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Susan Williamson – Many Champions

Susan Williamson

We have returned home from our annual trip to Louisville, Kentucky to watch the World Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair. I have, with great pain, finally accepted that I will never have the opportunity to ride on the green shavings. But I congratulate (and envy) all those who do.

My personal favorite was Andrea Athanasuleas for her outstanding ladies amateur championship ride on Honey Badger. The big dark gelding charged into the ring with his magnificent trot, reared back, a picture of power under control. His slow gait and rack were equally brilliant. The crowd cheered when the judges called for a three horse workout.  Honey Badger never faltered and Andrea had him in the right spot, thinking ahead, making her move, every step of the way, in a field of very nice horses.  Her ringmanship and his performance were an incredible testament to the heart of this horse, the ability of this rider and the training of Matt Shiflet.

In her last year as a juvenile, Carver Semans lit up the ring on Undulata’s Pressure. Carver was dedicating her ride to her mother, who is recovering from a serious stroke. I remember putting Carver on Buttons, the saintly pony, at her fifth? and sixth? birthday parties. Her horse is trained by West Wind Stables. Her mother and her instructor, Jeanine Lovell, proudly watched her performance from Winston-Salem. Saddlebred people are a relatively small bunch and the crowd took up her cause as she earned a well-deserved reserve championship.

I didn’t get to see Suzy Shiflet’s wins on I Am What I Am, but the expression on her face said it all. A small barn with a hardworking trainer can make it to the winner’s circle. We also missed Krista Dent and her nice fine harness horse, another hardworking lady.

Stephanie Saunders had a great ride on My Dreamboat Annie despite the lack of a ribbon. I might be a bit biased since I love pinto horses and I know Stephanie and her family, but they looked good to me.

Congratulations to Daniel Lockhart for his Five-Gaited World’s Championship on The Daily Lottery. Daniel is the first British rider to win at Louisville. He and his sister, Kelly, came to America to work after competing for Great Britain in the 2004 Saddle Seat World Cup in Lexington, Kentucky. Our daughter, Wynn, was living in England and also a member of the team. Daniel works for Kalarama Farm and Kelly works for Carriage Lane Farm.  Daniel recently married Kelly Self who also rides for Kalarama, so two Kelly Lockharts were competing at the show.

We say many friends, including close friends from our former home town who drove two hours up and back, just to take us to dinner and catch up—true friends indeed. And, we always stay with my husband’s cousin, a wonderful woman (and poet) who inspires us.


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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – A Woman’s Place in the 50’s

Sharon Canfield Dorsey

This Good Wife’s Guide was printed anonymously in a women’s magazine in 1955…

…”Have a delicious meal ready when your husband come home from work and greet him with a warm smile. This will let him know you have been thinking about him and are dedicated to his needs.

…Take fifteen minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair.

…Try to be interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and it is your duty to provide it.

…The house should be immaculate. Clear away schoolbooks, toys and run a dust cloth over the furniture.

…In winter, prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

…Prepare the children by washing their little faces, combing their hair, and dressing them properly. Minimize all noise. Teach the children to be silent.

…Listen to him. Let him talk first. Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

…Don’t complain if he comes home late or stays out all night. He is the master of the house and you have no right to question him.

…Have a drink waiting for him, no matter what time he arrives home. Seat him in a comfortable chair and take off his shoes. Always speak in a low, soothing voice. Never tell him your problems.


I wouldn’t call my mother an obedient woman in the 50’s but she knew what she had to do to keep her family fed and clothed and she did it without complaining. Her life was organized and her days full.

Every Monday, no matter what the temperature, she washed clothes in a wringer washer, filling it with water she had drawn from the well and heated on the coal-burning stove. She carried the clothes basket up crude, rocky steps dug into the steep hill, and hung the shirts, dresses, pants and underwear on the clothesline. Every two weeks, there would be an extra load of sheets and pillow cases. In winter, the clothes froze solid – sleeves, legs in strange poses, like headless creatures, hanging on the clothes line. She lugged them back down the hill, stiff as boards, dampened them with warm water and put them back in the basket to be ironed on Tuesday, always Tuesday. She even ironed the sheets and towels. I remember how red and chapped her hands would get. At night, I would watch her coating them with Vaseline.

Wednesday and Thursday were cleaning days. She polished the furniture, mopped the linoleum, did mending and sewing. Friday was baking day. Every day, when my Dad came home from working in the coal mines, she heated water for his bath and moved the round aluminum tub into the kitchen by the warm cooking stove.

My mother’s life in the 50’s was very different from the simplistic one described in the Good Wife’s Guide. But there was one commonality – man was the master of the house and women were there to serve, my mother included.


You can read more of Sharon’s stories about growing up as a coal miner’s daughter in Appalachia in her memoir, Daughter of the Mountains and a book of poetry, Tapestry.

