Outside My French Doors, This Waits

Rain from the last two days puddles along the path to the barn and I hopscotch my way around the deepest. Coaly, our 9-month-old pup mimics my actions. She tries hard to figure out this human’s strange behavior. Mini Cooper, our old terrier mix, dashes off into the pasture chasing turkeys. They are slow to move. The males close their tail feathers, gobble their displeasure and follow the females into the woods. Cooper trots back toward the barn, looking very pleased.


The horses wait outside their stalls for me to let them in. Jungle Kitty greets me with a loud meow. She’s ready to get out and about. Gem, the newest equine member, nickers his hunger, and hurries to his feed when I open the door. Rustic, my other thoroughbred waits a bit before coming to eat. The big bay pauses outside his stall door for a head scratch, gives me a morning nudge of thanks, and then, moseys inside.


My small piece of the world has settled into its morning rhythm. Horses fed, cat stroked, dogs called, stalls latched, I hopscotch back toward the house, finding myself happy with simply being.


Birds chatter above my head, a breeze whispers in my ear and I pause to inhale the scent of spring. The feeling this spring morning brings surprises me a bit, as I’ve been troubled about human ills. I pause and it turns into a long moment of thinking. A gentle nudge of joy as Coaly drops a tennis ball at my feet and invites me to play, takes me to a deeper understanding of what “this” means.


This, all this, has been here all along, outside my French doors, waiting for me. I throw the ball, and move forward with a peace filled heart and love for our Earth’s ability to heal wounds. She is wonderful and today is a good day in the making.


Take a moment to visit the real world today. There’s something to love out there. This I know to be true.

Thanksgiving in the year of anger


Rust, gold, and brown carpet the drive. Nuts from the oaks are sprinkled across the lawn, all small delights for a curious pup to find. Gifts from the trees on this Thanksgiving Day, outside my French doors. I stand in the sun and watch Mini Cooper, now 14, roll in something she finds delightful. Her small chunky body twists to get at an itch that her arthritis won’t let her reach. Coaly spies her vulnerability and takes it as a signal to play. Cooper is an easy target for a 4 month old pup and I find myself wondering if this will be her last autumn.
My heart turns to McGyver who is not here to share this fall for the first time in 14 years. I give him his moment, and also send a silent love note to those humans who helped form me into who I am and are now gone. Coaly is getting closer to Cooper.
I focus on now, think of our children and grandchildren carrying forward traditions we started, gathered together on this day in the Midwest. One child called for advice on making gravy. The other child shared a video of margaritas they’d created, pulling from memories with us. I laugh to myself, think of how we are shaping them, and look forward to Christmas, when they will be. Life is as it should be. Coaly pounces. Cooper growls, but doesn’t move.
“Go get her, Cooper,” I call. “You’re still strong, girl.”
The old dog leaps up. Sometimes, we simply need a reminder. I watch Cooper fend off the large puppy, sending the gangly ball of legs and lanky body tumbling. We old ladies must root for each other as our youth fades, for our hearts and dreams are still very much alive. I say thank you to the sun, the temperature and the beauty of the hour for making this a moment I can hold in my heart.
We continue our stroll toward the barn, Coaly chasing leaves, Cooper seeking out the scents of creatures that live below the surface of the ground. Rustic grazes slowly across the still green pasture. The cat tightropes along the top board of the fence.
I watch turkeys fade into the woods, their gobbles giving away their hiding place and I marvel that we creatures survive. Cooper drags a deer leg toward me. I start, wonder where it came from. I hope some hunter is making venison stew and giving thanks or some coyotes are full and sleeping soundly. I fill myself to the brim with the variety of sounds, scents and visions that Nature showers upon me on this thanks giving walk. I don’t want to miss a second of THIS.
Give thanks, not simply today, but always, whenever you feel the deep inner joy of knowing our world is special, and we are here.
May you find a feeling of peace and a moment to treasure on this Thanksgiving Day, for we are all Blessed.
And, it is a miracle, that in all the time I spent outside my French doors today, I did not once think of our country’s trouble.

