So much has happened since this post was first created back in 2008. I’ve grown up and . . . Well, I’d better start from the beginning. I was born on May 26, 1868, a few weeks early, so I was awfully tiny. My mother and father worried that I might not make it, but my brother Justin told me I cried so loudly that he had no doubts. He was sure I’d kick and scream my way into a long life. Even being early, I had a lot of black hair that stuck up in all directions.
By the time I was 2 years old, I looked nothing like that scrawny teensy baby who almost died. My hair grew out in curls, and my eyes stayed blue. My hair grew so thick and fast that I dreaded Mother brushing it out. When I was just turning 4 years old, I’d had enough. I sneaked into Mother’s sewing basket, found her dangerous shears, and cut off my hair.
I learned the hard way that I would never do that again. Mother shrieked when she saw me. My big sister Melinda (age 9) gasped and covered her mouth. The older boys didn’t know what the fuss was all about. They knew it would grow back. But Father and Mother were terribly upset. I ended up with my backside getting tanned. Mother had a little switch that hurt like the dickens. I didn’t get it very often, but when I did, it left an impression on me.
I never fail to get a California tan (since I have a hard time remembering to keep my hat on). Also, a few pesky freckles sprinkle my nose. My sister Melinda says it’s my own fault–I could avoid the freckles and the sunburns if I wore my hat. I don’t listen to her much.
My father was thrown from his horse and killed during roundup the spring just before I turned 6 years old. I’ll never forget it. I was so sad. But my mother and my brothers (especially Justin) stepped in, and I eventually got on with life. Chad gave me Taffy for my sixth birthday, and that really helped, too. She was my best birthday present ever! A palomino filly whom I named Taffy.
My ranch friend, Riley, and I went everywhere together, until he had to go home to his Army-captain father and his recovering mother. I missed him dreadfully for a year, and then I forgot all about him because life just kept going faster and faster.
Besides riding and racing my horse, Taffy, I like to fish. I try really hard to do the right thing, but I’m always plunging into some kind of problem because I don’t think things through before I act. I get caught up in the excitement of life or with helping someone, and before I know it I’m in a fix. My brother Chad is always pulling me out of some kind of trouble, and it riles him. He and I don’t get along very well. He is the ranch “boss,” but he also thinks he’s my boss.
Here I am peeking out the window at about age 8, watching for Aunt Rebecca to pull up. It’s hard to recognize that it’s even me. I’m slicked up in white, and my hair’s done up. Why? Because that ol’ Aunt Rebecca is coming for a visit, and she’ bringing a photographer. Eeeks! I have to look my best and be on my best behavior.
By the time I was nine years old, I could lasso almost anything. Although Chad did not let me compete with Taffy during the Circle C ranch’s very first rodeo, at the end of the day, he put me up on Sky and I lassoed a calf. Everybody clapped and it was the highlight of the entire rodeo for me.
Once Taffy grew a little older, she became an excellent roping horse with plenty of “cow” sense. Here I am going after a calf when I’m eleven years old. Taffy sure knows her stuff!
By the time I turned 12, I’d had a good share of adventures–good ones and not so good. I’ve foolishly allowed my Taffy to be stolen (Long Ride Home), been taken hostage by an escaped prisoner I was convinced was innocent (Dangerous Decision), learned how to get along with an unexpected older sister whom I never knew I had (Family Secret), helped rescue a little Chinese girl from the slave trade in San Francisco (San Francisco Smugglers), been stranded with my friends and my injured brother Mitch up in the mountains (Trouble with Treasure), and been a reluctant witness to a back-alley crime (Price of Truth).
Makes me tired remembering all this. But life got even better the year I turned 14. Taffy had a foal (well, 2 foals) and I spent all my time with Shasta and Sunny. I met a new friend, Macy, although she sure didn’t start out as a friend (Thick as Thieves). But it all turned out all right, and I ended up with Shasta, a beautiful chocolate palomino, and Macy got Sunny.
I always wanted to go on a cattle drive, so Mother finally let me just before my 15th birthday (Heartbreak Trail). What a trip that was, from the Circle C ranch all the way to Los Angeles. I thought it would never end. People drowned, we lost cattle and horses, and all I wanted to do was go home. But I would not let myself give in. (“I can do all things through Christ . . .”). Life was really good until the day our cousin Daniel showed up (The Last Ride). It hurts too much to talk about it, so I’ll pass over what happened (besides being a spoiler alert) that spring and summer. It is enough to say that I learned a lifelong lesson of forgiveness through it all.
And my old friend Riley came back to work for Chad as a wrangler. He was all grown up! I didn’t even recognize him, and it took some doing for him to work his way into my affections. I was all banged up and not wanting to talk to anybody, but that Riley! He’s as good at getting people to talk as Justin is. Needless to say, I looked forward to seeing him. And he taught me to trick ride. I thought I was all finished with scary adventures, but a Mexican outlaw related to Joaquin Murrieta threw me smack back into an nightmare, along with my new sister-in-law, Lucy, and her and Justin’s baby boy, Samuel. (Courageous Love).
But all’s well that ends well. After that ordeal, I found out Riley had made his intentions known to Justin and Mother, and they gave permission for him to court me, if I was in agreement. I was! Yes, I finally figured out that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Riley. My family gave us 1,000 acres of prime grazing land right up where my special spot overlooked the creek. We named it Memory Creek ranch.
A year later, Jared Riley was born (July 4, 1887). He’s the best baby ever!
Over the next few years, Riley and I have had many adventures. You can read about them in Yosemite at Last and Stranger in the Glade, Circle C Milestones books 5 & 6. Riley and I welcome another family member, but that’s enough spoiler alerts!