busy week. Between work and being under the weather somehow its now Sunday! Where did the days go? To celebrate feeling better, I took the girls to our local 7-Eleven and treated them each to a slurpee. We then high-tailed it to the library, one of our very favorite places to hang out.
Among the treasures I have the temporary honor of calling my own is a little book aptly titled The Four Seasons Poems,Everymans's Library Pocket Poets. The introduction tells us "the poems in this volume engage vividly with the seasons and, through them, with the ways in which we understand and engage the world outside ourselves." What a beautiful description!
I can honestly say I have spent way too too much time with myself this past week being sick-I am definitely ready to spend some more time outside of myself. I can' think of a better way to do it than with a good book. And in honor of Spring, I would like to share a poem with you. Its a little melancholy, but beautifully written by one of my favorite poets:

William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran,
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played
Their thoughts I cannot measure.-
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?