Life Memories & Favorite Things

Besides horses, travel is my favorite pastime. The most interesting continent I’ve ever visited was Africa. I loved the wildlife. I was already a judge the first time I visited in 1970.  On that trip I visited: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa and Egypt. Americans sort of quit going to Egypt when the Russians were in control. We had a guide who took us across the Nile River and said that tourists had a terrible time when the Russians were there. While we were visiting the Egyptians were having disputes with Israel. One day as we were entering the British Museum some people in our group spotted a bridge over the Nile River and began taking photographs of it. A policeman came up and said, “no pictures of the bridges,” as if tourists would take photos and then send them back to Israel. After we left Egypt, we flew to Nairobi and I recall being amazed at how big Sudan was. The flight took several hours, and my ears felt like they were going to explode. We went into the hotel and asked the clerk for a medical doctor.  Thankfully they had one that made house calls, so the very British doctor came straight away and fixed my ear problem almost immediately. In Kenya we visited Leopards Lodge. It had raised platforms where leopards would come out to eat. Specifically, we stayed at Tree Tops (the location where Queen Elizabeth was when she found out that her father was dying and would soon become queen), a wonderful place brilliantly illuminated at night, and where the staff put salt on the river banks so the animals will come in to lick the salt and drink the water for guests viewing purposes. We arrived in the afternoon, and you have to walk a distance up to the lodge, with a guide in front and in back of you, all with rifles for protection. The rooms have little balconies where the animals will run to you, particularly baboons. The lodge tells you not to feed them, but most people don’t listen. I was sitting in a little chair one day and reached around for my purse and instantly a baboon was sitting there also, on the railing, so I put a piece of bread out for him. I’ve got my hand on my purse, and another hand on the railing, and all of a sudden I have this strange sensation of a second set of hands on my purse, and guess what, it was the baboon! Once my bread ran out the baboon left looking for another food source.

My family and I celebrated Christmas Eve at Leopards Lodge where they serve a wonderful plum pudding. The baboons were sitting on the walls and there were Germans there who had very expensive cameras. The lodge has people chasing the baboons away, yet they always return. A baboon even stole my mom’s plum pudding. You can’t believe how many baboons there are. One looked at me and snarled and the reaction of the other baboons was to chase him away because he had ruined it for all of them. They knew they couldn’t snarl at us because they would not be able to stay in that particular area of the lodge. We saw a lot of baboons inside the park as well. When you were in your car you would see them, and the mothers would have their babies on their back and would come up to your car and put the babies up to the windows for food. Those baboons weren’t as dumb as people made them out to be. In another lodge we stayed in, we arrived very early after having flown all night long. I laid down on the cot and there was a warthog under my bed. I learned later he was the park mascot. A man by the name of Gary Clarke was my guide on many trips I took to Africa in the years that followed. Everyone knew him well and each place we went was almost like a family reunion. One time we were in a park, and it was getting close to dark. We were planning to take the canoes down the Zambezi. I was a bit frightened because I couldn’t swim, and I knew there were loads of crocodiles. They told me it didn’t spook the animals if you were in a canoe. Gary said, “oh you just have to go,” so I did. The trip ended up being a once in a lifetime experience. At dusk we took the canoes out and were accompanied by the owner of the tour company and Gary pops up and has a bottle of Grey Poupon mustard, just like in the TV commercials, and we all laughed at seeing a bottle of American mustard in a canoe in Africa. The fiberglass canoe had a white stripe down the back, which looked like a combination of paint and glue. We asked the guide what happened, and he said a hippo had bit into the boat. I turned to him and asked what I should do if the canoe turns over and he said to run on top of the water to the beach! After this wonderful journey we returned to Nairobi. We landed at noon and had such an amazing experience we were desperate to leap into another adventure. Instead of going straight to the hotel we tried to book a flight to the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. We weren’t sure if we would be able to find anyone willing to fly us there, but eventually we did and it was such a wonderful experience as well. Quite different than Leopards Lodge, but equally as fantastic.

My favorite color is red and while I don’t have a favorite song, I do like country music. One day Judge Terry Bullock was on the court, and we were talking about music and he was joking with me and said "I’ve only known you to like two types of music: Country and Western."  Most of the CD's and records I ever purchased were country and western. I’ve only known you to like two types of music: Country and Western.

