Murdo Girl…It was nothing

Since Lav was unable to snag anymore interviews after Venus, she decided to rise above the flack and find a place where she could be queen all by herself. She’s had it pretty tough having to share her crown with Queen E or Murdo Girl. A change of scenery might be nice.

wp-15971154871351350301606158920395.jpg MG sees her: Hey!!! That looks like all kinds of fun. I’ve had enough stayca, I could use a little vayca.

MG: Hey Lav! Land that thing. I want to go.

wp-15973526940333369131232423026018.jpgMG: Where did you get this, Lav? I love it!

Lav: I picked it up at the Goodwill store. It was next to nothing.

MG: Do you know how many miles it has on it? It seems to ride pretty good. What’s it got under the hood?

Lav: I got it at the Goodwill store. It was next to nothing. I haven’t had to put any gas in it, yet. All I have to do is keep this burner back here going and steer it.

MG: Where are we going? I’m hungry.

Lav: I hope you’ve got some lunch money. I had next to nothing and I spent it on this air vehicle.

MG: Don’t worry, Lav. I’ll think of something. I have a lot of tinfoil on this crown. Cafes use a lot of tinfoil don’t they? So land this thing.

Lav: Land? I’m not sure this thing floats.


MG: Yikes! Steer it back to land, Lav.

Lav: Do you see a steering wheel around here?

MG: Look! There’s a plane…There’s a plane. HELP! HELP!


Windy: Do you see those two up there? They must be crazy. Don’t make eye contact.

Airy: I used to have one of those air vehicles. I took it to the Goodwill store. It was probably next to nothing.

Windy: Nothing?

Airy: Yeah, that nothing steering wheel. It didn’t work.

Arf: Come on! Quit messing around. I’ve got to find those kids!


Murdo Girl…Old people are funny

Yesterday, we celebrated Kip’s birthday. We got to see and talk to all of our kids, grand kids, great grand kids, and one of Kip’s sisters via a zoom call. I highly recommend doing that during this time of social distancing. We’ll do it again even when things get better. It’s not often that we can all be together and everyone really enjoyed it. Our daughter, Heidi captured some of us in this picture. I wish we would have thought to take several so we’d have some with everyone in them.


Later, I started to write a poem, but didn’t have time to finish it. It began…Birthdays get old sometimes or maybe its just me. I’ll finish it later, but it reminded me of this one.

 Old People are Funny…by Mary Francis McNinch

Old people are funny. I’m glad I’m not there yet.

They forget to remember, but remember to forget.

Now what was I just saying? Oh yes, I’m not that old.

I’m always far too hot, when the old folks are too cold.

I admit I sometimes have a little trouble with my thinker.

I’m hoping I last longer than the bulb in my left blinker.

If my hair gets any thinner it will look like some old geezer’s.

Each day I pluck the long hairs from my chin with eyebrow tweezers.

The feet I used to run with are now busy growing bunions.

My acid reflux keeps me eating Tums instead of onions.

When I get my bags out to pack for a vacation,

my clothes go in the smallest and in the big bag…medication.

My friends and I agree the latest fashions don’t excite us,

but Katy bar the door if there’s a new cure for arthritis.

It saddens me that I can’t sing and dance much anymore.

My kids say, “Don’t worry mom you never could before.”

I guess it won’t be long now til I’m forced to face the truth.

I heard my Dentist say I’m getting longer in the tooth.

Even though most people call me ma’am instead of honey,

I’m not considered old yet cause I’m really not that funny.


P.S. When someday I am faced with things yet unforeseen,

I’ll hold my double chin up and remember I’m a queen.

Murdo Girl…A very long day

Clark would be starting school the following week, and Jamie and Brad wanted to be there to support him until he felt comfortable, no matter how long it took. Any plans for a honeymoon were put off for the time being.

Mark had planned a mini rodeo at the ranch, and the whole family was looking forward to it. Almost everyone participating was a novice, so Jamie decided to sign up for the barrel racing event. Brad worked with her and she was getting better every day.

Everyone from the neighboring ranches would be there. All of the ladies would bring mountains of food to add to the fried chicken, potato salad, and pies, Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen were preparing.

There was at least one activity for every age group and even some calf roping for the more experienced cowboys.

At the end of the day, There would be a special performance by Clark and Katie. Mr. and Mrs. Langford had choreographed a regular hoedown and they were all working hard to make it a spectacular event. They would be performing under the stars on an amazing stage. It was the surprise Brad had promised them and they were thrilled. Brad had also planned another surprise and he was hoping it would work out.