Outside My French Doors “It take a Thief”


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It Takes a Thief

It’s mid July and 6am is warm but not unbearable outside my French doors. The dogs and I amble to the barn. McGyver, our old shepherd is the slowest and I check my speed to match his trembling haunches. I have a hard time watching this brave, determined soul. His mind is bright, his heart is willing, but his body has shifted into that gait that leads to the end. He has been part of our family for 13 years. I take a few minutes to let him rest, stroke his head and remember the moments we’ve shared.

I wanted a large dog to discourage in house break-in, Bob traveled a great deal. I went to the local shelter and picked a long, lanky puppy. He leaped against the bars of his cage and the staff seemed surprised, but happy, when I picked the hyper shepherd mix. He was mine the moment I saw him. I’ve always been a sucker for a long, lanky fellow. The shelter employees knew more about him than I did. I named him McGyver, after the main character in the old series “It Takes a Thief”.

He was ours for one day; we’d gotten him at four months old, when he ran under a horse. The horse stepped on the pup’s toe and when he wrenched away, McGyver broke his hip. He threw up in the car on the way to the vet. He threw up on the way home after surgery. A sensitive dog, his demeanor told us he was embarrassed. He disliked car trips after that and his world has pretty much been the parameters of Misty Hill. I wondered what I’d gotten myself into.

McGyver spent 2 months confined to a small space with the broken hip. Puppy bones are like butter and it was important that he not run or jump. We went on short walks so he could relieve himself twice a day. That was it. Never did he complain, never did he have an accident in the house. The wild child seemed to realize he had to behave.

Once he was released from confinement, McGyver morphed into a farm dog. He had a deep respect for the horses, rolled in manure, and tumbled after squirrels. At that time, we were having the house remodeled and workmen were in and out. The uncoordinated pup became their friend. They shared their lunch with him, and threatened to take him home after work. I began to worry that this dog I’d bought for security would turn into one who would hold the door open for crooks. He was certainly not the ideal protector I’d envisioned.

I shouldn’t have worried. Once he matured, his bark became fierce when a stranger approaches. Though his hips tremble, he scrambles up right, and still presses against me, making sure he is the barrier between visitors and myself. Once I tell him it’s okay, he becomes the welcoming host

McGyver chases tennis balls for the grandkids. On this visit, the balls were more dropped than thrown, but both children and dog still loved the game. He’s never eaten off a plate, even those right under his nose, or begged for food. He stays off the furniture and thrives on pleasing. A gentle no is the only correction he has ever needed. We are his whole world. He was always, even during the silly puppy days, and still is, the perfect dog.

In the next few days, weeks, who knows, I’m sure he will tell us when, it will be Goodbye day. I will do as I have for those who came before him, give him all the things he loves; our undivided attention, quiet time sitting on the cool earth watching him doze, gentle words of praise, one last tennis ball. We will feed him beef and chicken, each bite cut small and tell him how perfect he is. We will stay on the farm, go nowhere. I’m glad he will have no pain and doesn’t have to travel by car to ease out of this world.

As we do these things I will think about how I did not realize, so many years ago when I spied the pup no one wanted that I had not acquired a dog that would protect me from those who stole, but one who would rob me. For this I know. McGyver will steal a piece of our hearts to take with him over the bridge.

Sometimes, it takes a thief for one to realize what is valuable. Enjoy the moments, all.


Trapped by an Angel

fam-58-01-00-deborah-michael My brother Michael letting me tag along. This created a memory, that became a story about the power of love.  https://www.facebook.com/DeborahKBundy

Trapped By An Angel https://dkbfox.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/trapped-by-an-angel/

Dim shadows flit like ghosts across the snow. Of course I don’t believe in ghosts. Don’t believe Santa, and don’t believe in signs, except for the real ones, like the imprints in the snow left by wildlife. Don’t believe in anything much at all. The world is a tough place and you have to be tough to survive. There’s no reason to pretend otherwise. All I can see in the world is stark, dark trees against a wall of gray in the forest dusk.