I always wanted to share stories and information about juries. Real life trials can be so interesting. Jurors always seem to be so preoccupied even in the most boring trials. They hang on to every word. I can think of two particular cases: one was an assault case where 20 people were witnesses and friends who testified. The defendant got on the stand and said, “I wasn’t even here that weekend, I was in Toledo.” The jury seemed so surprised. They think they aren’t hearing it right and lean forward, one by one, and ultimately realized he was lying like a dog. In another trial a man was suing for a back injury he said he incurred during a traffic accident. He testified that he was hurt in an accident and when cross examined the state submitted an accident form indicating he actually had been injured on the job and had received workman’s comp for it. The prosecuting attorney had the liability report with his signature on it. When asked whether or not it was his signature, the man said, “well I don’t know, I’m not a handwriting expert.” Their attorney then asked, “isn’t it true this is your car,” as they hand him a picture of his car and he responded, “well I don’t know as there are a lot of green cars out there and this car looks all banged up.” The attorney next asks, were you injured in a car accident three years ago? The questioning carried on and the jury finally realized he was lying but it took them so long to come to this conclusion. Like most other jurors, they were so uncomfortable with the defendant and didn’t want to make eye contact with him. In another case one of the jurors was a buddy of the defendant. One attorney asked the other, ``I can't understand why the judge would have left that particular guy on the jury, as he has already served a sentence for drugs.” The prosecutor answered by saying, “who do you think turned this guy into the police?”

My favorite holiday is Christmas. My favorite Christmas was the year we visited Africa. In Egypt, my dad’s room was down the hall from mine and there was a hotel employee that he found sleeping in his bed. When he woke up the guy said Merry Christmas and went on his way. On that same trip we visited Kenya. One point I so vividly remember is how much I hated walking on the gravel and sand because there would always be someone right behind you to smooth it out. My family and I frequently traveled over the Christmas holiday and those are always special memories.

I loved being among the great whales in Baja, California. There is a ship that parks along the Magdalena Bay. They doc the ship from the wave side. You get off the docking steel grid and into the Zodiac. What I found most troubling about the experience is because of the sway of the waves you have to make the transfer at just the right moment. The people on the ship said they had never lost anyone in this process, but I was dubious. The Pacific Gray whales come to this point each year to deliver babies. The second day we were there a youngster found a new game – to push our Zodiac from one end of the bay to the other. My brother James and his friend Maurey went with me. It was wonderful there. I had such a nice time. When we started back to San Diego it was rough water and they warned us to be careful with the doors. The big risk was the hinge side. The door shut and my thumb was still in it. I couldn’t stand to look at it and called for a doctor. Upon having it x-rayed I was told the bone was broken. On a trip to Uganda one year with my mother, on the very last day we were there, I woke up and couldn’t breathe. I had various issues and since I had no water I couldn’t take any pills, so was offered pepto bismol. I was not only sick but also scared. I had been bitten on the finger by a monkey. I was lying on the seat in the back of a car and rose up to see what was going on. The group I was with was looking at wart hogs and there was a lion on the left, ten feet away with cubs. I had to lay back down and couldn’t enjoy the moment because I felt so sick to my stomach. While in Entebbe, back at the hotel, I wondered why the water in the bath was so cold when I had only been running it hot. I looked down and was cherry red from the temperatures. I thought to myself, I don’t want to die in Entebbe, but rather on a plane to Frankfort. I still believed there was a good chance I was going to die on that trip. We had to switch planes in Frankfort and there was a really long layover. They had this little bench I sat on, and I started coughing and this lady sat down at the other end of the bench and began coughing as well. She said she was just getting over the Asian flu, and had all of the same symptoms I did, so I assumed I must have had the Asian flu as well. Even though there were many obstacles to overcome during that trip, I loved Uganda and had such a wonderful time. All of my journeys to Africa were so special. One of the strangest trips I ever took was on the coast line in Massachusetts. A little cab drove me down to the dock and I got on a sailing ship. my ship was tied to another ship (which also happened to be on the other side of the dock). You had to crawl over the larger ship to the smaller ship, which was a former fishing vessel. They had three cabins in the halls, all of which were so small you had to sit on the bed and if you wanted to stand up you had to be close to the door. There were only six passengers and three crew members. The ladies did all the cooking and cleaning. It was such a funny little ship, that after so much time together we all felt like family. When we would hit waves too hard the food would go flying and the captain would yell down to the ladies and say, “I hope that didn’t cause too much damage!”