Mr. Langford would be playing the piano and Mrs. Langford brushed up on her harmonica skills. It would be a night to be remembered.

Mark and Steve decorated ten little wagons and made a choo choo train for the kids Jake’s age. He had already tried it several times. The only way he would agree to get out of the wagon was to let him take a turn on the pony ride.

Arf: Annie and I weren’t quite sure what dogs do at a rodeo, so we planned to watch it and kind of guard things. I mean, we were just fine with that. We were better than fine. We were a’okay.

Annie: Earth to Arf. Your dog-talking to yourself again. What has you so upset?

Arf: I’m nervous about this rodeo thing. There will be a lot of people and animals we don’t know around here. We’re going to have to be very vigilant.

Annie: I’m pretty sure they only invited nice people who won’t try to kidnap anyone or steal valuables.

Arf: Now why did you have to go and say that? I hadn’t even thought about those things. Now I’m really nervous.

They had reason to suspect something was up…but it wasn’t what they thought it was.

Meet the rodeo clowns

The day was action packed and that evening Clark and Katie put on an amazing show at sunset.

They all went to bed tired but happy. It wasn’t until the next morning that the nightmare started.

“Jake was a tired little boy. He’s really sleeping in this morning,” Jamie said as she went into the adjacent room to check on him. “Brad, Jake’s not in his bed. You don’t suppose he went downstairs to the kitchen all by himself do you?”

“He must have. Where else would he be?”

They ran downstairs as fast as they could. Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen were in the kitchen having coffee, but Jake was nowhere to be found.

A few minutes later, Dina walked in and asked if anyone had seen Katie.

Clark came in and when he saw how panicked everyone was, he asked what was going on.

“Jake and Katie are missing,” Dina said. “How could this happen? Where could they possibly be?”

“Wherever they are, Arf and Annie must be on their trail, because they aren’t anywhere around here either.

Clark ran out the door. Steve and Brad were right behind him.

“You all stay here in case someone calls or they come home,” Brad told everyone else. “We’ll grab Mark and look for them anywhere they might be on the ranch….And Jamie…call the Sheriff.”

Annie: Can you see them Arf? Are they okay?


Arf: They’re getting out of that truck and going into the house. Let’s get closer so we can see what’s going on.

I’ve been to this house before when we were looking for Dina. Remember when she sprained her foot?

Annie: I know, I’ve been here, too. I was with Steve when he came to see some human that I don’t know. I do know one thing, though. This is the house where Steve and Dina lived when Katie was born. I’m getting to understand Steve-talk pretty good.

Arf: Let’s hide in the back of the truck. If they leave here we won’t have to chase them.


Annie: Good idea. I can’t see through the window. I hope they’re okay.

Just then someone came to the window and pulled the curtains shut. It was a woman.

Murdo Girl…Lav snags an interview with Venus

“Hi everyone. Remember me? It’s me…Venus! I’m the laughter yoga coach but I haven’t been laughing much, lately. I mostly cook and eat. It’s a good thing my cousin, Lav gave me this one size fits all apron. It’s reversible.”


“It’s just as ugly on the other side. I only wear it when she’s coming over. She was desperate to snag an interview so I told her to come on over to my cottage and I would give her candid answers to her provocative questions.”

“I hear a knock at the door.”



“Come on in, Lav.”


“Gee MG…how did you know it was me?”

“I recognized the knock. You must remember, Lav, when my hair is blond and I’m laughing, I’m Venus.”

“Gee Venus, you look like you’ve put on a few elbees (lbs). Are you going to a reunion? I smell cookies.”

“Don’t you think we should get started with the interview, Lav? Ask me a provocative question.”

“When are those cookies going to be done?”

“Come on, Lav…ask me about how I keep my skin looking so young and beautiful.”

“Yikes! Shouldn’t you be wearing a mask, MG?”


“I’M V-E-N-U-S, Lav. I lost my job and I can’t afford to buy that good but outrageously expensive makeup, anymore.”

“What are you talking about, MG, I mean V-E-N-U-S? Remember? You never had a job and no one would pay for laughter yoga! Look at me…I already know how to laugh.”

“Ask me a different provocative question.”

“Mind if I ask you something personal?”


“When was the last time you cleaned this place? It looks like a rabbit factory.”



“If I give you some cookies will you wrap this up and go?”

“Works for me!”

Don’t worry…Annie and I are coming back…Soon…real soon!

Murdo Girl…We do

“It’s getting late,” Jamie said as they pulled up to the ranch. They had left Brad’s truck at the farm and were driving Jamie’s Jeep because Jake’s things were already packed inside and of course they wanted to be together. “Do you think we should wait until tomorrow to tell them we’re getting married?”

