Tuesday, June 27, 2023

An Interview with Ohio Author Larry Eley

Vikki and Larry Eley

An Interview with Ohio Author Larry Eley

Larry Eley is the co-author of Mifflin Drift (Reedy Press, 2022), an engaging story about “fifteen-year-old Larry who never wanted to leave the calm of his grandparent’s farm, but now he’s in Northglen, Ohio living in a snug home with his mom and boozy stepfather, E.A. Darnell. The high school is run with an iron fist by groups called the Rat Pack and the Gents. The neighborhood is packed with weirdos. On top of that, E.A. has a habit of losing jobs, including the one that brought them here. When he comes home drunk one night and tells Larry to get out, he’s half tempted to do it. But Larry is soon adopted by a gang of local toughs that roam the woods beyond the stream that locals call Sewer Creek, throwing cherry bombs at skinny dippers and sneaking into the drive-in theater. Complicating Larry’s love life is Kathy, a member of the Rat Pack who’d love to date a baseball player if her Hollywood mother would sign on. Then there’s Lynn, the gutsy charmer he can’t forget, but who refuses to even tell Larry where she lives. Mifflin Drift is about eight friends in pre-Vietnam America and how they grew up―despite their best efforts not to.

Welcome, Larry!

GM: What is the premise for your book?

LE:  Mifflin Drift is a humorous look at growing up in a dysfunctional home in the 60's, focusing on my first two years in a new high school with emphasis on friends, adventures and first loves.

GM: Who is your target audience/niche market?
LE:  Our book appeals to all ages. Our publisher has targeted the Young Adult audience and we have also found Baby Boomers especially enjoyed the book.

GM: What would you like readers to take away from your story?
LE:  I would like the story to take reader's back to their high school days, friends and adventures.  It is always the hope that readers will "find themselves"  in  one of the characters and "live" the story through that character. For younger readers, I hope to give them a glimpse of life in the4 60's before electronic devices & games, the internet, facebook, TikTok etc.

GM: Describe your creative space and where you like to write...
LE:  I have an hour commute to and from work each day. I use that time "talk out" the story and then put my thoughts on the computer when I get home. 

GM: What are you currently reading?
LE:  I have a stack of books purchased from other authors I have met at Book Fairs waiting to be read. I especially like books related to the military and/or civil war history. I am in between books at the moment...

GM: What are you currently writing?
LE:  I am in the process of formulating a sequel to Mifflin Drift.

GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
LE:  Don't be afraid to fail. Keep trying. Develop a thick skin--don't let criticism bother you. Believe in yourself and your ability to "tell" your story. Be flexible. Find a good editor. 

GM: List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
1.  I am a Class III State Building Inspector and hold 4 certifications from the State of Ohio.

2.   I have 4 John Deere tractors and consider myself an amateur tractor mechanic. I am rebuilding a John Deere 430 crawler at the present.

3.  For the first 30+ years of my career, I owned and operated a small construction company.

4.  I can't cook anything except baked potatoes and scrambled eggs. My idea of a great bachelor meal is a cold root beer accompanied by toaster waffles.

5.  I am a Vietnam Veteran. I have published numerous stories about my time in Vietnam online at DonPossWarStories.com

6.  Outside of my wife and family, my favorite thing to do is to make hay.

7.  I have the prettiest Border Collie in the world. Her name is Gypsy. I use her as one of the "characters" in Mifflin Drift.

8.  If I had my dream job, I would be the center fielder for The New York Yankees.

9.  My favorite movie is Ben-Hur. My favorite scene is the Chariot Race.

10.  If I had one wish, it would be to be rich enough to hire someone to weed our gardens! haha  Just kidding...

Connect with Larry:

Facebook @ MifflinDrift 

Monday, June 26, 2023

Milliron Monday: Letters Home Oct 16 1959


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"I’d certainly appreciate a letter from someone there..."
― Jody Smith

October 1959, Jody's letter home to Mansfield, Ohio. A bit of insight to this letter - Michael (aka Mike) is Pete and Jody's Irish Setter living with Jody's parents. Starboy is Jody's beloved gelding, a gift from Lavender and Brother McArthur. 

917 Remington

Fort Collins, Colorado
Friday, October 16, 1959

Hi All,

I hope things are going well in Ohio. I’d certainly appreciate a letter from someone there since I’m rather curious as to what the situation is. I hope Michael is behaving himself. Starboy is still as angelic as ever. Pete’s sister Carol and Debbie, our 2 year old niece came up to see us last weekend and the three of us went for a cart ride. Starboy was a perfect gentlemen. Pete was in Wyoming purchasing some sick cows which he is practicing veterinary experiments on, and hopes to make some money with, if and when they get well. So now I’m content with 26 pets (24 Herefords, a horse, and a kitty cat which is still with its mother unfortunately).

