war stories

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Ya know, sewing these britches reminds me of a story. Back in the war, my buddy Crabby and I were quartermasters attached to the 10th Ohio. We had this Lieutenant that was kind of an ass. The Lieutenant left his coat on a wagon and Crabby got the brilliant idea of sewing this guy's coat sleeves closed about halfway down their length.


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Crabby just sat on the tail of the wagon sewing away. The Lieutenant even came out several times and asked Crabby some questions. He never figured out what Crabby was doing.


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A runner finally came with a request for the lieutenant to go see the Major. The guy runs out of his tent and grabs the coat that Crabby had finished sewing and returned to its place. The Lieutenant tried putting his arm in the first sleeve and couldn’t get it in. He pushed harder and harder until he started spinning in circles with one arm halfway in and the other flailing around.


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Finally the idiot lieutenant pushed so hard that he lost his balance and fell into a pile of horse crap. Crabby started laughing so hard he had tears. I started laughing because Crabby was laughing so hard. His laugh was infectious. Other people were laughing as well.


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The Lieutenant got up, madder than a wasp’s nest. When he looked around for someone to blame, Crabby just subtly pointed his finger at one of the other guys that were laughing. I think the poor innocent slob got latrine duty for a month.

I think that was Crabby’s best day of the war.


Credit Due:

The gentleman pictured in this story is my friend from the farm, Rick Musselman. With only a little embellishment, this story was the actual tale that Rick was telling me while he hemmed the pants for one of the farm hands. Sometimes, real life is better than the story I would have made up. Thank you Rick.


they wouldn’t let Zach play any of their draft horse games

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Zach has always thought he was one of the horses on the farm. He was raised along side them and what they did, he did. If they were gamboling and playing in the pasture behind the barn, then Zach was right there with them. He ate the same hay from the same hay rack as them. He drank from the same water trough.

It is no wonder that Zach was surprised when the horses decided that today, he couldn't play in any of their draft horse games. You would think he was some kind of hog, sheep, or even worse, a goat. Poor Zach. Poor clueless Zach.


getting the whole story

Jimmy's Big Interview


Ace reporter, Libby Crenshaw knew a good story when she saw one. She spied Jimmy in the paddock and knew by the way he just stood there every time she looked in his direction that something big was going on. Why would a horse try so hard not to be noticed if he wasn't trying to hide something.

Libby wasn't shy and walked straight up to Jimmy and asked him what he was up to. Point blank. Libby is not known for being subtle. The more that Jimmy stood there in silence, the more Libby knew that she was right. And so the staring contest began.

As far as we know, Libby and Jimmy are still standing there, staring in silence. Who will break first?


the other side

The House next to the Gorge


My name is Hec Thompson and I am from this side. For my entire life, I have been taught by my father to dislike, distrust, and generally think ill of my neighbors, the Nanleys. Dad always said that Nanleys were loathsome low down cusses. You needed to keep a close eye on them. Don’t ever trust a Nanley.

For years, I thought as I was taught. I looked down my nose at them when I couldn’t avoid them entirely. Then I actually got to know Old Man Nanley’s girl, Becca. She was cute as a button and had the prettiest green eyes and long curly brown hair. When I started at the county high school, she was in one of my classes. Prior to that, we had never met because we attended different schools.

Before you know it, We were talking at lunch and seeing each other at dances. It took me a whole two months to work up the courage to ask her out to see a movie. Not that I was afraid that she would turn me down. More because I was afraid of what my father would do when he found out.

Becca and I were steady for two years before dad discovered that I was courting her. He threw up a real stink. Grounded me, gave me extra chores, and generally made my life miserable.

When Becca and I eventually got married, my father refused to attend the wedding. Mom and my little brother, Henry were there, but dad washed his hands of the whole thing. Dad never visited our home for the first two years of our marriage. It wasn’t until our boy was born that dad walked through my front door. I know mom forced him to go. It wasn’t like dad to ever swallow his pride.

As he was leaving, I asked him what he had against the Nanleys. What terrible thing did they ever do to him? As far as I knew he never really knew them. That’s when he told me.

You see, although we were neighbors, the Nanleys were from over on that side. Not this side. In my dad’s mind, the chasm between our two families was too wide for him to bridge. God had put that big ditch there for a reason and that was good enough for him.

Becca and I have now been married for 22 years and I have got to tell you. Once you get to know the people on that side, you quickly learn that they are an awful lot like the people on this side.


the golden sea

Lanier Sunrise


I dreamed that I sailed across a golden sea until I found an island floating in the morning light. The island drifted on the wind, following the sun as it slowly journeyed westward. The island’s shadow reflection shimmered on the small ripples that trailed in the island’s wake. The entire scene flowed by me in complete silence and I could see no sign of life. Not a bird, fish, nor human met my gaze.  

Gil’eal the wee guardian spirit spoke to me. Do not step foot on the land that wanders or you will become lost. 

In my dream, I knew that I would not walk under the trees of those floating worlds. I saw that I would return with the new moon, an auspicious omen. 

This morning, as I sighted the island of my dreams, a shiver ran down my spine none-the-less.




You remember that old bird that owned that haberdashery over on east 43rd? His name was Murray. I ran into his son, Joey, down at The Strand. Said his dad finally retired, sold the place, and moved to Florida. Man, that's the way I want to go…flush in Florida.


fiction friday – mr. jean

The Portfolio


Pa called him Jean in the French way and he did indeed speak with a strange French accent. The man came to visit us every year to hunt and wander the woods looking for birds. We all liked it when Pa announced that Mr. Jean was coming for a visit, even though that meant he would take the big bed and we would be relegated to the trundle or even worse, the floor.

Mr. Jean would bring birds home for us to eat, but some of the birds, he would prop up next to a tree or in some grass and then get out his big book and get to work making likenesses of the birds in charcoal and paint. When Mr. Jean was working in this way, we could watch, but we could not speak or otherwise disturb the man. Pa saw to that with the threat of a switch.

When we were supping, Mr. Jean and Papa would tell stories of their old times, traveling in far off places up and down the Mississippi river way south of here.  Mr. Jean would speak of Haiti, Paris, and London as though he were intimate with the places and people that lived there. My imagination always got the best of me and I would dream of seeing those places.

Mr. Jean would tease me with stories of made up animals like the éléphant which he said was as big as a barn, had trees for legs, sails for ears, and a nose like a snake.

Imagine my surprise when, years later, I travelled far and wide as well and saw an elephant in true flesh and blood in Mr. Barnum's circus. The animal was just as Mr. Jean had said it was, only he had forgotten to tell that it also had the tail of an ass and the rumble of distant thunder.

Also, Imagine my surprise to find that my father’s friend, our Mr. Jean was famous and those silly portraits of birds were known to the King of England himself.