“It’s your call,” Brad said. “But we’re obviously going to be telling them the good news about Jake and I would really like them to know that after we’re married, I will officially become his father. You do want to go through the process of making me his adoptive father don’t you?”

“Of course I do. We’ll go through the challenges of parenthood together. Jake is sound asleep. Poor little guy. This has been a big day for him and although he knows and trusts me, he has to be somewhat confused.

Just look at those two. He and Arf are both sound asleep.”


They pulled up to the ranch and Brad asked Jamie if he could carry the sleeping little boy inside.

“Of course you can. My room has a couch that makes into a bed. He can sleep there tonight. If he stays asleep, lets take him up there, now. Mother can watch him while we wake up the whole household to tell them our wonderful news.”

The next few days were a flurry of excitement. Brad and Jamie decided to have the wedding at the ranch. It was the beginning of a beautiful autumn, so they looked for a suitable place where they could have the ceremony outside. Katie and Arf showed them where their special tree was and they decided it was the perfect spot.



Everyone made a fuss over Jake and he loved every minute of it. He had been through an extremely tough time. A time no little four year old should have to experience. Jamie loved seeing the constant frown he usually wore, slowly leave and be replaced with the sweetest smile she had ever seen. She felt a complete and utter attachment to him and she knew Brad did, too.

On the eve of their wedding, Jamie finally sat Brad down and told him Jake’s story.

“I actually came to know him through Dr. Adams. He’s a children’s advocate and had been assigned to Jake’s case. He spent a lot of time with Jake and often brought him to the clinic.

Jake has been in foster care off and on since he was an infant. His mother was a very troubled teenager and was never able to give him a good home. It wasn’t completely her fault. She had no family support. She wanted to do teenage things and wasn’t interested in being Jake’s mother. She relinquished her parental rights a year ago.

Dr. Adams could see that I was becoming attached to the precious little boy and he was becoming attached to me. One day he told me that Jake was going to be moved to yet another foster home. There were no homes in this area with space for him, so they had been looking at other places. They felt it might be a good thing because if he were in a larger city, Jake would probably be adopted out immediately.

I couldn’t bear the thought of his leaving. In fact, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be his mother. I also knew that as a single woman, my chances were extremely slim… but I pursued it anyway.

I was going through rigorous interviews and inspections when mother had her stroke. I just knew that would be the end of my dream to be Jake’s mom.

As it happened, they had already inspected the farm. Remember, I was living there full-time before Mom’s stroke. The other thing in my favor was a promising future as a veterinarian and even if I didn’t get through my last two years immediately, Dr. Adams guaranteed that I would have a job at the clinic with enough income to support Jake and me.

Even with that, the answer continued to be no. Then several days ago, I got a call from CPS. They asked me how soon I could be ready to adopt Jake.

Of course I told them I could complete the adoption immediately. I still can’t believe he’s really mine…ours. Everything feels so right, Brad. Do you feel that way, too?”

“Come with me,” he said. “I want to show you something. Jake is in the kitchen with Miss Bessie. Let’s go get him and bring him with us.”

Arf: The little guy hasn’t let me out of his sight since he got to the ranch and he wanted me to go with them…wherever they were going. We drove until we got to a beautiful meadow about five miles from the ranch house. Brad stopped the truck and got out. He opened the passenger door for Jamie and got Jake out of his car seat which was in the back by me. I wondered why we had stopped. There was nothing there. I could tell Jamie was wondering, too, but I didn’t care anymore because Jake started throwing the frisbee to me.

“My beautiful, wonderful, Jamie,” Brad said as he took both of her hands in his. “I’ve been thinking about something ever since we decided to get married. What do you think about us building our own home on this land? We would still spend a lot of time at the ranch of course. Our family lives there. I just keep thinking it would be good for Jake to grow up in a home with just the three of us.”

“No…” Jamie said.

To say Brad looked surprised would be an understatement.

“Did you say no?”

“I grew up an only child with parents that cared more about traveling than spending time with their daughter. I’ve just started to get to know them and I’ve discovered they’re really fun, warm-hearted people. I want Jake to grow up sneaking cookies from Grandma Helen and Miss Bessie in the kitchen, learning how to throw a rope from Mark, and sing, dance and play the guitar with Katie and Clark. My parents can dote on him and you and I will just have to get used to being the adults in his life. In other words, I want him to enjoy the loving family we’ve all been blessed with. And Brad…he would never want to leave Arf and Annie. Just look at him playing with Arf.”