“Hold on Janie. Another hour and we’ll be at the barn,” I say. “Need to finish the trapline, stow the game.”
My sister Jane will never make it alone in this world. She believes in everything good, and never even sees the bad. So, I have the extra burden of watching over her. Carry it like I’m carrying her, nothing I need, but something I’m tough enough to handle. I try to teach her, but… “Your fault you got hurt,” I say.
“Is not,” she says with a giggle. “My Mickey, Mickey, Michael.” One of her red mittens pats the top of my head, while the other grabs my collar. She’s always so damn cheerful.
“Humph.” I shift my shoulders, toss her abruptly upwards, and will myself to keep moving. Janie is six, a real, sweet as carnival cotton candy, brat. Can’t do a darn thing by herself. Mom treats her like a baby. Took care of myself by the time I was her age. She should too. Does nothing but cause harm spoiling her like this.
My legs tremble and my arms feel as if someone’s pulling the muscles apart strip by strip. I’m strong for fourteen, but she’s like a pack full of empty traps, nothing but dead weight. The burden numbs me to the sights and sounds of the forest. I trudge on through the cold, wet woods.
Janie’s hands clutch my jacket, her legs twine with my arms and I feel her breath against my neck. The only sound is the crunch my boots make as they break through the ice that borders the stream. I stare at the ground looking for tracks, and don’t see the glittering world she chatters about in my ear.
“Michael, my ankle hurts so bad.” Janie’s tone changes as we near my game line. I close my mind, like the steel trap that swings from my belt. Her arms tighten around my neck.
“Loosen up. You’re choking me.”
“It hurts.”
I look down at her ankle. Appears normal, hard to tell through the red boot she wears. Probably another one of her tricks.
“Ain’t gonna keep me from collecting pelts. You should’ve stayed home.” I stop, drop her on the snow.
She scowls. “Didn’t have to dump me!” Her voice changes to a whine. “Please no more traps.”
Then, being cotton candy Janie, she falls back, smiles and flutters her arms and legs.
“What’re you doin’?” My hands clench, my jaw muscles jump. Can’t the kid tell I’m aggravated?
“Making angels.” She rolls back into a sitting position. “It’s almost Christmas.” Her cheeks are bright red and her eyes gleam with excitement.
The ice thickens around my heart. “Ain’t nobody giving you nothing. Quit trying to slow me down. I’m getting my traps.” I kick out, spraying snow in Janie’s face, and then start down the trail.
She’s followed me everywhere this year and Mom makes me take her. That’s all right if I’m going fishing. It’s kinda funny watching her squirm when I put a worm on the hook, but not when I’m trapping. She cries over every animal I catch. She doesn’t understand that the pelts mean money. I crash through the underbrush.
“I don’t have time for fairytales and Santa ain’t visited me, ever.” The words come from my mouth on large bursts of steam. I mean for Janie to hear them. Branches shower white flakes on top of my parka and against my neck. My shoulder blades jump toward each other as icy wetness runs down my spine. I wish I had a muffler. Can’t afford one. As I draw my head into my coat, I admit Janie’s arms sheltered me from the icy bath as I carried her.
“Still ain’t worth the trouble you cause!” I holler.
Reaching into my pocket, I pull out a piece of gum, hesitate, tear it in two, and put half in my mouth. The brat will want some. It smells like winter and tastes like wild mint. My eyes scan the bushes. Janie’s voice fades into the distance. She can sit there all night for all I care. She knows the way home. She’s no more hurt than I am. I’m filled with the righteous bitterness of a misused soul.
There should be a trap here somewhere. I drop to my knees and dig through the snow. My hand hits against something hard. I grasp it and drag it to the surface. Chain clanks. The trap appears, crusted with whiteness, its jaws pressed together like a demon’s fangs.
“Damn.” I throw it down. Empty, just like the others. Someone’s triggering my traps. “Janie, did you do this?” My voice is loud. “Answer me!” I wait, beating the trap against my leg, thinking of what I’ll do when I see her. No sound comes from up the trail.