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of two children’s books, Herman, the Hermit Crab and the Mystery of the Big, Black, Shiny Thing and Revolt of the Teacups. Her poems are also included in an anthology, Captured Moments. WATCH FOR A NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK IN THE FALL OF 2018.

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Cindy L. Freeman – No Rest for the Writer

Cindy Freeman

I can think of nothing more relaxing than spending a beautiful, summer evening sitting in a graveyard. That’s right. A graveyard. On Sunday evenings, the Yorktown Summer Music Series is performed in the cemetery of Grace Episcopal Church. Last night we took a picnic supper, a bottle of wine and folding chairs to enjoy the music of one of our favorite local bands, Poisoned Dwarf.

The cemetery was nestled under a canopy of trees that surely must be as old as some of the departed who have rested beneath that earth for two hundred years or more. Many of the tombstones were broken or so worn you couldn’t read the inscriptions. I couldn’t help thinking about the lives of the people who were buried there. I started imagining stories about them, wondering whether they had lived during the Revolutionary War or perhaps died because of the war. Had some of them fought in the nearby battlefields or traversed the river down the hill? Had they been active members of the Episcopal church that served as a backdrop for the concert?

I tried to imagine the life of one woman whose husband had died many years before she did. Was she left to raise a brood of children on her own? One tombstone reminded me that infant mortality was very high in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Losing children to disease was a common occurrence in the generations before vaccinations and good medical care. But the heartfelt inscription indicated the loss was no less painful for those parents.

As I sipped my wine from a plastic flute, my imagination soared. I found myself assigning faces, personalities, and settings to both the deceased and their survivors. I found myself making up stories in my head and wishing I had taken my laptop to the concert.

I began to glance around at the other concertgoers and wondered about their lives and their stories. Where had they lived, traveled, worshipped, worked, and raised their families? Who might be dealing with chronic illness, a cancer diagnosis, divorce or the recent death of a loved one? When they laid their heads on their pillows each night, what was on their minds just before going to sleep?

I went to the concert to relax and take a break from writing. But my mind wouldn’t shut down and let me simply enjoy the music and the pleasant breeze. I’ve heard other authors of fiction mention this sometimes-frustrating phenomenon. Every situation we encounter and every person we meet inspires us to write. Fortunately, retirement affords me time to write every day.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories, a novella, Diary in the Attic, and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room, and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy Loomis Freeman. Her books are available through or





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Susan Williamson – Kayaking

Susan Williamson

This morning we went kayaking at Waller Mill Park. We were the only vessels on the reservoir and the beauty and peace of the trees reflected in the still water were amazing. Every leaf had a mirror image and sun and shade blurred the boundary of water and tree.

The first time we went kayaking was in Shem Creek near Charleston.  The quiet, the water fowl, the occasional fisherman on his dock were all wonderful. I liked it so well that I used it in a scene in Turkmen Captives (re-released this week as Desert Tail). We eventually bought our own kayaks and took them to Belews Creek Lake near Winston-Salem. Our Shem Creek experience told us we didn’t want a tandem kayak. But life got busy and we eventually sol d them to a friend.

We kayaked in Key West and saw sponges growing in the clear water. That was also very enjoyable except for occasionally getting stuck in the mangroves.

Today was the first time in a few years that I had gone, and my first at Waller Mill, but I vowed to go often. Once I had the paddle turned the right way it was easy to soar across the lake.  While I was enjoying the quiet, my husband said, “We need music.” He proceeded to whistle and hum and make his own, especially when tunneling under the road where he could have an echo.

I will go often, but perhaps occasionally solo.

Susan Williamson is a former newspaper editor, educator, professional horsewoman, extension agent and food coop manager. She is the author of two novels, Desert Tail and Dead on the Trail. Her newest novel, Tangled Tail will be released in September. A childrens book, The Riding Lesson, will be published this fall by High Tide Publications.

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Larry Finkelstein – Don’t Burn Down Bridges

Just spoke to a client who was given an offer for a three-month consulting assignment but considered the offer too low. Her question was, what to do? She thinks that she will really enjoy the work but it pays much less than her normal rate.

I suggested the following:

First, was there a minimum salary that she would consider doable? If she would resent taking less than that figure she should probably say no. Was she prepared to walk away?

Were there any kinds of benefits associated with the offer that made it more attractive / could make it more attractive.

What kind of evidence could she provide that would support her request for a higher salary. I suggested using Glassdoor, CareerBuilder or other sites that supply income information.

What kinds of evidence could she provide that her personal skills merited an amount above their offer. After all, they did think she was a good candidate and had chosen her out of a competitive field.

After providing the employer with this information, wait. See if they would increase the offer at this point. If not, make a counter offer. Give them a range where the bottom of the range would be acceptable to her.

Negotiations often have multiple steps. Don’t react too quickly and don’t burn bridges.