“What do you say, Brad?”

“Amen… Let’s go home. Someone told me tomorrow is our wedding day.”



Clark played his guitar and Katie sang the wedding song.


Arf managed to keep his boutonniere in place and Annie’s crown of flowers stayed on her head the entire day. To all who witnessed the marriage of Brad and Jamie, it appeared they were going to have a beautiful life together.






Murdo Girl…Welcome home..or not

Everyone at the ranch was excited. It had only been a week, but it seemed like Brad had been gone forever. They were also happy they were going to see Barbie and Tom again. The two of them had been gone much longer. As a matter of fact, they hadn’t even met Clark or Jamie’s parents, yet.

The household had really grown. It included Jamie and her parents who came to live there when Mrs. Langford had a stroke. Miss Bessie had moved in after her barn had caught on fire and she decided she was too old to live alone. Steve, Dina, Katie and Dina’s mother, Helen all came there because it was important to Brad that Katie get the care she needed to regain the use of her legs. Though Steve had continued to work, Brad wanted to give the family time to heal from other issues they were confronting, and not have to worry about a home.

Clark was a sixteen year old boy who had taken Steve’s truck on a joyride. When they found him, they learned that he had virtually been thrown out of his home. He was the oldest of seven children and his father was a very unhappy man. Brad had straightened things out there, but Clark, whose real name is Butch, continued to live at the ranch. Brad wanted to encourage him to get back in school and with the help of a good tutor, it looked like Clark was going to be able to catch up with his age group, soon.


Brad thought about all of this on the plane trip back from Ireland where he had gone to join his sister, Barbie, and brother, Tom, who had gone to be with their extremely sick mother. She passed away shortly after Brad got there.


Brad’s thoughts turned to Jamie. He had missed her even more than he thought he would. She would be at the airport when his plane landed. The ranch would have to run without him for a while longer. He knew that Mark was perfectly capable of handling things. It was time he and Jamie concentrated on their future.

“I’m really nervous about Jamie,” Miss Bessie said. “I couldn’t sleep last night and came down to get a cup of tea around midnight. I heard Jamie come in right as I was returning to my room, and then this morning she was pulling out in her car when I came into the kitchen at around six. Surely she intends to meet Brad at the airport today.”

“There is something going on for sure,” Grandma Helen said. “But I wouldn’t worry too much. Who knows they just might have plans of their own.”

“Now that excites me…I would love nothing more than to see those two together.”


Katie halfheartedly tried to convince her mother that she should accompany them to the airport instead of going to school.

“That’s not going to happen,” Dina said. she was trying to be stern, but, truthfully, she understood why Katie wanted to go. Brad had done so much for Katie and she was grateful. She was running and dancing, when only a year before, she was in a wheelchair.

A little before lunchtime Steve, Dina, Miss Bessie, Grandma Helen, and Clark headed for the airport. Jamie’s parents and Mark who was going to pick Katie up at school, stayed behind. Jamie hadn’t returned to the ranch before it was time to leave. They decided she must have wanted to take her own car.

But Jamie was nowhere near the airport when it was time for Brad’s plane to land. This was not the way she had hoped this day would go, but something she had waited months for, was finally going to happen.

She hoped Brad would understand. Her decision had been made and she was going through with her plans no matter how Brad took it. She sincerely hoped he would still want them to be together, but maybe it was a good thing she and Steve hadn’t finalized their agreement on the farm.

Why hadn’t she told him before this? Both her relationship with Brad and the other situation she was dealing with had developed much more quickly than she had anticipated. She thought there would be more time.

She had gotten the word late yesterday and there was so much to do. She had purchased everything she needed and more and felt fairly organized. She even got to the courthouse an hour early which gave her plenty of time to pace the floors.

Arf and Annie were sitting in their usual spot by the squirrel window when everyone left for the airport.

Arf: Is it just me, or do you sense something in the air, Annie? I don’t buy what everyone is thinking.

Annie: You mean about Jamie? Do you remember the other day when I told you I thought I knew what was going on with her? Well, If it’s what I think it is, everyone is in for a big surprise.

Arf: Is it a good surprise?

Annie: It sort of depends on who you are, but for us I think it will be a good surprise. Here they come. I wonder how much Brad knows. He doesn’t look too happy does he?

Arf: I think I’ll go find Katie and let her know everyone is back. I’m as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Annie: Here comes Clark. I sure wish I could read minds. I’m feeling unsettled, too. What we need is an adventure.

Arf: Yeah…we’re starting to get senseless.