Limbs snap against my thrusting arms as I trudge back. I’m out of breath when I reach the spot where I dumped Janie in the snow. She’s gone. The imprint of the angel is clear, makes me uneasy. I look around for tracks. There they are, small waffle boot prints leading off to the deep woods, headed not quite towards the house. I turn to head back to my trap line and then hesitate. Mom will kill me if I leave her little angel out here alone. I sniff the air. It smells like more snow coming. The sky is a somber, ugly gray. I better find her and get home.
“So much for the sprained ankle,” I mumble to myself as I examine the evenly spaced footprints. “God, why’s she always messing up my life?” I glare at the menacing sky and follow her trail.
Janie’s crouched in a group of holly bushes, one finger held to her lips. She crooks the finger, luring me to her.
Thirsty, I pull a glove off as I approach and scoop up a handful of snow. It tastes like pine. I spit it out and wipe my hand on my pants. The cold bites at my fingers. When I reach Janie, I squat behind her.
“What is it?” My words are no more than a soft breath.
“Santa’s reindeer.” Her voice is high, yet a whisper.
I blow against my hand to warm it. It’s red and rough from work. I tuck it under my armpit as I peer over her shoulder. A huge buck stands not fifteen feet away, next to a doe. He paws the ground by her head. With her front feet spread, neck stretched, nose to the ground, the doe quivers, but doesn’t move. Strange, they aren’t running. My fingers twitch. I wish I had my rifle. The buck’s rack of horn must span eight feet.
A metallic clank fills the air. The doe stumbles back as if released from a tether, and then lifts her head, her nose red with blood. My trap. She had her nose caught in one of my traps. The buck’s pawing must have released her.
Janie gasps. I try to cover her eyes. She jerks away. The sudden movement startle the deer. In great leaps they disappear into the deep woods. Janie turns to me. I brace and watch for her accusing eyes. Steal myself against the words I expect she’ll say.
“Michael, Michael did you see them?” Her voice bounces off the trees. “The reindeer, even Rudolf, right here in our woods. Did you see his red nose? Santa must be near. He’ll come this year. I know he will. You knew, didn’t you? That’s why you left me. So I could see. I love you.” Her eyes shimmer with excitement. She falls back into the snow laughing and begins to make another angel.
There’s a hole in the sole of her red rubber boot. Emotion freezes my throat.
I look at her and wonder when I lost the magic of believing. I feel so old. Seen through her eyes the woods are a fairyland, reindeer are possible and traps are always empty. I pick her up and nestle my nose in her hair. She smells of soap and things I’ve buried deep, under a layer of ice. She smells of hope.
My baby sister believes and that is enough. “Santa’ll come,” I mumble. I don’t know how, but he’ll come. Cold seeps through my coat. I ignore it as I set Janie back on her feet.
Then I fall into the snow, trusting. It feels awkward this trusting, as my body pummels toward the earth, still I’m determined. The snow engulfs me like a soft winter comforter. My arms and legs struggle to make an angel. The sky no longer looks gray. I see it through the shining light of Janie’s eyes. I stand up and my feelings burst forth in a great laugh. It sounds strange, but good.
“Let’s go home.” I unfasten the trap attached to my belt and let it drop to the ground. “No more trapping this year. My gift to you.”
She grins broadly and then frowns. “But I don’t have anything for you.”
“You alone are enough. Climb up and keep my back warm.”
She giggles as she climbs on my back and then becomes still, her arms strong as my traps and warm as a muffler around my neck.
“Trapped by an angel,” she whispers.
I nod my head and turn toward the barn and home. My legs swing easily, for I come bearing a true gift. I carry a snow angel on my back. The only sound I hear is the ice as it cracks around my heart. I swipe at moisture in my eyes. The world sparkles and I watch with care for reindeer in the woods.