I received the slides of the United Nations building yesterday but I don’t quite understand why you sent them. I certainly hope my Shakespeare slides are on the way. I could be working on the lesson plan this weekend but I need the slides to plan it.
Please tell Gary Franklin “Happy Birthday” quite belated from Pete and me.
Jess, the European trip is certainly paying off in memories now. Two out of the three of my long creative writing assignments have been on Rome and Paris.
Lavender and Brother have invited us down for Thanksgiving. It’ll certainly be pleasant to see them all again.
School is still busier and busier but so far so good. I got an A+ on the first Comparative Religions test and an A on the first Early English novel test. I just hope I don’t get too far behind because “catching-up” time is sure scarce. I haven’t been getting in many hours at the bookstore though.
Please send me the addresses I’ve asked for as soon as possible. I’d surely like to finish off these few “thank you notes,” they’re way overdue.
Carol, Pete’s oldest sister, gave us a very nice white chenille bedspread. I just washed the blue and white one you gave us, Mom, and it really looks nice.
I’m now writing this in the evening and am minus one of my pets – Pete butchered a cow which one of his veterinary friends (an instructor at the school) termed incurable so he’s going to have to sell it for dog food.
It snowed this afternoon as I amused myself by baking a couple dozen cookies and some cornmeal jelly muffins. Pete said they were delicious, but then, he always does. He’s been so sweet and patient with me on nearly everything. That mixer you gave us, Aggie and Gary, is really a time saver, and so handy to use.
Dad, I surely wish you were here to enjoy the hunting season. It opens tomorrow. We’re going to try tomorrow and again Sunday if necessary. We saw two nice bucks up at Kremmling when we were there weekend before last. Pete’s going back to Kremmling next weekend and taking the vet he worked with this summer along for an elk hunting trip. Pete used to cowboy for the man who owns the ranch at Kremmling so he has horses, equipment, etc., at his disposal. I surely hope they have good luck – a deer and an elk would set us up fine for meat this winter.
Guess I’d best quit and get to bed; it’ll be a busy homework and housecleaning day tomorrow (plus a bit of riding, I hope).


P.S. Also would like slides of Starboy to take and show McArthur’s on Thanksgiving – but no need to hurry on those.

P.P.S. Just received the framed announcements, Western Horseman, scissors, etc. Thank you very much – especially for the little note, Mom; it meant a lot to us. Unfortunately my Shakespeare slides aren’t in the box which I purchased in Stratford with six slides and the printed description of them and then eight slides which I took. Thank you for the shears. We didn’t have any at all and those kitchen ones will be real handy.

~  ~ 

The Shakespeare slides Jody refers to are in the Smith's box of slides - somewhere. I'll see if I can find them.

Previous Letters Home: 

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.



Monday, June 19, 2023

Milliron Monday: Letters Home 1959-1960: After the Honeymoon

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"...real lazy living."
― Jody, after the honeymoon

A neatly tied bundle of yellowed letters penned from Fort Collins, Colorado, to the Haley family in Mansfield, Ohio, rest in a box. When Jody's mother died, the letters Jody had written home returned to Jody. 

Today, we begin the first in a series of letters that bring insight to college days, and married life. The letters are addressed to Jody's Mom (Virginia/Meme), Dad (Bart), Jessie (maternal grandmother), Gary (Jody's brother), Aggie (Gary's wife), and G.F. (Gary and Aggie's son). The setting is after the honeymoon. Pete and Jody are setting up house and preparing for another quarter at Colorado State University:

Tuesday, September 15, 1959

Dear Mom, Dad, Jessie, Gary, Aggie, and G.F.,

    Sorry I haven't written sooner, but needless to say I've been rather out of contact with the world in general - guess I'll have to come down off this cloud pretty quick since school's nearly here. We've been real busy cleaning, painting, etc. Pete's a wonderful help waxing floors, fixing things, hanging pictures, putting racks up, and such. So far, so good with the cooking - we've been splurging on chicken, round steak, and I haven't had any catastrophes yet. We've even had two diner guests - Judy Binna, Sunday night and one of Pete's friends tonight, so I'm getting in all sorts of cooking practice. Fortunately I actually enjoy it, even the dishwashing - wonder how long that will last? Boy, that electric skillet is a lifesaver, Jess. Been cooking bacon, pancakes, etc. in it every morning and it surely gets the job done. The speed kettle is just that, it heats the water as fast as I can get the tea bags out of the cupboard. All my kitchen things are a big, big, help. I'm just beginning to appreciate them as I start depending upon them. Thanks so much to all of you for getting us set up so well. We're really lucky.