Annie: Whatever, Arf. I can’t believe you haven’t begged me to tell you what I know about Jamie.

Arf: I only beg for bones.

Arf and Annie hadn’t left Brad’s study yet when he came in and sat down at his desk. They decided to stay put and remained very quiet while they pretended to look at squirrels outside the window.

Brad had a bewildered look on his face. This had not been the homecoming he had expected.

The phone rang and he answered it on the first ring. It had to be Jamie.

Unfortunately, Arf and Annie could only hear Brad’s side of the conversation.

“Hello…This is Brad Humboldt.”

“Jamie, where are you? Do you know how worried we have all been?”

“Okay, fine. Where would you like me to meet you?”

“I’ll be at the farm by the time you get there. Drive carefully.”

“Arf…do you want to go with me? You’ve known Jamie since you were a pup. I don’t know what this is all about, but we both might need you there.”

Murdo Girl…Missing

When Steve and Dina got to the gas station, they were relieved to see that Mark was there filling up his truck before making the trip to deliver two horses to the new owner.

Arf: I was sitting in the front seat when I saw Steve and Dina pull up. They must have figured out that I had a suspicion that Katie was in the human part of the horse trailer. I wondered if Katie was looking out of the window and could see that her mom and dad had caught us. I don’t usually get into trouble, but I was smart enough to know that my string of luck was about to come to an end. I watched as Steve and Mark talked. I was waiting for them to look inside the horse trailer, but they didn’t. When they finished talking, Steve and Dina left and Mark got back into the truck and we continued going down the road.

A couple of hours later, Steve made another stop at a roadside park.

“Are you hungry Arf? I have some sandwiches inside the refrigerator in the trailer. I’ll get them and we can grab a bite at one of those picnic tables.”

Arf: I tried to act excited when Mark let me out of the truck. I wasn’t sure what I was hoping for… that Katie was in the trailer, or that she wasn’t? In the end I decided I wanted her to be there. I wanted to know that she was safe. I still didn’t know why Dina, Steve and Mark hadn’t looked for her in the trailer.

Mark went to get the sandwiches and when he opened the door, Arf heard him say, “Well what do we have here? A little girl that looks a lot like our Katie. What would Katie be doing hiding in my horse trailer?”

“I wanted to get away from everyone and I can’t drive,” a little voice said. “May I please have a sandwich. I didn’t have breakfast and I’m pretty hungry.”

Mark handed her half a sandwich and gave Arf the other half. “I also got us some water,” he said as he handed Katie a bottle and poured some into a bowl he had brought from the truck.

“Can you tell me why you felt the need to runaway from everyone?”

“Daddy wants to move away from the ranch and Mommy doesn’t. I don’t want to go, but I don’t think Daddy will let me stay and I don’t want him to think that I love Mommy more than I love him, because I don’t. I love them the same. So what do you think Uncle Mark? What should I do?”

“I’ll tell you what I think, honey. You’re still pretty little and you have to trust your parents to make the best decisions for you. They love you and of course they want what’s best. What I’m saying is that it’s not your decision to make. Even if one or both of them leave the ranch and they decide you should leave, too, it won’t be the end of the world. Trust me…you will be just fine. You’re one strong little girl….So, when are you going to show old Uncle Mark this big performance I’ve been hearing all about?”

“How about Arf and I show you how much better we can dance now? Come on Arf. Let’s dance.”

Right there in the park, Arf and Katie danced to a tune sung by Katie. She was laughing and moving with ease and grace and Arf was right there beside her doing his part with his four left feet. When it was over, Mark had happy tears rolling down his cheeks. The little girl he was watching was a true miracle.

When they got back to the ranch that night, Katie’s attitude had changed. She apologized to her mommy and daddy and told them she would do whatever they decided she should do.

It turned out that Mark had a way of knowing that Katie was in the horse trailer before he saw Steve and Dina at the gas station. When they talked, he convinced them that it might be good for her to get away from all of the drama for the day and they had agreed.

The day also gave Steve and Dina the opportunity to do some serious talking. They were able to discuss what each of them wanted in life. They realized they couldn’t expect Katie to make or break their relationship. Steve came to realize that he had been rushing Dina and agreed to give her more time. He would still lease the farm, and though it wasn’t the ideal situation, Katie could spend part of the time at the farm and also spend time at the ranch. They truly believed they could work it out. At the very least Dina and Steve had become caring friends with a great deal of respect for each other…and they both adored their daughter.

If Jamie was willing, Steve would take over the chores at the farm when Clark started school and he would move in two months. He had big plans to buy more livestock and maybe a horse for Katie. He had given her a few riding lessons and she seemed to be a natural.