Outside My French Doors


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Outside my French doors, autumn is sharing the days with winter. She chills the air, grays the sky, scatters gold and red across the pastures. A flock of nine turkeys cross in front of the barn, peck through the fallen leaves. Horses graze near by undisturbed. Deer nibble next to them, and now and then all gaze into the distance. I realize in this moment that it is a time for reflection. There is a doorway to peaceful existence and hope of continued life, as the season of dying crouches close on the horizon.

In our country, friends gather for Thanksgiving during the end of November. Many cook, polish and share love, but, to me, fall feels less peaceful than those in the past. I think about all the fear induced hate spewing across Facebook and realize I want to withdraw into gratefulness for what I have, isolate myself as the United States did until December 7, 1941. Deep down, I know it would be wrong to do so. Isolation was a false sense of security then, as it is now. The world is round. There are no walls against evil, except to stand united with our fellow humans who believe in and offer hope.

A man with a caring heart posted on Facebook about France using the words of Winston Churchill from the year 1940, where Churchill speaks of a shining dawn to come. I read his words and thought; did Churchill have any idea of how long it would be before that morning would come? Such hope and such sorrow followed his speech, but he never lost his way, never devalued the value of all people. Thank goodness. He knew that such evil couldn’t be allowed to grow in his own country, that fear induced hate and such a false rant of superiority could not become a part of the country he loved. His people, deep down, knew it too and they took in those persecuted, gave of themselves to make a better world.

Hope didn’t die during that awful time, and love for our fellow man shined the brightest. I am thankful that there were people of vision, who cared about more than only those within their borders.

The turkeys join six crows. I expect the turkeys to overpower with their size and the crows to do their usual territorial fighting, but this morning, they share. Each seems to know that in this transitional season they can’t survive if they don’t all share the Earth’s bounty. I have to believe that we, as a people know this, too.

In this season of reflection and hope, when the fear of death hovers near, be brave enough to care, always.




September 11 Find a Moment

September 11, 2015



Morning comes quiet and peacefully outside my French doors, as it did fourteen years ago. My day started, as this one will, with walks though fields, the scent of horses and doing the things that bring me joy. What will be added is the knowing. Knowing that things can turn upside down. Knowing people can be here and then they can be gone. Knowing that each moment is precious, very precious.


Sometimes, it is easy to resent that we’ve been robbed of the innocence that coated many of our lives before 9/11, easy to get lost in the chaos, easy to cave to the evil wished upon us. But, we Americans are not known for taking the easy route. We are a brave people, believers in hope, and pursuers of happiness.

On this day of remembrance, I will let the acute awareness received on that day bring into focus something worth keeping. Buildings crumbled, but our country’s foundation, built on the spirits of true Americans, is stronger. Those who lost their lives on 9/11 are now part of that base. Their memories remind me that the United States of America is my land, my hope, my children’s future and it is good.

We live in a wonderful country, are blessed beyond measure, and can honor those gone with love, openly and freely. We can express ourselves without fear, we can live our lives, we can simply be. It is a good day for moments, precious moments. Find one and make a memory.

Outside my French Doors


The world is questioning my beloved country, the United States of America and what we stand for. They wonder if our country has changed, many here wonder if our country’s values have changed. Has our understanding of the word freedom become distorted?
I believe the majority of we Americans still keep the faith alive, that most agree freedom is – loving that each individual has the right to become the best person they can be-. It’s true freedom has been pushed to some far limits in recent years, and when freedom is distorted in to an excuse to express hate in such a way as in the church killings, it no longer can be called freedom, it can no longer be called a “Right”. That type of expression is called hatred of self spilling over onto others. That is not the American dream and I believe I’m not the only one who thinks such behavior can not be allowed in a free country such as ours. We need to stop listening to expressions of hate of others different from ourselves, question the reasons for believing such vile thinking. We need to protect our true freedom.