    The house is all rented out to 10 college guys, so that's a load off our minds. The DZ's (sorority) only wanted it for the next quarter so that would have been a losing proposition trying to fill it up again in the middle of the school year so Pete decided not to rent it to them. The Rattler's nearly sold, hate to see it go, that little car was a big help last year, but I'm afraid it could be a big expense this year. When an old car starts to go, everything seems to fall apart at once. Pete had to put $20 in it to get it running right to sell it.
    Starboy is still a real sweetie. He came walking up to me right off and follows me around same as ever. He's got a little more pep and spirit but he obeys just as though I'd been busy with him all summer, guess once he's trained he's trained for good.
    Thanks, Mom, for sending the clothes, the sunglasses, the box with Carolyn and Jim's present, wedding cake, etc. Everything got here in fine shape. My checks arrived today so I'll be able to get registered all right.
    It really means a lot to both of us to have been able to have had such a beautiful wedding. We certainly thank all of you for making it possible. I can hardly wait to see the pictures of it.
    We're fairly well moved in now, there's still lots of busy work to get accomplished but it's getting taken care of little by little. We went down to Pueblo yesterday to see Pete's sister and her husband. She's looking much better than the last time I saw her, but, of course, they're still having problems with the after effects of her illness. We're going to Wyoming tomorrow to visit some old friends and hope to get a little meat for the freezer. I thought I'd gotten away from vitamin pills when I left home, but Pete's real insistent that I take three of them every morning to help get rid of this cold and stay generally healthy. Guess it's a good precaution but you know how I hate to take pills. My cold (or whatever it is) is getting better so don't worry about it.
    Please send me George and Inez's address, also Carolyn and Jim Knapps. Thanks. These thank you notes may be the death of me if I don't get through with them pretty quick.
    Sorry I haven't time to write more and more but it's nearly 12:30, so guess I'd better go to bed. Don't really need the sleep though - we've been getting about 12 hours a night, real lazy living.
    Pete says to say hello,
    Love from us both; Bye now,

~  ~ 

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.



Monday, June 5, 2023

Milliron Monday: OciCat


Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"...The OciCat is a wild-looking feline with domestic origins, bred from a combination of Abyssinian, Siamese, and American shorthair breeds."
― Wiki

What is an OciCat? In 1985, Jody was intrigued by the new breed. She wrote a letter to Bill McKee, breeder, and this was his reply:

Dear Mrs. Smith,

    I'm in a bit of a hurry to get out of town for the weekend, but will try to answer your questions. Please let me know if you need more information.
    OciCats are generally larger than most purebred cats - males at least 10-12 lbs, usually 12-14 lbs. and sometimes more like 16.  for example, are 8-10 for males. Females are generally smaller, but I have seen them up to 12 lbs.
    Personalities surely vary somewhat depending on the line, but all I have seen have been a little laid-back upon maturity. They are active and playful as kittens and young adults, but rest generally when not at play and not at all nervous or hyper.
    They are much softer-voiced and quieter than the Siamese and Oriental tend to be. Males and females call, as is normal, when in season, of course, and some "talk" if encouraged.
    Prices usually range from $250-500, depending on quality and color. I sell pet males for an average of $350 for well-spotted kittens. I have a lovely tawny (half-brown with black spots) who looks as if he'll be of good size. I've considered keeping him as a neutered pet myself, but good sense tells me he should go to a good home. I breed several litters a year and surely will find another I like as much before too long. He has a wonderful, sweet personality.
    Unfortunately, I know of no one in Ohio with OciCats. You are the second to inquire from Ohio this week.
    I'm enclosing a (not too good) photo of the father of my current litter and their half-sister. 
    If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Looking for current information on OciCats, I found an Ohio OciCat Rescueonly two OciCat breeders in Ohio: Midnite Moon Ocicats and Ocipaws.Ocicat

An interesting cat breed, I know Jody enjoyed cats (as she did all animals), but according to Jody, cats have a place - inside. As Jody would often say about my barn cats, "Cats are predators and kill songbirds and other important species. Keep your cats inside."  

~  ~ 

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.



Sunday, June 4, 2023

First Love: A Pony Story by Kathy S. Elasky

First Love
A Pony Story by Kathy S. Elasky

I fell in love for the first time when I was only five years old. When the heartthrob looked at me with his enchanting blue eyes, it was as if he thought I was the most important person in the whole world. He always had time to listen to me. He was my best friend and my confidante. 

His name was Skyrocket. That may seem like a weird name for a boy. He wasn’t a boy. He was a pony. He was the pony my family got when I was in kindergarten. Skyrocket was a gorgeous brown and white paint whose head was about the same height as mine. We always saw eye to eye.

Skyrocket became the one I went to when it felt like the whole world was against me. He always had time for me. He listened without judging and made me feel like he really understood how I felt. He was always a source of comfort and love.