Dina was really enjoying working with Mrs. Langford who was on her way to a full recovery from her stroke.

Miss Bessie and Grandma Helen were happiest when the whole family was sitting around the table for the evening meal. Tonight, they were missing Brad who would be home in a couple of days. As they looked around they noticed there was one other empty chair.

“Has anyone heard from Jamie?” Miss Bessie asked.

Just then, the phone rang, and Miss Bessie rushed to answer it.

“Hi Miss Bessie. I called to let you know that something has come up and I won’t be home for dinner. In fact, I might be pretty late. Tell my parents not to worry.”

“Are you okay, Jamie? You haven’t been in an accident have you?”

“No, Miss Bessie. I haven’t been in an accident or anything like that. I really can’t give you more details right now. Just know that I’m fine. In fact, I’m better than fine.”

Murdo Girl…Where is Katie?

Everyone turned to look as Dina came running into the kitchen. They were all wondering why Katie wasn’t with her as the normal morning routine was for Dina to help her daughter get ready and then accompany her down to breakfast before driving her to school.

“I was hoping Katie would be here,” Dina said. “Have any of you seen her? She wasn’t in her room just now.”

Everyone shook their heads or said no and Arf went to the door. He wanted out.

“Just a minute Arf,” Dina said. I’ll go with you to look. Has Steve already left for work?” She asked. “Maybe he took her to school and didn’t bother to tell me.”

“I saw Steve leave about an hour ago,” Grandma Helen said. “Katie wasn’t with him. “Oh, dear…where could she have gone to. She can’t have gone far.”

Dina and Arf took off walking. Arf would have rather gone looking on his own as dogs look for people by sniffing and running, sniffing and running. It was much faster and works better when done alone.

“Okay, Arf,” Dina said. “You know my daughter better than anyone. Where do you think she is?”

Arf had a couple of ideas, but he wasn’t sure he should follow up on them right away. Maybe it would be good for Katie to have some time alone. He wanted to be with her while she sat and thought about things for a while, but he also wanted to know for sure that she was safe, so he took Dina to the first place he thought she might be. Their secret spot under the big tree by the river where they had spent endless hours working together on Katie’s therapy.

Katie wasn’t there.


Jamie was running late, but not for work. She didn’t have to be there until one o’clock.  There was another place she had promised to be this morning, and the closer she got, the more excited she became.



Mark, the hired hand, was loading up two horses to take to a buyer. He had planned to stop at the house and have breakfast, but instead grabbed a bite to eat and some coffee at the bunkhouse. He was deep in thought as he pulled out. Just as he got to the main gate, he saw Arf standing there barking at him.

When he stopped to open the gate, he left his truck door open and Arf jumped in.

“Do you want to go with me, Arf?” Without looking back, Mark shut the truck door, pulled through and jumped out again to close the gate. He didn’t see Dina running down the hill toward him until the last minute. He pointed to Arf to let her know he was taking him with him. Arf loved to go with Mark to deliver horses and it was something he did quite often.

aa6e88e84e1f403a9e33ce5abc313c5d_c0x47-1483x636 (1)What Mark didn’t know was that he was transporting a stowaway. Arf didn’t know for sure, but he was fairly certain his Katie was in the front of the horse trailer.

Arf: If Katie is in the human sleeping part of the horse trailer, I’ll be in trouble for not telling everyone I thought she was hiding there. If she isn’t, then I’ll be in trouble for leaving without finding her. He decided to continue to follow his instincts, right or wrong.

Dina stood there watching Mark and Arf leave and she was totally confused. Just as she was about to turn around to walk back up the hill, she saw Steve pull up to the gate. She walked toward him as he pulled through and then got out to close it. When he saw her, he also had a look of confusion on his face. When Dina told him the whole story, he said to jump in and they would try to catch up with Mark and Arf. Steve was hoping Mark would stop at the usual place to gas up before leaving town.

20200731_0740295904896885367494944.jpg(I should be on track for a more lengthy story tomorrow. Like some of the people who live at the ranch, life gets busy and time gets away from me.

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Murdo Girl…Information gathering

There was both tension and excitement in the air at the Humboldt Horse Ranch. Brad would be home in three more days and Barbie and Tom were coming back, too. Both of them were going to stay at the ranch through the weekend, but Tom had to get back to work the following week. Barbie intended to stay until she was able to hire another woman to help her at home. She loved her little house and she knew it well which was a big advantage since she had been blinded by the fire twenty years before.