When you step outside your doors, do it with love, all. Be free to enjoy our world, feel free enough to enjoy others doing so, too. This is what I believe.

Bettie White 1924-2015



Yesterday, up on the mountain.

In the wee hours of the morning before the light of day, my Mom left this earth. As the hours passed I found myself wandering through the years gone by, sorting pieces of a life. It is a sad, happy, I miss you thing to do, especially when a loved one’s final years have been filled with the bitterness of memory loss and ill health. By afternoon, tired and in need of peace, Bob took me to our away place on the mountain.

It was a warm day for February and I settled in a chair on the deck overlooking the Piedmont. Below me the world lay in the tarnished shades of winter. Fallen trees, broken limbs, icy rivers spoke of the season of dying. Yet, it was a scene that also spoke of peace, of an ending that would lead to a new beginning.

My eyes rose upward and I felt closer to my Mom than I had in a long while. I could see her, though the sky was empty. I knew what she was up to, now that she’d shed the weight of illness.

Lazy angels had been tumbled from their beds, and the white down of clouds they had lain on swept away. Each molecule of sky was spit polished, as only my Mom could do, until crystal clear, then stacked in perfect order until all I could see was the celestial blue shine of perfection. It reminded me of the way my Mom kept house.

The sun, teased into perfect position warmed the lump in my throat until it melted and I found the peace I had been seeking. Only a Mother could produce a day like this, I thought, and smiled a thank you.

My Mom is at peace. How do I know this? She told me not long ago, she would be happy when she went home and she is there.


Bettie White April 14, 1924- February 7, 2015

My Mom is at peace. How do I know this? She told me not long ago, she would be happy when she went home and she is there.

Night of Nights , Annual Christmas Poem


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Barn in the Snow-Jan2010

            Night Of Nights

On this night of nights

Snow squeaks under my boots

Sounding like little Christmas mice

Fighting over cookies and milk

I remove one glove, then the other

Loosen the girth, slide the saddle off

Give my chestnut mare a quick brush

Several pats on her warm thick coated neck

A blue glow from a bright star

Forges a path across the winter landscape

Reveals neat hoof prints that mark the way

From whence we have come

Yes, we

Though I traveled undetected

Upon the broad back of my companion

Could I prove I was there

Perhaps not

Take it on faith I will say if challenged

The place journeyed to

Found several years ago

When I dropped the reins

Gave my mare her head

Feels close to Heaven

Tonight, this night, I left prayers

She trimmed around the tombstone

Upon which the light always shines brightest

Infant boy-A child of God- the inscription reads

Each year it is the same and each year

I marvel at the sight

My mare moves so unerringly to

Animals in the stable talk at midnight

Or so it is said

In honor of a birth long ago

Does my mare speak of the wonders we have seen

I do not know

Will have to take it on faith

Our yearly trek complete

I lead my mare into the barn

Settle her in with sweet feed and carrots

Gloves back on, I give her one last pat

Pull the heavy wooden door closed

Shut in the incense of horses, hay and miracles

Snow squeaks under my boots

On this night of nights



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Outside November 6, 2014


Outside my French doors, most would describe this early morning hour as dark and silent. I stepped across the threshold, released the human chatter in my head and listened. My awareness more acute, thanks to a piece about the connection of all things that I read at 4AM.


One lone frog sang his song. The predawn kept him well hidden, but I could see him though his message. “I’m over here, near the pool searching for a winter sustenance.” Trees clattered their drying leaves, a bustle of warning. “Get ready for cold. It is coming.” The Earth breathed, “Live softly upon my surface.” The wind crooned, “Keep my sky free, free so I can dance across your skin.”


There is a reason Holy Ones go to the wilderness to learn about existence and come back with strong messages. “This Earth is a gift. Protect this sacred world and give thanks,” they preach.


Go outside your abode, listen, get back in touch with all that matters. Life feels more perfect when all move with conscious caring, and life will perish without it.


Let the wind hug you, the Earth hold you, the trees speak, and the frog eat, today, all.