When our parents bought Skyrocket, they wanted my sister and me to feel like he was really our pony. For that reason, they had each of us take half of our life savings out of the bank to help pay for him. It was the best $1.50 I ever spent.


From Ohio USA, Kathy S. Elasky is the author of the Pudgy Possum children’s literature book series. Follow Kathy on social media and at www.elasky.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pudgy.possum


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Retraining OTTBs: An Interview with Jill Diestelhorst

Jill Diestelhorst CowgirlsOTTB

Retraining OTTBs: An Interview with Jill Diestelhorst

By Gina McKnight
From the May 2023 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete www.floridaequineathlete.com
No Duplication Without Permission

From Florida USA, Jill Diestelhorst is a successful horsewoman. As a competitive barrel racer, she has won many accolades. Her “off-the-track Thoroughbreds” are trained to compete in trail, barrels, freestyle, and more. Jill is a focused and intentional trainer, creating inspiration for equestrians looking to re-home a OTTB.

Welcome, Jill!

GM: When did you meet your first horse?

JD: When I was at a young age my Grandfather took me to see my cousin show her horse over jumps at a stable nearby. As far back as I can remember I’ve loved horses and they eventually got me a horse when I was young.

GM: Training OTTB's must be rewarding in so many ways! Tell us about the acquisition process, where the horses originate, what you do upon arrival at your barn, and how you choose which horse(s) you work with...
JD:  My trainer competed at the Retired Racehorse Project and I’ve always been a huge fan of racehorse industry. I found my horses off Facebook groups, nearby in Florida. I was able to drive and look at three of the Thoroughbreds I’ve purchased. One came out of State which has been my first time buying sight unseen. I look for a good brain, I get along with more lazy, chilled horses than I do hot and spicy. I look at facial swirls, racing videos for speed out of the gate- mainly for barrel racing I’d like to see early on speed, than I look at size of the horse. Yes, any size horses can run barrels but I prefer 15.2hh’s. I only have two horses currently and I try to switch days when I work them. I try to do something small daily if I don’t actually work them.

GM: What training methods do you use?
JD: I don’t have a set method, there’s hundreds of ways to do one thing. I try to adapt to the horse itself. Some horses are more sensitive and some are dull. I try to make my sessions short and sweet. I don’t wanna overwhelm or frustrate my horses. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in making it perfect but over time I’ve learn little steps at a time.

GM: What are the specific challenges of retraining an OTTB to race barrels? Does the horse have issues navigating the change of course?
JD: Challenges would mainly consist of building their balance to the weaker side. That’s the hardest and time consuming thing to gain. It varies with the horse itself but sometimes it can take a while to build it up. I haven’t had a OTTB have any issues actually turning. The mare I have now was loped through a set of barrels track, broke and snapped her turn.

GM: Do you think OTTB's have an edge over Quarter Horses in barrel racing?
JD: I truly believe it all depends on the horse itself.

GM: You have won many accolades and awards. Can you share a list of your accomplishments?
JD: Retired Racehorse Project 2020:
•Competitive Trail 8th place amateur trainer
•Barrel Racing 7th Place amateur trainer

•T.I.P Performance Awards Green Horse ll Western Division Winner

Retired Racehorse Project 2022
•Barrel Racing- 5th place by default, was standing in 2nd place during Preliminary Competition.
•Barrel Racing Top Amateur Trainer
•T.I.P Barrel Racing Championships 3D Average Winner
•T.I.P Barrel Racing Championships 1st 2D & 1st 3D
•Competitive Trail- 11th Place
•Competitive Trail 4th place Amateur Trainer
•T.I.P Trail Championships Under Saddle-
3rd, 4th and 4th average.
•Florida Thoroughbred Expo 2022- 4th in Freestyle
•T.I.P Performance Awards Green OTTB ll Western reserve champions

GM: You will be attending the FloridaThoroughbred Expo again this year. Where can fans find you and your horses?
JD: Yes! We’re hoping they bring back barrel racing, but if not we’ll be competing in ranch trail and freestyle. It’s in early December located at The Florida Horse Park.

GM: What horses do you currently stable? Who is your go-to horse?
JD: I have two, Dado’s Dream, a bay gelding  and a bay mare named Egalite. My go-to horse would be Egalite. She’s really fun to ride.

GM: Do you have advice for novice OTTB trainers?
JD: Take your time and get their foundation solid before continuing into a certain direction. Don’t rush the progress.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
JD: Horsemanship to me means how you treat your horse, the attitude you display, and overall how you present your character to the public and towards others around you.

Connect with Jill…

Florida Expo - Kristen A Photography

Photo by Canter Clix

Photo by Canter Clix

Photo by Canter Clix

Photo by Landen Webb


Milliron Monday: The Recordings 4

  Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:   June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010 Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - Ma...