Brad had gotten to Ireland in time to look his mother in the eyes and tell her he loved her. He held her hand for two days while she slipped in and out of consciousness. Each time she woke up, she smiled at each of her three children. They would be forever grateful for that last bit of time with her. Though Barbie couldn’t see her smile, she could feel her mother squeeze her hand.

On the third day, Mrs. Humboldt slipped away peacefully.

Arf and Annie were having the early morning meeting they had planned by the squirrel window.

Annie: How did Katie do last night? I was worried about the poor little thing.

Arf: I thought she would be all teary-eyed  and boo hooing, but she was more mad than anything. She kept saying she didn’t care what her parents did, she was going to stay at the ranch. She’s nine now, and sometimes she acts more like a grown-up than the grown-ups around here.


Annie: Well, the poor thing has been through a lot. She has come such a long way. You have both worked hard to get her there. I’m proud of you, Arf…Arf? Are you listening to me? Oh, I see. There’s a squirrel out there. Let’s watch him for a while and then we can decide what we can do about Dina and Steve. The tension between them is making me crazy. I whined in my sleep all night. Poor Clark kept asking me what was wrong.

Arf: There is something going on with Jamie, too. I sure wish Steve had taken me with him when he went to the farm to talk to her, yesterday. There are just too many humans to keep track of around here. I can’t even remember the last time someone threw a frisbee to me.

Arf and Annie eventually brainstormed and came up with an idea. They decided to concentrate on Steve and Dina, and wait until Brad got home to investigate that situation.

The squirrel finally went up into the tree and was hard to see, so they went to the kitchen to eat their breakfast and begin putting their plan into action.

Grandma Helen and Miss Bessie were both there and as luck would have it, they were discussing Steve and Dina.

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“Considering how quiet they were at supper last night, I take it there are still some issues to be worked out between Dina and Steve.” Miss Bessie was a master at getting information out of people.


“I haven’t talked to Dina since last night, but as of then, she was leaning towards telling Steve she wanted to continue living at the ranch for a while. She realizes she has no hope of keeping Katie here full time. Steve has every right to take her with him and to be honest, he also has some good arguments as to why the move closer to town would be good for her. I’ve lived with that child ever since she was a baby. My life won’t be the same without being able to see her every day.” Helen took out her hankie and dabbed her eyes. “I sure am grateful for your friendship, Miss Bessie. I have a feeling this won’t be easy for anyone concerned.”

Dina went to Katie’s room to help her get ready for school. She anticipated her daughter would still be upset and she had prepared herself for that, but she hadn’t prepared herself for what happened next.

Katie was not in her room, in fact, she was nowhere to be found. Arf was in the kitchen. Because of his meeting with Annie, he hadn’t been in Katie’s room when she woke up.


Jamie woke up late and was in her room at the ranch rushing to get ready for work when her mother knocked on the door. Jamie invited her in, but continued to get ready.

“Is everything okay, honey?” Her mother  asked. “You seem to have something on your mind.”

“Everything is fine, Mother. I’m struggling with a big decision, but I have to wait for Brad to get home to make it. Please don’t worry. It’s actually something you might approve of.”

“Well, you’ve been pretty mysterious about where you’ve been spending your time when you’re not at work. Mothers notice things like that, you know.”

“Yes, I know, Mom, and your intuitions have never been wrong as far as I know. You have been such a wonderful mother. Now give me a hug. I’ve got to get to work.”






Murdo Girl…Let’s work it out

It’s been a busy few days, but I’ve finally caught up to Arf and Annie.


The next day, Katie and Clark were ready to start rehearsing early. Katie didn’t have school due to teacher’s meetings and Jamie was off so she wanted to do some of the chores around the farm. Clark would be starting school next week and she was going to have to get used to doing more. That is unless she decided to lease the farm out.

“I’m so proud of you both and of course Arf and Annie,” Mrs. Langford said when they were taking one of their breaks. “You two have become so much more confident in your abilities. All that’s left is a little fine tuning and you’re ready to put on a performance that will knock everyone’s socks off.”

“I’m a little nervous,” Katie said, “But I’m excited, too. Brad said that he was going to have a surprise for us and it’s about a special place for us to put on our show.”

“Well, I hope when you leave, you’ll still be able to come here often. Do you know when you’ll be moving, Katie?” Mr. Langford asked.

“What do you mean Mr. Langford?” I’m never moving from here.”

Mr. Langford realized that he may have given Katie some news that she hadn’t heard before.

“Oh,” he said. “I think I must be mistaken about that, dear Katie. “I probably dreamed I heard something when I didn’t.”