The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where my horse Midnight Secret was crowned the National World Champion of Walking Horses. There were all kinds of pictures of his silver trophies, punch bowl, tea sets, and platters and plates. Midnight Secret was the most precious of all my accomplishments. The first Irish wolfhound I ever saw was bred by a retired military woman who had built a firing range. She raised wolfhounds and steeple chase thoroughbreds. To her credit she raised several Olympians. She went to Ireland and one of the horses she bred won a big race. In Ireland the breeder is much more important than the owner and they honored that individual in the winner’s circle; same was true for both horses as for dogs. The Irish government made a lot of import/export money on horses worldwide. Also, interesting to note is that a breeder has the national stud and locals can bring their mares and have them bred. From that point on I wanted to visit Ireland. We decided to go one year after I had purchased my first Irish Wolfhound.  I was interested in meeting the dog’s parents and the people who raised the animals. We flew into England and drove to Ireland. We were novices at driving on the right-hand side of the road. We were on the M from Manchester to Wales. The roads were sunk down so far it was like driving on a deep dish with the trees meeting overhead; almost like driving in a tunnel. The road was very narrow and there was a local holiday so lots of people were driving to the beach. Some people were having a little picnic and there was no shoulder, but they stopped to eat and had their feet dangling on the road. They liked to put the stone walls up against the road. It was hard to accept that the car was always narrower than what it is.  One when I was driving my tire hit the stone wall. I actually hit the hubcap right off the car and the rental shop said not to worry because it happened all the time. We learned from a little old lady that at the crossroads section we needed to turn right where we would find the family we were looking for. When we found the farm, we introduced ourselves to the owners and met their two boys.   That was such a wonderful trip.

In the late fall and early spring, the cattle on the open range would sleep on the roads because the asphalt would remain warm. One time my mother and I would have been in a horrible accident coming over a hill if it hadn’t been for a steer standing up in the middle of the road. My mother and I were coming back from Kentucky where we attended a horse show. We left my dad off in St. Louis where he was flying off to give a speech. The alternator light came on in the car and we stopped in a very small town to have it checked. An elderly lady came out and told us there was no one close who could fix the car. I asked her if there was a mechanic in the next town over and she said she had spent her entire life in that very town and never left, not even to visit the next town over. I remember her saying how fortunate we were to be two women traveling across the state alone. I believe in that moment we showed to this lady that women are capable of many things, including traveling on our own.

The chores I was responsible for always centered around our animals or inside the house.  When I was young my dad had a fishpond built with a fountain. He was never the type of person to do housework or yard work (that was for my brother and me), but he built a kidney shaped fishpond and really wanted fancy fish to stock it with. He would go to Cleveland and Boston to look at fish, then he’d order the ones he liked. They arrived at our house in big metal containers with a huge chunk of ice over it that melted and dripped all over. The railroad would call us to let us know they had the fish but needed to add more ice to keep them alive. My dad had a lot of fish in those days, and he would name them all. He built a 1000-gallon aquarium in the basement, and he’d put little plants in the bottom. He would put his hands in this aquarium and every winter he’d put the fish in there and we’d sit in rows watching. One morning my mother came home and heard a loud noise. At first, she thought it was the washing machine, so she went downstairs to check it out, believing that somehow it had broken but actually it was the aquarium. It had blown up and broken all to pieces. Across the hall was a paneled wall that had chards of glass in it, and the drain was approximately two feet deep full of water. The bodies of fish clogged up the drain and the bottom layer of the fish were no longer alive. My dad rebuilt the aquarium, but we never wanted to sit in front of it again. Of all those fish, only 10 survived. In the summertime we had a great big stock tank and my dad had me help him clean and winterize it. This was the only hobby I remember him having outside of work. My dad was such a perfectionist. The area where he kept his fish had to be absolutely spotless. We always had a lot of animals on our grounds: horses, dogs, cats, calves, fish. I always loved having dogs.. I remember the first time I realized they don’t know how to naturally swim. It wasn’t too long after we moved to the lake house that I discovered this. I had a dog, who I loved, named Pearl. I read an ad about a farm, somewhere between Abilene and Salina, that sold Jack Russel Terriors. The lady who owned the farm also had horses and she was really nice. I named the dog Pearl because Robert Parker writes mysteries and had a series with a dog named Peral in it. Soon after I brought Pearl home, she fell off the dock and didn’t have any clue how to swim, so I had to go into the water to rescue her (even though I didn’t swim myself). We had another dog named Birdie which we used to take to dog shows with us. One time we were attending a dog show with Birdie we pulled into in place that had ostriches. One of those birds looked directly at Birdie and went crazy. She was terrified it was going to get into the car and eat her. Birdie kept barking and going nuts. After that we didn’t visit any more ostrich farms. I frequently used to take our dogs down to our pond. We had several sizes of German Shepard’s, Wolfhounds, Jack Russells and Terriers. The dogs would spread out and try to trap rabbits. Beagles tend to yelp and normally go back to where they first found their victim after it got away. We had a Border Collie named King. The dog would go to the edge of the pond, near the water, and pick out mallard ducks and chase after them. He had a special affinity for one duck. It was always the same one and that duck would fly as far as it could with King chasing right after it. We also had a Great Peroneus that we used as a guard dog to watch our sheep at night. These dogs are disobedient, nocturnal animals. You could call for the dog and it would never come, but at night it would circle the barn and the pond and lie in the front yard and would go after anything it thought was a threat to your family.

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