Arf: Uh Oh, maybe that’s what my dog senses were telling me. Well, if Katie moves, I move. I won’t make any bones about it, either. I can see Annie over by Clark. I’ve got to find out if she knows where I’m moving to.

Annie: Why haven’t I heard anything about this? I’m usually the first one to sense something is wrong or different and then I go in pursuit of finding out what it is. I hope I’m not losing my human sense. Here comes Arf. Maybe he knows something.

“Mommy,” Katie asked Dina when she came to get her from rehearsal. “I put out of my mind that you and daddy were talking about moving. At least Daddy was. I was hoping you would both forget about that stupid idea. I thought we were all happy here.”

“Nothing is decided honey. We’re just talking about different possibilities. Don’t worry too much, okay?”

Katie obviously didn’t take Dina’s words to heart.

“Mommy, if daddy finds a new place for us to live, will you for sure come too?”

Dina wasn’t ready for that question.

“Whatever you and Daddy do,” Katie blurted out. “I’ve decided I’m staying right here. Even if you both leave. I’m staying here.”

With that, Katie ran to find her Grandma Helen. It occurred to Dina that she had never seen her daughter run that fast before.


Arf: I was right behind my Katie. I knew she was upset. She has so many humans here at the ranch who love her and are trying so hard to help her get better. I love all these people too, but I will stick with Katie no matter what.

Jamie was enjoying spending time at the farm. She hadn’t done the chores in a long time and she hadn’t realized how much she missed it. She was bringing a bucket of milk from the barn to the house when she saw Steve drive up.

“Here Jamie. Let me carry that for you. I was hoping you would have a few minutes to talk this morning.”

“Sure Steve. I’m not going to pretend I don’t know what you want to discuss with me,” Jamie said as she handed the heavy bucket over to him. “Let’s go inside and make a cup of coffee. We can bring it out to the porch and enjoy the morning while we’re talking.”

When they got their coffee and had engaged in some small talk, Steve broached the subject he so wanted to talk about.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Jamie. I have spent the last nine years now, doing everything I could to help my daughter. Every decision I have made has been with her well being in mind. I’ve made some good ones and a few bad ones, but my devotion to her has never wavered.”

“I know, Steve. No one could possibly question that. I get the feeling the decision you’re trying to make now is a tough one. I hope you are considering all aspects of it. You’re taking a pretty big risk. Don’t do it without thinking of what the consequences might be.”

“Believe me I’ve thought of nothing else. I am going to find a place for my family to live independently. The time at the ranch has been the answer to my prayers, but it was never intended to be a permanent situation. Katie is doing so well. She’s back in school and beginning to make some friends her age. She’s even getting involved in different school activities. I want to encourage that by moving closer to town and her school. She will have her own home to bring friends to and her life will be more like theirs. I think that’s important.”

“You haven’t mentioned Dina in all of this,” Jamie said. “How does she feel about moving?”


“She doesn’t appear to know how she feels. I have to do this no matter what Dina decides.”

“Are you absolutely sure the whole point of this ultimatum isn’t to force her to make a commitment?”

“I want Dina to commit to something. Katie and I need to know if she’s going to stick around for good this time. We’ve waited a long time. A very long time.”

“I have a similar decision to make,” Jamie said. “There is no hurry, Steve, so please take your time. I think in fairness to Dina, you need to let her get used to the idea. She hasn’t done anything but dote on Katie ever since she came back into your lives. But if you do decide to move, you can lease the farm. It would help me if I didn’t have to worry about the place. It has never really worked out for me to own it. Maybe some day we can work out something and you can buy it from me.”

” Thank you, Jamie,” Steve said as he got up to take is coffee cup back into the kitchen. “I’ll take your advice, but I already know what my decision will be. This farm is the perfect solution. I have to believe that.”

That night Arf and Annie got together at the squirrel window in Brad’s study.

(Full disclosure. This is not Arf and Annie, but an example of a dog’s squirrel angst.)


Arf: Katie might be moving and I will go with her. I’ll make them take me with them. She will be more upset than Steve and Dina realize and she’ll need me. It’s such a shame. You and I work so well together.

Annie: You’re right. You will have to go with her, but didn’t you say she told her mother she wasn’t leaving the ranch? Do you think there’s a possibility Steve will be leaving alone?

Arf: I hadn’t even thought about that. Another defining moment for this family coming right up. We have to do something, Annie. That family can’t split up no matter what.

Annie: You’re right. We have to go to Katie and Clark now, but let’s think about this and meet back here in the morning. Maybe there will be a few squirrels to watch, too.